Common Core: 4th Grade English Language Arts : Determine the Meaning of Words and Phrases in a Text, Including Mythology: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.4

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Example Questions

Example Question #5 : Common Core: 4th Grade English Language Arts

Adapted from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll (1865)

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice 'without pictures or conversation?'

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, 'Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!' (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.

Based on the text, what does the word "curiosity" mean?

Possible Answers:

To follow something

To do something

To wonder about something 

To think about something

Correct answer:

To wonder about something 

Explanation:

To answer this question, we need to look a the sentence and the surrounding sentences to see if we are given any clues. 

"There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, 'Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!' (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again."

We know from reading the paragraph that Alice is following the rabbit, and she was fortunate enough to see the rabbit go down a rabbit hole. Because it says fortunately, she wanted to see were the rabbit was going; thus, curiosity means to wonder. 

Example Question #1 : Determine The Meaning Of Words And Phrases In A Text, Including Mythology: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.4.4

Adapted from "The Tongue-Cut Sparrow" in Japanese Fairy Tales (1904, trans. Teresa Peirce Williston)

A long time ago, in a little old house in a little old village in Japan lived a little old man and his little old wife.

One morning when the old woman slid open the screens that in that era formed the sides of all Japanese houses, she saw, on the doorstep, a poor little sparrow. She took him up gently and fed him. Then she held him in the bright morning sunshine until the cold dew was dried from his wings. Afterward she let him go, so that he might fly home to his nest, but he stayed to thank her with his songs.

Each morning, when the pink on the mountain tops told that the sun was near, the sparrow perched on the roof of the house and sang out his joy. The old man and woman thanked the sparrow for this, for they liked to be up early and at work. But near them there lived a cross old woman who did not like to be awakened so early. At last she became so angry that she caught the sparrow and cut his tongue. Then the poor little sparrow flew away to his home, but he could never sing again.

When the kind woman knew what had happened to her pet she was very sad. She said to her husband, "Let us go and find our poor little sparrow." So they started together, and asked of each bird by the wayside, "Do you know where the tongue-cut sparrow lives? Do you know where the tongue-cut sparrow went?"

In this way they followed until they came to a bridge. They did not know which way to turn, and at first could see no one to ask. At last they saw a bat hanging head downward, taking his daytime nap. "Oh, friend bat, do you know where the tongue-cut sparrow went?" they asked.

"Yes. Over the bridge and up the mountain," said the bat. Then he blinked sleepy eyes and was fast asleep again.

They went over the bridge and up the mountain, but again they found two roads and did not know which one to take. A little field mouse peeped through the leaves and grass, so they asked him, "Do you know where the tongue-cut sparrow went?"

"Yes. Down the mountain and through the woods," said the field mouse.

Down the mountain and through the woods they went, and at last came to the home of their little friend.

When he saw them coming the poor little sparrow was very happy indeed. He and his wife and children all came and bowed their heads down to the ground to show their respect. Then the sparrow rose and led the old man and the old woman into his house, while his wife and children hastened to bring them boiled rice, fish, and cress.

After they had feasted, the sparrow wished to please them still more, so he danced for them what is called the "sparrow dance."

When the sun began to sink, the old man and woman started for home. The sparrow brought out two baskets. "I would like to give you one of these," he said. "Which will you take?" One basket was large and looked very full, while the other one seemed very small and light.

The old people so thought they would not take the large basket, for that might have all the sparrow's treasure in it, so they said, "The way is long and we are very old, so please let us take the smaller one."

They took it and walked home over the mountain and across the bridge, happy and contented. When they reached their own home they decided to open the basket and see what the sparrow had given them. Within the basket they found many rolls of silk and piles of gold, enough to make them rich, so they were more grateful than ever to the sparrow.

The cross old woman who had cut the sparrow's tongue was peering in through the screen when they opened their basket. She saw the rolls of silk and the piles of gold, and planned how she might get some for herself.

The next morning she went to the kind woman and said, "I am so sorry that I cut the tongue of your sparrow. Please tell me the way to his home so that I may go to him and tell him I am sorry."

The kind woman told her the way and she set out. She went across the bridge, over the mountain, and through the woods. At last she came to the home of the little sparrow. He was not so glad to see this old woman, yet he was very kind to her and did everything to make her feel welcome. They made a feast for her, and when she started home the sparrow brought out two baskets as before. Of course the woman chose the large basket, for she thought that would have even more wealth than the other one.

It was very heavy, and caught on the trees as she was going through the wood. She could hardly pull it up the mountain with her, and she was all out of breath when she reached the top. She did not get to the bridge until it was dark. Then she was so afraid of dropping the basket into the river that she scarcely dared to step. When at last she reached home she was so tired that she was half dead, but she pulled the screens close shut, so that no one could look in, and opened her treasure.

Treasure indeed! A whole swarm of horrible creatures burst from the basket the moment she opened it. They stung her and bit her, they pushed her and pulled her, they scratched her and laughed at her screams. At last she crawled to the edge of the room and slid aside the screen to get away from the pests. The moment the door was opened they swooped down upon her, picked her up, and flew away with her. Since then nothing has ever been heard of the old woman.

When the narrator says, "Treasure indeed!" at the beginning of the last paragraph, what does he or she mean by this phrase?

Possible Answers:

The gold and silk in the basket were worth much less money than the elderly couple's.

There was nothing in the large basket.

The gold and silk in the basket were worth even more than those which the elderly couple had received from the sparrows.

The treasure wasn't treasure at all.

The large basket was full of rocks.

Correct answer:

The treasure wasn't treasure at all.

Explanation:

Let's look at the words and sentences around the phrase "Treasure indeed!" to figure out what is meant by it.

