|K-1 Sample Performance Tasks for Informational Texts
* Students identify the reasons Clyde Robert Bull gives in his book A Tree is a Plant in support of his point about the function of roots in germination.
* Students identify Edith Thacher Hurd as the author of Starfish and Robin Brickman as the illustrator of the text and define the role and materials each contributes to the text.
* Students (with prompting and support from the teacher) read “Garden Helpers” in National Geographic Young Explorers and demonstrate their understanding of the main idea of the text – not all bugs are bad – by retelling key details.
* After listening to Gail Gibbons’ Fire! Fire! Students ask questions about how firefighters respond to a fire and answer using key details from the text.
* Students locate key facts or information in Claire Llewellyn’s Earthworms by using various text features (headings, table of contents, glossary) found in the text.
* Students ask and answer questions about animals (e.g. hyena, alligator, platypus, scorpion) they encounter in Steve Jenkins and Robin Page’s What Do you Do With a Tail Like This?
* Students use illustrations along with textual details in Wendy Pfeffer’s From Seed to Pumpkin to describe the key idea of how a pumpkin grows.
* Students (with prompting and support from the teacher) describe the connection between drag and flying in Fran Hodgkins and True Keley’s How People Learned to Fly by performing the “arm spinning” experiment described in the text.
2-3 Sample Performance Tasks for Informational Texts
* Students read Aliki’s description of A Medieval Feast and demonstrate their understanding of all that goes into such an event by asking questions pertaining to who, what, where, when, why, and how such a meal happens and by answering using key details.
* Students describe the reasons behind Joyce Milton’s statement that bats are nocturnal in her Bats: Creatures of the Night and how she supports the points she is making in the text.
* Students read Selby Beeler’s Throw your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions Around the World and identify what Beeler wants to answer as well as explain the main purpose of the text.
* Students determine the meanings of words and phrases encountered in Sarah L. Thomson’s Where Do Polar
Bears Live? ,such as cub, blubber, and the Arctic.
* Students explain how the main idea that Lincoln had “many faces” in Russell Freedman’s Lincoln: A Photo-biography is supported by key details in the text.
* Students read Robert Cole’s retelling of a series of historical events in The Story of Ruby Bridges. Using their knowledge of how cause and effect gives order to events, they use specific language to describe the sequence of events that leads to Ruby desegregating her school.
* Students explain how the specific image of a soap bubble and other accompanying illustrations in Walter Wick’s A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder contribute to and clarify their understanding of bubbles and water.
* Students use text features, such as the table of contents and headers, found in Aliki’s text Ah, Music! To identify relevant sections and locate information relevant to a given topic (e.g. rhythm, instruments, harmony) quickly and efficiently.
4-5 Sample Performance Tasks for Informational Text
* Students explain how Melvin Berger uses reasons and evidence in his book Discovering Mars: The Amazing Story of the Red Planet to support particular points regarding the topology of the planet.
* Students identify the overall structure of ideas, concepts, and information in Seymour Simon’s Horses (based on facts such as their speed and color) and compare and contrast that scheme to the one employed by Patricia Lauber in her book Hurricanes: Earth’s Mightiest Storms.
* Students interpret the visual chart that accompanies Steve Otfinoski’s The Kids Guide to Money: Earning It, Saving It, Spending It, Growing It, Sharing It, and explain how the information found within it contributes to an understanding of how to create a budget.
* Students explain the relationship between time and clocks using specific information drawn from Bruce Koscielniak’s About Time: A First Look at Time and Clocks.
* Students determine the meaning of domain specific words or phrases, such as crust, mantle, magma, and lava, and important general academic words and phrases that appear in Seymour Simon’s volcanoes.
* Students compare and contrast a firsthand account of African American ballplayers in the Negro Leagues to a secondhand account of their treatment found in books such as Kadir Nelson’s We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, attending to the focus of each account and the information provided by each.
* Students quote accurately and explicitly from Leslie Hall’s “Seeing Eye to Eye” to explain statements they make and ideas they infer regarding sight and light.
* Students determine the main idea of Colin A. Ronan’s “Telescopes” and create a summary by explaining how key details support his distinctions regarding different types of telescopes.
6-8 Sample Performance Tasks for Informational Texts: English Language Arts
* Students determine the point of view of John Adams in his “Letter on Thomas Jefferson” and analyze how he distinguishes his position from an alternative approach articulated by Thomas Jefferson.
* Students provide an objective summary of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative. They analyze how the central idea regarding the evils of slavery is conveyed through supporting ideas and developed over the course of the text.
* Students trace the line of argument in Winston Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” address to Parliament and evaluate his specific claims and opinions in the text, distinguishing which claims are supported by facts, reasons, and evidence and which are not.
* Students analyze in detail how the early years of Harriet Tubman (as related by author Ann Petry) contributed to her later becoming a conductor on the Underground Railroad, attending to how the author introduces, illustrates, and elaborates upon the events in Tubman’s life.
* Students determine the figurative and connotative meanings of words such as wayfaring, laconic, and taciturnity as well as phrases such as hold his peace in John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley; In Search of America. They analyze how Steinbeck’s specific word choices and diction impact the meaning and tone of his writing and the characterization of the individuals and places he describes.
6-8 Sample Performance Tasks for Informational Texts: History/Social Studies & Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects
* Students analyze the governmental structure of the United States and support their analysis by citing specific textual evidence from primary sources such as the Preamble and First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as secondary sources such as Linda R. Monk’s Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution.
* Students evaluate Jim Murphy’s The Great Fire to identify which aspects of the text (e.g. loaded language and the inclusion of particular facts) reveal his purpose; presenting Chicago as a city that was “ready to burn.”
