Common Core: 5th Grade English Language Arts : Determine the Meaning of General Academic and Domain-Specific Words or Phrases in a Text: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.4

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 5th Grade English Language Arts

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All Common Core: 5th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #5 : Reading: Informational Text

Passage 1: Rabbits, Stoats, and Kiwis: The Ecology of New Zealand (2016)

The island nation of New Zealand is unique. Many of its animals and plants are found nowhere else. The kiwi is one of the most famous of these animals. This small, flightless bird dwells on the ground. It has tiny wings with which it is unable to fly. Kiwis belong to the same biological family as ostriches and emus, but they are much smaller than their relatives. Kiwis have round bodies and long beaks, and their brown feathers are very long and thin. Because of this, at first glance, someone who has never seen a kiwi before might think it has fur! 

New Zealand is particularly fond of the kiwi. It is the country’s national bird. New Zealanders are even sometimes referred to as “kiwis.” Unfortunately, the kiwi is in danger due to changes humans made to New Zealand’s environment.

Hundreds of years ago, European colonists decided to bring rabbits from Europe to New Zealand. They wanted to hunt them for food and for sport. Unfortunately, their plan succeeded too well. In Europe, other animals in the food chain eat rabbits. This keeps their population in check. In New Zealand, though, no animals ate rabbits. So, their population grew to an enormous size. There were way too many rabbits! 

The colonists tried to fix the problem by bringing another animal to New Zealand. Since none of New Zealand’s animals ate rabbits, the colonists imported one from Europe that did: the stoat. Stoats are small, carnivorous mammals similar to weasels. They eat rabbits, as well as birds and their eggs. Bird scientists warned the colonists to reconsider their plan, but the plan went forward—to the kiwi’s detriment.

New Zealand’s islands historically lacked predatory mammals. Because of this, kiwis’ flightlessness never put them at a huge risk of being hunted and eaten. This was the case until the stoats were released. The stoats began to eat the kiwis and their eggs in huge numbers. The kiwis had no way of protecting themselves from the stoats. As a result, their population plummeted. 

To this day, stoats threaten the kiwi population in New Zealand. To protect native wildlife, residents have to tried to use various methods of trapping and hunting to limit the size of the stoat population. Certain areas have also been fenced in to keep stoats away from native birds like the kiwi.

To function, environments maintain a careful equilibrium between predators and prey. Altering this balance purposely or accidentally can have serious consequences.

Based on the way it is used in the passage, the underlined word "detriment" in paragraph four means which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Benefit

Harm

Nutrition

Flight

Extinction

Correct answer:

Harm

Explanation:

If you don't know what the word "detriment" means, that's ok! The question isn't testing whether you know the definition of the word already: it is testing whether you can figure out what the word has to mean based on the way it is used in the passage. Let's look at this point in the passage and see what clues it provides.

Bird scientists warned the colonists to reconsider their plan, but the plan went forward—to the kiwi’s detriment.

Reading this sentence by itself, you might ask, "What plan?" If you're asking questions like this about things to which the sentence refers to earlier in the passage or explains later in the passage, it might be necessary to look at the sentences surrounding the first one we looked at. Let's look at the whole paragraph in which "detriment" is found.

The colonists tried to fix the problem by bringing another animal to New Zealand. Since none of New Zealand’s animals ate rabbits, the colonists imported one from Europe that did: the stoat. Stoats are small, carnivorous mammals similar to weasels. They eat rabbits, as well as birds and their eggs. Bird scientists warned the colonists to reconsider their plan, but the plan went forward—to the kiwi’s detriment.

