5th grade writing

by: Jessica Kelmon | Updated: August 4, 2022

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Your fifth grader’s writing under Common Core Standards

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. Fifth graders 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 they use and note what they learn, the name of the source, and the page number or url so they 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 they’ve learned. What did your child 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 their writing project.

Can your 5th grader get organized to write an essay?

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Revise, rewrite

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 they plan to include, and determining the best way to clearly present their 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 they can evaluate their work and see that — if it’s not up to snuff — they should keep trying until it is.

Fifth grade writing: opinion pieces

Your child’s opinion pieces should start by clearly stating an opinion about a topic. Then, kids should set up and follow a logically ordered structure to introduce each reason they’ll offer in support of their opinion. Their 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 evidence-backed reasons to their opinion. Finally, kids should close their argument with a well-articulated conclusion that supports their 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 the topic and present related information in the form of a few clear, well-thought-out paragraphs. Kids should draw on facts, definitions, concrete details, quotes, and examples from their research to thoroughly develop their topic. To clearly connect their research, fifth graders should use advanced linking words (e.g. in contrast, especially ) to form compound and complex sentences that convey their 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.

Check out these three real examples of good 5th grade informational writing: •” How to save water ” •” Saving a Resource ” •” Water Saveing ”

Can your 5th grader write an informational essay?

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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.

Grammatically correct

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. Y es, 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.

Check out these related worksheets: •  Punctuating a paragraph • Simile or cliche? •  Homophones and homographs

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. Many classes will experiment with printing work or publishing it on a blog, website, or app. While teachers should be there for support, your child should be doing the work. The point is to learn keyboarding skills (2 full pages is the goal for fifth graders) and to interact and collaborate with peers. This could mean, for example, that your child reads a classmate’s published work online and either comments on it or references it when answering a question in class.

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how to write an essay fifth grade

When I look back to my first experience teaching five paragraph essays to fifth graders, I can remember how terribly unprepared I felt.

I knew that the five paragraph essay format was what my students needed to help them pass our state’s writing assessment but I had no idea where to start.

I researched the few grade-appropriate essays I could find online (these were the days before Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers) and determined that there was a structure to follow.

Every essay followed the same basic structure. I taught the structure to my students and they did well.

I have been teaching five paragraph essay structure and everything that goes with it for several years now. I hope that after you read this blog post, you will have a good understanding of how to teach and grade five paragraph essays.

Once you’ve learned all about teaching basic essay structure, you’ll be ready to grow your writers from “blah” to brilliant! 

Teaching five paragraph essays is just one part of teaching 5th grade writing. Click here to find out exactly how I teach writing to my 5th graders! 

Five paragraph essays - Start with simple paragraphs!

Start with Simple Paragraphs

We always start with simple paragraphs.

Yes, this is basic, but if your students cannot write excellent paragraphs, their five paragraph essays will be train wrecks. Trust me!

We spend a while cementing paragraph structure:

Topic Sentence

Closing Sentence

I give students topics, they come up with their own topics, we write together, they write with a partner or independently, the more variety, the better.

We have fun with simple paragraphs. Then, it’s time to move on to body paragraphs.

Five paragraph essays - organize and write body paragraphs

Organize and Write Body Paragraphs

Please refer to my five paragraph essay organizer below.

The three body paragraphs are absolutely crucial to the success of the five paragraph essay.

Some teachers have trouble teaching the structure of five paragraph essays because they start with the introduction paragraph.

Always teach the body paragraphs first!

how to write an essay fifth grade

I had a teacher say to me once, “What’s the point of just writing parts of the essay? They need to write the entire five paragraphs to get all of the practice they need.”

I understand that point. However, think of it as building a house. Should you test out the foundation and make sure it’s sound and sturdy before building on top of it? Absolutely! That’s what we’re doing here.

The three body paragraphs are the foundation of the essay.

Ask students to write out their three body paragraphs just like they have practiced…Topic sentence…Detail 1…Detail 2…Detail 3…Closing Sentence.

I “ooooh and aaaah” over their three paragraphs. Students are on their way to five paragraph essays, so be sure to build their confidence.