* Students describe how Russell Freedman in his book Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott integrates and presents information both sequentially and causally to explain how the civil rights movement began.
* Students integrate the quantitative or technical information expressed in the text of David Macaulay’s Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction with he information conveyed by the diagrams and models Macaulay provides, developing a deeper understanding of Gothic architecture.
* Students construct a holistic picture of the history of Manhattan by comparing and contrasting the information gained from Donald Mackay’s The Building of Manhattan with the multimedia sources available on the “Manhattan on the Web” portal hosted by the New York Public Library.
* Students learn about fractal geometry by reading Ivars Peterson and Nancy Henderson’s Math Trek: Adventures in the Math Zone and then generate their own fractal geometry structure by following multistep procedure for creating a Koch’s curve.
9-10 Sample Performance Tasks for Informational Texts: English Language Arts
* Students compare George Washington’s Farewell Address to other foreign policy statements, such as the Monroe Doctrine, and analyze how both texts address similar themes and concepts regarding “entangling alliances.”
* Students analyze how Abraham Lincoln in his “Second Inaugural Address” unfolds his examination of the ideas that led to the Civil War, paying particular attention to the order in which the points are made, how Lincoln introduces and develops his points, and the connections that are drawn between them.
* Students evaluate the argument and specific claims about the “spirit of liberty” in Learned Hand’s “I Am an American Day Address.” Assessing the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and the validity of his reasoning.
* Students determine the purpose and point of view in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and analyze how King uses rhetoric to advance his position.
9-10 Sample Performance Tasks for Informational Texts: History/Social Studies & Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects
* Students compare the similarities and differences in point of view in works by Dee Brown and Evan Connell regarding the Battle of Little Bighorn, analyzing how the authors treat the same event and which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
* Students analyze the role of African American soldiers in the Civil War by comparing and contrasting primary source materials against secondary syntheses such as Jim Haskins’s Black, Blue and Gray: African Americans in the Civil War.
* Students determine the meaning of words such as quadrant, astrolabe, equator, and horizon line in Joan Dash’s The Longitude Prize as well as phrases such as dead reckoning and sailing the parallel that reflect social aspects of history.
* Students cite specific textual evidence from Annie J. Cannon’s “Classifying the Stars” to support their analysis of the scientific importance of the discovery that light is composed of many colors. Students include in their analysis precise details from the text (such as Cannon’s repeated use of the image of the rainbow) to buttress their explanation.
* Students determine how Jearl Walker clarifies the phenomenon of the acceleration in his essay “Amusement Park Physics,” accurately summarizing his conclusions regarding the physics of roller coasters and tracing how supporting details regarding the processes of rotational dynamics and energy conversion are incorporated in his explanation.
* Students read in Phillip Hoose’s Race to Save Lord God Bird about the attempts scientists and bird lovers made to save the ivory-billed woodpecker from extinction and assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence Hoose presents supports his scientific analysis of why protecting this particular species was so challenging.
11-CCR Sample Performance Tasks for Informational Texts: English Language Arts
* Students delineate and evaluate the argument that Thomas Paine makes in Common Sense. They assess the reasoning present in his analysis, including the premises and purposes of his essay.
* Students analyze Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, identifying its purpose and evaluating rhetorical features such as the listing of grievances. Students compare and contrast the themes and argument found there to those of other U.S documents of historical and literary significance, such as the Olive Branch Petition.
* Students provide an objective summary of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden wherein they analyze how he articulates the central ideas of living simply and being self-reliant and how those ideas interact and build on one another (e.g. “According to Thoreau, how specifically does moving toward complexity in one’s life undermine self-reliance?”)
* Students analyze how the key term success is interpreted, used, and refined over the course of G.K. Chesterton’s essay “The Fallacy of Success.”
* Students determine Richard Hofstadter’s purpose and point of view in his “Abraham Lincoln and the Self-Made Myth,” analyzing how both Hofstadter’s style and content contribute to the eloquent and powerful contrast he draws between the younger, ambitious Lincoln and the sober, more reflective man of the presidential years.
11-CCR Sample Performance Tasks for Informational Texts: History/Social Studies & Science, Mathematics, and Technical Services
* Students determine the central ideas found in the Declaration of Sentiments by the Seneca Falls Conference, noting the parallels between it and the Declaration of Independence and proving a summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas of each text and between the texts.
* Students evaluate the premises of James. M. McPherson’s argument regarding why Northern soldiers fought in the Civil War by corroborating the evidence provided from the letters and diaries of these soldiers with other primary and secondary sources and challenging McPherson’s claims where appropriate.
* Students integrate the information provided by Mary. C. Daley, vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, with the data presented visually in the FedViews report. In their analysis of these sources of information presented in diverse formats, students frame and address a question or solve a problem raised by their evaluation of the evidence.
* Students analyze the hierarchical relationships between phrase searches and searches that use basic Boolean operators in Tara Calisharin and Rael Dornfest’s Google Hacks: Tips & Tools for Smarter Searching, 2nd Edition.
* Students analyze the concept of mass based on their close reading of Gordon Kane’s “The Mysteries of Mass” and cite specific textual evidence from the ext to answer the question of why elementary particles have mass at all. Students explain important distinctions the author makes regarding the Higgs field and the Higgs boson and their relationship to the concept of mass.
* Students determine the meaning of key terms such as hydraulic, trajectory, and torque as well as other domain specific words and phrases such as actuators, antilock brakes, and traction control used in Mark Fischetti’s “Working Knowledge: Electronic Stability Control.”