Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts : Structurally Analyze a Text as Parts and a Whole: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.5

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Structurally Analyze A Text As Parts And A Whole: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.7.5

“The Petrified Forest of Arizona” by E.A. J. Seddon, Associate Editor, Southern Division in The Mountain States Monitor, September 1918.

The Petrified Forest of Arizona is an area covered with the fossil remains of prehistoric trees. The name “Petrified Forest” is somewhat of a misnomer: the word “forest” suggests standing trees, but these trees fell over long ago and have been preserved in stone. At one time, they formed part of a forest of gigantic trees. They proudly reared their heads above the surrounding country, but they were conquered and laid low by some force of nature.

Then began the process of embalming and preserving these fallen monarchs. They were buried thousands of feet beneath the bottom of an inland sea. This was a vast pickling vat where the wood was slowly converted into living gems. We can tell this because volcanic cones and mineral springs still exist in the area. 

Water containing minerals slowly forced its way into the trunks and limbs and roots of the fallen monarchs under a terrific pressure. Eventually, the woody material was gradually replaced by silica, a type of rock. Iron oxides were present in the silica. These oxides created brilliant and beautiful brown, yellow, and red colors in the rock. 

Eventually, the sediment containing the petrified trees was thrown up from nature’s subterranean chemical laboratory. The wrappings of the dead monarchs were slowly washed away by erosion and corrosion. Then the glorious sun shone upon the trees once again. They were no longer rulers of the kingdom of flora, but preserved for all time as agate, jasper, opal, and other forms of silica.

Which of the following best describes the passage’s structure?

Possible Answers:

The passage provides a lengthy, poetic description of a single piece of petrified wood.

The passage describes the Petrified Forest of Arizona as it exists in the author’s own time.

The passage explains what the author thinks about the value of petrified wood as a resource.

The passage follows the process of petrification chronologically.

The passage focuses on how petrification occurs and then considers how this process differs from that which produces dinosaur skeleton fossils.

Correct answer:

The passage follows the process of petrification chronologically.

Explanation:

To figure out what kind of structure the passage employs, let's summarize what each of its paragraphs talk about and consider how the paragraphs connect to one another. In the first paragraph, the author introduces the Petrified Forest of Arizona and describes the ancient trees and how they fell. In the second paragraph, the author describes how the trees were buried underneath an inland sea. In the third paragraph, he talks about how the woody material of the trees was replaced by silica, a type of rock. In the fourth paragraph, the author describes how the trees made their way back to the surface. 

This summary shows us that the passage as a whole doesn't "[provide] a lengthy, poetic description of a single piece of petrified wood" or "[describe] the Petrified Forest of Arizona as it exists in the author’s own time." It certainly doesn't "[explain] what the author thinks about the value of petrified wood as a resource," because this point is never mentioned. In addition, the passage does not "[focus] on how petrification occurs and then [consider] how this process differs from that which produces dinosaur skeleton fossils." While it focuses on how petrification occurs, it never mentions dinosaur fossils!

The correct answer is that the passage "follows the process of petrification chronologically." Did you notice when summarizing the passage that each paragraph described a sequential step in the process of petrification? The author starts by describing the trees before they fell and concludes by describing how the petrified wood arrived back on the Earth's surface, and he outlines each step in chronological order.

Example Question #6 : Reading: Informational Text

“Stone Trees”

Have you ever seen a stone tree? While the idea of a stone tree may sound fantastic, fallen trees can turn to stone in very specific circumstances, producing what scientists call “petrified wood.” “Petra” means stone in ancient Greek, so something “petrified” has been turned to stone. You may have heard the word “petrified” used to describe someone so scared that they have frozen as if turned to stone, but scientists use the word literally to refer to actual stone. Petrified trees are stone trees, not scared trees!

 

A Type of Fossil

Like ancient skeletons of dinosaurs and other organisms preserved in the earth, petrified wood is a type of fossil; however, there is a big difference between petrified wood and most fossils. Most fossils are imprints of creatures or partial remains of them, such as their skeletons. In contrast, the process of petrification recreates an entire preserved tree in stone. It’s very cool to see a petrified tree close-up, because it is still precisely life-size; you can get an idea of how big the tree was when it was alive, and even see individual tree cells that have been preserved. You can even count the tree rings in some petrified trees and estimate how old the tree grew to be before it was petrified.

 

From Tree to Stone

In order for a tree to become petrified wood, it must have died and been buried a very long time ago. This has to have happened in a specific environment, though, or petrified wood would not be so rare. The tree has to be buried in such a way that oxygen cannot get to its bark and wood. If oxygen can get to the tree, it will rot instead of turn to stone. 

The environment has to have two more specific characteristics to produce petrified wood: there has to be water in the ground around the tree, and that water has to contain minerals. If mineral-containing water is present, water will go into and out of the tree’s cells and, over time, the minerals in the water will accumulate in the tree’s cells. When the tree’s cells eventually decay, the minerals are left. Petrified wood can be a rainbow of different colors, with each color corresponding to different elements in the tree’s preserving environment that affect the color of the minerals that form its stone.

Petrified wood is found all over the world, and there are even entire forests of petrified trees that you can travel to go see today. One national park in the United States, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, is famous for its many petrified trees. The next time you see a tree, remember, after a few million years in the right environment, it could turn to stone!

In the section “A Type of Fossil,” the author __________, but in the section “From Tree to Stone,” the author __________.

Possible Answers:

introduces the passage . . . explains a process

explains a process . . . focuses on a comparison

describes the history of a word . . . focuses on a comparison

focuses on a comparison . . . explains different requirements for a process

explains a process. . . describes the history of a word

Correct answer:

focuses on a comparison . . . explains different requirements for a process

Explanation:

This question asks you to summarize the general structure of two labeled sections in the passage "Stone Trees." To do this, let's first consider what the author does in each of the sections. In "A Type of Fossil," the author contrasts petrified wood against other fossils like dinosaur bones and imprints. The author then uses this contrast to discuss petrified wood's special qualities. In "From Tree to Stone," the author describes how petrified wood forms, walking the reader through each requirement.

This summary can help us answer the question: the section "A Type of Fossil" does not "introduce the passage" or "describe the history of a word"—the first paragraph does that! It's important not to confuse paragraphs when answering questions; if you do, you can easily end up with the wrong answer. The section "A Type of Fossil" also does not "explain a process." It "focuses on a comparison." This means that the correct answer must be "focuses on a comparison . . . explains different requirements for a process," but let's check that second part of the answer to make sure it's correct. The section "From Tree to Stone" does indeed explain different environmental characteristics necessary for petrification to occur. This answer is correct!

All Common Core: 7th Grade English Language Arts Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 27 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept
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