Fifth grade often introduces students to writing fluency, the process of creating sentences that read with smoothness and variety. Breaking a student's habit of using repetitive sentence structures and introducing them to creative phrasing can broaden their writing skills as they prepare for middle school. Using fun, interactive activities like exercises and hands-on projects can help your fifth-graders develop these important composition skills.
Practice Makes Perfect
Beginning your language arts activities with journal writing can help students practice fluency and experience creative freedom. At the beginning of writing class, write a prompt on the board and give students a time limit for responding. To present new challenges, give prompts from different genres; one day, they might write a description of a favorite place, while the next they might write a letter to their parents asking for something. Having them share their responses can also let them practice reading their work aloud, an important component of seeing fluency in their work.
Just as music is composed of notes with varying tones and tempos, writing uses sentence length, structure and word choice to create fluency and rhythm. Play a piece of instrumental music for your class, such as a Beethoven or Mozart composition or the background music from a movie or cartoon. Then, play it again, this time asking them to write a piece where they imagine what might be happening in the music. Their writing should reflect the composition using different sentence structures, descriptions and moods. Ask for volunteers to share their responses to the music.
Zooming in on the individual sentences in a piece can often help students see the need for fluency and variety in their writing. Have students type up a recent journal entry or writing assignment and run off a fresh copy. Then, instruct them to cut out each individual sentence of the writing sample with scissors. Ask them to note any observations they become aware of as they examine their sentences; for example, some may notice that their sentences are all the same length, begin the same way or sound repetitive. They can then make a list of ways to improve their writing fluency.
Creative writing often makes students more enthusiastic about language arts, but giving them parameters for their story can help broaden their sentence fluency. Assign them to write a story centered around a prompt using specific elements, such as a vivid setting, a heroic main character, descriptions of the characters and action. Crafting a story that must include these concepts will force students to be creative with their choice of words and sentence structure as they add greater detail to the plot. Then, have students trade stories with a partner and mark examples of fluency in each other's work.
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.