Your fifth grader and writing
Fifth grade Flauberts polish their creative and descriptive techniques.
By GreatSchools Staff
Fifth graders work to improve their writing technique. They’ll polish introductions, transitions, and conclusions, while beginning to add subtlety to their writing by establishing mood, using dialogue to advance plot, and incorporating figurative language like similes and metaphors.
In creative writing, lessons focus on plot development and resolution, character development, and effective use of descriptive language and dialogue. In expository writing, students learn how to create succinct summaries and interpretations of what they’re reading. Some teachers also use poetry to illustrate literary devices, asking their students to experiment using the techniques of accomplished poets.
Wendy Miller, a former Teacher of the Year, explains that fifth graders use what they read to reinforce in-class writing lessons. “Since fifth graders expand and deepen the concepts, skills, and strategies learned in earlier grades,” she says, “students must learn to write as readers, asking questions as they write.”
Research projects and reports also require students to improve their writing abilities. Students should start to learn research skills, such as note taking, report writing, library usage, organization of materials, and citation of sources. And since media and technology can play a role in research, as well, students should gain experience using technology to conduct research.
Students in fifth grade put writing to specific uses, learning to persuade, entertain, and inform. Kids should have the chance to write in a handful of styles across many genres — from essays to fiction.
Using the writing process
In fifth grade, kids build on lessons from earlier grades about the writing process, which involves prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Students should be developing their proofreading and editing skills.
Students should begin to understand that writing is about more than putting words on paper. Good writing takes time. As Miller explains, “Writing using a process leads to more thoughtful and accomplished work.”
- Prewriting. Part of the first stage of the writing process, prewriting activities can include drawing, free-writing, brainstorming, or even using a “graphic organizer” like a Venn diagram to compare two ideas. During this stage, the writer should be working to envision a target reader or audience. The writer should feel confident that the writing and the audience are a good fit.
- Drafting. The writer then develops a topic on paper or using a computer. At this stage, the focus is on the content of the writing, not the mechanics. Writers should begin to organize their thoughts and develop the structure of the paper, beginning to think about the "hook" that will engage the reader. Lastly, they develop a conclusion that ties everything together.
- Revising. Next the writer makes changes to the draft to improve the writing and make it clear. This may include additions or deletions, or changes in the sentence structure or organization. At this stage, a friend’s or teacher’s input can be especially helpful.
- Editing. In the editing stage, the writer pays careful attention to mechanics, including spelling, punctuation, grammar, and handwriting. It’s helpful to have a peer or teacher edit the work.
- Publishing. The final draft is then shared with the desired audience, which might include classmates or parents. Miller sees the finished product as a crucial step in the process because of its psychological rewards. “Publishing helps the writer interact with the reader through a finished document,” she says. "[When] students understand that this is ‘my writing at its best,’ it helps them transform from writer to author.”