In this course, students build on the language and literacy foundational skills established in the previous grades. The course is structured, systematic, cumulative, and provides consistent multisensory reinforcement while scaffolding to include a written spelling component.
Fifth grade is a time for children to hone their intellectual independence. In the first unit, Interpretation Book Clubs: Analyzing Themes, students draw on a repertoire of ways for reading closely, noticing how story elements interact, understanding how different authors develop the same theme, and comparing and contrasting texts that develop a similar theme. In the second unit, Tackling Complexity: Moving Up Levels of Nonfiction, children investigate the ways nonfiction texts are becoming more complex, and they learn strategies to tackle these new challenges. This unit emphasizes the strong foundational skills, such as fluency, orienting to texts, and word solving, that are required to read complex nonfiction. In the third unit, Argument and Advocacy: Researching Debatable Issues, students read complex nonfiction texts to conduct research on a debatable topic, consider perspective and craft, evaluate arguments, and formulate their own evidence-based, ethical positions on issues. In the final unit for fifth grade, Fantasy Book Clubs: The Magic of Themes and Symbols, students work in clubs to become deeply immersed in the fantasy genre and further develop higher-level thinking skills to study how authors develop characters and themes over time. They think metaphorically as well as analytically, explore the quests and themes within and across their novels, and consider the implications of conflicts, themes, and lessons learned.
By the time children enter fifth grade, they will have been introduced to most if not all of the new skills expected of fifth-graders. The sequence of fifth grade units consolidates those skills and introduces the learning objectives called for in the sixth-grade standards: how to conduct research using primary sources, how to write narratives that are reflective and theme-based, and how to write argument essays that use counter arguments to clarify a position. Unit 1, Narrative Craft, helps students deliberately use their knowledge of narrative craft to make their stories more thematic. In Unit 2, The Lens of History: Research Reports, students draw inspiration and understanding from mentor texts, historical accounts, primary source documents, maps, and timelines to write focused research reports that engage and teach readers. Building on these new skills, Unit 3, Shaping Texts: From Essay and Narrative to Memoir helps students grasp that form follows content, learning to take insights about their lives and decide whether these are best expressed in narratives, in essays, or in a hybrid genre created especially to convey the writer’s content. In the concluding unit of this series, The Research-Based Argument Essay, fifth-graders learn to build powerful arguments that convincingly balance evidence and analysis to persuade readers to action.