What happens in the story right before the narrator uses this phrase? The old woman who cut out the sparrow's tongue has just returned from her visit with them with a large basket. The elderly couple who helped the sparrow received treasure in a small basket when they visited him, so the old woman thinks that there is a larger amount of treasure in her basket because it is larger than the one the elderly couple chose. 

What happens in the story right after narrator says "Treasure indeed"? Monsters jump out of the basket and fly away with the old woman. There weren't any valuable items in the basket at all.

Now let's look at the answer choices. We can't say that the gold and silk in the basket were worth more or less than the elderly couple's because there was no gold or silk in the basket. We can't say that the basket was full of rocks, because this isn't what happens in the story either. And we can't say that there wasn't anything in the basket because there was something in it: monsters. The best answer is "The treasure wasn't treasure at all." This is what the narrator means by the phrase "treasure indeed."

Example Question #2 : Determine The Meaning Of Words And Phrases In A Text, Including Mythology: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Rl.4.4

Passage and illustrations adapted from "The Gold-Giving Serpent" in Indian Fairy Tales (ed. Joseph Jacobs, illustrator John D. Batten, 1892 ed.) This story is originally from the Panchatantra by Vishnu Sharma, c. 3rd century BCE.

Image "Common Core Fourth Grade CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.4 - Determine the Meaning of Words and Phrases in a Text, Including Mythology - Image 1" adapted from "The Gold-Giving Serpent" in Indian Fairy Tales (ed. Joseph Jacobs, illustrator John D. Batten, 1892 ed.).
Image "Common Core Fourth Grade CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.4 - Determine the Meaning of Words and Phrases in a Text, Including Mythology - Image 2" adapted from "The Gold-Giving Serpent" in Indian Fairy Tales (ed. Joseph Jacobs, illustrator John D. Batten, 1892 ed.).

 

Common core fourth grade ccss.ela literacy.rl.4.4   determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text  including mythology   image 1ow in a certain place there lived a man named Haridatta. He was a farmer, but poor was the return his labor brought him. One day, at the end of the hot hours, the man, overcome by the heat, lay down under the shadow of a tree to have a doze. Suddenly he saw a great hooded snake creeping out of an ant-hill near at hand. So he thought to himself, "Sure this is the guardian deity of the field, and I have not ever worshipped it. That's why my farming is in vain. I will at once go and pay my respects to it."

When he had made up his mind, he got some milk, poured it into a bowl, and went to the ant-hill, and said aloud: "O Guardian of this Field! All this while I did not know that you dwelt here. That is why I have not yet paid my respects to you; pray forgive me." And he laid the milk down and went to his house. Next morning he came and looked, and he saw a gold denar in the bowl, and from that time onward every day the same thing occurred: he gave milk to the serpent and found a gold denar.

One day the man had to go to the village, and so he ordered his son to take the milk to the ant-hill. The son brought the milk, put it down, and went back home. Next day he went again and found a denar, so he thought to himself: "This ant-hill is surely full of golden denars; I'll kill the serpent, and take them all for myself." So next day, while he was giving the milk to the serpent, the man's son struck it on the head with a cudgel. But the serpent escaped death by the will of fate, and in a rage bit the man's son with its sharp fangs, and he fell down dead at once. His people raised him a funeral pyre not far from the field and burnt him to ashes.

Common core fourth grade ccss.ela literacy.rl.4.4   determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text  including mythology   image 2

Two days afterwards his father came back, and when he learnt his son's fate he grieved and mourned. But after a time, he took the bowl of milk, went to the ant-hill, and praised the serpent with a loud voice. After a long, long time the serpent appeared, but only with its head out of the opening of the ant-hill, and spoke to the man: "'Tis greed that brings you here, and makes you even forget the loss of your son. From this time forward friendship between us is impossible. Your son struck me in youthful ignorance, and I have bitten him to death. How can I forget the blow with the cudgel? And how can you forget the pain and grief at the loss of your son?" So speaking, it gave the man a costly pearl and disappeared. But before it went away it said: "Come back no more." The man took the pearl, and went back home, cursing the folly of his son.

Based on the way in which the word is used throughout the passage, which of the following is closest in meaning to "denar"?

Possible Answers:

A statue made to resemble a specific person

A large tool used for farming

An antidote for snake venom

Part of a saddle for a horse

A type of coin

Correct answer:

A type of coin

Explanation:

What do we know about denars from the passage? We first encounter the word in the line "Next morning he came and looked, and he saw a gold denar in the bowl, and from that time onward every day the same thing occurred: he gave milk to the serpent and found a gold denar." This tells us that whatever a "denar" is, it has to fit in a milk-bowl. How big is a milk-bowl? From the illustration, we can see that it is relatively small; it is smaller than both the snake and the anthill. After figuring this out, we can ignore the answer choices "a large tool used for farming," "part of a saddle for a horse," and "a statue made to resemble a specific person." The story never mentions horses or statues, and even though the main character is a farmer, it doesn't make sense for a "denar" to be a large farming tool, because we can infer that a large farming tool could not fit in a small milk bowl.

To finish answering the question, we need to figure out whether a "denar" is "a type of coin" or "an antidote for snake venom." Several things we learn from the story tell us that a "denar" is not "an antidote for snake venom." First, if the son had an antidote for snake venom, he would have probably used it when the snake bit him to try and survive, and no mention is made of this. Second, it doesn't make much sense for an antidote (a liquid) to be "golden." It makes much more sense for a type of coin to be "golden." A coin is also small enough to fit in a milk bowl the size of the one shown in the illustration. This is the correct answer.

All Common Core: 4th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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