Fifth grade is a time of learning academic skills that will help students transition into middle school. One of those skills is writing proficiently. Learning to write well is not so different from learning to play an instrument or hitting a home run: Fifth grade students learn successful writing through dedicated practice and the development of key skills, or tools.
By the time kids are school age, they know how to verbally form a sentence. According to “The Well-Trained Mind,” young students in grades one through four absorb information easily and are interested in learning rules and facts, such as grammar, so it is important to hone their grammar skills by fifth grade. According to “Core Standards,” fifth grade grammar lessons should focus on the common core conventions of Standard English grammar and usage. Students learn verb tense, functions of prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, mechanics and sentence variety.
A Strong Foundation
There is more to writing than creating beautiful prose. Every piece of writing needs strong organization and structure, written one piece at a time. According to “Time 4 Writing,” fifth grade students in many states are expected to learn to create more complex essays, creating formal introductions, a body with a plethora of supporting evidence and a conclusion that echoes the introduction. They also learn patterns of organization, such as narrative, expository and persuasive writing with a purpose and audience in mind, and style and voice begin to take shape in student writing.
Writer’s Tool Kit
The writing process is the essential writer’s tool kit for fifth grade. State benchmark writing standards focus on the writing process as the most important tool for fifth grade writing proficiency, focusing on prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and publishing, according to "Time 4 Writing." Students learn prewriting strategies, such as brainstorming and note taking to generate ideas and organize information. For drafting, students prepare papers by categorizing ideas, and organizing and blending them into paragraphs that fit into a whole unit. Students revise drafts with such strategies as adding, deleting, rearranging or elaborating to improve overall content. Voice, point of view and other language techniques are sharpened. Students polish their writing with proofreading and editing techniques such as those involving grammar, spelling and sentence structure. In the final stage, students refine pieces, sometimes including visuals, for publication.
In fifth grade, students learn to show their writing ideas are credible and beneficial to the community by conducting inquiry-based research projects. Students write research papers, locating and using relevant and up-to-date information. According to “Time 4 Learning,” the framework for research and inquiry includes forming investigative questions, using prior knowledge, examining sources for credibility and usefulness, summarizing and arranging ideas, organizing and recording bibliographic information, and using a thesaurus to avoid repetitious prose. In addition to formal research inquiry, “Scholastic” recommends collaborative research with students interviewing each other about their topics and reviewing, organizing and expanding them in their writing.
- The Well-Trained Mind: Classical Education
- Common Core State Standards Initiative: English Language Arts Standards: Writing: Grade 5
- Common Core State Standards Initiative: English Language Arts Standards: Language: Grade 5
- Time4Writing.com: Fifth Grade Writing Standards
- Scholastic: Building Research Skills, Grades 4-8
Based in Virginia, Susan Harlow is an adjunct English professor and writing resource coordinator. She specializes in education and technical communication. She holds a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in literacy, technology and professional writing from Northern Arizona University.