Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze Authorial Point of View - CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.6

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Example Question #1 : Analyze Authorial Point Of View Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.6.6

"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird"

Geographical Range and Migration

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the sole representative of the hummingbird family in eastern North America. It is only a summer visitor in Canada and throughout the greater part of its range in the United States, excepting the southern portions of the Florida peninsula, where it winters to some extent. The majority of these birds migrate south, though, spending the winter in some of the Caribbean islands, while others pass through eastern Mexico into Central America. It usually arrives along our southern border in the latter part of March, rarely reaching the more northern States before the middle of May. It usually goes south again about the latter part of September, the males preceding the females, I believe, in both migrations. 

 

Appearance and Behavior

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have iridescent green feathers on their backs and white feathers on their bellies. The male birds have a patch of red feathers on their throats, from which the species derives its name. Both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have relatively short tails and beaks and lack any crest of feathers on their heads.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds’ flight is extremely swift, and the rapid motions of its wings in passing back and forth from one cluster of flowers to another causes a humming or buzzing sound, from which the numerous members of this family derive their name of hummingbirds. Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious, especially the males, and are constantly quarreling and chasing each other, as well as other birds, some of which are many times larger than themselves. Mr. Manly Hardy writes me that he once saw a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden. They are rarely seen entirely at rest for any length of time, and, when not busy preening its feathers, they dart about from one place to another. Although such a small, tiny creature, it is full of energy, and never seems to tire.

They seem to be especially partial to anything red. Mr. Manly Hardy writes: "I was once camping on one of the many islands along the coast of Maine during a dense fog, which had held us prisoners for several days, as it was so thick that we could not find our way. We had been living on lobsters, and lots of their red shells lay near the fire in front of our tent, when suddenly a Hummer came out of the fog and darted down at the shells, moving from one to another, seemingly loath to leave them.”

 

What Do They Eat?

There appears to be considerable difference of opinion among various observers regarding the nature of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s food. Some contend that it consists principally of nectar sipped from flowers, as well as the sweet sap of certain trees. Others, myself included, believe that they subsist mainly on minute insects and small spiders, the latter forming quite an important article of food with them. Mr. Edwin H. Eames, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, mentions finding sixteen young spiders of uniform size in the throat of a young Hummingbird which was about two days old.

Mr. W. N. Clute, of Binghamton, New York, writes: "The swamp thistle, which blooms in August, seems to have great attractions for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I have seen more than a hundred birds about these plants in the course of an hour. Since it has been stated that the bee gets pollen but not honey from the thistle, it would appear that these birds visit these flowers for insects. There is scarcely a flower that contains so many minute insects as a thistle head. Examine one with a lens and it will be found to contain many insects that can hardly be seen with the unaided eye, and if the Ruby-throat eats insects at all, these are the ones it would take; and because the larger ones remained the observer might conclude that none were eaten.” I could quote considerable more testimony showing that the Hummingbirds live to a great extent on minute spiders and insects, but consider it unnecessary.

That our Hummingbirds live to some extent on the sap of certain trees is undoubtedly true, but that they could exist for any length of time on such food alone is very questionable. They are particularly fond of the sap of the sugar maple, and only slightly less so of that of a few other species of trees. They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers. While stationed at the former cavalry depot at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1873-74, I occupied a set of quarters that were completely overrun with large trumpet vines. When these were in bloom, the place fairly swarmed with Ruby-throats. They were exceedingly inquisitive, and often poised themselves before an open window and looked in my rooms full of curiosity, their bright little eyes sparkling like black beads. I have caught several, while busily engaged sipping nectar in these large, showy flowers, by simply placing my hand over them, and while so imprisoned they never moved, and feigned death, but as soon as I opened my hand they were off like a flash. 

 

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Passage adapted from "Ruby-throated Hummingbird" from Issue 3 of Life Histories of North American Birds, From the Parrots to the Grackles, with Special Reference to Their Breeding Habits and Eggs by Charles Bendire (1895)

Image adapted from Giltsch, Adolf, Lithographer, and Ernst Haeckel. Trochilidae. - Kolibris. [Leipzig und Wien: Verlag des Bibliographischen Instituts, 1904] Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/2015648985>.

 

The author thinks that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds __________.

Possible Answers:

eat nectar and sap only

eat nectar and sap as well as small bugs and small spiders, and that the spiders are more important to their diet

eat nectar and sap as well as large beetles, and that the large beetles are more important to their diet

eat nectar and sap as well as small bugs and small spiders, and that the nectar and sap are more important to their diet

eat nectar and sap as well as large beetles, and that the nectar and sap are more important to their diet

Correct answer:

eat nectar and sap as well as small bugs and small spiders, and that the spiders are more important to their diet

Explanation:

To figure out what the author thinks Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat, we should look in the section of the passage titled "What Do They Eat?" The author begins this section by explaining that people have come to different conclusions about what these birds eat. The author says:

Some contend that it consists principally of nectar sipped from flowers, as well as the sweet sap of certain trees. Others, myself included, believe that they subsist mainly on minute insects and small spiders, the latter forming quite an important article of food with them.

