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Common Core Standards: ELA See All Teacher Resources

Grades 9-10

Reading RI.9-10.5

Standard 5: Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).

Breakin’ it Down:

This standard works well in conjunction with Standard 3. While Standard 3 asks students to map the order and general idea of large chunks of text, this standard is more about the tiny details. Even though students might be able to say, “The second paragraph convinces the reader that global warming is real,” this standard forces them to answer the question: How does the author do that?

Does the author use a personal example? Discredit a counter-example? Introduce a statistic? Compare two sides of an issue? Or make a prediction?

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example 1

Teacher Feature: Ideas for the classroom

1. HATCHLING: It’s all an advertisement! How are they getting you to buy in?

For students who are just starting to think about how arguments are built, a great introduction to this standard is teaching Modes of Persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. This is a great tool to get students noticing how an argument is built, especially in great historical speeches.

If you really want to get students hooked, pull in some modern advertisements that use these persuasive techniques. Get students talking about how modern copywriters convince people to buy something or believe in something. It’s a great segue into older informational documents.

Ethos: Convincing the reader that the speaker is trustworthy or an expert on the topic being discussed (or at least that he/she has the support of experts).
Pathos: Appealing to the emotions of the audience to prove a point or convince them. (Make sure you highlight that in many speeches, using fear is a common tactic!)
Logos: Using logic to make a point or sway the reader -- it’s all about the facts and statistics!

Example 2

2. TAKE FLIGHT: Persuade me!

Integrate this standard with writing standards by creating an assignment in which students must write a persuasive piece (letter, essay, etc.). Ask them to use ethos, pathos, and logos in their own writing and identify each section where they do so. When students apply these techniques to their own work, it will help them recognize them in historical documents or other kinds of nonfiction.

Quiz Questions

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

  1. Read the excerpt below from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. Then, answer the question that follows:

    “My dear Fellow Clergymen,

    […] You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: There are just laws and there are unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’”

    Which of the following techniques does the author use in the first paragraph to persuade his audience that his argument is valid?

    Correct Answer:

    A reference to a moral authority to strengthen his argument that it is sometimes okay to break laws.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - The correct answer is B. There is nothing emotional about his first paragraph. In fact, his evidence is very logical and is based on definitions and rational arguments about the types of laws.
    • (b) - Good! He references Saint Augustine, showing that they would both agree on the issue of breaking laws. This makes the reader feel that his argument is more valid or trustworthy because he has other big names on his side.
    • (c) - The correct answer is B. His argument in the first paragraph is highly logical, and not emotional.
    • (d) - The correct answer is B. There are no statistics or numbers anywhere in the first paragraph, so this can’t be right.

  2. Read the excerpt below from Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis”. Then, answer the questions that follow:

    “'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc.

    Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered.”

    In the first paragraph, the examples of Joan of Arc and the French fleet serve to:

    Correct Answer:

    Back up the claim that people in all times and places can panic over something small.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - Right! After he makes this claim at the very beginning, he gives two specific examples from different times and places in history when people panicked over something small.
    • (b) - The correct answer is A. This doesn’t really make sense because we have no idea when the Joan of Arc incident even happened. So the purpose can’t be to define the time period.
    • (c) - If anything, these examples show that panic can affect history. Both of these events changed the course of wars. And even if you aren’t familiar with these events, you know that Joan of Arc got the English to retreat!
    • (d) - The correct answer is A. These examples support the idea that panic spreads quickly. They both show an entire country going crazy over something small.

  3. The second paragraph is different from the first because:

    Correct Answer:

    It gives examples of how panic can be beneficial rather than showing the dangers of panic.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - The correct answer is B. The second paragraph doesn’t talk specifically about France or England. Be careful not to assume things that aren’t written!
    • (b) - Yes! Even though he is bad-mouthing panic in the first paragraph, he is actually arguing that panic reveals things and makes people stronger than before.
    • (c) - The correct answer is B. The second paragraph deals mainly with the positive effects of panic. It’s not really giving examples of panic -- that was the first paragraph.
    • (d) - The correct answer is B. This is the easiest choice to eliminate because the second paragraph has nothing to do with mental or psychological causes for panic.

  4. Read the excerpt below from Charles Stelzle’s book Why Prohibition!. Then, answer the questions that follow:

    “Every reasonable measure is taken to prevent men from committing crime, and when they disobey the very reasonable laws which are framed for the safeguarding of men as a whole, they are punished by both God and society.

    There was a time when men honestly believed that they had a right to own slaves-because they thought it was purely a question of property rights but today we know it is also a moral question. 

    There was a time when men honestly believed that all they needed to do to get a wife was to take a club and hit the woman of their choice on the head and drag her home, but today — well, women have something to say about it, too.

    And so the weaker members of society are today being given a better chance. 

    But we still [look] back to the property rights period and the question of personal liberty when we discuss the saloon and the liquor business. We forget that the biggest thing in this discussion is duty and sacrifice-for the sake of the weaker members of society-and we should be ready to give up our rights when the well being of mankind as a whole is concerned….

    ‘Prohibition is based upon the idea that you can take away one man's liberty because of another man's act. The Drys want to run society on the principle of an insane asylum. Is that sound? They find a sick man and they want to compel everybody to take medicine. They find a man with a crutch and they try to compel every man to carry a crutch all his life,’ recently said one of the chief exponents of the liquor business. 

    He's wrong. The ‘Drys’ don't want to compel everybody to take medicine-they want to eliminate the cause of disease so that nobody will have to take medicine. They don't want to compel every man to carry a crutch all his life-they want to abolish the evil which compels men to walk on crutches….”

    In the final two paragraphs of the text, the author strengthens his argument against alcohol by comparing the banning of alcohol to:

    Correct Answer:

    curing a disease.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - Yippee! The “Drys” -- those who oppose alcohol -- compare themselves to people who cure awful diseases. To them, alcohol is causing terrible consequences – a.k.a. making people ‘sick’. So the answer to them is to get rid of the cause of the disease in the first place.
    • (b) - The correct answer is A. This one is tricky. In the last paragraph, he compares going “dry” to getting rid of whatever caused the man to carry the crutch. In his metaphor, he is actually eliminating the cause of the disease which makes men lame.
    • (c) - The correct answer is A. The second to last paragraph does talk about liquor businesses, but that’s only because he is telling you the background on the quote. This is not part of his comparison.
    • (d) - The correct answer is A. The author definitely doesn’t want you to think that his plan is like an insane asylum. In fact, if you read closely, that is the argument that his opponent is making -- and the author disagrees!

  5. Which of the following lines from the text does NOT support the author’s argument that liquor should be banned to protect the general population?

    Correct Answer:

    The Drys want to run society on the principle of an insane asylum.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - The correct answer is D. This idea definitely supports his claim. He wants everyone to give up liquor in order to save mankind.
    • (b) - The correct answer is D. This idea supports his claim. He argues that people should be willing to sacrifice liquor, because our duty to society is the most important issue.
    • (c) - The correct answer is D. This supports his argument by showing that taking away liquor is actually benefiting people, just like curing a disease.
    • (d) - Nice job! This is definitely not a positive thing to say about the “Drys”. The author includes this part to show what his enemies believe, but then he disagrees strongly with their points.

Aligned Resources