All Common Core: 6th Grade English Language Arts Resources
Example Question #1 : Reading: Informational Text
"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.
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>.
Which of the following can we infer from the section “Appearance and Behavior”?
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is smaller than a Robin.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the smallest species of Hummingbird.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird will never annoy or attack squirrels.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds actually rest for most of the day, just in places that are difficult for humans to observe.
Hummingbirds don’t actually cause the “humming” sound for which they are named—nearby bees do.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is smaller than a Robin.
The paragraphs found in the "Appearance and Behavior" section focus on different topics. The first one describes the appearance of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds; the second focuses on a description of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds' behavior; and the third states that they like the color red and supports this with evidence. Knowing this, let's look at each of the answer choices to figure out which one is true based on what the passage states in this section.
"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird will never annoy or attack squirrels." - While this section tells us that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will attack each other and larger birds, it says nothing about squirrels. This answer is incorrect because it involves too much of a logical leap; the passage doesn't mention squirrels at all, so we can't assume anything about how Ruby-throated Hummingbirds would behave toward squirrels. (Furthermore, we're told that they will attack larger birds, so if anything, we might think that they would attack squirrels, which is the opposite of what the answer choice states.)
"Ruby-throated Hummingbirds do often rest, just in places that are difficult for humans to observe." The second paragraph says that Ruby-throated hummingbirds "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." Nothing in the passage supports the assertion that these birds rest "for most of the day," so this isn't the correct answer.
"Hummingbirds don’t actually cause the “humming” sound for which they are named—nearby bees do." - This answer choice is not correct. The second paragraph in the section "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"
"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the smallest species of Hummingbird." - The "Appearance and Behavior" section of the passage states that the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is "a small, tiny creature" and that "Notwithstanding the very small size of most of our hummers, they are all extremely pugnacious." Based on these statements, we cannot assume that the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the smallest species of Hummingbird. We're only told that it is small, not the smallest.
"The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is smaller than a Robin." - This is the correct answer. The "Appearance and Behavior" section of the passage states, "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." Let's analyze this: the passage tells us that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will chase birds many times larger than they are. The passage then immediately relates evidence about someone seeing "a male Ruby-throat chase a Robin out of his garden." The passage presents this as relevant evidence because it expects the reader to infer that a Robin is bigger than a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. If not, the statement's position immediately after the claim that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will chase birds much larger than they are wouldn't make much sense.
Example Question #2 : Reading: Informational Text
Adapted from “In Cowboy Land” in An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt (1913)
Though I had previously made a trip into the then Territory of Dakota, beyond the Red River, it was not until 1883 that I went to the Little Missouri, and there took hold of two cattle ranches, the Chimney Butte and the Elkhorn.
It was still the Wild West in those days, the Far West, the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings. That land of the West has gone now, "gone, gone with lost Atlantis," gone to the isle of ghosts and of strange dead memories. It was a land of vast silent spaces, of lonely rivers, and of plains where the wild game stared at the passing horseman. It was a land of scattered ranches, of herds of long-horned cattle, and of reckless riders who unmoved looked in the eyes of life or of death. In that land we led a free and hardy life, with horse and with rifle. We knew toil and hardship and hunger and thirst; and we saw men die violent deaths as they worked among the horses and cattle, or fought in evil feuds with one another; but we felt the beat of hardy life in our veins, and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living.
I first reached the Little Missouri on a Northern Pacific train about three in the morning of a cool September day in 1883. Next day I walked over to the abandoned army post, and, after some hours among the gray log shacks, a ranchman who had driven into the station agreed to take me out to his ranch, the Chimney Butte ranch, where he was living with his brother and their partner.
The ranch was a log structure with a dirt roof, a corral for the horses near by, and a chicken-house jabbed against the rear of the ranch house. Inside there was only one room, with a table, three or four chairs, a cooking-stove, and three bunks. The owners were Sylvane and Joe Ferris and William J. Merrifield. There was a fourth man, George Meyer, who also worked for me later. That evening we all played old sledge round the table, and at one period the game was interrupted by a frightful squawking outside which told us that a bobcat had made a raid on the chicken-house.
After a buffalo hunt with my original friend, Joe Ferris, I entered into partnership with Merrifield and Sylvane Ferris, and we started a cow ranch, with the maltese cross brand—always known as "maltee cross," by the way, as the general impression along the Little Missouri was that "maltese" must be a plural. Twenty-nine years later my four friends of that night were delegates to the First Progressive National Convention at Chicago. They were among my most constant companions for the few years next succeeding the evening when the bobcat interrupted the game of old sledge. I lived and worked with them on the ranch, and with them and many others like them on the round-up.
I do not believe there ever was any life more attractive to a vigorous young fellow than life on a cattle ranch in those days. It was a fine, healthy life, too; it taught a man self-reliance, hardihood, and the value of instant decision—in short, the virtues that ought to come from life in the open country. I enjoyed the life to the full.
What can we infer from the underlined sentences?
At the time Roosevelt was writing, the West was exactly like it was when he was living there.
Roosevelt thinks that Atlantis was a real city that once existed.
Roosevelt never uses poetic or figurative language in his writing.
Owen Wister wrote stories about the Wild West.
Frederic Remindton’s drawings of the west reflect the area after it developed after its “Wild West” period.
Owen Wister wrote stories about the Wild West.
The underlined sentences are these:
It was still the Wild West in those days, the Far West, the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings. That land of the West has gone now, "gone, gone with lost Atlantis," gone to the isle of ghosts and of strange dead memories.
Here, Roosevelt is talking about the West in the era during which he lived there. He is describing it as "the Wild West." He uses notably poetic language to describe it and also says it was "the West of Owen Wister's stories and Frederic Remington's drawings."
From this excerpt, we can tell that "Roosevelt never uses poetic or figurative language in his writing" is incorrect, since Roosevelt uses poetic and figurative language in this excerpt. Furthermore, since "gone, gone with lost Atlantis" is a poetic, figurative phrase, it doesn't tell us that Roosevelt thinks that Atlantis was a real city that once existed. The excerpt suggests that Remington's drawings are associated with the "Wild West," not the period that followed this, so "Frederic Remington’s drawings of the west reflect the area after it developed after its 'Wild West' period" is also incorrect.
This leaves us to decide between two answer choices: "At the time Roosevelt was writing, the West was exactly like it was when he was living there," and "Owen Wister wrote stories about the Wild West." Consider how Roosevelt introduces the idea of the Wild West: "It was still the Wild West in those days" (italics added). At the time Roosevelt is writing the excerpt, it is no longer the Wild West, or he wouldn't be using past tense in this way. The correct answer must be "Owen Wister wrote stories about the Wild West." This is suggested by the excerpt because Roosevelt lists "the Wild West" and "the West of Owen Wister's stories" in parallel to convey to readers that they are describing the same thing.