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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy See All Teacher Resources



Grade 9-10

Reading RH.9-10.4

RH.9-10.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

Paragraph’s Anatomy

It happens all the time, in the car, in an elevator, even on a boat. It’s always at the most inconvenient time. Often it can happen multiple times in one day, and it always makes you angry. The infuriating and habitual dropped call…it happens to the best of us, even fanatical iPhone users occasionally have to deal with it. I know, a lot of people don’t actually talk, but when you do, and the call drops, you don’t just get angry, you get hulk angry. Once you pick up the shreds of your shirt and dignity after the dropped call tantrum, you start to piece together info you missed when the call was lost. If you don’t get all the info, you have to spend more time trying to piece together the point of the conversation. This is the exact same result when you don’t understand, or bother to contextually infer, technical words or domain-specific vocabulary in a text. It’s as if your convo was scattered and sketchy; you only get half the words, so you only get half the meaning.


Once Upon a Passage

When reading history texts, you’ll need to understand fun terms like Antebellum (not a country-pop cross over band), Free Market Economy (not a huge BOGO sale), Women’s Suffrage (not about harming women), and Manifest Destiny (the answer is obvious if you’re fortunate). This stuff isn’t just to be glossed over when reading; if you can’t understand half of the words in the text, how are you supposed to know the point of the reading, and for that matter, how could you discuss it intelligently? Here are some helpful hints:

  • When you get to a word you don’t know and you are reading a textbook, generally there will be a footnote or a dictionary of specific vocabulary in the back.
  • The buzzword of the day: context clues! Many times when you are reading a passage, the sentence, paragraph, or entire passage (context) may give you an idea (clue) of what an unfamiliar word means. A careful reading will help you understand domain-specific vocabulary. This will be the last line of defense if you get in front of an exam and you don’t know what something means.
  • Google that stuff: Research, it never hurts to do a little outside reading on your own. If you know you’re having a hard time with a section of history, read up! Find some reliable electronic sources that may aid your understanding. When all else fails, just look up the word or words in a dictionary for a start!

True Text

You never want to fall victim to misunderstandings via cell phone texts OR class texts. A poorly read passage, skipping unfamiliar words because you don’t know them, is like the auto correct feature on your phone; instead of reading “my parents got me a laptop,” you could end up reading “my pterodactyls got me a lap dance” …enough said.

Quiz Questions

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

Read each sentence given carefully. Choose the answer that gives the best definition or synonym for the bold word or words.

  1. Growing tired of the constant fear of attack due to the propaganda against the former Soviet Union, the American citizens hoped for a détente, or respite from the tense relations between the two countries.

    Correct Answer:

    malicious rumors/ period of peace

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (b). This is the only answer that correctly defines both terms given. The key terms are against, after propaganda and the clause following the word détente defines the term in context. The other choices give incorrect definitions of one or both of the words.

  2. Though many people are familiar with Hitler’s Final Solution leading to the concentration camps for those of Jewish decent, most are not as acquainted with the American internment camps to house the Japanese. The American camps did not pursue the same methods as the harsh and cold German camps; however, they did relocate and detain the Japanese American citizens nonetheless.

    Correct Answer:

    Hitler’s infamous proposal to eradicate the Jewish population/ Detention facility exclusively for the Japanese in America

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (c). In the context of the sentence the terms have implied meaning. Final Solution is also capitalized, so this should give you the clue that it is a proclamation of sorts. All of the remaining choices offer incongruous information as it relates to the passage, as well as unfounded claims.

  3. Through its fictional telling of the Salem Witch Trials, the play The Crucible offers an allegorical view of the uncompromising and unfair trials due to McCarthyism in America during the Cold War.

    Correct Answer:

    A political movement in American History in which people were persecuted for their associations without just cause.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (a). This is the only answer that identifies McCarthyism as a political movement, and continues the negative connotation presented in the statement provided. Options (b) and (c) affiliate the movement with the allegory instead of defining the actual situation, and option (d) is the opposite of the correct answer; the movement didn’t prevent this kind of attack, it caused it.

  4. Many thought Martin Luther’s nailing of his thesis to the church door was a radical statement that started the Reformation; however, the church door was a kind of bulletin board where many documents were treated in this manner.

    Correct Answer:

    A change in the church structure of Luther’s period, effected in part by his theological views and writings.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (c). This answer identifies the term as a name for the ecclesiastical restructuring of church functions based on theological ideals. This one may be a little anxiety-inciting because all of the answers use “church language,” and unless you had previous knowledge, this one would be a tad more difficult. Options (a) and (d) are made up completely with a few churchy words thrown in to make them sound legit; option (b) is distracting because it is half true, but the part about the written proof of faith is not entirely correct. This question may have seemed harder than the rest because there aren’t as many clues within the context of the sentence to help you out… sorry… but it does happen this way from time to time.

  5. Even before the emancipation of slaves, the transplantation of Native Africans to America caused a cultural diffusion of the songs, histories, and lifestyles of the people group.

    Correct Answer:

    Liberation/ dispersing of traditions

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (d). This is another one of those questions where having a more extensive vocabulary would be helpful; however, good strategies when looking at a question with two words such as this is to go for the word you have a better handle on. As for this question, the only answer that offers a valid definition of the second term, “cultural diffusion,” is the last choice.

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