Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts : Read and Comprehend Grade-Appropriate Informational Texts: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.10

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Read And Comprehend Grade Appropriate Informational Texts: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.9 10.10

Adapted from Mark Twain’s “A Defense of General Funston” (1802)

We are made, brick by brick, of influences, patiently built up around the framework of our born dispositions. It is the sole process of construction; there is no other. Every man and woman and child is an influence; a daily and hourly influence which never ceases from work, and never ceases from affecting for good or evil the characters about it--some contributing gold-dust, some contributing trash-dust, but in either case helping on the building, and never stopping to rest. The shoemaker helps to build his two-dozen associates; the pickpocket helps to build his four dozen associates; the village clergyman helps to build his five hundred associates; the renowned bank-robber's name and fame help to build his hundred associates and three thousand persons whom he has never seen; the renowned philanthropist's labors and the benevolent millionaire's gifts move to kindly works and generous outlays of money a hundred thousand persons whom they have never met and never will meet; and to the building of the character of every individual thus moved these movers have added a brick. The unprincipled newspaper adds a baseness to a million decaying character-fabrics every day; the high-principled newspaper adds a daily betterment to the character-fabric of another million. The swiftly-enriched wrecker and robber of railway systems lowers the commercial morals of a whole nation for three generations. A Washington, standing upon the world's utmost summit, eternally visible, eternally clothed in light, a serene, inspiring, heartening example and admonition, is an influence which raises the level of character in all receptive men and peoples, alien and domestic; and the term of its gracious work is not measurable by fleeting generations, but only by the lingering march of the centuries.

Washington was more and greater than the father of a nation, he was the Father of its Patriotism--patriotism at its loftiest and best; and so powerful was the influence which he left behind him, that that golden patriotism remained undimmed and unsullied for a hundred years, lacking one; and so fundamentally right-hearted are our people by grace of that long and ennobling teaching, that to-day, already, they are facing back for home, they are laying aside their foreign-born and foreign-bred imported patriotism and resuming that which Washington gave to their fathers, which is American and the only American--which lasted ninety-nine years and is good for a million more. Doubt--doubt that we did right by the Filipinos--is rising steadily higher and higher in the nation's breast; conviction will follow doubt. The nation will speak; its will is law; there is no other sovereign on this soil; and in that day we shall right such unfairnesses as we have done. We shall let go our obsequious hold on the rear-skirts of the sceptred land-thieves of Europe, and be what we were before, a real World Power, and the chiefest of them all, by right of the only clean hands in Christendom, the only hands guiltless of the sordid plunder of any helpless people's stolen liberties, hands recleansed in the patriotism of Washington, and once more fit to touch the hem of the revered Shade's garment and stand in its presence unashamed. It was Washington's influence that made Lincoln and all other real patriots the Republic has known; it was Washington's influence that made the soldiers who saved the Union; and that influence will save us always, and bring us back to the fold when we stray.

And so, when a Washington is given us, or a Lincoln, or a Grant, what should we do? Knowing, as we do, that a conspicuous influence for good is worth more than a billion obscure ones, without doubt the logic of it is that we should highly value it, and make a vestal flame of it, and keep it briskly burning in every way we can--in the nursery, in the school, in the college, in the pulpit, in the newspaper--even in Congress, if such a thing were possible.

The proper inborn disposition was required to start a Washington; the acceptable influences and circumstances and a large field were required to develop and complete him.

According to the author, people's characters are constructed __________________.

Possible Answers:

exclusively by their external influences

None of these

by a combination of their interior character and external influences

exclusively by their own initial internal nature

Correct answer:

by a combination of their interior character and external influences


Your answer options here are interesting, and should draw your attention and shape your re-reading of the passage. Two of your options claim that the author's treatment of human character building is exclusive to a single factor: either "their interior character" or "external influences." Your other option (that doesn't just assert that all other options are incorrect), says that the author argues that these two factors combine to shape people's characters. You should be able to read a passage and get a feel for whether or not a passage is advocating for an exclusive or inclusive position. An exclusive position (one that argues that ONLY ONE option or answer is correct) generally does so by excluding other options. A point of view that advocates for just one option will, paradoxically, often spend a lot of time talking about the positions for which it is NOT advocating.

So, is this the kind of passage that advocates for just one side? There are a couple of phrases here that might pull you in this direction, namely this phrase: "it is the sole process of construction; there is no other." Well, that seems mighty exclusive! But what is this "sole process" to which the author refers? According to the author in the previous sentence, the "process" is a "brick by brick" one in which "influences" are piled on top of a "framework of dispositions."

Aha! The author may be arguing for only one process, but that process is composed of two things. The bricks or "external influences" and the foundation of an "interior character."

