Winter Break Packet

  • Parents and Students:
    The countdown to the PARCC has begun and it will be here before we know it! In order
    to ensure success of all of our students this packet has been created to reinforce the
    lessons and test taking skills that we have been covering in class.
    Although we realize that December break is a time of relaxation, we do not want the
    students to forget the invaluable tools that we have given them. Just like with sports or
    other activities, the key to success in school is practice! Practicing and keeping their
    skills sharp over break will provide them with the extra edge they will need to perform
    their very best on the upcoming PARCC. This packet will help your child review and
    practice their reading skills (the packet will not be graded—but extra credit may be
    Thank you for all your support. Together we will make a difference!
    Directions for the Packet:
    • To help make this experience as authentic as possible for your child please do the
    • Find a quiet place for your child to work—away from noise and other possible
    • For each practice test, your child will have 20 minutes to read, answer the questions
    Please be sure to time them and be as accurate as possible. When the time is up,
    they will not be able to go back and review, edit, or change any answers—just
    like on the actual PARCC assessment.
    • While the child is taking the test, if they have to take a break (e.g. to go to the
    bathroom), the time does not stop.
    • We have provided a bubble sheet for the students to answer their questions on.
    Please make sure that your child answers the questions BOTH on the test and on the
    bubble sheet.
    • These tools will allow your child’s teacher to assess your child’s exam and review
    any skills that they may require assistance with. Your child’s teacher will review the
    packets with them when they return to school. Gr. 8 Reading Informational Texts Test 1 (PARCC)
    Read the following selection and then answer questions 1 - 6.
    The Three “R”s of Folding Time Grand Canyon Style
    by Leigh Anderson
    “The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools but the gentle touches of air and water
    working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.”
     —HENRY DAVID THOREAU, American author
    1 There is a place—like no other in the world—where time seems to fold in on itself.
    Where the past meets the here-and-now, mountains meet oceans, beauty meets danger, and
    discovery meets mystery. This place is the Grand Canyon.
    2 The Grand Canyon is 277 river miles long. At certain points, it’s more than a mile deep
    and as much as 18 miles wide. Going 60 miles per hour, it would take over five hours to drive its
    entire length! At such speed, you’d hardly see any of what makes the canyon truly grand:
    dazzling, glittering colors; fossils and wildlife; a great river snaking through ancient rock; and
    many-layered canyon walls giving glimpses of Earth’s history.
    3 Geologists have many different theories about how and when the Grand Canyon was
    formed. The story of the canyon’s beginnings is like a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces missing.
    There are a few things geologists do agree on. We’ll call them the three “R”s: Rocks, River, and
    ’Rosion (actually, Erosion, but we’re going to cheat a bit!).
    4 The Grand Canyon’s walls are made up mainly of three types of rock: limestone,
    sandstone, and shale. Over millions of years, the rock built up layer by layer. Each new layer of
    rock pressed down on the layers beneath it. Then the Colorado River began to cut through these
    layers like a knife, exposing them for us to see. At the Grand Canyon today, 18 or more layers of
    Earth’s history are laid out for us to see. We can see backward in time! The rocks near the top of
    the canyon are about 270 million years old, but those toward the bottom of the canyon are more
    than 1.8 billion years old. What an amazing place for scientists to study the history of Earth.
    5 Limestone, sandstone, and shale: Each of these types of rock was formed in a different
    way. Limestone is made from the fossilized skeletons of tiny organisms that lived in ancient
    seas. (Fossils are the superhard remains of plants or animals that lived long, long ago.)
    Sandstone is actually sand, pressed so hard over millions of years that it stuck together into
    rock. And shale is basically mud, left over from the bottoms of ancient lakes and marshes. Some
    rock is softer, some is harder, and they erode at different rates. When a layer of hard rock is on
    top of a layer of softer rock, amazing cliffs are created. Throughout the canyon rock shapes
    make this mystical canyon seem even more magical—no easy trick in a place as enchanted as
    the Grand Canyon.
    6 Without the Colorado River, there would be no Grand Canyon. The river flows
    southwest from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California, crossing through an area called
    the Colorado Plateau. As it flows, the river crosses Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada before
    flowing into Mexico and the Gulf. But the ancient Colorado was not the same river we know
    today. In fact, long ago it was probably more than one river. When those ancient rivers joined,
    the newly formed Colorado began flowing southwest. It bucked over dangerous rapids and
    frothed like chocolate milk in a blender as it carried mountains of dirt downstream. Like
    sandpaper repeatedly rubbing the same piece of wood, the fast-moving, sand-filled water slowly
    carved a groove in the rock beneath it.
    7 But the Colorado River didn’t carve the canyon by itself. As ancient glaciers melted, the
    river and its tributaries flooded again and again. The floods cleared away the sand, gravel, and
    other sediment at the bottom of the river. Then, rocks and boulders, which had tumbled into the river, were able to grind and scrape the bedrock at the river’s bottom, further deepening the
    8 As water moves through the canyon, it flows “downhill,” dropping in elevation. This
    makes the water flow faster, with more power to carve out the rock. Also, long ago, the land
    around the Colorado River began to rise bit by bit, bubbling upward like a giant blister. Known as
    uplift, this process continued over millions of years. Uplift helped form the canyon we know
    9 When rain falls on rocks, water seeps into the cracks in the rock. When the weather
    gets cold and that water freezes, it expands, or gets bigger. Over and over, water freezes and
    expands in the cracks. And slowly, the rock splits apart. Pieces of broken rock (from tiny to huge)
    fall into the canyon below. As they fall, they might hit another rock and send it tumbling, too.
    When they finally reach bottom, some rocks are carried away by the Colorado. Others remain
    where they landed.
    10 Heavy rains send great slabs of sediment, mud, and rock crashing down cliff faces,
    widening the canyon and carving new shapes into the giant red walls. The Colorado’s tributaries
    are busy, too, carving smaller side canyons. Sometimes these side canyons erode into each
    other, further widening the canyon. This is all part of the process of rocks, river, and ’rosion that
    makes this canyon so GRAND!

