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Reading Passages
Unit 1 CBA - Grade 6
Read the passage below to answer ​Questions 1-8​ in Schoology
from In Africa, Decoding the “Language” of Elephants
by D.L. Parsell
Note: This text has been altered for testing purposes.
(1) It’s a safari postcard moment: A family of elephants rush together, rumbling, trumpeting, and screaming, their
chorused voices deafening in the wilderness. To casual observers, the sight is pure animal theatrics, and thrilling
testimony to the magnificence of Africa’s wildlife. But biologist Joyce Poole knows there’s a lot more happening than
meets the ear.
(2) For 27 years [Poole] has lived among savanna elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park studying their behavior
and methods of communication. Poole has found that the elephants use more than 70 kinds of vocal sounds and 160
different signals, expressions, and gestures in their day-to-day interactions. Like humans and many other mammals, she
explained, the elephants have a wide range of calls and signals for different purposes—to secure their defense, warn
others of danger, coordinate group movements, reconcile differences, attract mates, reinforce family bonds, and
announce their needs and desires.
Complex Communication
(3) Scientists say elephants have an elaborate system of communication because they need it to maintain a complex
social structure based on strong family relationships. Adult male elephants live and travel alone or in loose association
with other bulls, while elderly females (matriarchs) head family groups consisting of other female relatives and their
young. These female units are organized into a structured system of bond groups and clans and usually stay together for
life. “Like primate social grooming, elephants use vocalization to reinforce bonds that hold the group together,” said
Poole. “We see this happening several times a day.”
(4) Katy Payne has observed that elephants “are as emotional and attached to family members as human beings are, and
are very much aware of the experience of others.” The male and female elephants have developed distinctive calls that
are adapted to their different roles. Like humans and other highly social species, the savanna elephants depend on a
large repertoire of calls and other methods of communication to interact appropriately with others and exchange
important information relevant to their welfare and survival.
(5) Besides using vocal sounds, elephants also communicate through touch, sight, and chemical signals. Stanford
University biologist Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell has found, for example, that elephants appear to communicate in part by
sensing seismic vibrations through their feet, with the soft skin on the pads of their feet acting like the head of a drum.
(6) A well-developed communication network is even more crucial for elephants because individuals and groups—
perhaps mates, relatives, or friends—roaming their native habitats are often far apart from one another. Powerful
infrasonic calls enable them to send messages and warnings, sometimes over long distances. The elephants, said Poole,
are sending messages such as “Hello, I’m here. Where are you?” “Help, I’m lost.” Or “We are a force to be reckoned
Wide Repertoire of Calls
(7) In developing a systematic catalog of known elephant calls, the Savanna Elephant Vocalization Project draws on
voluminous information collected from years of field studies in Amboseli. The team logged many of the various calls
made by individual elephants and recorded details such as when, where, and under what social conditions they
occurred. The different sounds are being recorded on disk; still images and video films are also being made to show the
elephants’ behavior during the calls.
(8) Poole is measuring characteristics of the call such as frequency, bandwidth, and duration to differentiate them.
Samples of about 80 percent of the different known calls have been collected. “We have a huge task to measure and
analyze the calls and to describe the contextual information,” said Poole. One of the calls identified so far is what Poole
describes as the “let’s go” rumble, which is used to suggest “I want to go in this direction—let’s go together.” A
drawn-out rumbling, it lasts about five to six seconds and is usually repeated about every 80 seconds or so until the
caller gets results. Another is the “contact call.” An elephant calling for a distant family member emits a powerful
reverberating sound and then lifts its head and spreads its ears listening for an answer. If it receives one, it responds
with an explosive sound. “What I think goes on in these long distant calls,” said Poole, “is an elephant gets an answer
and then it responds, ‘We’re in touch.’ ”
Read the passage below to answer ​Questions 9 - 13​ ​ in Schoology
Revision and Editing
(1) “Hi, José, what are you doing here?” asked Brian.
(2) “I came to the park to play catch with my older brother, Tomás,” José replied.
(3) “Do you remember that little puppy I found last week?” (4) Brian pointed to a dog at the end of a leash he held. (5)
“Nobody has responded to the lost dog ads, now he’s mine.”
(6) “Sure, I remember,” José said, bending down to pat the wriggling puppy. (7) “Lisa and I were there when you found
him and showed him to us. (8) Are you having any luck training her?” (9) The dog yipped and tried to jump into José’s
arms, Brian pulled on the leash. (10) “Oh, he is really friendly!” José exclaimed. (11) “Do you think he realizes he’s your
dog now?”
(12) “Yes, this little dog is as smart as he is cute!” Brian bragged. (13) “Although he’s still kind of excitable. (14) But
there’s a new trick I just taught him yesterday that you should see. (15) Where’s Lisa? (16) I want to show you both how
my dog can give me a ‘high five’ I hold up my hand. (17) I thought she was going to be here at the park.”
(18) “Lisa’s out shopping with her sisters at the mall,” José explained. (19) “Lisa loves shopping she might be gone for
awhile! (20) I would love to see your pet’s new trick!”
(21) “His name is Scout,” Brian said. (22) “Lisa’s not around, I'll just show you the trick. (23) Here, Scout! (24) See how
she comes when she's called?” Brian noted. (25) “Sit!” (26) Scout sat and looked at the two boys eagerly. (27) “Now for
the trick,” Brian announced. (28) He put out his hand in front of Scout. (29) “Hey, Scout, high five. (30) That’s a good