This high-interest informational passage and writing assignment is designed for grades nine and ten (Flesh-Kincaid 9.4). It is aligned with Common Core and requires no teacher preparation. “When Giants Roamed the Earth: Mount Vesuvius,” is a story that never grows old, for it reminds us of nature’s immense power. The passage is accompanied by comprehension questions, a writing assignment (summarization), and embedded vocabulary with definitions, a quiz, and practice assignments.
It contains the following subtopics.
Vesuvius’ Potential Hazards
Vesuvius’ Ancient History
Mythological Beliefs about Vesuvius’ Eruption
Initial Plinian Eruption
Destruction from Pyroclastic Flows
Death by Thermal Shock
Preparing for Vesuvius’ Next Potential Eruption
Vesuvius is one of several volcanoes in the Campanian Arc. This area formed over a subduction zone when the Eurasian and African tectonic plates converged. It includes Campi Flegrei, Mt. Epomeo, and several underwater volcanoes. Although most of these remain dormant, the supervolcano, Campi Flegrei, has displayed recent seismic activity. Its eruption would have a significant effect on the ecosystem and the global climate.
Mount Vesuvius had no recorded history of seismic activity before A.D. 79. Today, geologists provide evidence that the mountain has experienced eight major eruptions. During the Old Bronze Age, around 3,780 years ago, the Avellino Eruption occurred. It was twice as powerful as the one that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum. Thousands of miles of fertile land became barren. The earth became a desert, one uninhabitable for two-hundred years. Footprints embedded in ancient mudflows provide evidence left by its helpless victims.
At midnight, a surge of scalding gas, water, and fine ash engulfed Herculaneum. Its temperatures reached 752 °Fahrenheit. Archeologists determined the heat’s intensity by studying the city’s charred wood. Some researchers continue to theorize that all of Vesuvius’ victims died from asphyxiation. However, computer simulations contradict this theory. They suggest that most victims died of thermal, or heat, shock.
This reading comprehension passage will provide your 9th and 10th grade students (Flesch-Kincaid 9.5) with a better understanding of India’s caste system.
Acknowledging this necessity, India’s rulers organized laborers into occupational guilds called varnas or castes. One’s temperament and skills determined vocational placement. This division of labor ensured that all members of the community were engaged. Each essential task, no matter how difficult or repugnant, had employees assigned to complete it. Since duties were based on skills, competition among workers rarely occurred. To a large extent, society functioned in an orderly manner.
Throughout its history, this hierarchal system has created a massive pool of cheap laborers. Existing at the lower level of this pyramid are the Sudras and Dalits. These people are compelled to follow the occupations of their parents. They are offered little opportunity for upward mobility, and rigid social barriers prohibit their marriage outside their class.
Lacking a formal education, Dalits find themselves excluded from many forms of employment. To survive, they work as menial laborers. They clean sewers, scavenge for food, sweep streets, and work as butchers. As a result, many in the upper levels of society perceive them as unclean. Contaminated by the labor they perform, they have little possibility of rising above their status.
Use this fictional reading comprehension passage to inspire your students with stories from around the world. Aligned with Common Core Standards, it is accompanied by a writing assignment based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. This intriguing legend about the eighth-century Moorish Occupation of Spain is written for grades nine and ten (Flesch-Kincaid 9.1) and embedded with domain-specific vocabulary. It is accompanied by a vocabulary practice sheet, strategies for reviewing, and a quiz. It requires no teacher preparation. This resource is also appropriate for eleventh grade students; however, standards are not included.
This legend contains factual information about following:
the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar)
the origins of the Sahara Desert
the early years of the Islamic belief
the Iberian Peninsula
the Battle of Tours (Charles Martel)
the Battle of Roncevaux (Charlemagne)
passages from ancient texts
embedded vocabulary with parts of speech and definitions
five-page reading assignment with comprehension quiz (key included)
vocabulary practice (key included)
vocabulary strategies and activities (including a crossword puzzle)
vocabulary quiz (key included)
writing assignment based on Bloom’s Taxonomy (rubric included)
single Powerpoint slide for understanding the story’s setting
This series of lessons and activities provides students with an opportunity to develop skills essential for future academic success. Its dominant theme is that of fate. The reading passage is written with carefully selected word choices, subtle descriptions, age-appropriate content, and a story format that is both informative and entertaining. Its setting is the Iberian Peninsula during the eighth century.
Standing on opposite sides of the channel are imposing mountainous cliffs. Romans named these two promontories the “Pillars of Hercules” to honor their most powerful demigod. An ancient myth, The Twelve Labors of Hercules, chronicled his heroic adventures. Today, we call this waterway the Strait of Gibraltar.
On the opposite shore, the southernmost pillar hides its roots in the less productive soil of northern Africa. Bearing the name, Jebel Musa, it clings to the shifting sands of the planet’s largest hot desert, the Sahara. At one time, this sun-parched earth was an immense body of water called the Tethys Sea. However, seven million years ago, two tectonic plates, those beneath the European and African continents, collided. Most of the sea evaporated, leaving behind 3,500,000 square miles of desert.