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Knowledge and Skills Statement

Multiple genres: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking using multiple texts--literary elements. The student recognizes and analyzes literary elements within and across increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse literary texts.

The following is one example of how to assess proficiency of this student expectation (SE) or a portion of the SE. More examples coming soon.
1 Passage
Racing Team

Carter is excited about the New Year’s Eve sand-sculpture competition, or contest, at the beach. He and his friend Max are hoping to win the contest this year by sculpting, or building, a sports car out of sand. The boys find a shallow pool of water to work in and start packing the sand into a mound to make their car. While working, Carter sees two girls, Sophie and Kate, building a sculpture of a convertible sports car nearby. As a judge starts to walk around and examine each of the sand sculptures, the two teams add the finishing touches to their cars. The two teams are not sure who will win the contest.

Read the story to learn more about what happens at the contest between the two teams. Then answer the questions that follow.

Racing Team

by Arlene Mark

  1. Carter woke up early. This was the day he had waited for all year—the New Year’s Eve sand-sculpture contest at the beach.
  2. He pulled on his shorts and raced down to the kitchen, grabbed a granola bar and a banana, and headed toward the beach with a shovel, pail, and spray bottle clutched to his chest.
  3. He and Max believed that they would win this year. They had built castles and forts before, but they had a great idea for this year—a sports car!
  4. Max was already at the beach, sitting in a shallow pool of water.
  5. “This is a good spot,” Max said. “There’s lots of squishy, wet sand to build with.” He picked up a handful and dribbled it over his legs.
  6. “Let’s start,” said Carter. He began scooping up wet sand with his shovel and dumping it near the pool of water. Then he packed the sand with both hands while Max dumped on more sand and slapped it into a mound.
  7. Other builders slowed down as they passed Max and Carter, looking at the growing mound of sand.
  8. “Nice wall,” said a man carrying a shovel.
  9. “Sports car,” said Carter. “We just started.”
  10. Rising out of the sand nearby were castles, dragons, whales, and mermaids. And right next to the boys, another mound was growing.
  11. Carter peeked around it. “Hey,” he said. “What’s this?”
  12. Two girls were kneeling and packing. “It’s a sports car,” one of them said. Both girls giggled and kept working.
  13. “You can’t build a sports car!” Carter said. “We’re building one.”
  14. “Ours is a convertible,” said the girl with black hair, rounding off a fender.
  15. “But we got here first,” Max said. “You’re copying!”
  16. “No, we’re not,” said the red-haired girl. “We’ve been planning this all year.”
  17. Carter whispered to Max, “Just keep working. Ours will be better.”
  18. “Keep packing, Kate,” said the red-haired girl. “I’ll get more sand for the seats.”
  19. “Good idea, Sophie.”
  20. The hot sun was drying out the sand. Carter grabbed his spray bottle and moistened the car while Max shaped the headlights and the grill with his fingers.
  21. “Look,” Max whispered. “It’s starting to look like a real car.”
  22. Carter smoothed the tires. “Yeah, it’s really cool, but let’s hurry. The judging is at two o’clock.”
  23. Max peeked over at the competition. He was startled to see Kate and Sophie peering back at the boys’ car.
  24. Carter is excited about the New Year’s Eve sand-sculpture
  25. Before long, the judges began examining the sand sculptures and scribbling in little notebooks.
  26. “Good idea,” said a voice.
  27. Carter, Max, Sophie, and Kate were all on their knees, hurrying to add the finishing touches to the cars. They shaded their eyes with their hands and looked up.
  28. “A race,” said the judge. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen a sand sculpture of a race.”
  29. The judge walked away, weaving past other sculptures.
  30. Carter, Max, Sophie, and Kate stared at one another, mouths open in surprise.
  31. “Want to?”
  32. “Yeah!”
  33. “Let’s do it!”
  34. “Cool.”
  35. Their hands flew as they quickly formed a racetrack around the cars.
  36. “Your bumpers are really cool,” said Carter. “Can we copy them?”
  37. “Sure,” said Kate. “Can you show us how you made your tires so round?”
  38. “Yeah.” Carter stepped over to the convertible. “You just need to shape them, like this.”
  39. “I’ll smooth out the track,” said Sophie.
  40. “And I’ll put up a finish line,” said Max. He found two sticks and poked them into the sand in front of the cars. Kate strung a ribbon of seaweed between them.
  41. “These are two cool cars,” Carter said.
  42. Before they could say another word, a voice called out, “We have the winner here.” The judge who had admired their work earlier stood beside the cars. “First prize goes to . . . um, I didn’t get the name of your entry.”
  43. Carter spoke. “It’s called . . . uhh . . .”
  44. “Racing Team!” Kate shouted.
  45. “Racing Team it is,” said the judge.
  46. A photographer hurried over to take a picture for the newspaper—two beautiful racing cars and four smiling sculptors.
Copyright © 2004 Highlights for Children, Inc., Columbus, Ohio.

Which sentence best describes Carter and Max when they first notice the girls?

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Show Answer
When students explain relationships among characters, they understand and can describe what has happened between characters and how these interactions may affect the plot overall. For example, in some cases, character relationships add to the conflict of the story, whereas in other cases relationships may contribute to the solution. Additionally, students should understand that the major characters are central to the plot of the story while minor characters are not. Plots follow the actions and experiences of major characters. The function of a minor character is to contribute to the development of the major characters or the plot.


1. Freeman, J. (2016). Story is king: How to be a great storyteller. School Library Journal, 62(6), 40+. Retrieved from

Summary: The author uses storytelling to build reading skills, such as plot analysis and understanding characters. She provides concrete examples for storytelling in the classrooms and gives a list of 21 classic folk and fairy tales that can be adapted for storytelling.

2. Droop, M., Elsäcker, W. V., Voeten, M. J., & Verhoeven, L. (2015). Long-term effects of strategic reading instruction in the intermediate elementary grades. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 9(1), 77–102. doi:10.1080/19345747.2015.1065528

Summary: The findings of this research suggest that third and fourth grade students should first attain and enhance their knowledge of reading strategies through teacher modeling. Then, they should learn how reading strategies are used and verbalized. After these steps, students can learn to apply this knowledge when reading. The more often a student uses the strategies, the more internalized the strategies become.