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A Great American Athlete

If you ask a room full of people, “Who was the greatest American athlete of the 1990s?” you are likely to get a number of different answers. Some people might say Michael Jordan, the basketball player, while others might argue for figure skater Michelle Kwan. Both of these athletes are truly great, having reached stunning heights in their respective sports, but in my opinion they are not the greatest. I believe that honor belongs to track athlete Gail Devers.

Devers’ competitive record in the 1990s is unparalleled. At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, she won the one-hundred-meter dash. When the starting gun sounded for that race, she burst out of the blocks like a bullet and defeated both of the prerace favorites, Jamaican Merlene Ottey and American Gwen Torrence.

Over the next few years Devers continued to rack up victories. At the 1993 world championships she won the one-hundred-meter hurdles and the one-hundred-meter dash, a remarkable double victory. No one had accomplished that in forty-five years! She won the one-hundred-meter hurdles again at the 1995 world championships! At pressure-filled competitions she was an unshakable rock.

At the 1996 Olympics Devers once again emerged as one of the brightest stars. She won the one-hundred-meter dash, becoming only the second woman to repeat as champion in this event. Devers also helped the American women win a gold medal in the four-by-one-hundred-meter relay race. In 2000, at the age of thirty-three, Devers set the American record in the one-hundred-meter hurdles. This record still stands today—and refuses to budge.

Throughout the 1990s Devers soared through competitions like an eagle, her power and grace unmatched. She is certainly the greatest American athlete of that decade.



  1. In the passage the author writes that Gail Devers “burst out of the blocks like a bullet.” Is this an example of a metaphor, a simile, or personification? How does this use of figurative language support the main argument of the passage?

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  1. Consider the following sentence from the passage: “At pressure-filled competitions, she was an unshakable rock.” Is this an example of a metaphor, a simile, or personification? How does the use of figurative language affect your opinion of the author’s argument?

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  1. Consider the following sentence from the passage: “Throughout the 1990s Devers soared through competitions like an eagle, her power and grace unmatched.” Is this an example of a metaphor, a simile, or personification? What effect does this statement have on you as you read it?

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  1. Take another look at this sentence from the passage: “Throughout the 1990s Devers soared through competitions like an eagle, her power and grace unmatched.” Rewrite this sentence so it does not contain any figurative language. In what way does your rewrite differ from the original sentence?

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  1. Consider this sentence from the passage: “This record still stands today—and refuses to budge.” Is this an example of a metaphor, a simile, or personification? How does this use of figurative language affect your opinion of Devers’s accomplishments?

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A Red, Red Rose

By Robert Burns

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,

That’s newly sprung in June:

O my Luve’s like the melodie

That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

So deep in luve am I:

And I will luve thee still, my dear,

Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;

O I will luve thee still, my dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve,

And fare thee well, a while!

And I will come again, my Luve,

Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.


  1. Give an example of the author’s use of figurative language in the poem. Identify it as a metaphor, a simile, or personification.

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  1. What effect does the author’s use of figurative language have on you as you read the poem?

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Directions: The following exercise allows you to practice using figurative language. Feel free to review the definitions of metaphor, simile, and personification before answering these questions. Be creative with your answers.


  1. Think about your favorite actor. Write a brief paragraph or poem in which you describe that actor using metaphors and similes. Be sure to use at least one metaphor and one simile.

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  1. Think about something you did before you arrived at school this morning. Write a brief paragraph or poem in which you describe what you did using metaphors and similes. Be sure to use at least one metaphor and one simile.

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  1. Think of an object in your classroom or school. Write a brief paragraph in which you describe that object using personification.

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Unit Three: Literary Response & Analysis Differentiation

Assignment #4 (Strand)

Due: Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Standards Addressed: LRA3.4; LRA3.9; LRA8.3.7

ESLR: Resourceful Learner – Take responsibility for learning

Directions: Read the story and answer questions 1 through 4. Circle the correct answer and respond to any additional questions asked of you, following the directions provided.

Housepainting

By Lan Samantha Chang



The day before my sister brought her boyfriend home, we had a family conference over fried rice and chicken noodle soup.

“This is the problem,” my mother said. “The thistles are overpowering our mailbox.” She looked at my father. “Could you do something about them before Frances and Wei get here?”

My father grunted from behind his soup. He drank his soup Chinese-style, with the bowl raised to his mouth. “Frances won’t care about the thistles,” he said. “She thinks only about coming home.”

“But what about Wei?” my mother said. “This isn’t his home. To him it’s just a house that hasn’t been painted in ten years. With weeds.” She scowled. To her the weeds were a matter of honor. Although Wei had been dating my sister for four years and had visited us three times, he was technically a stranger and subject to the rules of “saving face.”

My father slurped. “Frances is a xiaoxun daughter,” he said. “She wants to see family, not our lawn. Wei is a good xiaoxun boy. He wants Frances to see her family; he doesn’t care about the lawn.”