    The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world.
    1. Mount Everest in Nepal
    2. Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe
    3. Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA
    4. Great Barrier Reef in Australia
    5. Northern Lights in the sky
    6. Paricutin Volcano in Mexico
    7. Harbor of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

    Part A
    Read this sentence from Paragraph 7.

    But the Colorado River didn’t carve the canyon by itself.

    Based on this sentence, you can conclude that the Grand Canyon
     A. is composed of several kinds of stone.
     B. was carved to a very significant depth.
     C. was formed over many millions of years.
     D. was created by more than one factor.2. Part B
    How does Paragraph 7 best support the conclusion from Part A?
     A. It explains the size of the valleys in the Grand Canyon.
     B. It explains how floods moved and shaped the land.
     C. It discusses the formation of glaciers in ancient times.
     D. It discusses types of stone beneath the Colorado River.
    Part C
    Consider your answers to Parts A and B. What is the meaning of the term tributaries in Paragraph 7?
     A. fossilized remains of living things
     B. the lowest level of stone under a river
     C. small rivers flowing into a larger river
     D. solid objects within a body of water
    4. Part A
    Which of the following phrases are examples of similes?
    I. 'like chocolate milk in a blender'
    II. 'mountains of dirt'
    III. 'like a giant blister'
    IV. 'rocks, river, and 'rosion'
    V. 'grind and scrape the bedrock'

     A. I and II
     B. I and III
     C. III and IV
     D. IV and V
    Part B
    What is the most likely reason the author used the similes in Part A?
     A. to create entertaining stories and wordplays
     B. to persuade readers to change their feelings
     C. to contrast concepts that are very different
     D. to help readers understand unfamiliar ideas
    6. How does the author prove that the Grand Canyon was formed over millions of years? What
    evidence does the author provide to support this claim? Use details from the article to support your
    Please limit your response to 1000 words. Write your response on a separate sheet of paper.Read the following selection and then answer questions 7 - 12.
    Marathon Man
    by Randy Stowell

    1 In 1896, a young man from Greece named
    Spiridon Louis ran one of the most exciting foot races ever.

    2 Not much is known about Spiridon’s early life. He
    was born in 1873 in a small house in the rocky hills above
    Athens. His father was a shepherd, and from a very young
    age Spiridon helped tend the sheep.

