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Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 9-10

Reading RL.9-10.1

Key Ideas and Details

RL.9-10.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Or, in plain English, “You can say anything you want about what’s in a book as long as you back it up.”

This standard contains several words that students may have to look up in order to make any sense of it at all - so it’s going to help keep them on track with their language standards, too! According to this standard, students are expected not only to “get” what a text says, but to also be able to explain, using examples from the text itself, how and why they reached their conclusions and why they are plausible. There are several ways to read any text; this standard isn’t so much about figuring out what the “right” one is as it is about explaining why whichever one the reader chooses seems right to him or her.

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example 1

Sample Activities to Use in Class

1. Have students read the following passage (or a similar one that fits into your regular lesson plans):

Although I am not disposed to maintain that the being born in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befall a human being, I do mean to say that in this particular instance, it was the best thing for Oliver Twist that could by possibility have occurred. The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration, -- a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existence; and for some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next: the balance being decidedly in favour of the latter. Now, if, during this brief period, Oliver had been surrounded by careful grandmothers, anxious aunts, experienced nurses, and doctors of profound wisdom, he would most inevitably and indubitably have been killed in no time. There being nobody by, however, but a pauper old woman, who was rendered rather misty by an unwonted allowance of beer; and a parish surgeon who did such matters by contract; Oliver and Nature fought out the point between them. The result was, that, after a few struggles, Oliver breathed, sneezed, and proceeded to advertise to the inmates of the workhouse the fact of a new burden having been imposed upon the parish, by setting up as loud a cry as could reasonably have been expected from a male infant who had not been possessed of that very useful appendage, a voice, for a much longer space of time than three minutes and a quarter.

- Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

Once students have read the passage, have them think about and jot down a few notes on the following questions. Remind them that they should be focusing on finding evidence in the passage to back up each answer:

1. What is the narrator’s general opinion of workhouses? How can you tell?
2. Does the narrator think being born in a workhouse is a good thing or a bad thing for Oliver Twist, and why? Or does it not matter at all to the narrator where Oliver was born?
3. Was Oliver carefully taken care of at his birth? Does the narrator think this was a good or bad thing, and why?
4. Would an average adult of this time think the care Oliver did or didn’t get at the workhouse was appropriate for a newborn? How can you tell?
5. Based on the passage, can you tell what sort of people typically needed the services of a workhouse? What was the medical care like in a workhouse, and why do you think it was that way?

After your students think about these questions and jot down points for each, discuss their answers as a class. Focus on the evidence used to support each student’s answer or opinion. You might want to remind them that a “right” answer is one that can be supported by the text, and that not all those answers will necessarily agree with one another. The point is to use the text to support an argument or conclusion - it’s possible to admit that an argument or conclusion has support in the text even if it disagrees with one’s own. Disagreements with another student’s conclusions should be backed up with evidence from the text.

Example 2

2. Have students form groups of three to five. Each group should receive an index card with a topic sentence or thesis sentence printed on it and a book or article that relates to the thesis sentence. For instance, if students receive a copy of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” the topic sentence printed on the card might be: “The best way to solve the problem of overpopulation and ensure that no one goes hungry is to serve babies as food.” For an additional challenge, give each group a different topic or thesis statement, but base all the statements on the same text. For instance, Group A might receive the topic sentence above while Group B might receive: “It’s best to wait for babies to grow up before eating them.”

In each group, students should read the topic sentence and the passage, and then choose parts of the passage that support the topic sentence their group received. Students should choose three to five points in the passage that support their topic sentence. Then, as a class, discuss each group’s topic sentence, the parts of the passage they used to support it, and whether the group’s choice of supporting details is effective. Also discuss whether details they failed to mention would be more effective support, and why.

Quiz 1 Questions

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

I. Questions 1-10 are based on the following passage from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights:

1801. - I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.

'Mr. Heathcliff?' I said.

A nod was the answer.

'Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir. I do myself the honour of calling as soon as possible after my arrival, to express the hope that I have not inconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting the occupation of Thrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had had some thoughts - '

'Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,' he interrupted, wincing. 'I should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it - walk in!'

The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, 'Go to the Deuce:' even the gate over which he leant manifested no sympathising movement to the words; and I think that circumstance determined me to accept the invitation: I felt interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than myself.

When he saw my horse's breast fairly pushing the barrier, he did put out his hand to unchain it, and then sullenly preceded me up the causeway, calling, as we entered the court, - 'Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood's horse; and bring up some wine.'

'Here we have the whole establishment of domestics, I suppose,' was the reflection suggested by this compound order. 'No wonder the grass grows up between the flags, and cattle are the only hedge- cutters.'

  1. Which of the following details in the passage support the conclusion that the narrator’s name is Mr. Lockwood?

    Correct Answer:

    Both (a) and (c)

  2. Mr. Lockwood calls his new home a “misanthropist’s heaven” because:

    Correct Answer:

    There are almost no people there except Mr. Lockwood and Heathcliff.

    Answer Explanation:

    • (d) - His chattiness with Heathcliff suggests otherwise, and Lockwood doesn’t mention his own chattiness when describing where he’s now living, making (e) the better answer.
    • (e) - Lockwood describes it as “completely removed from the stir of society” and also mentions the “desolation” which the two of them will “divide” between them.

  3. Which of the following details suggest that Mr. Lockwood is pleased to be in a place with such few people?

    Correct Answer:

    He describes the place and his solitude in it as “beautiful,” “perfect,” and “suitable.”

    Answer Explanation:

    • (a) - All these words indicate that the place is to his liking.
    • (c) - This statement doesn’t indicate how he feels about that fact, though, which makes (a) the better answer.

  4. Which details suggest that Heathcliff is not as pleased to see Lockwood as Lockwood is to see him?

    Correct Answer:

    All of the above details support the conclusion that Heathcliff is not pleased to see Mr. Lockwood.

  5. Instead of putting Mr. Lockwood off, Heathcliff’s actions seem to encourage him. What clues indicate that Mr. Lockwood is intrigued by Heathcliff’s attitude?

    Correct Answer:

    Mr. Lockwood notes that: “I felt interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than myself.”

  6. Heathcliff’s order to Joseph to “take Mr. Lockwood’s horse; and bring up some wine” leads Mr. Lockwood to the conclusion that:

    Correct Answer:

    Joseph singlehandedly does all the chores around Heathcliff’s house, which is why some of them never get done.

    Answer Explanation:

    (b) - Lockwood points out that the grass is growing between the flagstones, which indicates that this is a chore Joseph doesn’t get to because he’s the only servant or “domestic” at the house.


  7. Which of the following events, if it happens in the story, would help support Mr. Lockwood’s conclusion about Joseph?

    Correct Answer:

    Mr. Lockwood looks through the entire house, but sees no one except Heathcliff and Joseph.

    Answer Explanation:

    (a) - This would support his conclusion that Joseph is the only servant in the house.


  8. Heathcliff tells Mr. Lockwood: “I should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it.” However, which of the following actions by Heathcliff indicates that he does find Mr. Lockwood’s visit to be an inconvenience?

    Correct Answer:

    All of the above.

  9. In literature, "irony" is when a situation is opposite the way the characters expect it or believe it to be. The details in this passage suggest that the irony in it is:

    Correct Answer:

    That Lockwood thinks of himself as a recluse, but it’s really Heathcliff who wants nothing to do with people.

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - And Heathcliff’s misanthropy just seems to make Lockwood more gregarious.


  10. Based on the information in this passage, the event MOST likely to happen later in the story is:

    Correct Answer:

    Lockwood will be disappointed by the fact that Heathcliff really doesn’t want to be anyone’s friend.

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - We can tell from the passage that Lockwood isn’t quite as misanthropic as he claims to be, while Heathcliff seems genuinely annoyed that he has to chat with his new neighbor.


