By now, your child knows that writing is a process that requires research, feedback, and revision. This year, kids are expected to respond to others’ prompts for improvement and learn how to evaluate their own work, too.
Super study skills
In fifth grade, taking notes becomes an essential academic skill. Under the Common Core Standards, fifth graders are expected to use books, periodicals, websites, and other sources to do short research projects. Kids learn to use several sources to investigate a topic from different angles — both on their own and as part of group work with peers. Your child should keep track of all the sources she uses and note what she learns, the name of the source, and the page number or url so she can find it again to create a source list or bibliography later. A big step in your child’s research process this year: taking the time to review, categorize, and summarize or paraphrase the information she’s learned. What did she find out about the animal’s habitat from each source? Sorting evidence into categories and summarizing information will help your fifth grader with the planning, writing, and revising stages of her writing project.
Can your 5th grader get organized to write an essay?
By now, your child should understand that writing is a process requiring several steps: planning, first draft, revisions, editing, and publishing or sharing work. Your child’s planning work should include reading and rereading, taking notes, finding additional sources, discussing how new knowledge fits into what your child knew before, visually organizing the information she plans to include, and determining the best way to clearly present her evidence as a cohesive set of points. After the first draft is written, the teacher and other students will offer feedback: asking questions to elicit new details, suggesting ways to clarify an argument, or pressing for new sources of information. Don’t be surprised if there are a few rounds of revisions this year: it’s how your child’s writing gets stronger. If revisions aren’t enough to improve your child’s writing, then this year your child may be required to rewrite the piece or try a new approach. Once the structure and contents are set, final edits are the time to perfect spelling and grammar. All this work on one writing assignment is meant to help your child think of writing as a multistep process so she can evaluate her work and see that — if it’s not up to snuff — she should keep trying until it is.
Fifth grade writing: opinion pieces
Your child’s opinion pieces should start by clearly stating her opinion about a topic. Then, she should set up and follow a logically ordered structure to introduce each reason she’ll offer in support of her opinion. Her reasons should be supported by facts and details (a.k.a. evidence), and your child should use linking words, such as additionally, consequently, and specifically to connect her evidence-backed reasons to her opinion. Finally, she should close her argument with a well-articulated conclusion that supports her original opinion.
Fifth grade writing: informative writing
Logic reigns when evaluating your fifth grader’s informative writing. The purpose of this type of writing is to convey facts and ideas clearly. So a logically ordered presentation of supporting points is, well… quite logical. Your child should clearly introduce his topic and present related information in the form of a few clear, well-thought-out paragraphs. He should draw on facts, definitions, concrete details, quotes, and examples from his research to thoroughly develop his topic. To clearly connect his research, your fifth grader should use advanced linking words (e.g. in contrast, especially) to form compound and complex sentences that convey his points. Remember that your child’s presentation matters: making use of subject headings, illustrations, and even multimedia to illustrate points is encouraged whenever they make your child’s work more logical and clear. Then, to wrap it up, your child should have a well-reasoned conclusion.
Can your 5th grader write an informational essay?
5th grade writing: narrative writing
A narrative is a story. Whether inspired by a book, real events, or your child’s imagination, your child’s story should start by introducing a narrator, characters, or a situational conflict. Fifth graders will be asked to use classic narrative devices like dialogue, descriptive words, and character development. Your child should be able to show how characters feel and how they react to what’s happening. Finally, the events should unfold naturally, plausibly bringing the story to a close.
By now, your fifth grader should have a solid understanding of the parts of speech. This year, your child should learn to use and explain the function of conjunctions (e.g. because, yet), prepositions (e.g. above, without), and interjections (e.g. Hi, well, dear). Kids should also start using correlative conjunctions (e.g. either/or, neither/nor). What’s more, students learn to form and use the past, present, and future perfect tenses (I had walked; I have walked; I will have walked.). With this tense mastered, fifth graders will be expected to use various verb tenses to convey a sequence of events and to recognize and correct any inappropriate shifts in tense.
Check out this related worksheet:
• Active and passive sentences
More sophisticated language
This year your child will:
• Regularly refer to print and online dictionaries, thesauruses, and glossaries to spell challenging words correctly.
• Use academic vocabulary words in writing.
• Use more nuanced descriptions (think advanced synonyms and antonyms).
• Master homographs (e.g. understand that bear means the animal and to support or carry).
• Employ common idioms, adages, and proverbs (e.g. “born yesterday”; “the early bird gets the worm”; “failure teaches success”)
• Interpret figurative language like similes (e.g. “light as a feather”) and metaphors (“it’s a dream come true”).
This year, your child will learn to use commas after a sentence’s introductory segment (e.g. Earlier this morning, we ate breakfast.), to set off the words yes and no in writing (e.g. Yes, we will; and no, thank you), to set off a question from the rest of a sentence (e.g. It’s true, isn’t it?), and to show direct address. (e.g. Is that you, Mike?) Your child will also use commas to separate items in a series. (e.g. I want eggs, pancakes, and juice.)
Your child should also be taught how to consistently use quotation marks, italics, or underlining to indicate titles when citing sources in reports and papers.
And it’s live!
The final step in writing this year? Publishing! Once all the hard work (the research, planning, writing, revisions, edits, and rewrites) are finished, your fifth grader’s ready to publish. The Common Core Standards specify using “technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others.” The format is open — printing or publishing on a blog, website, or app. While teachers should be there for support, your child should be doing the work. So what does interacting and collaborating with others look like? It could mean, for example, that your child reads his classmates’ published work online and either comments on it or references it when answering a question in class.
The Common Core Standards clearly state that fifth graders should be able to type two full pages in one sitting. However, even with the emphasis on using technology and publishing writing, not all of your child’s writing is expected to be typed.
Updated November 2013 to align with the Common Core Standards