Xiaoxun means “filial,” or “dutiful to one’s parents.”

I was almost to the bottom of my bowl of rice when I noticed my parents were looking at me. “Oh,” I said. “Okay, I’ll do it.”

“Thank you, Annie,” said my mother.

The next afternoon I went to work on the weeds. My father loved Wei and Frances, but he hated yard work . . .

It was a beautiful midwestern afternoon, sunny and dry, with small white clouds high up against a bright blue sky. I wore a pair of my father’s old gloves to pull the thistles but kicked off my sandals, curled my toes around the hot reassuring dirt. Inside the house, my mother napped with the air conditioner humming in the window. My father sat in front of the television, rereading the Chinese newspaper from New York that my parents always snatched out of the mail as if they were receiving news of the emperor from a faraway province. I felt an invisible hand hovering over our blue house, making sure everything stayed the same.

I was hacking at a milky dandelion root when I heard an engine idling. A small brown car, loaded down with boxes and luggage, turned laboriously into the driveway. Through the open window I heard a scrape as my father pushed aside his footrest. My mother’s window shade snapped up and she peered outside, one hand on her tousled hair. I rose to meet the car, conscious of my dirt-stained feet, sweaty glasses, and muddy gardening gloves.

“Annie!” Frances shouted from the rolled-down window. She half-emerged from the car and shouted my name again.

“Wow,” I said. “You guys are early. I thought you wouldn’t get here until five o’clock.”

“That was the plan,” said Wei, “but your sister here was so excited about getting home that I begged off from call a few hours early.” He grinned. He was always showing off about how well he knew my sister. But other than that he had very few defects, even to my critical thirteen-year-old mind. He was medium-sized and steady, with a broad, cheerful dark face and one gold-rimmed tooth.

My mother and father rushed out the front door and let it slam.

“Hi, Frances!” they said. “Hi, Wei!” I could tell my mother had stopped to comb her hair and put on lipstick.

We stood blinking foolishly in the sunlight as Wei and Frances got out of the car. My family does not hug. It is one of the few traditions that both my parents have preserved from China’s pre-Revolutionary times.

Frances came and stood in front of my mother. “Let me look at you,” my mother said. Her gaze ran over my sister in a way that made me feel knobby and extraneous.

Frances was as beautiful as ever. She did not look like she had been sitting in a car all day. Her white shorts and her flowered shirt were fresh, and her long black hair rippled gently when she moved her head. Wei stared transfixed, waiting for her to turn to talk to him, but she did not.

Still facing my mother, Frances said, “Wei, could you get the stuff from the car?”

“I’ll help you!” my father said. He walked around the back of the car and stood awkwardly aside to let Wei open the trunk. “So, how is medical school?” I heard him ask. They leaned into the trunk, their conversation muffled by the hood. I looked at their matching shorts, shirts, brown arms and sturdy legs. When Wei came to visit, my father always acted like a caged animal that has been let outside to play with another of its kind.



  1. How does Annie’s father feel when Wei and Frances arrive?

    1. sad

    2. excited

    3. stubborn

    4. threatened

Is this a DETAIL question or a MAIN IDEA question? How do you know?

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Quote a sentence from the story that proves you have the correct answer.

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  1. What motivates Annie to offer to do the weeding?

    1. She thought her father might become ill if he did the weeding.

    2. She wanted the house to look nice when Frances and Wei arrived.

    3. Her parents looked at her as if they wanted her to do it.

    4. Her parents were arguing about who would do the weeding, so she volunteered.

Is this a DETAIL question or a MAIN IDEA question? How do you know?

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Define motivation.

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Quote a sentence from the story that proves you have the correct answer.

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  1. From whose point of view is the action in this story seen?

    1. Annie’s

    2. Father’s

    3. Frances’s

    4. Mother’s

Is this a DETAIL question or a MAIN IDEA question? How do you know?

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In your own words explain why you chose your answer.

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What is the official literary term for the point of view this story is told in?

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  1. How might the author’s background be reflected in the story?

    1. The story shows why the author became a writer.

    2. The story shows that the author had a brother and a sister.

    3. The story describes how the author developed her skills as a gardener.

    4. The story demonstrates an understanding of traditional Chinese customs.

Is this a DETAIL question or a MAIN IDEA question? How do you know?

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Use process of elimination (P.O.E.) to answer this question. On the lines below, briefly explain how you were able to eliminate the three wrong answers.

Wrong Answer #1 __________________________________________________

Wrong Answer #2 __________________________________________________

Wrong Answer #3 __________________________________________________

Assignment #5: Due Thursday, 23 February 2012

Identifying Genre and Purpose

Standard: LRA3.2 - Compare and contrast the presentation of a similar theme or topic across genres to explain how the selection of genre shapes the theme or topic.

ESLR: Resourceful Learner – Take responsibility for learning

Rationale: In this lesson you will review how to identify the genre and purpose of a book or passage.