Did you catch that important phrase, "myself included"? By this, the author indicates that this is the group into which he falls. Which group is that? The group that thinks that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eat mosty small insects and spiders. In addition, the author adds, "the latter forming quite an important article of food with them." What does "the latter" refer to? "The latter" means the second of two things thing just presented. The list that was just presented was "small insects and spiders." So, in this passage, "the latter" refers to small spiders, and the author thinks that these form an important part of the diets of Ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Later in the passage, the author writes,

That our Hummingbirds live to some extent on the sap of certain trees is undoubtedly true, but that they could exist for any length of time on such food alone is very questionable. They are particularly fond of the sap of the sugar maple, and only slightly less so of that of a few other species of trees. They are also fond of the nectar secreted in many flowers.

This tells us that the author thinks that they eat sap and flower nectar, but that this isn't their main form of food.

We can now answer the question correctly! The author thinks that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds "eat nectar and sap as well as small bugs and small spiders, and that the spiders are more important to their diet."

Example Question #2 : Analyze Authorial Point Of View Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.6.6

Adapted from “Theodore Roosevelt the Rancher.” National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 1 July 2016. <https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/historyculture/theodore-roosevelt-the-rancher.htm>.

Theodore Roosevelt originally came to Dakota Territory in 1883 to hunt bison. The locals showed little interest in helping this eastern tenderfoot. The promise of quick cash, however, convinced Joe Ferris—a 25-year-old Canadian living in the Badlands—to act as Roosevelt's hunting guide.

Through terrible weather and awful luck, Roosevelt showed a determination which surprised his exasperated hunting guide. Finding a bison proved difficult; most of the herds had been slaughtered in recent years by commercial hunters. When they were not sleeping outdoors, Roosevelt and Ferris used the small ranch cabin of Gregor Lang as a base camp. Evenings at Lang's ranch saw an exhausted Ferris falling asleep to conversations between Roosevelt and their host. Spirited debates on politics gave way to discussions about ranching, and Roosevelt became interested in raising cattle in the Badlands.

Cattle ranching in Dakota was a boom business in the 1880s. With the northern plains recently devoid of bison, cattle were being driven north from Texas to feed on the nutritious grasses. The Northern Pacific Railroad offered a quick route to eastern markets without long drives that reduced the quality of the meat. Entrepreneurs like the Marquis de Morès were bringing money and infrastructure to the region. The opportunity struck Roosevelt as a sound business opportunity.

With Roosevelt's interest sparked, he entered into business with his guide's brother, Sylvane Ferris, and Bill Merrifield, another Dakota cattleman. Roosevelt put down an initial investment of $14,000—significantly more than his annual salary. Roosevelt returned to New York with instructions for Ferris and Merrifield to build the Maltese Cross Cabin. His investment was not purely for business; Roosevelt saw it as a chance to immerse himself in a western lifestyle he had long romanticized.

The purpose of this passage is __________.

Possible Answers:

to talk about the financial investments that Roosevelt made throughout his life

to explain Theodore Roosevelt’s motivation for hunting bison in the western U.S.

to describe the culture of the western U.S. during Roosevelt’s era

to describe the ranch on which Roosevelt lived during his time in the West

to describe how Theodore Roosevelt came to invest in a cattle ranch in the western U.S.

Correct answer:

to describe how Theodore Roosevelt came to invest in a cattle ranch in the western U.S.

Explanation:

This biography begins by describing how Theodore Roosevelt's traveled to the Dakota Territories to hunt bison. It then explains how he became interested in owning part of a cattle ranch, and some of his motivations behind this decision. While the passage discusses how hunting bison brought Roosevelt to the Dakota Territories, it does not "explain [his] motivation for hunting bison in the western U.S." because it never talks about why he wanted to hunt bison. The answer choices "to describe the culture of the western U.S. during Roosevelt’s era" and "to talk about the financial investments that Roosevelt made throughout his life" are both incorrect as they are each too broad. The passage doesn't talk about the culture of the entire western U.S. during Roosevelt's era and it only talks about one financial investment that he made. While it mentions the ranch on which Roosevelt stayed, the purpose of the passage is not "to describe the ranch on which Roosevelt lived during his time in the West." The best answer is that the point of the passage is "to describe how Theodore Roosevelt came to invest in a cattle ranch in the western U.S." This captures the passage's main subject matter: Roosevelt's arrival in the Dakota Territories, his interest in owning a cattle ranch, and his motivations for investing in one.

All Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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