    3 In winter, Spiridon watched the lambs to make
    sure they did not wander away from their mothers. In spring,
    he gathered the wool into bags as his father sheared the
    4 When the wool was collected, Spiridon and his father walked to the Athens market to
    sell it. It was there that Spiridon saw the ancient buildings and heard the stories of the great
    civilization that had existed in Athens many centuries before.

    5 Perhaps it was in Athens that Spiridon’s father told him the legend of Pheidippides (fyDIP-ih-deez).

    6 “Pheidippides ran from the village of Marathon to Athens, to tell his people that the
    Greeks had won a great battle,” his father said.

    7 The legend also says that Pheidippides had fought hard in the battle and that he died
    after delivering the message. The run of nearly 25 miles had been too much for him.

    8 The story of Pheidippides has inspired athletes for many years.

    Running with a Mule

    9 By the time he was in his early twenties, Spiridon was making a living selling fresh
    water from the hills. Twice a day he would load two barrels full of water on his mule and run
    alongside the mule to Athens, a trip of more than eight miles.

    10 Spiridon’s legs and heart grew strong from all that running. When he heard that a long
    race would be part of the Olympic Games, he decided to enter. The race would be called the
    marathon, in honor of the legend of Pheidippides.

    11 The Olympics had been a festival of sports in ancient Greece, but the Games had not
    been held for centuries. There was great excitement in Greece when the decision was made to
    revive the Games in 1896.

    12 The marathon was held on the last day of the Olympics. Greek athletes had not fared
    as well in the other events as hoped, so spectators were eager to see a Greek runner win. But
    the race included runners from Australia, the United States, and France, and they had done very
    well in shorter races at the Games.
     13 The marathon began, and Albin Lermusiaux of France set a fast pace over the hilly
    dirt roads. He had a huge lead by the halfway point of the 40-kilometer race (that’s just a little
    less than 25 miles). But he became exhausted and could not continue much farther. Soon he
    was out of the race.

    14 With six miles to go, Edwin Flack of Australia was in the lead. But Spiridon Louis, who
    had started out at a slower, steady pace, was beginning to gain ground. Crowds of people lined
    the streets, urging Spiridon on.

    15 “How many are in front of me?” Spiridon called to the crowd.

    16 “Six,” came the reply, “but they are well out front.”

    17 “I will catch them,” Spiridon said.

    Spiridon Surges

    18 Spiridon soon passed several runners who had started too fast and were now
    exhausted. Only Edwin Flack was still ahead. Meanwhile, at the Olympic Stadium in Athens,
    more than 40,000 spectators were waiting anxiously for the marathoners to arrive. When it was
    announced that the first runner was approaching, all eyes turned to the entrance of the stadium.

    19 “Sound runs faster than man or horse, and before the runner appeared to those who
    were in the stadium they had caught the cry,” wrote a reporter for the New York Times. “‘It is a
    Greek!’ The rest was quickly seen—the weary, yet steady strides of the victor, till he made the

    20 Spiridon Louis had won the first Olympic marathon.

    21 Many years later, Spiridon recalled his victory.

    22 “That hour was something unimaginable, and it still appears to me in my memory like
    a dream,” he said in 1936. “Twigs and flowers were raining down on me. Everybody was calling
    out my name and throwing their hats in the air.”

    23 The Summer Olympic Games take place once every four years, bringing together
    athletes from all over the world. This summer, the Games will be held in Athens, Greece, for the
    first time since 1896.