Example Question #2 : Read And Comprehend Grade Appropriate Informational Texts: Ccss.Ela Literacy.Ri.9 10.10

Adapted from "Walter Raleigh" by Wilbur F. Gordy (1917)

[Raleigh] therefore fitted out two vessels, which were to sail to the land north of Florida, then occupied by Spain, and bring back reports of the country. The captains of these vessels arrived in Pamlico Sound, and landed on an island, which they found rich in grapes and woods and abounding in deer and other game. The explorers received kind treatment from the Indians, two of whom accompanied the voyagers to England on their return. Queen Elizabeth was so pleased with the good reports from the new country that she called it Virginia in honor of herself—the Virgin Queen.

The next year, 1585, Raleigh sent out to Virginia seven vessels and one hundred colonists, under his cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, and Ralph Lane. They landed on Roanoke Island, and made a settlement there, but the colony was not prosperous. At the outset, by unwise and cruel treatment they made enemies of the natives. It is related that, an Indian having stolen a silver cup from one of the colonists, the Englishmen burned an entire village and ruined the corn belonging to its people. Such punishment was out of all proportion to the petty offence. It is not surprising, therefore, that from that time the settlers found the Indians unfriendly.

Very soon Grenville sailed back to England, leaving the colony in charge of Ralph Lane. The colonists instead of building houses and tilling the soil to supply food, were bent upon finding gold. Hence they listened with eager interest to a story that the Indians told of the Roanoke River. According to this story, the river flowed out of a fountain in a rock so near the ocean that in time of storm the waves dashed over into the fountain. The river, the Indians said, flowed near rich mines of gold and silver, in a country where there was a town with walls made of pearls. Lane and his followers foolishly started up the river in a vain search for this wonderful land. They encountered many difficulties, including hostile attacks by Indians, and suffered so much from lack of food that they had to eat the flesh of their own dogs.

The discovery of the tobacco plant introduced into England the custom of smoking, and a curious story is told of it in connection with Sir Walter Raleigh, who soon learned to smoke. One day his servant, who knew nothing of the new custom, came into his master’s room and found him smoking from a silver pipe. Believing Raleigh was on fire, the faithful servant hastily dashed a mug of ale at him to quench the flames and rescue him from death.

The wealth that lay hidden in the soil was yet , and no one felt any enthusiasm over the new colony of Virginia. Most men would by this time have lost hope. But Raleigh was not daunted. Two years later he made a second attempt to plant a colony in the New World, this time sending over three ships, with a hundred and fifty settlers, including seventeen women. John White was appointed governor of the colony. These settlers had the forethought to carry with them farming implements to use in tilling the soil. When they landed on Roanoke Island they found no trace of the fifteen men left there two years before by Sir Richard Grenville. The new settlers had not been on the island long before they were in need of help from England, and begged Governor White to return home for provisions and more settlers. White at first refused to leave them, but finally consented. A warm interest in the feeble settlement and love for his little granddaughter, born soon after the settlers arrived, persuaded him to yield. This little girl, the first white girl born in America, was named after the new country, Virginia, her full name being Virginia Dare.

When Governor White left the settlement he expected to return immediately, but upon reaching England he found his countrymen greatly excited over the coming invasion of the much-dreaded “Spanish Armada.“ Everybody was astir, and Raleigh was aroused to his fullest energy in preparation to meet the hated foe.

But, notwithstanding this, he found time to fit out two small vessels for Governor White. Although they sailed, trouble with the Spaniards compelled their return to England, and not until two years later, when he Spanish Armada had been defeated, did Governor White sail again for Virginia, this time as a passenger in a West Indianan. He landed on Roanoke Island as before, but there remained of the settlement only some chests of books, some maps, and some firearms, all of which had been ruined by the Indians.

Upon bidding Governor White farewell, the colonists had agreed to carve on a tree the name of the place to which they would go if they should decide to leave Roanoke Island. They were also to carve above the name a cross if they were in serious trouble. Governor White found the word CROATOAN cut in capital letters on a large tree, but he found no cross. Before White could sail to Croatian, which was an island not far away, he had to return to England because the captain of the vessel, having encountered stormy weather, refused to sail further. What became of the lost colonists is still a mystery. It is possible, that the Indians either killed them or captured and enslaved them.

Raleigh sent out other expeditions in search of the lost colony, but without success. He had already spent a sum equal to more than a million dollars in trying to plant this colony, and now felt that he must give up all hope of accomplishing his purpose.

What was Walter Raleigh's nationality?

Possible Answers:





Correct answer:



This is a pretty basic reading comprehension; in essence, it is just checking that you are able to read and understand the passage in general. The key thing to understand to avoid being misdirected here is that at the time of Raleigh's settling of Virginia (in the 1580s) America was not yet a nation. Although Virginia would, eventually, become a part of America once that nation was formed, Walter Raleigh was dead long before he would have had a chance to be American, also, he was clearly from another country, since he explored Virginia after leaving wherever he was from!

Spain is frequently mentioned in this passage, but it is mentioned as a nation in opposition to Raleigh's nation, of which Queen Elizabeth is the ruling monarch. This is clearly Britain. Walter Raleigh was British, which is why he brought tobacco back to England.

All Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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