© 2015 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHECK OUT SHMOOP'S FREE STUDY TOOLS: Essay Lab | Math Shack | Videos

Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 11-12

Reading RI.11-12.3

Standard 3: Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

Breakin’ it Down:

Simply said, students have to be able to follow the author’s logic, no matter how many twists and turns the text takes. This standard is about mapping out the author’s main arguments or points. It’s also about finding patterns and connections among those points.

Teach With Shmoop

Tag! You're it.

The links in this section will take you straight to the standard-aligned assignments tagged in Shmoop's teaching guides.

That's right, we've done the work. You just do the clickin...

Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example 1

Teacher Feature: Ideas for the classroom

1. UNDERSTUDY: Text mapping

Teaching the art of outlining a text is a great way to approach this standard. This will force students to slow down and analyze each small section of a longer work. For each section or paragraph, have students write a one-sentence summary before they move on. It will help them master the standard but also help you pinpoint the exact section where students misunderstood what they were reading.

This is also an extremely important skill to have when approaching those 200-page reading assignments in college. Nobody wants to have to re-read those because they didn’t take good notes!

Example 2

COLLEGIATE: What’s missing?

Assign students an article or non-fiction piece and allow them to annotate and create a text map. Then give them a list of points or main ideas made over the course of the text with one major section or idea missing. First ask students to rearrange the points according to the order in which they were presented. Then, they have to identify the missing sub-topic and write it in.

Quiz Questions

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

  1. Read this excerpt from President James K. Polk’s “Fourth Annual Message,” which he addressed to Congress in 1848. Then, answer the questions that follow:

    “Fellow citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

    […] Peace, plenty, and contentment reign throughout our borders, and our beloved country presents a sublime moral spectacle to the world.
    The troubled and unsettled condition of some of the principal European Powers has had a necessary tendency to check and embarrass trade […] but…the United States, with their abundant products, have felt their effects less severely than any other country, and all our great interests are still prosperous and successful.
    In reviewing the great events of the past year, and contrasting the agitated and disturbed state of other countries with our own tranquil and happy condition, we may congratulate ourselves that we are the most favored people on the face of the earth. While the people of other countries are struggling to establish free institutions, under which man may govern himself, we are in the actual enjoyment of them—a rich inheritance from our fathers. While enlightened nations of Europe are convulsed and distracted by evil war or strife, we settle all our political controversies by the peaceful exercise of the rights of freemen at the ballot-box. The great republican maxim so deeply engraved on the hearts of our people, that the will of the majority, constitutionally expressed, shall prevail is our sure safeguard against force and violence. It is a subject of just pride, that our fame and character as a nation continue to advance in the civilized world. To our wise and free institutions it is to be attributed, that while other nations have achieved glory at the price of the suffering, distress, and impoverishment of their people, we have won our honorable position in the midst of an uninterrupted prosperity, and of an increasing individual comfort and happiness. And I am happy to inform you that our relations with all nations are friendly and pacified.”

    The president makes his argument for the greatness of his country by:

    Correct Answer:

    Contrasting the positive attributes of the U.S. with the flaws of other nations.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - Good! Almost every point in this text is made through comparison to show the superiority of the U.S.
    • (b) - Nope. This text is focused on the present state of the country, not the past.
    • (c) - The correct answer is A. He certainly isn’t insulting previous generations. In fact, he pays respect to previous Americans by saying that the country has a ‘rich inheritance from [their] fathers’.
    • (d) -The correct answer is A. First, this president doesn’t mention the flaws of the country—it’s all positive. And also, according to him, the country’s greatness isn’t just because of its growth.

  2. Which of the following is NOT a reason that the president believes the United States is superior to other nations?

    Correct Answer:

    The U.S. has been able to advance armies around the world.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - In the second paragraph the president says that even though trade conditions are difficult around the world, the US ‘felt their effects less severely than any other country, and all our great interests are still prosperous and successful’. So this answer is true – and remember, this is a NOT question
    • (b) - Nope. This answer is also true. In the third paragraph he brags that ‘we settle all our political controversies by the peaceful exercise of the rights of freemen at the ballot-box’.
    • (c) - Correct! This answer was never mentioned in the text. He did mention that the U.S. had advancing fame, but other than that, no armies to be found.
    • (d) - At the end of the text, he notes that ‘other nations have achieved glory at the price of the suffering, distress, and impoverishment of their people’ while the U.S. population is comfortable and happy. So this is answer is true – and this is a NOT question!

