Common Core: 5th Grade English Language Arts : Explain the Relationships or Interactions Between Two or More Individuals, Events, Ideas, or Concepts: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.3

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Explain The Relationships Or Interactions Between Two Or More Individuals, Events, Ideas, Or Concepts: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.5.3

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.

Which of the following best describes the effect the arrival of rabbits in New Zealand eventually had on kiwis?

Possible Answers:

The rabbits attacked the kiwis and ate their eggs, causing their population to drop, so stoats were imported to eat the rabbits, and the kiwi population increased.

Rabbits caused problems, so people imported stoats to eat the rabbits, but the stoats ate rabbits, kiwis, and kiwi eggs, causing the kiwi population to plummet.

Kiwis were causing problems, so stoats were brought in to eat the kiwis, but the kiwi population became so threatened that rabbits were brought in as an additional food source for the stoats.

Rabbits caused problems, so people imported stoats to eat the rabbits, but the kiwis started attacking the stoats, causing the stoat population to drop and the rabbits to continue causing problems.

Rabbits caused problems, so people imported kiwis to hunt the rabbits, but the kiwis got out of control, so stoats were imported to eat the kiwis.

Correct answer:

Rabbits caused problems, so people imported stoats to eat the rabbits, but the stoats ate rabbits, kiwis, and kiwi eggs, causing the kiwi population to plummet.

Explanation:

This question is asking you to summarize the complex chain of multiple causes and effects that link the cause of importation of rabbits in New Zealand to the indirect effect it had on kiwis. The passage presents this information as a chronological narrative, so it is helpful to skim it to figure out what happened first, what that event caused, etc. You might even want to make a small sketch, using arrows to show cause-effect relationships between different concepts.

We're given the starting point of this chain of events in the question itself: the arrival of rabbits in New Zealand. What happens after that? The rabbit population gets too large, and they start causing problems. Our diagram might look like this at this point:

Rabbits are brought to New Zealand --> Rabbits cause problems

What happens next? Stoats are brought to New Zealand from Europe to keep the rabbit population in check.

Rabbits are brought to New Zealand --> Rabbits cause problems --> Stoats are brought to New Zealand

Then what? The stoats reduce the rabbit population, yes, but they also start threatening the kiwis and reducing the kiwi population.

Rabbits are brought to New Zealand --> Rabbits cause problems --> Stoats are brought to New Zealand --> Stoats reduce rabbit and kiwi populations

Aha—we've figures out the indirect effect that the arrival of rabbits had on kiwis: it reduced their population! Now let's look at the answer choices and figure out which one matches our conclusion best. That answer choice is "Rabbits caused problems, so people imported stoats to eat the rabbits, but the stoats ate rabbits, kiwis, and kiwi eggs, causing the kiwi population to plummet." 

Notice that we didn't analyze the answer choices one by one to find the correct one. When each answer choice would take a while to analyze on its own, it can be more efficient to come up with your own conclusion first and then identify which answer choice matches it best.

Example Question #2 : Explain The Relationships Or Interactions Between Two Or More Individuals, Events, Ideas, Or Concepts: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.5.3

Passage 2: Unwanted Guests: The Dangers of Invasive Species (2016)

Groups of different animals affect one another in the natural world. For example, imagine that wolves and deer live in an area. A certain number of wolves need to eat a certain number of deer to survive. This keeps the population of the deer from getting too big. Similarly, the deer eat grass and vegetation. If there were more deer, they’d need to eat more grass.

The natural world is full of balances like these. Unfortunately, sometimes these balances are upset by invasive species. An invasive species is an animal or plant that has moved or been moved from its original environment to a new one. It has established a stable population there that is causing problems. Invasive species don’t cause problems in their original environments because they are kept in check by other plants and animals. In new environments, though, they have nothing stopping them from taking over.

One example of an invasive species is the zebra mussel. This animal originally only lived near Russia. Zebra mussels got into the Great Lakes by attaching themselves to the bottoms of ships. They now live in the Great Lakes too, where they upset the ecosystem. Zebra mussels eat algae, but so do fish. Many fish die as a result of there not being enough algae for all the animals to eat.

Plants can be invasive species too. Another example of an invasive species is the kudzu vine. Humans introduced the plant to the United States on purpose. Farmers were encouraged to grow it to protect their soil. Since then, it has gotten out of control. It now covers large parts of the South, outcompeting native plants for resources like water and sunlight.

Invasive species can cause environmental problems that are very difficult to fix. Because of this, it’s important to rethink introducing any species to a new environment. It’s also important to check to make sure when traveling that you are not bringing any plants or animals with you!

The passage states that just as aquatic animals compete for __________, plants compete for __________.

Possible Answers:

territory . . . food

territory . . . attention from other members of the species

food . . . territory

food . . . water and sunlight

water and sunlight . . . food

Correct answer:

food . . . water and sunlight

Explanation:

The phrase "The passage states" is an important part of this question. This tells you that whatever the answer choices are, you have to be able to specifically point to where the passage tells you this information in order for them to be correct. It's possible that multiple answer choices are true statements, but only some of them are mentioned in the passage. Make sure to pay careful attention to how questions are worded so that you don't accidentally miss questions you otherwise would have gotten right!

Let's analyze this question one blank at a time. First, let's look at the first blank: what does the passage say aquatic animals compete for? Where does the passage talk about aquatic animals? It discusses this topic in paragraph three, when describing the effects of the zebra mussel in the Great Lakes. The passage states,

Zebra mussels got into the Great Lakes by attaching themselves to the bottoms of ships. They now live in the Great Lakes too, where they upset the ecosystem. Zebra mussels eat algae, but so do fish. Many fish die as a result of there not being enough algae for all the animals to eat.

