8 th Grade Reading Sample-- Passage ONE:

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1 8 th Grade Reading Sample-- Passage ONE: In a Class of Their Own 1. Most animals can be grouped according to their physical characteristics. If it has feathers and lays eggs, it s a bird. If it lays eggs, has scales, and breathes air, it s a reptile. If it breathes air but has fur or hair and gives birth to live young, it s a mammal. However, there are exceptions to every rule. There are two kinds of animals that don t fit easily into any of these groups the duckbilled platypus, found in Australia, and the echidna or spiny anteater, found in Australia and New Guinea. Their Features and Habits 2. Echidnas and platypuses are alike in several ways. They both have snouts that are shaped like the bill of a bird and legs that sprawl like those of a reptile. Like birds and reptiles, echidnas and platypuses lay eggs. However, like mammals, they are warm-blooded and have hair. And although echidnas and platypuses have all of these features in common, they also differ from each other in important ways. 3. The platypus is an excellent swimmer. It has heavily webbed paws and a flat beaver-like tail. Its leathery, duck-like bill is ideal for finding worms, shellfish, insect larvae, and other organisms on the muddy stream bottoms where it feeds. The platypus is comfortable both in the water and on land. 4. Echidnas, however, stick to dry land. Like porcupines, they have sharp spines covering their bodies. The echidna s snout is leathery like that of a platypus, but it is longer and thinner. The echidna also has a sticky tongue that shoots out to snatch up ants and termites when it is hungry. The claws on its back feet point backward. When echidnas are threatened, they hit the dirt and use all four of their clawed feet to dig straight down, pushing out earth to the sides and burying themselves in the ground in a matter of minutes. They also defend themselves from other animals by rolling up into a prickly ball. 8 th Grade Reading Sample #1 page 1

2 How They Bear and Care for Their Young 5. Echidnas and platypuses do not care for their young in the same way. Platypuses build nests of leaves in a breeding tunnel where they lay two or three eggs. After the eggs hatch, the young platypuses stay in the nest until they are about one foot long, which takes about 17 weeks. During this time the mother leaves the nest only when she needs to find food for herself and her young. Echidnas rarely lay more than one egg, and they build no tunnels or other types of homes. With her stomach muscles, a mother echidna forms a shallow pouch in her skin where she carries the egg. Once the egg hatches, the mother carries the baby around in her pouch until the baby develops sharp spines of its own; then she hides the baby under bushes while she searches for food. 6. When platypus specimens were first brought to Europe from Australia in the early 1800s, scientists couldn t decide how to classify them. However, in 1824 a German scientist discovered the feature that settled this issue. He noticed that female platypuses release milk through small pores in their skin. Truly a rara avis! Later scientists discovered that echidnas nurse their young in the same way. Because mammals nurse their young, scientists concluded that platypuses and echidnas are most similar to mammals. 7. Scientists placed them in the class Mammalia 1 and gave them the name monotremes, 2 a description of the simpler body structure of these animals in comparison with other mammals. However, the features that the echidna and platypus share with birds and reptiles make them very unusual mammals. To distinguish these odd creatures from other mammals, scientists created the order Monotremata, a subgroup of the class Mammalia. The platypus and echidna are really in a class all by themselves. 1 Mammalia the highest class of Vertebrata; the young are nourished for a time by milk 2 monotreme an order of primitive egg-laying mammals restricted to Australia and New Guinea 8 th Grade Reading Sample #1 page 2

3 1. In paragraph 7, what does the word order mean? A group C purchase B instruct D command 2. In paragraph 2, what does the word sprawl mean? A slow C extended B lazy D reliable 3. Birds often live in an aviary. Using this information, the expression rara avis probably means A a red bird. C an unusual bird. B an eager doctor. D a troubling case. mam mal (măm ǝl), n.; pl. mammals. [L. mammalis, fr. Mamma: cf. F. mammal.] One of the Mammalia. 4. Use the dictionary entry above. The word mammal most recently comes from which language? A Spanish C French B Latin D English 5. In paragraph 4, the idiom, hit the dirt, means A charge. C attack. B hide. D retreat. 8 th Grade Reading Sample #1 page 3

4 6. What was the author s purpose in writing this passage? A to demonstrate to readers how C to persuade readers to protect common echidnas and platypuses are echidnas and platypuses B to express an opinion to readers D to inform readers about echidnas about echidnas and platypuses and platypuses 7. Why did scientists decide to classify platypuses with mammals? A They lay eggs. C They produce milk. B They swim well. D They fit nowhere else. 8. How are echidnas and platypuses alike? A Both are warm blooded. C They have a spiny coat. B They do not swim well. D Both lay eggs in tunnels. 9. When writing a summary, which idea would be the least important to include? A Surprisingly, both platypuses and C Platypuses and echidnas are classed echidnas lay eggs. with mammals. B Echidnas do differ from platypuses in D Echidnas defend themselves by several ways. rolling up into a ball. 10. Which sentence is an opinion? A Echidnas and platypuses are C The monotremes are fascinating animals. warm-blooded. B Scientists group creatures by D The traits posed a problem for scientists. their features. 8 th Grade Reading Sample #1 page 4

5 11. Which would be the best resource to find more information about how echidnas raise their young? A an article, Echidnas in the Zoo: Care C an encyclopedia entry, Echidnas and and Feeding Their Ways B a book, Linnstaedterr s Field Guide to D a tourist guide to Australia and New Odd Birds Guinea 12. The author draws attention to important points by using A italicized words. C bold heading. B short paragraphs. D illustrations. 13. When taking a multiple-choice test it is best to do all of the following except A underline key words as you read C answer the questions you know last the questions B eliminate answers you know are incorrect D reread your answers when you are finished 14. In order to remember the difference between the platypus and the echidna, it would be helpful to A make a chart of the animal s characteristics. B think about the title. C Write down the main idea for each paragraph D underline the difficult words. 15. The author shows that scientists follow sound reasoning to apply strict rules of classification by A mentions several rules of C describing the appearance of classification. echidnas. B listing similarities to other D discussing how platypuses are unique. animals. 8 th Grade Reading Sample #1 page 5

6 16. If you were to outline this selection, what would one of the subtopics probably be? A problems with classification C popularity of platypuses B adaptation to urban areas D other monotremes 17. This selection is most likely to be accurate if it is written by A an actor. C a fisherman. B a biologist. D an Australian. 18. What question was answered by the German scientist s discovery in 1824? A How are Echidnas different from a platypus? B How does the Echidnas defend itself? C What kind of food does the platypus eat? D Is the platypus a mammal Or a reptile? 19. Echidnas and platypuses have all of these characteristics except A hair on their bodies. B the ability to reproduce. C bird-like snouts D beaver-like tails 20. You can tell that In a Class of Their Own is not a fable because A there are too few animals mentioned. B there is an abundance of information. C the animals are silent. D the article is too short. 8 th Grade Reading Sample #1 page 6

7 21. In order to better understand what you are about to read, it would be helpful to do all of these except A read the title. B preview the subheadings. C count how many pages need to be read. D ask questions about the title and subheadings. 8 th Grade Reading Sample #1 page 7

8 8 th Grade Sample Reading Selection #1 State Obj.: DOK: ANSWER: A C C B a 3 B a 2 D b 1 C b 2 A b 3 D b 3 C b 3 C a 3 C d 1 C c 2 A d 2 A a 2 A c 2 B b 2 D b 2 D b 2 C c 2 C 8 th Grade Reading Sample #1 page 8

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