Our first unit of study focus on the Notice and Note Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. These six signposts are noticeable in many fiction and nonfiction texts. When students can ‘notice’ these moments in the text we ask them to STOP and ‘note’ their thoughts on characters, plot, setting, conflict, or theme. Each signpost is introduced to students through picture books and then students participate in their first book club of fifth grade. Throughout the book club students will talk about signposts with their fellow book club members.

The Wax Museum is a highlight of fifth grade! As students learn about the Industrial Revolution they focus in on one significant person from the time period who made a contribution through their inventions or activism. During our reading block students learn and practice research skills to learn more about their historical figure. Students will use a  variety of sources including print and online to answer research questions. They will then use this information to write a formal five paragraph research essay and a short 1 minute speech for the Wax Museum.

We continue studying the Industrial Revolution and finding connections in texts as we complete a novel study of the book Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop. The text is read through read alouds, partner reading, and individual reading assignments. Students will look closely at elements of historical fiction as they read, including an emphasis on plot, setting, and character development.

After winter break we begin our genre study on fantasy. Through a whole class read aloud we identify elements of fantasy and character traits. The familiar text also gives us an opportunity to talk about foreshadowing as well as drawing comparisons between the text and the movie. Students will then participate in fantasy book clubs which will allow students to apply their knowledge of character traits and elements to fantasy in a small group setting.

The fifth grade performance is a Poetry Cafe. Students perform poetry that they have written as well as selecting a poem written by a published author to perform from memory. In reading we look at a variety of poems including “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Students learn the structure of poems, including stanzas, lines, rhythm, and rhyme. Figurative language and symbolism are also reviewed. The work done in reading carries over into writing as students write their own poetry to publish into a poetry anthology.

Our final reading unit of the year focus on theme as students participate in book clubs that focus on various social issues. Book club groups are decided based on interest and titles vary. Students also vote on the read aloud, usually taken from the Rebecca Caudill nomination list. Picture books are used to introduce students to identifying themes as well as keeping a record of character actions and what those actions say about the character.