Identifying Genre

A genre is an artistic category that describes the content and style of a text. Some examples of genre in literature are the novel, the biography, drama, and poetry. Sometimes a good way to determine the genre of a text is to look at the title.

Here are some examples of different genres:

*A novel is a lengthy work of prose fiction. Because there is no limit to how long it can be, a novel can have a complex plot with any number of characters, events, and settings.

*A short story is a work of prose fiction that is usually less than forty pages long. A short story usually covers only a few characters in a specific plot that takes place during a limited period of time.

*A reference book is a text that contains factual information about one subject or a wide variety of subjects. An example of a reference book is an encyclopedia.

*A biography is a factual text that gives an account of the life of a real person. Biographies are often about well-known public figures such as politicians, social activists, artists, and athletes.

*A play (or drama) is a dramatic composition that is intended to be performed on a stage.

*A narrative poem tells a story through rhythmic, often rhyming verse. Narrative poems contain all the elements of a story, including plot, characters, and setting.

*Other genres include essays, articles, poems, etc.



Directions: The school library has just received a donation of books, and student Aisha Wagner has volunteered to help sort them. Help her by writing the genre of each book beside its title. Some genres will be used more than once.

novel reference book play

poetry biography short story


  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ______________

  2. Romeo and Juliet ____________________________

  3. The Encyclopedia of Airplanes __________________

  4. Summer Poems _________________________

  5. George Washington, President and General ____________

  6. The Physician’s Desk Reference _________________

  7. The Poetry of Emily Dickinson ___________________

  8. An Illustrated History of World War II ____________

  9. The Collected Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway ______________

  10. Moby Dick __________________________________



Identifying Purpose

Different genres have different purposes. For example, the purpose of a biography is to educate readers about somebody’s life. Some genres are used for research (reference books), and others are read for pleasure (fiction and poetry). Some genres, including biographies, can be read for pleasure and used for research. The three most common purposes are to inform, to persuade, and to entertain.



Directions: The following are titles of books donated to the school library that Aisha is going to highlight in a school newsletter. Identify the specific purpose of each book below its title. For example, the purpose of The Illustrated Source of African Monkeys is to provide pictures and information about African monkeys. The purpose of Tales to Scare You Silly is most likely to entertain with short, fictional scary stories.

  1. A Beginner’s Guide to Carpentry

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  1. An Illustrated History of Los Angeles

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  1. The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt

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  1. Felines, Fish, and Frogs: Funny Poems about Pets

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  1. Cookies: Recipes for the Whole Family

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  1. Can You Solve It? A Collection of Mystery Stories

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  1. Pasta Dishes in Ten Minutes or Less

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  1. The Princess and the Dragon

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Directions: Another shipment of books arrives, and Aisha is asked to sort them by considering what kind of school reports they would be used for. Write “sports,” “science,” or “history” next to each of the following book titles.

  1. A Beginner’s Guide to Baseball ______________

  2. How Columbus Explored America ____________

  3. Football in the United States _______________

  4. The Tragedy of Pearl Harbor ________________

  5. The Physics of Automobiles ________________

  6. Fossils and What They Mean _______________

  7. The Civil War and Ulysses S. Grant ___________

  8. How Tiger Woods Changed Golf _____________

Directions: Read each of the following excerpts from texts and then identify the genre (novel, reference book, biography, or poetry) and purpose for each excerpt.

It was that time of year for Derek to decide

What gifts he should buy for his loved ones.

December had arrived, it was so cold outside.

He was ready for some shopping and fun.

  1. Which genre would best describe this text? _________________________

  2. For what purpose would somebody read this text?

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The battle at the Alamo was one of the most pivotal moments in Texas history. Although the “freedom fighters” at the Alamo were so outnumbered that they couldn’t hold off Mexico’s attack, they are remembered today by many for their courage and perseverance.

  1. Which genre would best describe this text? _________________________

  2. For what purpose would somebody read this text?

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To stay alive, plants must convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy. This process is known as photosynthesis.

  1. Which genre would best describe this text? _________________________

  2. For what purpose would somebody read this text?

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Every day the little puppy would look out the window of the animal shelter and wonder if anybody would ever take him home. But when one Sunday came around, it was his lucky day. No more would he look out the window in deep anticipation. A beautiful family came in and adopted him. He had no idea of the adventures that were in store for him.

  1. Which genre would best describe this text? _________________________

  2. For what purpose would somebody read this text?

_____________________________________________

You may think of peanuts as just a snack food, but George Washington Carver turned peanuts into much more. This was just one of many contributions during his amazing life as a scientist and inventor.

  1. Which genre would best describe this text? _________________________

  2. For what purpose would somebody read this text?

_____________________________________________

Jota and Ashley were best friends and also were the two best players on the girls’ volleyball team at their school. They were good students and almost invincible teammates. They thought nothing could ever come between them, but that was before Ms. Tecu showed up and announced that she would be their new coach.

  1. Which genre would best describe this text? _________________________

  2. For what purpose would somebody read this text?

_____________________________________________

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