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Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 9-10

Reading RI.9-10.1

Standard 1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Breakin’ it Down:

This standard looks almost the same for informational texts as it does for literature. It’s all about going back to the text and looking for tiny details to support a claim or an inference. The only difference is that instead of making inferences about character motivations (as they would in literature), students need to make inferences about the author’s beliefs in informational texts or decide what the author would agree or disagree with, based on clues.

Don’t assume that students who have mastered this standard with regard to fiction are going to ace it with technical texts as well! This is a whole different beast. And one of the reasons this standard seems to be more of a challenge with informational texts is simply due to the range of technical vocabulary and background knowledge that students will need in order to understand what’s happening.

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example 1

Teacher Feature: Ideas for the classroom

1. HATCHLING: Annotation Nation

Sharpen those pencils – they are going to fly! As students read, get them in the habit of writing short summaries or the most important points in the margins of informational texts. Some teachers develop annotation symbols to guide students. Got students who aren’t ready to dive in by themselves? No problem! Just give them some guiding questions and ask them to gather evidence to answer those questions. Suggestions:

  • What’s the topic? If it’s a topic you’ve never heard of, what evidence did you find to help you figure it out?
  • What are the 3 most important details about the topic?
  • Who’s the audience?
  • What is the author’s opinion? Look for words that indicate judgment or criticism (positive or negative).

Example 2

2. TAKE FLIGHT: Take advantage of the Internet.

Start compiling released test items from college entrance tests. There are tons of websites where you can get tests for free – and Shmoop resources are a great place to start! The ACT is especially useful because they have Natural Science passages and Social Science passages that are overwhelmingly informational.

Give students practice test questions that focus on finding specific details in the text. A large majority of the questions on the ACT Reading are just asking students to read what is written. Ask students to write explanations of why certain answers are right or wrong. It will force them to go back to the nitty-gritty details of the passage for their analysis.

Quiz Questions

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

  1. Read the excerpt below from Patrick Henry’s speech “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”. Then, answer the question that follows:

    “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House.”

    According to the excerpt from Patrick Henry’s speech, what does he use to guide him in his decision-making?

    Correct Answer:

    Experience

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - The correct answer is C. This answer is wrong because it’s too literal. The question is asking what guides his decisions, so a lamp doesn’t make sense. Look back and see what the lamp represents.
    • (b) - The correct answer is C. This is mentioned in his speech, but he says that he uses the past and his experiences to guide the decisions he will make in the future.
    • (c) - Great! To get this right, you have to catch that Patrick Henry’s ‘lamp’ that he uses to guide him is a metaphor for experience. He says, ‘that lamp is experience’.
    • (d) - The correct answer is C. He mentions this in the speech and it sounds fancy, but it doesn’t mean it’s right. Look back at the beginning of the passage and you’ll see that he says he uses the past and his experience to help him make decisions.

  2. Read the excerpt below from President Andrew Jackson’s Message to Congress “On Indian Removal”. Then, answer the questions that follow:

    “It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages.

    The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves. […] It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy, and enable those States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.”

    After reading Jackson’s speech, what can we infer about his beliefs?

    Correct Answer:

    He does not believe Indian culture is as advanced as white culture.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - Correct. He uses words like “rude”, “decay”, and “savage” to describe their culture and customs.
    • (b) - The correct answer is A. This can’t be right because he says that after two Indian tribes agreed to move, he believes ‘their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages’.
    • (c) - The correct answer is A. There is evidence in the text that the opposite is true. Jackson says that their society is starting to decay and they are “lessening their numbers”.
    • (d) - Nope! The correct answer is A. First, he directly says that a speedy removal is important at the beginning of the second paragraph. Also, there is no evidence that his deadline is the end of his presidency.

  3. Which of the following statements is true, based on President Jackson’s speech?

    Correct Answer:

    Jackson wants to move white settlers into the Indians’ land after they leave.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - The correct answer is B. If you look back at the first paragraph, it says that two important Indian tribes have accepted removal.
    • (b) - Yes. He says that the removal of Indians “will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters.” The next sentence reveals that the civilized population he is referring to is white settlers.
    • (c) - The correct answer is B. Jackson is giving this speech to Congress, but there is absolutely nothing in the speech that suggests that Congress doesn’t agree with the plan.
    • (d) - Tricky, but the correct answer is B. Jackson did say mention these terms in his speech, but if you read carefully, he is talking about what will happen to the white populations in the state after they are “relieved” of the Indian populations.

  4. Knowing how to correctly read an informational text can save your life! Don’t believe us? Read the article “How To Build a Survival Shelter” and then answer questions 4 and 5.

    When would it NOT be a good idea to build this type of debris hut?

    Correct Answer:

    If you are in the middle of an empty field.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - Nope! The correct answer is D. The article actually tells you that this hut will work in the rain as long as you use 2 feet of debris to cover your little shelter.
    • (b) - No. The correct answer is D. This article actually tells you how to prepare for wind—add extra twigs or branches on top of your debris layer to keep it from blowing away.
    • (c) - Uh-oh! The correct answer is D. The structure can be built to keep you warm when it gets cold.
    • (d) - Nice work! There are a few reasons why this wouldn’t work in that environment. First, you need tons of branches and wood. Also, you need something pretty tall to rest your ridgepole on, and you won’t find that in an empty field. Congratulations, you’ve survived!

  5. Which of the following is NOT a suggestion made by the article?

    Correct Answer:

    Never use wet debris to build your shelter.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - Nope! The correct answer is B. It says to check the measurements or you might end up being cold at night!
    • (b) - Good reading! Even though the beginning of the article says dry material is optimal, later on the article says that if you have only wet debris, use it because it’s better than nothing. The ‘never’ in this answer is what makes it the only suggestion not made by the article.
    • (c) - The correct answer is B. The article definitely tells you to “close up your door area”.
    • (d) - The correct answer is B. The article directly says “get ready to shuffle your feet or make yourself a rake”.

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