Zebra mussels and fish are both aquatic animals, and the passage says that they compete for algae that they eat. So, they compete for food. The word that goes in the first blank has to be "food." This narrows down our answer choices: the word or phrase that goes in the second blank has to be either "water and sunlight" or "territory."

What does the passage say about competition between plant species? In paragraph four, the passage talks about plant competition when it talks about the effects the Kudzu vine has on the southern U.S. 

Plants can be invasive species too. Another example of an invasive species is the kudzu vine. Humans introduced the plant to the United States on purpose. Farmers were encouraged to grow it to protect their soil. Since then, it has gotten out of control. It now covers large parts of the South, outcompeting native plants for resources like water and sunlight.

The paragraph ends with the passage directly stating that the Kudzu vine "[outcompetes] native plants for resources like water and sunlight." So, "water and sunlight" is the correct answer for the second blank. This means that the correct answer is "food . . . water and sunlight."

Example Question #4 : Reading: Informational Text

Passage 2: Unwanted Guests: The Dangers of Invasive Species (2016)

Groups of different animals affect one another in the natural world. For example, imagine that wolves and deer live in an area. A certain number of wolves need to eat a certain number of deer to survive. This keeps the population of the deer from getting too big. Similarly, the deer eat grass and vegetation. If there were more deer, they’d need to eat more grass.

The natural world is full of balances like these. Unfortunately, sometimes these balances are upset by invasive species. An invasive species is an animal or plant that has moved or been moved from its original environment to a new one. It has established a stable population there that is causing problems. Invasive species don’t cause problems in their original environments because they are kept in check by other plants and animals. In new environments, though, they have nothing stopping them from taking over.

One example of an invasive species is the zebra mussel. This animal originally only lived near Russia. Zebra mussels got into the Great Lakes by attaching themselves to the bottoms of ships. They now live in the Great Lakes too, where they upset the ecosystem. Zebra mussels eat algae, but so do fish. Many fish die as a result of there not being enough algae for all the animals to eat.

Plants can be invasive species too. Another example of an invasive species is the kudzu vine. Humans introduced the plant to the United States on purpose. Farmers were encouraged to grow it to protect their soil. Since then, it has gotten out of control. It now covers large parts of the South, outcompeting native plants for resources like water and sunlight.

Invasive species can cause environmental problems that are very difficult to fix. Because of this, it’s important to rethink introducing any species to a new environment. It’s also important to check to make sure when traveling that you are not bringing any plants or animals with you!

How does the story of how the zebra mussel became an invasive species differ from the story of how the kudzu vine became an invasive species?

Possible Answers:

People eat the zebra mussel, but not the kudzu vine.

Fishermen imported the zebra mussel on purpose, but farmers imported the zebra mussel on purpose.

People accidentally moved the zebra mussel to a new environment, but they purposely introduced the kudzu vine to a new environment.

Nothing eats the zebra mussel, so it causes problems in its new environment, but many animals eat the kudzu vine, so it doesn't cause problems in its new environment.

The zebra mussel eats the kudzu vine—the kudzu vine doesn't eat the zebra mussel.

Correct answer:

People accidentally moved the zebra mussel to a new environment, but they purposely introduced the kudzu vine to a new environment.

Explanation:

Let's consider the two paragraphs in which Passage 2 talks about the zebra mussel and the kudzu vine, respectively:

One example of an invasive species is the zebra mussel. This animal originally only lived near Russia. Zebra mussels got into the Great Lakes by attaching themselves to the bottoms of ships. They now live in the Great Lakes too, where they upset the ecosystem. Zebra mussels eat algae, but so do fish. Many fish die as a result of there not being enough algae for all the animals to eat.

Plants can be invasive species too. Another example of an invasive species is the kudzu vine. Humans introduced the plant to the United States on purpose. Farmers were encouraged to grow it to protect their soil. Since then, it has gotten out of control. It now covers large parts of the South, outcompeting native plants for resources like water and sunlight.

We can now consider each of the answer choices to figure out which one accurately describes what the passage says.

"People eat the zebra mussel, but not the kudzu vine." - This isn't the correct answer. Nowhere in the passage does it say anything about people eating either the zebra mussel or the kudzu vine.

"The zebra mussel eats the kudzu vine—the kudzu vine doesn't eat the zebra mussel." - This isn't the correct answer either. Nothing in the passage says anything about the zebra mussel eating the kudzu vine or vice versa.

"Nothing eats the zebra mussel, so it causes problems in its new environment, but many animals eat the kudzu vine, so it doesn't cause problems in its new environment." - The passage uses both the zebra mussel and the kudzu vine as examples of invasive species. In paragraph two, it says, "An invasive species is an animal or plant that has moved or been moved from its original environment to a new one. It has established a stable population there that is causing problems." So, this answer choice is incorrect because it says that the kudzu vine "doesn't cause problems in its new environment." In addition, the passage doesn't say anything about animals being able to eat the zebra mussel.

"Fishermen imported the zebra mussel on purpose, but farmers were the ones to import the kudzu vine on purpose." - This answer choice isn't correct either. Fishermen did not import the zebra mussel to the Great Lakes on purpose; it hitched a ride there on the bottoms of ships. So, the fishermen didn't purposely bring the zebra mussels to the Great Lakes. In addition, while we know that the farmers were encouraged to cultivate the kudzu vine, the passage doesn't say that they were the ones to import the kudzu vine.

"People accidentally moved the zebra mussel to a new environment, but they purposely introduced the kudzu vine to a new environment." - This is the correct answer! The passage states that the zebra mussels arrived in the Great Lakes by attaching themselves to the bottoms of ships. This tells us that no one purposely moved the zebra mussels there—they got there on accident. On the other hand, the passage says that the kudzu vine was brought to the United States on purpose.

 

All Common Core: 5th Grade English Language Arts Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 25 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
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