Quiz 2 Questions

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

II. Questions 1-10 are based on the following passage from J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye:

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything personal about them. They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They’re nice and all--I’m not saying that--but they’re also touchy as hell. Besides, I’m not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything. I’ll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean that’s all I told D.B. about, and he’s my brother and all. He’s in Hollywood. That isn’t too far from this crumby place, and he comes over and visits me practically every week end. He’s going to drive me home when I go home next month maybe. He just got a Jaguar. One of those little English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He’s got a lot of dough, now. He didn’t used to. He used to be just a regular writer, when he was home. He wrote this terrific book of short stories, The Secret Goldfish, in case you never heard of him. The best one in it was “The Secret Goldfish.” It was about this little kid that wouldn’t let anybody look at his goldfish because he’d bought it with his own money. It killed me. Now he’s out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.

  1. When the narrator says, “If you really want to hear about it” in the first sentence, what does he MOST likely mean by “it”?

    Correct Answer:

    His life and how he got to where he is now.

    Answer Explanation:

    The rest of the sentence discusses basic biographical info like where he was born and what his parents did, which is all background to this particular moment in his life.


  2. Which of the following phrases in the passage supports the meaning of “it” you chose in Question 1?

    Correct Answer:

    “where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied....”

    Answer Explanation:

    (a) - This describes the biographical information he doesn’t want to discuss.


  3. The narrator describes his parents as both “nice” and “touchy as hell.” Based on this information, his relationship with his parents is probably:

    Correct Answer:

    Polite, but distant

    Answer Explanation:

    (b) - “Nice” parents would probably act decently, but “touchy” parents might be hard for the author to confide in.


  4. Which of the following phrases indicates that the narrator is writing from inside a hospital or mental institution?

    Correct Answer:

    “I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy.”

    Answer Explanation:

    • (b) - Getting “run-down” indicates a physical or mental problem, and having to go someplace to “take it easy” implies an institution that can help with the problem. His vagueness in calling it a place “out here” indicates it’s more likely a mental hospital since it carries more stigma. *correct answer
    • (c) - The narrator could be visited by his brother at home or college as well as in a hospital, making (b) the better answer.

  5. How does the narrator feel about being where he is, and how can you tell?

    Correct Answer:

    Annoyed, because he calls it “crumby” and looks forward to going home “next month maybe.”

  6. How does the narrator say he felt about his brother D.B. when he and D.B. were still at home?

    Correct Answer:

    Impressed, because he liked his brother’s book The Secret Goldfish.

    Answer Explanation:

    (a) - He mentions his brother used to be “just a regular writer,” and describes the book as “terrific.”


  7. When the narrator describes D.B. as a “prostitute,” he most likely means that:

    Correct Answer:

    His brother sold out by writing for Hollywood instead of writing stories or books.

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - The narrator distinguishes between when D.B. was “home,” writing The Secret Goldfish, and now, when D.B. is “out in Hollywood, being a prostitute.”


  8. How does the author indicate that D.B. now writes movie scripts instead of short stories or books?

    Correct Answer:

    He calls D.B. a “prostitute” and then says, “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies,” which indicates that D.B.’s “prostitution” has to do with selling his writing skills to moviemakers.

  9. Which of the following phrases indicates that the narrator has a closer relationship with his brother than with his parents?

    Correct Answer:

    “I mean that’s all I told D.B. about, and he’s my brother and all.”

    Answer Explanation:

    (c) - This statement implies that his brother is someone the author would normally confide in - but he didn’t, in this case.


  10. Although the narrator says he’s going to tell the reader about “this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas,” he then goes off on a tangent about his brother’s career. The fact that he does this MOST likely means that:

    Correct Answer:

    The narrator doesn’t really want to talk about what happened to him.

    Answer Explanation:

    (d) - This also explains why he rambles about not wanting to talk about his life.


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