Now we know what plan is being referred to: the plan to bring stoats to New Zealand. What effect did that have on the kiwi? Later in the passage, we learn that the stoats started to hunt the kiwis as well as rabbits: "The stoats began to eat the kiwis and their eggs in huge numbers. The kiwis had no way of protecting themselves from the stoats. As a result, their population plummeted." So, "detriment" isn't going to be a positive word like "benefit." The stoats definitely did not benefit the kiwis. "Nutrition" and "flight" don't make sense in context, and "extinction" is too specific. The passage does not say that kiwis are extinct; it only says that "their population plummeted." The correct answer is "harm." The plan went forward to the kiwis' harm. This means that the plan caused the kiwis harm.

Example Question #6 : Reading: Informational Text

Passage 1: Rabbits, Stoats, and Kiwis: The Ecology of New Zealand (2016)

The island nation of New Zealand is unique. Many of its animals and plants are found nowhere else. The kiwi is one of the most famous of these animals. This small, flightless bird dwells on the ground. It has tiny wings with which it is unable to fly. Kiwis belong to the same biological family as ostriches and emus, but they are much smaller than their relatives. Kiwis have round bodies and long beaks, and their brown feathers are very long and thin. Because of this, at first glance, someone who has never seen a kiwi before might think it has fur! 

New Zealand is particularly fond of the kiwi. It is the country’s national bird. New Zealanders are even sometimes referred to as “kiwis.” Unfortunately, the kiwi is in danger due to changes humans made to New Zealand’s environment.

Hundreds of years ago, European colonists decided to bring rabbits from Europe to New Zealand. They wanted to hunt them for food and for sport. Unfortunately, their plan succeeded too well. In Europe, other animals in the food chain eat rabbits. This keeps their population in check. In New Zealand, though, no animals ate rabbits. So, their population grew to an enormous size. There were way too many rabbits! 

The colonists tried to fix the problem by bringing another animal to New Zealand. Since none of New Zealand’s animals ate rabbits, the colonists imported one from Europe that did: the stoat. Stoats are small, carnivorous mammals similar to weasels. They eat rabbits, as well as birds and their eggs. Bird scientists warned the colonists to reconsider their plan, but the plan went forward—to the kiwi’s detriment.

New Zealand’s islands historically lacked predatory mammals. Because of this, kiwis’ flightlessness never put them at a huge risk of being hunted and eaten. This was the case until the stoats were released. The stoats began to eat the kiwis and their eggs in huge numbers. The kiwis had no way of protecting themselves from the stoats. As a result, their population plummeted. 

To this day, stoats threaten the kiwi population in New Zealand. To protect native wildlife, residents have to tried to use various methods of trapping and hunting to limit the size of the stoat population. Certain areas have also been fenced in to keep stoats away from native birds like the kiwi.

To function, environments maintain a careful equilibrium between predators and prey. Altering this balance purposely or accidentally can have serious consequences.

Based on the way it is used in the passage, the underlined word "equilibrium" in the last paragraph is closest in meaning to which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Influence

Food

Protection

Species

Balance

Correct answer:

Balance

Explanation:

If you aren't sure what "equilibrium" means, that doesn't mean that you'll necessarily get this question incorrect. The question is testing whether you can use context clues in the passage to figure out the word's meaning, not whether you already know it. Let's look at the sentence in which "equilibrium" is used.

To function, environments maintain a careful equilibrium between predators and prey.

To get a better idea of an unknown word that is used in a passage, it may be necessary to consider the sentences around the sentence in which the word is used. Let's look at the sentence that appears afterward, too.

To function, environments maintain a careful equilibrium between predators and prey. Altering this balance purposely or accidentally can have serious consequences.

Aha! Notice how the first sentence tells us that environments must maintain a careful equilibrium, but the second sentence refers back to this equilibrium. We can tell that because it uses the word "this." It then restates "equilibrium" in slightly different terms: "balance." An "equilibrium" is a specific type of balance, but the word can also be used as a synonym for "balance." (Notice how it includes the prefix "equi-". "Equi-" means equal or same. Things that are "equidistant" from a location are at the same distance from that location. So, it makes sense that in a state of "equilibrium," things are equal, or balanced.)

All Common Core: 5th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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