Mysteries and Wonders Passage and Assessment #22: Swallowed By A Whale?

Grade Levels
4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th
Resource Types
Common Core Standards
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1.41 MB   |   5 pages


The story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale from the Bible is an event that most have heard of or learned about. But could such a thing happen in real life, and has it ever occurred? This article examines the strange story of James Bartley, a British sailor who was (if naval records are to be believed) swallowed by a sperm whale off the Falkland Islands in 1891 during a whale hunting expedition. Emerging from the stomach of the whale’s carcass unconscious but alive 15 hours later, James survived and lived another 18 years after the incident. Students read about what is either the most incredible story of survival ever or perhaps just a modern hoax or sailor’s yarn from the turn of the 20th century.

This Common Core-aligned informational reading and assessment can be used in Grades 4-8 depending on your students' ability levels and in a number of ways by teachers (teacher-directed study in class, close reading, independent practice, homework, test prep, etc). This is a high interest article that works equally well with either reluctant readers or in the regular classroom! Please download the Preview to see part of the text and ALL the questions included in the printable.

This passage and assessment is ideal as part of a close reading program in your classroom based around mastery of the Common Core! What does that mean to you as a classroom teacher? It means that this is not the typical “one reading I'm done” comprehension work often given before the Common Core Standards were created. To complete the assessment for the passage, students will need "to undertake the close, attentive reading and re-reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex and worthy works.”

This product is part of a larger collection on Mysteries and Wonders. The bundle can be purchased at a 50% discount to the price of the individual resources that are included by clicking and purchasing the resource below.

Mysteries and Wonders Informational Passage and Assessment Collection

The printable includes:

1) An engaging, high-interest informational article of 900 words titled “Swallowed By a Whale?” Flesch Kincaid Reading Level = 6.6

2) A set of 25 questions, from fill-in-the-blank to more challenging, written to align with these Common Core Informational Text Standards:
RI.4.2. Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
RI.4.9. Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
RI.5.3. Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
RI.5.4. Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

3) Answers to every question.

While you are here, take a look at my popular Common Core-Aligned Informational Text bundles, created to help busy teachers implement the ELA standards! All the best texts and assessments organized into easy-to-use collections.

Common Core-Aligned Informational Text Assessments: Grades 4-5

Common Core-Aligned Informational Text Assessments: Grades 5-6

This item is a PAID digital download from my TpT store. As such, it is for use in one classroom only. This item is also bound by copyright laws and redistributing, editing, selling, or posting this item (or any part thereof) on the Internet are all strictly prohibited without first gaining permission from the author. Violations are subject to the penalties of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Any claims of correlation or alignment to the Common Core State Standards are solely those of Mark Aaron and have not been evaluated or endorsed by the NGA. Mark Aaron is the sole creator of this product and does not claim endorsement or association with the creators of the CCSS.

Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 hour

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Mysteries and Wonders Passage and Assessment #22: Swallowe