Five paragraph essays - introduction paragraphs

Teach the Introduction Paragraph

I have to say, this is my favorite paragraph to teach. The introduction paragraph is what draws readers into the essay and makes them want to read more.

We start with what I call a “hook.” The hook captures the readers’ attention and can come in many forms: asking a question, making a bold statement, sharing a memory, etc.

After the hook, I ask students to add a sentence or two of applicable commentary about the hook or about the prompt in general.

Finally, we add the thesis sentence. The thesis sentence always follows the same formula: Restate the prompt, topic 1, topic 2, and topic 3.

That’s all you need to write an excellent introduction paragraph!

I do suggest having students write the introduction paragraph plus body paragraphs a couple of times before teaching the closing paragraph.

Five paragraph essays - teach the closing paragraph

Teach the Closing Paragraph

In the conclusion paragraph, we mainly focus on restating the thesis and including an engaging closing thought.

With my students, I use the analogy of a gift.

The introduction paragraph and body paragraphs are the gift and the conclusion paragraph is the ribbon that ties everything together and finishes the package.

When you talk about restating the thesis sentence, tell students that they need to make it sound different enough from their original thesis sentence to save their readers from boredom.

Who wants to read the same thing twice? No one!

Students can change up the format and wording a bit to make it fresh.

I enjoy teaching the closing thought because it’s so open to however students want to create it.

Ways to write the closing thought: ask a question, personal statement, call to action, or even a quote. 

I especially like reading the essays in which a quote is used as a closing thought or a powerful statement is used.

Example of a Five paragraph essays

Example of a full five paragraph essay

how to write an essay fifth grade

Let’s Talk About Color-Coding!

Who doesn’t like to color? This is coloring with a purpose!

Training your students to color-code their paragraphs and essays will make grading so much easier and will provide reminders and reinforcements for students.

When students color-code their writing, they must think about the parts of their paragraphs, like topic sentences, details, and the closing sentence.

They will be able to see if they are missing something or if they’ve written something out of order.

Color-coding is a wonderful help for the teacher because you can skim to ensure that all parts of your students’ paragraphs and essays are present.

Also, when you are grading, you can quickly scan the paragraphs and essays. Trust me, you will develop a quick essay-grading ability.

I start color-coding with my students at the very beginning when they are working on simple paragraphs. I add the additional elements of the color-code as we progress through our five paragraph essays.

This is the code that I use:

how to write an essay fifth grade

Let’s Talk About Grading Five Paragraph Essays!

Imagine a lonely, stressed teacher grading five paragraph essays on the couch while her husband is working the night shift.

That was me!

Seriously, guys, I would spend about ten minutes per essay. I marked every little error, I made notes for improvement and notes of encouragement. I reworked their incorrect structure.

Those papers were full of marks.

On Monday, I proudly brought back the essays and asked students to look over them and learn what they needed to fix for next time.

You can guess what happened… there were lots of graded essays in the trashcan at the end of the day.

Make grading five paragraph essays easier!

I decided that my grading practices had to change. I needed my weekends back and my students needed to find their own errors!

This is my best advice:

STOP correcting every error!

Your students are not benefiting from marks all over their writing. They need to find those errors themselves so that they will remember their mistakes and change their writing habits.

Do a quick scan of each student’s writing as soon as it’s turned in to you.

If there are major problems with a student’s writing, call him/her over individually and show him/her what needs to be fixed or put the student with a competent peer editor who will help them fix mistakes.

If you have several students who are struggling with a skill, like closing sentences, do a mini-lesson on this topic.

You can do a mini-lesson with a small group. However, I prefer doing mini-lessons with the entire class. The kids who need help will get it and the rest of your class will receive a refresher.

It’s OK if there are some small spelling/grammar mistakes!

If the errors are few and they don’t take away from the meaning/flow of the essay, I don’t worry about them.

Our students are still learning.

Even your brightest star writer will have a few spelling/grammar mistakes from time to time.

Don’t discourage students from writing because of small errors.

Students who receive papers back with markings all over them don’t think, “Oh boy, my teacher has made it so easy for me to make all of these corrections.” They are thinking, “What’s the point in writing? I must be a terrible writer. Look at all of these mistakes.”

If your students are taking a standardized writing assessment, the structure and flow of their essays will be worth much more than perfect spelling.

