In this unit instruction focuses on helping writers craft a narrative that zooms in on a small moment in their recent past. Writers work on their pacing, slowing down the action at the heart of the story by including description, action, dialogue and internal thinking. The use of figurative language is encouraged to help develop the writer’s ability to visualize the setting, show a character’s emotion, or develop empathy for characters. Writing is assessed using the Narrative Writing Checklist.

Writers are introduced to the five-paragraph research essay through our Industrial Revolution unit. As this is our first essay of the year, writers are taught note-taking strategies as well as the structure of a five paragraph essay. Emphasis is placed on using evidence from the text and explaining why that evidence is important. Writers use color-coding as they revise their essay. The concept of a thesis statement is also introduced but will be developed in later essay units. Writing is assessed using the Wax Museum Essay Checklist.

Parents may be more familiar with the term Persuasive or Opinion Essay but in the Research Based Argument Essay the focus is on using evidence to back up a claim. The idea of a thesis statement is further refined in this unit as a claim statement with reasons, setting up the structure of the essay. The unit begins will all writers gathering evidence for and against serving chocolate milk in the cafeteria. The concept of a bias is introduced as writers keep track of evidence for and against serving chocolate milk. After all writing on the same topic, writers then select their own topic and gather evidence that supports their claim. They organize their evidence into reasons and craft a five paragraph essay. Writing is assessed using the Research-Based Argumentative Writing Checklist.

The final essay unit of the year focuses on writing about texts. Thesis statements are again emphasized in this unit as writers focus on developing a claim about two texts. Writers also work to develop an essay based off a given thesis. A variety of short stories and picture books for older readers are used for their thought provoking themes. Writing is assessed using the Literary Essay Checklist.

A highlight for fifth-grade writers is the annual Poetry Cafe. Throughout this unit writers craft many poems while studying rhythm and rhyme patterns, figurative language, and theme. Writers then select their top poems to publish in an online e-book and a focus is on digital publishing techniques. Speaking standards are also addressed as writers practice performing poems for the Poetry Cafe. Writers use an informational packet (dates will reflect the current school year) and a to do list as they work on this multi-faceted project.

A wonderful culmination to a grade school career is the memoir unit. Writers learn that a memoir combines elements of both the personal narrative and essay. As they brainstorm writing topics writers choose to either write several short memoirs or one longer, in-depth memoir. Mentor texts include several memoirs written by well-known middle-grade authors. A simple memoir checklist is used to self-assess work.