Grade 11: “Living Like Weasels” by Annie Dillard (Literary Nonfiction Mini-Assessment)


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Reading Informational Text

RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

RI.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

RI.11-12.5 Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.

RI.11-12.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.


This Grade 11 mini-assessment titled Living Like Weasels” by Annie Dillard cited on is intended to inform instruction about a student’s ability to engage in the close reading of a complex text to demonstrate deep understanding. In this mini-assessment there are six selected-response questions that address the reading standards listed above.


Connecticut teachers are cautioned that, while this mini-assessment is designed to be completed in one class period, they are encouraged to allow students additional time as necessary.


This mini-assessment is a good example of how to design text-dependent questions aligned to specific Common Core Standards. It could be used as a formative assessment at the start of a school year and/or to assess the growth in students’ abilities to engage in the close reading of a complex text. An annotated Teacher’s Guide for the assessment gives specific rationale for each answer option and lists which standards it addresses. Information about determining text complexity (quantitative and qualitative data) is included with assessment materials.