  3. Read this excerpt from President George H. W. Bush’s 1991 Address to the Nation on the Invasion of Iraq. Then, answer the questions that follow:

    “Just 2 hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait. These attacks continue as I speak. Ground forces are not engaged.

    This conflict started August 2d when the dictator of Iraq invaded a small and helpless neighbor. Kuwait—a member of the Arab League and a member of the United Nations—was crushed; its people, brutalized. Five months ago, Saddam Hussein started this cruel war against Kuwait. Tonight, the battle has been joined.

    This military action, taken in accord with United Nations resolutions and with the consent of the United States Congress, follows months of constant and virtually endless diplomatic activity on the part of the United Nations, the United States, and many, many other countries. Arab leaders sought what became known as an Arab solution, only to conclude that Saddam Hussein was unwilling to leave Kuwait. Others traveled to Baghdad in a variety of efforts to restore peace and justice. Our Secretary of State, James Baker, held an historic meeting in Geneva, only to be totally rebuffed. This past weekend, in a last-ditch effort, the Secretary-General of the United Nations went to the Middle East with peace in his heart—his second such mission. And he came back from Baghdad with no progress at all in getting Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait.

    Now the 28 countries with forces in the Gulf area have exhausted all reasonable efforts to reach a peaceful resolution—have no choice but to drive Saddam from Kuwait by force. We will not fail. […]
    As I report to you, air attacks are underway against military targets in Iraq. We are determined to knock out Saddam Hussein's nuclear bomb potential. We will also destroy his chemical weapons facilities. Much of Saddam's artillery and tanks will be destroyed.

    Our objectives are clear: Saddam Hussein's forces will leave Kuwait. The legitimate government of Kuwait will be restored to its rightful place, and Kuwait will once again be free. Iraq will eventually comply with all relevant United Nations resolutions, and then, when peace is restored, it is our hope that Iraq will live as a peaceful and cooperative member of the family of nations, thus enhancing the security and stability of the Gulf.

    Some may ask: Why act now? Why not wait? The answer is clear: The world could wait no longer. Sanctions, though having some effect, showed no signs of accomplishing their objective. Sanctions were tried for well over 5 months, and we and our allies concluded that sanctions alone would not force Saddam from Kuwait.”

    All of the following are justifications for war presented in the speech EXCEPT:

    Correct Answer:

    The refusal of any nation to authorize sanctions against Iraq

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - Remember, this is an EXCEPT question, so you are looking for the one answer that is not in the speech. The President starts his speech by saying that he is waging war because of the invasion of Kuwait.
    • (b) - Correct! This answer is false. While the issue of sanctions does appear in the speech, the president says that sanctions have been attempted and even had a small effect.
    • (c) - The correct answer is B. The president does say he is invading to ‘knock out…the nuclear bomb potential’, meaning that is a definite concern in this war.
    • (d) - The correct answer is B. An entire paragraph is devoted to the number of talks and meetings with Iraq that ended unsuccessfully.

  4. President H.W. Bush includes the final paragraph in order to:

    Correct Answer:

    explain the connection between his earlier decision to engage in diplomatic efforts and his ultimate decision to wage war.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) -Good! He feels the need to explain why he tried diplomacy for so long, but suddenly decided to start a war. He is anticipating potential criticism and is taking action before his critics ask those questions.
    • (b) - The correct answer is A. This isn’t right because he asks questions and then immediately answers them. He is not asking anyone for answers; he is simply giving them to justify his decision to go to war.
    • (c) - The correct answer is A. Even though he admits the sanctions failed, there is no finger pointing in this paragraph. He isn’t trying to throw any of the allies under the bus.
    • (d) - The correct answer is A. The second to last paragraph is where he lays out his objectives for the war -- not the final paragraph.

  5. The following is a section from the Bill of Rights which was added to the Constitution in 1789:

    Amendment III
    No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    Amendment IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Amendments III and IV are similar in that:

    Correct Answer:

    They are both meant to protect the privacy of a person’s home.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - Yes! The third amendment keeps soldiers out of a person’s home. The fourth amendment keeps the police from searching a person’s home without a proper warrant.
    • (b) - Even though war is mentioned in the third amendment, these amendments are about protecting the privacy of American homes by forbidding different groups to enter without permission.
    • (c) - This is not the best answer because these amendments aren’t really about comparing public and private spaces. Nor are they focused on creating definitions of any kind. Instead, they both deal with protecting the privacy of the American home.
    • (d) - Nope! By forbidding soldiers or government officials to enter citizens’ homes, both of these guarantee the power of citizens over authority figures.

Aligned Resources