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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy

Grade 9-10

Reading RH.9-10.2

RH.9-10.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

What’s My Line

If it were the 50’s when you woke up this morning and you skipped downstairs to your bowl of cereal where you found the decoder ring you were hoping for, you would be so excited you might hop out of your bobby socks. It may not seem like anything special today, but back then it was a big deal. The coveted decoder ring would eventually give you a super-secret message after weeks of waiting for additional information. The development of the storyline and the acquisition of the secret message was the ultimate goal of every Johnny-Cash-listening tween. In case you’re wondering, here is the point… this little toy holds the metaphor to deciphering the key ideas and information from a text, specifically a primary and secondary source kind of text (oooh the metaphor thickens). Different texts, or decoder rings, and you will still receive the same secret message or theme.

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard


Leave it to Reader

The first part of the standard is all about identifying the most important information, so the bad approach to take would be to violently interrogate the text until it gave in and told you what the central idea is. Instead you can dismember it and take a look at its parts and pieces one by one, much like a 1950’s original Mr. Potato Head. For any source text, primary or secondary, if you look at its paragraphs and sentences analytically, you can determine the central ideas easily. When reading for important information in a text, note-taking is essential. Often making a chart with space for key ideas, comments, and page references is a helpful way to track your thinking.

The Twilight Drone

The second half of the standard checks your comprehension of the text by asking you to summarize it. Writing summaries can feel like you’re hula hooping: after your first couple of attempts you’re just doing it without thinking, but you should think about it to keep from looking ridiculous. Shmoop says, hula hoop with style. Be careful of simply restating exactly what is in the text; summaries should be a bit more than just a regurgitation of the words on the page.

  • Sequence of events: In primary texts particularly there is usually an organizational pattern such as a sequence of events. It is important to summarize the events with integrity and explain with your own words how the development of ideas unfolds.
  • Another useful tool in your reading belt would be the constant predicting of events as you think they may unfold based on what has already been read. You may even add this as an additional column to your notes. This requires critical thinking and understanding of the text at an inferential level.

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

Assess the two documents below and answer the questions that follow.

Document 1
Romeo and Juliet
Opening Sonnet

 Two households, both alike in dignity,
    In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
    From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
    Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
    From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
    A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
    Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
    Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
    The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
    And the continuance of their parents' rage,
    Which, but their children's end, naught could remove,
    Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
    The which if you with patient ears attend,
    What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

Document 2
Opening Paragraph of an Argument

Many people, who have probably never read the original have claimed that the Twilight books are a modern interpretation of the classic Shakespearean drama Romeo and Juliet. This is a ridiculous comparison. There are several aspects of the storyline that may be seen as parallels: The love between the two couples despite extenuating circumstances, the presence of death and chastity, and the love triangle between the couple and a third party. Though these elements are present in both works, the application of the Twilight series to the Shakespearean archetype is inherently flawed.

  1. Did this spoil the play for you? Sorry (hint: not really). What is the central theme present in the opening sonnet of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?

    Correct Answer:

    Quarrelling for its own sake will lead to tragedy.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (b). The sonnet suggests that the parents’ long-waged war between families could only end in tears, the death of their kids. Option (a) is incorrect, though if you’ve read the entire play this may have distracted you. Option (c) is barf-worthy, this isn’t a Disney movie. Option (d) is incorrect because this has little to do with the sonnet, and besides that it was not a value held by the star-crossed pair.

  2. What is the central argument presented in the opening paragraph given as document 2?

    Correct Answer:

    A comparison of the two works would be essentially wrong on several points.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (c). The opening paragraph given suggests the argument will seek to disprove the claim through a comparison of several plot points that appear similar. Options (a) and (b) both assert that the works are perfectly correlated. Option (d) is incorrect because it suggests a stark difference between the two, but the text clearly says there are points which seem related but can be disproved.

  3. Which a statement correctly summarizes the key events presented in document one?

    Correct Answer:

    Two families throw down, their kids get married in secret, the lovers die, and the parents stop fighting.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (c). This is the only answer that gives a correct sequence of events for the action presented in the sonnet. Options (a) and (b) give all actions in the wrong order; option (d) gives false information.

  4. Based on the information given in document one, which statement offers the best prediction for the development of the argument for the first point: “The love between the two couples despite extenuating circumstances,” does not justify a parallel plot?

    Correct Answer:

    The romances in both works are different on many accounts: though the two in Twilight have altogether different families due to supernatural circumstances, their courtship is generally known; the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is entirely secretive with only a few privy to the match.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (b). Though it is a little long-winded, the argument develops through a contrasting explanation of the circumstances surrounding the two separate relationships; it also does this with a similar compare-and-contrast structure presented in the opening paragraph given above (also called parallelism). Options (c) and (d) are descriptions of the individual plots of both works by Shakespeare and Meyer respectively. Option (a) has a whole heap of contradiction in regards to both plots in question.

  5. What effect might the opening sonnet have in reading the rest of the play?

    Correct Answer:

    The opening sonnet offers an abstract of the events to come, making prediction and recording of the plot an easier task.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (a). In this answer the sonnet is correctly identified as a summary of the events. Option (b) is the opposite of the right answer. Options (c) and (d) are falsities and folly.

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