Reader’s Workshop
Fifth graders participate in a daily Reader’s Workshop. In the beginning of the year, students focus on the importance of independent reading. During this time, they develop strategies for picking a “just right” book and engage in active reading strategies. Fifth graders are also given time within class to enhance their independent reading practice and are expected to engage in nightly independent reading.

As the year continues, students alternate between guided reading groups and literature circles. During guided reading groups, students read books that are slightly challenging and work closely with a teacher to deepen the scope of their understanding. Guided reading books are often selected to align with the Social Studies curriculum. Students deepen their contextual knowledge through reading historical fiction, realistic fiction, poetry, authentic texts and informational texts on such topics as American Indians, Early Explorers, the American Revolution, and Slavery.

Within literature circles, fifth graders are grouped according to their interests, choosing a book that they find appealing. Students provide written responses to their readings throughout the week. These responses reflect their evidence-based thinking and their deeper understanding of the genre. Throughout the year, students have the opportunity participate in author studies to examine common text elements.

Interactive Read-Aloud
Students also benefit from class read alouds. Modeled reading provides students with an opportunity to learn reading strategies and broaden content knowledge. Picture books and class-selected novels of various genres are used throughout the year.

Writer’s Workshop
Students experience a daily Writer’s Workshop. During this time, students work on developing their writing techniques individually and within small group and whole class lessons. Fifth grade covers several units of study including memoir, interpretive and research-based essays, historical fiction, test preparation, informational, and poetry writing. Throughout the year, fifth graders create a personal poetry anthology. This serves as a place for students to collect their favorite poems written by other authors as well as a place for them to compose their own prose.

Students are carefully guided through each phase of the writing process – brainstorming, planning, drafting, editing, revising, and publishing. They have frequent opportunities throughout the writing process to share their progress and receive feedback from their peers. A typical Writer’s Workshop begins with a mini-lesson where a concept is introduced. Students then have an opportunity to “try out” the new skill within their own writing. The teacher confers with small guided writing groups and individuals to work on targeted goals. Again, at the end of the Writer’s Workshop, students come together to share their thoughts and writing pieces.

Vocabulary and Word Study
Research shows that a rich vocabulary is essential in strengthening reading and writing skills. Fifth graders utilize the Elements of Reading vocabulary program to build their vocabulary base. Students are encouraged to use their new vocabulary words in their conversations, writing, and specific activities. Students are also taught various spelling principles and how words work.