Common Core Standards: ELA
Much information isn’t presented in text, or if it is, it’s accompanied by drawings, graphs, tables, and other forms of media. These media are often used to make grasping information easier, though they can also confuse the issue by making the reader “switch gears” between reading and looking at a picture or graph.
No Such Thing
Document based questions (DBQs we’ll call them) may seem as unruly as the mythical, multi-headed Hydra. As soon as your students get a grip on one document, another seems to grow in its place. Not to mention the fact that some heads are pictures, some graphs, and some long-winded chunks of text. But fear not; you can arm your students with the Herculean skills needed to defeat this kind of monster. With questions about multiple documents, it’s all about the commonalities between them. Instead of cutting off the heads like Herc, go for the body—what they all share. This technique will allow your students to conquer the brute and become a well-informed evaluator of text (We know champion is more appealing, but go with it).
Dreaming With a Broken Pencil
Okay students, let’s take this beast on point by point:
The standard asks you to evaluate content in several different documents presented through various mediums. Don’t let the term or the thought of integrating more than one document intimidate you. This isn’t the sphinx giving you a riddle that you must answer lest she obliterate your city; it’s just a question referring to more than one source. These sources will all be used in reference to a common idea or theme. Any questions you are given should direct you to the documents needed, so pre-reading questions before setting off on the documents is a great testing strategy here.
Types of sources include:
- Pictures—not pixies. That’s right, they aren’t devilish little creatures that seem to have no relevance to the rest of the documents. Pictures always seem to be the easiest or the absolute hardest to integrate. Remember to pre-read your question, and then begin making bullet points under each document that link the question and other documents. It’s often easiest to do the pictures last; once you read over the other documents, you should have some idea about how the pictures fit in.
- Quantitative Data—not dragons. Armed with your pencil, you wouldn’t stand much chance against a dragon (unless you got him in the eye or something), but data you can totally handle. According to Webster, quantitative1 literally means having to do with numbers, quantity. So this is where you get graphs and charts and fun stuff like that. These texts can be tricky if you’re not familiar with reading and interpreting graphs. It may be helpful to practice interpreting graphs by summarizing the data presented in your own words.
- Texts—not trolls. Contrary to teenage lore, these are not smelly monsters that live under a bridge; texts are obviously the most common document and they vary in length and depth of information. The same rule still applies when dealing with multiple documents: pre-read the question, then write bullets under each document linking it to the question and the other documents.
1 Quantitative. 2011. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved February 27, 2012, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quantitative
Slow Study in a Burning Room
Being an epic hero has its perks (nice armor, fame and fortune, your own constellation, sometimes immortality), but being an epic reader has some perks too—it’s not life threatening, no blood stains on your toga, good grades, etc. Synthesizing multiple texts comes down to the connections; like stars in the sky, just connect the dots and voila: a heroic happy student.
Quiz QuestionsHere's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.
Read or evaluate the following documents and then answer the questions that follow.
Doc 1: Double, Double, Baby Trouble
The likelihood of having identical twins spontaneously (kind of the only way) is not very high. Identical twins start with one little egg, then, like a Hollywood couple, they split within the first week. The strains of having unexpected multiples can be overwhelming. Parents have to be ready to be up to their elbows in poopy diapers, huge grocery bills, and two times the baby equipment, all with about two consecutive hours of sleep. The fun doesn’t stop there; parents then get to worry about sharing toys, double potty training, double dating, and simultaneous college tuition. The one thing parents are sure of with twin babies is that there will be no lack of predictable comments like, “Aren’t they cute!” and “Are they identical?” Though it is true some identicals don’t look identical and some fraternals look just alike, the biggest clue will be in the gender (hint: if they are a boy and a girl they are not identical).
Doc 2: Identical Twins, with Fauxhawks
Doc 3: Graph
Doc 4: The Numbers Always Add Up
Countless magazines have run stories and articles about twinning phenomena and research that could cure disease based on the rare occurrence of identical twins. However, the occurrence of twins may not be so rare after all. In the case of one twin mom, the exact same type of twin, identical boys, were born to two other women within her family. After swapping stories and strategies on feeding and sleeping schedules, it was discovered that the twins were all monochorionic (sharing one placenta), diamniotic (developing in two separate or one divided sac in the womb), and born within nine months of each other. Though the gestational period and births were different it is still eerily familiar when you look at the numbers: Three women, six babies, and nine months. Perhaps these things are not so random after all.
Note: Documents will be referred to as D# in the questions that follow.