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English Language Arts

5th Grade Reading

Course Description

The fifth grade Communication Arts Curriculum is centered on units of study in which students are actively engaged in the processes of reading, writing, speaking, listening, informational literacy and vocabulary.  Within the structure of Reading Workshop, students learn to build habits a develop strategies that proficient readers use on a daily basis.  The units of study include the following inquires. 

Readers Build Good Habits - students will learn the routines of reading workshop. 

Nonfiction - which is an inquiry into using multiple strategies to navigate multiple pieces of nonfiction sources on a self selected topic.

Dealing with Difficulty - which in an inquiry into the strategies that readers use to monitor comprehension in order to adjust, clarify, and validate thinking about text. 

Questioning the Text and Author - which is an inquiry into the importance of questioning text to clarify meaning, speculate about the text yet to be read, determine author's purpose, and to transfer ideas from the text to larger ideas. 

Interrelationship of the Thinking Strategies - which is an inquiry into using a combination of multiple comprehension strategies including the use of connections, inferring, questioning, synthesizing, sensory images, determining importance and self monitoring. 

Interrelationshop of the Story Elements - which is an inquiry into the dynamics of the relationships between the various story elements within different types of text. 

Synthesizing - which is an inquiry into the purpose and specific skills readers use to generate new ideas as they encounter new ideas and thinking in text related to prior knowledge and experiences. 

The units of study are taught in a Reading Workshop which is a balanced approach to instruction.  The Reading Workshop includes the following.

Mini-lesson - a short, focused lesson taught in whole group format which teaches a strategy, skill, classroom routine.

Small group instruction - students are grouped in flexible groups based on specific learner needs as determined by assessments such as anecdotal notes, informal assessments, and running records.  The small group may be structured as a book club, strategy lesson, or guided reading.

Independent reading - a period of time in which individual students are engaged in the reading of self-selected text at an independent reading level.  During this time the teacher is conferring with individual students to provide direct instruction.

Read Aloud - an instructional method whereby the teacher, while reading aloud to the class, models metacognitive process that proficient readers use while engaged in text. 


Grade 5
Prerequisite: 4th Grade Reading

Course Expectations


Reading is a rich and complex human activity.  It provokes reflection, introspection, and imaginative thinking and allows students to create and explore new ideas.  Teachers strive to provide an extensive variety of fiction, nonfiction, classic, and contemporary works.  The classroom is filled with a variety of print, including poetry, newspapers, and quality literature sets, as well as content area books and magazines.  Teachers model experiences and strategies explaining their thinking when deriving meaning of text and demonstrating how to select books, authors, and genres.  With frequent opportunities to read self-selected materials, at an independent level, students are motivated to read and turn to reading as a source of enjoyment.

 Reading is a process whereby readers bring meaning to text as well as take meaning from text.  Students' responses are influenced by prior knowledge and experiences.  They develop skills in the context of whole and meaningful literature.  Students are assisted in discovering and articulating what a given text means.  Independence is promoted by developing a variety of reading strategies without relying on any one strategy to read.  Time for reading, sharing, and discussing is provided daily.

Time Frame: 1 Year

Standards Alignment
Missouri Standards: Content Strands (opens in a new window)

National Standards (opens in a new window)

Enduring Understandings
  • Readers have routines at school and at home to support their reading development.
  • Readers understand how selecting a just right book will support their reading development.
  • Readers know how to select just right books.
  • Proficient readers utilize a variety of skills and strategies to support reading.
  • Readers incorporate various reading strategies to think about text in many ways.
  • Readers capture and record their thinking about text before, during, and after reading.
  • Readers use the reader’s notebook to help them think deeply about the text.
Essential Questions
  • What are the behaviors of a proficient reader?
  • How do the routines of reading help you become a proficient reader?
  • How do readers think about text?
  • How do readers capture and record their thinking about text?
  • How does the reader’s notebook help the reader think deeply about the text?