    24 Perhaps the story of Spiridon Louis will inspire the next winner of the Olympic
    marathon, just as Spiridon was inspired by the legend of Pheidippides so long ago.
    7. Part A
    Which event from Spiridon's early life most contributed to his physical abilities?
     A. shearing sheep with his father
     B. delivering fresh water to Athens
     C. selling wool at the Athens market
     D. hearing tales from ancient times8. Part B
    Which sentence best describes the main effect of the activity in Part A?
     A. Spiridon was making a living selling fresh water from the hills.
     B. His father was a shepherd, and from a very young age Spiridon helped tend the sheep.
     C. Perhaps it was in Athens that Spiridon's father told him the legend of Pheidippides.
     D. Spiridon's legs and heart grew strong from all that running.
    Part A
    Paragraphs 13 and 14 draw a contrast between Spiridon and other runners by showing that Spiridon
     A. started the race more slowly than others.
     B. was expected to win the marathon.
     C. had participated in prior racing events.
     D. was not representing his homeland.
    Part B
    Based on your answer to Part A, you can conclude that Spiridon was
     A. widely supported.
     B. overly confident.
     C. a wise runner.
     D. a former champion.
    11. Part A
    Which best describes the central idea of the article?
     A. Athletes from many lands compete in the Summer Olympics every four years.
     B. Spiridon Louis made history as the winner of the first Olympic marathon.
     C. Pheidippides ran nearly 25 miles from the village of Marathon to Athens.
     D. Spiridon Louis had a humble early life but went on to great accomplishments.
    Part B
    Think about your answer to Part A. How does the author show the importance of this central idea?
    What comparison does he draw with Pheidippides? Use details from the article to support your
    Please limit your response to 1000 words. Write your response on a separate sheet of paper.Read the following selection and then answer questions 13 - 19.
    Adventure’s Call

    1 Eleven-year-old Jack London stared in awe at the towering masts of the Arctic
    whalers, flat-bottomed Chinese junks with square sails, and trading schooners that rocked at
    anchor at the Oakland, California, waterfront. He wished he could jump aboard one and sail away
    to find adventure.
    2 Jack loved to read adventure books and sea stories. From the age of 10, he had
    worked to help earn money for his family. Reading gave him hope that someday he’d find a better
    life for himself, like some of the characters in the books he had read.

    3 Young Jack read mornings, afternoons,
    and nights. “I read as I walked to and from school,” he
    once said, “and I read at recess when the other boys
    were playing.”

    4 Jack quit school after the eighth grade to
    work in a cannery. He stuffed pickles into jars for 12 to
    15 hours a day and was paid 10¢ an hour. The job
    made him feel like a “work-beast” who would never get

    5 Eventually, Jack saved up enough money to buy a leaky boat and taught himself to
    sail. Whenever he could, he sailed away alone, with a sack full of books.

    The Call of the Sea

    6 When Jack was 17, he joined a seal-hunting expedition headed for the coast of
    Japan. The threemaster schooner Sophia Sutherland ran into a typhoon during Jack’s turn at the
    wheel. He battled the swift-running seas and kept the ship on course.

    7 When he returned home from his adventure, his mother persuaded him to enter a
    writing contest for young people. The contest offered a $25 first prize. Jack vividly described how
    the schooner had heaved, shuddered, and rolled, and how the prow had pushed through the
    typhoon. He won the contest. This prompted him to consider becoming a writer.

    8 To increase his vocabulary, he tried to memorize 20 new words every day. He wrote
    words and their meanings on slips of paper. Then he tucked them around his mirror frame or
    clipped them to a wire strung over his bed. This way he could read them the first thing in the
    morning and the last thing at night.

    9 Jack tried to read all of the books written by successful writers of his day, especially
    Rudyard Kipling. He studied Kipling’s Just So Stories and The Jungle Book, and copied pages of
    the books by hand so he could get a feel for the way Kipling put words and sentences together.

