Grade 4: Basic Archaeology – “What’s a Dig?” and “What’s a Midden?” by David White


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Reading Literature

RI.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

RI.4.2 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

RI.4.3 Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

RI.4.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

RI.4.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.

RI.4.9 Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.


W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

W.4.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

W.4.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


This Grade 4 mini-assessment titled, “Basic Archaeology: “What’s a Dig?” and “What’s a Midden?” by David White” cited on is intended to inform instruction about a student’s ability to engage in the close reading of two complex texts on a topic in order to demonstrate deep understanding.  In this mini-assessment there are selected-response questions that address the reading standards listed and one (optional) constructed-response question that addresses the writing standards listed. It is designed to be completed in one class session.


It is highly recommended that the writing prompt not be made optional.


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 the school year.  An annotated Teacher’s Guide for the assessment gives a specific rationale for each answer option and lists the standards addressed. Information about determining text complexity (quantitative and qualitative data) is included with assessment materials.