Course Materials: Representative Texts, Films and Resources

Classroom Library for self selected independent reading

Leveled Library for small group instruction including book clubs, strategy groups, and/or guided reading (available in buildings)

Anchor Texts for modeling in mini-lessons (available in buildings)

(See www.lexile.com for Lexile information. Opens in a new window.)

Units of Instruction

1. 5R Building a Community of Readers (CCSS aligned)

This 2 week unit is intended to get routines and procedures up and running in the reading workshop. During these two weeks students should have the opportunity to discover their love of various genres and have the chance to share their enjoyment of reading with others. Students will also be exposed to the various ways readers capture their thinking about texts.

Character Education Connections 

An important outcome of this introductory unit is the development of a classroom community of readers.  This includes readers who are self-directed and persistent and who make meaningful contributions to the community as a whole. This unit provides great connections to the development of social-awareness and interpersonal skills needed to establish and maintain positive relationships in a classroom and in society. Social-awareness and interpersonal skills that could be addressed with this unit include:

  • Recognizing that others may experience situations differently
  • Using listening skills to identify the feelings and perspectives of others.
  • Demonstrating appropriate social and classroom behavior.
  • Identifying approaches to resolving conflicts constructively.
  • Making positive choices when interacting with classmates.
  • Identifying and performing roles that contribute to one's classroom.
2. 5R Navigating Nonfiction (CCSS aligned)

This unit emphasizes skills that are used to comprehend a nonfiction text such as determining importance, identifying main idea, utilizing text structure knowledge, and tackling the complex  vocabulary in informational text.

3. 5R Reading for Social Issues (CCSS aligned)

This unit is designed to help fifth grade readers develop the reading strategies and the identities that enable them to read critically and to think deeply, especially about power, relationships and social issues. 

Character Education Connections

The big ideas of this unit, especially that of the presence of social issues in texts, are directly connected to character goals of helping students recognize the feelings and perspectives of others. By learning to identify similarities and differences among groups and individuals, students strengthen their social awareness and improve in their ability to work effectively with those who are different from them. This not only helps to build and maintain positive relationships with others, it is central to success in school and life.

An opportunity to examine, reflect on, and even propose solutions to issues in their lives and in the world can help students to not only improve their decision-making skills, it can help them to learn how to contribute to the well-being of their own community.

4. 5R Poetry (CCSS aligned)

The Common Core State Standards require our readers to develop their understanding and appreciation of text beyond simply what the author is saying but how that text gets that meaning across. As your students read a wide variety of poetry, they will find it necessary to utilize visualization and inferring strategies to deepen their understanding of poetry beyond the literal or most basic interpretation. This unit provides a wonderful opportunity to incorporate poetry from across content areas and social issues in addition to our most beloved traditional poems.

5. 5R Author Study (CCSS aligned)

This unit was designed to introduce students to the idea that readers often have favorite authors and read multiple texts written by that author.  The students will also come to understand that we are drawn to certain authors because of their particular crafts they use when they write. 

6. 5R Nonfiction Reading to Become Experts (CCSS aligned)

This unit is designed to build on the skills fifth graders learned in the Navigating Nonfiction unit.  The emphasis of this unit is on studying a topic of personal interest and integrating information across multiple texts and sources. Collaborative learning is also emphasized as students learn to discuss texts with peers. Technology is guaranteed in this unit as students present their new or changed thinking as an expert.

7. 5R Using Fantasy to Tackle Complex Texts (CCSS aligned)

In fifth grade, most readers will be reading within the text band U/V/W. By teaching with the characteristics of this text band in mind, we will prepare our readers for new challenges they will encounter in their daily reading. In this unit, we will use Fantasy texts to teach into the new demands of texts at these levels.

8. 5R Optional - Dealing with Difficulty: Bank of Differentiation Lessons (Sept. 2009)

This unit is meant to serve as an additional resuurce - to provide a bank of additional lesson ideas that may be used to differentiate instruction, especially for struggling readers.  This unit is NOT required. 

Fifth graders will understand and use strategies throughout the reading process to help build awareness of difficulties in comprehension or print.