    10 Despite his efforts to improve his vocabulary and writing style, editors and publishers
    rejected everything Jack wrote. If he could not publish his work and earn money, he knew he
    would have to return to manual labor to make his living. Striking Gold
    11 The 1897 Klondike gold rush changed Jack’s life. He joined the stampede to the Yukon
    territory in Canada with others seeking wealth and adventure. When winter set in and the lakes
    and rivers froze over, he and other gold seekers were forced to stay close to their cabins.

    12 At night men gathered together and talked. Jack was good at drawing people out,
    getting them to tell their stories of digging for gold and traveling by dog team, and of their run-ins
    with howling wolves. He also met Louis Bond, and learned about a special dog named Buck.

    13 When Jack realized he wasn’t going to find any gold, he decided to write and sell
    stories based on his Yukon experiences. People in the United States seemed hungry for stories
    about that harsh land. He went home and established a lifelong routine of writing at least one
    thousand words every morning.

    14 “Don’t loaf and invite inspiration,” he once wrote. “Light out after it with a club, and if
    you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.”

    15 Jack worked hard, mining his Yukon experiences for stories. One of the stories he
    started was about a dog named Buck that was stolen, then forced to become a sled dog in the
    frozen north. Jack became so absorbed in his writing that the work grew to book size. He tried to
    write in such a way that his readers could see, feel, and hear the story. He wrote about the singing
    of the sled runners on the icy trails, the white snow, the black forests, and the flaming aurora
    borealis. He titled his book The Call of the Wild.

    16 Jack’s book became one of the best-selling books in American literary history. It has
    been in print continuously since 1903.

    17 Jack wondered why his earlier writing hadn’t succeeded. He finally reasoned, “I left out
    the most important thing—some of my own heart and blood—a part of myself.”
    18 Though Jack London died at age 40, his adventures live on through his vibrant and
    realistic writing. During his life he wrote more than fifty books and hundreds of short stories. His
    words still call readers to follow him into the wild.
    Part A
    What is the central idea of this article?
     A. The Klondike gold rush greatly affected Jack London’s life.
     B. A special dog named Buck influenced Jack London's fate.
     C. Jack London had a challenging path to success as a writer.
     D. Jack London read adventure books and sea stories as a child.
    14. Part B
    Which sentence from the passage best supports your answer to Part A?
     A. At night men gathered together and talked.
     B. Young Jack read mornings, afternoons, and nights.
     C. Jack worked hard, mining his Yukon experiences for stories.
     D. It has been in print continuously since 1903.15.
    Part A
    Read this sentence from the article.

    He studied Kipling’s Just So Stories and The Jungle Book, and copied pages of the books by hand so
    he could get a feel for the way Kipling put words and sentences together.

    Based on this sentence, you can conclude that London was
     A. hardworking.
     B. envious.
     C. confident.
     D. mature.
    Part B
    What is the author's purpose for including this sentence in the article?
     A. to demonstrate London's intelligence
     B. to suggest that Kipling was a better writer than London
     C. to suggest that London wasted time studying Kipling
     D. to show London's passion for writing
    Read this sentence from the article.

    Though Jack London died at age 40, his adventures live on through his vibrant and realistic writing.

    What does the word vibrant mean as it is used in the article?
     A. serious
     B. lively
     C. hilarious
     D. acclaimed
    18. Which of the following things did London do to try to make himself a better writer?
    I. He tried to memorize 20 new words every day.
    II. He joined a seal-hunting expedition on a schooner.
    III. He went to the Yukon in Canada to look for gold.
    IV. He copied pages of Rudyard Kipling books by hand.

     A. I and II
     B. I and IV
     C. II and III
     D. II and I
    19. What claim does the author make about the success of The Call of the Wild? Why did the book
    most likely do well? Use details from the article to support your answer.
    Please limit your response to 1000 words. Write your response on a separate sheet of paper.