Need more help?

I created this five paragraph essay instructional unit for teachers who are new to teaching five paragraph essays OR just need all of the materials in one place.

“Teacher Talk” pages will guide you through the unit and this unit contains all materials needed to help students plan, organize, and write amazing five paragraph essays! Click here to check it out:

how to write an essay fifth grade

I have a freebie for you! Enter your first name and email address below. You’ll receive three original prompts with five paragraph essay organizers AND two lined final draft pages!

Once your students are good essay writers…

These task cards will help your students stay sharp on their five paragraph essay knowledge. Students will review hooks (attention-getters), thesis sentences, body paragraphs, topic sentences, closings, and more. Each card contains a unique writing example!

I suggest using these task cards as a quiz/test, scoot game, individual review, or cooperative group activity.

Click on the image to view these task cards:

how to write an essay fifth grade

To save this post for later, simply pin this image to your teacher Pinterest board!

21 comments.

Wow! I really enjoyed reading this. I’ve always stressed over the thought of teaching writing, but your blog makes me think I can do it successfully. Putting your writing packet on my TPT wish list!

Thank you, Shannon! I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. I am so glad that my blog post was helpful to you!

Thanks for the tips! When I taught 6th grade I taught this same subject matter, but struggled to get started. I wish I had this then!

I appreciate your comment! Teaching was much different before Pinterest, wasn’t it?!?

This helped me so much!🙂 thanks a lot, I imagined being one student of yours. I’d be so smart and good at essays! Would’ve been so much easier in person❤️❤️❤️

Thank you so much, Aizlyn!

Thank you so much for this! May I ask where I can see the rubric for scoring the compositions?

You are so welcome! Click on the resource link. Then, you will see the rubric in the preview!

Thank you so much,I am a parent and this really helped me be clear how to guide my son. God bless you always.,

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

you are welcome!!!

This looks great! Looking forward to using your tips and freebies with my 6th graders. 🙂 THANK YOU.

You are so welcome! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

Can’t wait to use this with my class tomorrow! Thanks a bunch for sharing!!

You are so welcome, Amy!

Thank you for making it easy to teach an essay with clarity.

You are very welcome, Yamuna! Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback 🙂

I am so happy I discovered your blog. I just started teaching grade 5 in September I have been searching for a simple method to hel me in guiding them in writing. I will be putting your method into practice in the coming week.

That’s wonderful, Cherry! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Welcome to fifth grade 🙂

Beautiful lesson well explained! Thank you so very much .

Thank you so much, Cheryl!

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How to write a perfect essay

Need to write an essay? Does the assignment feel as big as climbing Mount Everest? Fear not. You’re up to the challenge! The following step-by step tips from the Nat Geo Kids Almanac will help you with this monumental task. 

Sometimes the subject matter of your essay is assigned to you, sometimes it’s not. Either way, you have to decide what you want to say. Start by brainstorming some ideas, writing down any thoughts you have about the subject. Then read over everything you’ve come up with and consider which idea you think is the strongest. Ask yourself what you want to write about the most. Keep in mind the goal of your essay. Can you achieve the goal of the assignment with this topic? If so, you’re good to go.

WRITE A TOPIC SENTENCE

This is the main idea of your essay, a statement of your thoughts on the subject. Again, consider the goal of your essay. Think of the topic sentence as an introduction that tells your reader what the rest of your essay will be about.

OUTLINE YOUR IDEAS

Once you have a good topic sentence, you then need to support that main idea with more detailed information, facts, thoughts, and examples. These supporting points answer one question about your topic sentence—“Why?” This is where research and perhaps more brainstorming come in. Then organize these points in the way you think makes the most sense, probably in order of importance. Now you have an outline for your essay.

ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, WRITE!

Follow your outline, using each of your supporting points as the topic sentence of its own paragraph. Use descriptive words to get your ideas across to the reader. Go into detail, using specific information to tell your story or make your point. Stay on track, making sure that everything you include is somehow related to the main idea of your essay. Use transitions to make your writing flow.

Finish your essay with a conclusion that summarizes your entire essay and 5 restates your main idea.

PROOFREAD AND REVISE

Check for errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar. Look for ways to make your writing clear, understandable, and interesting. Use descriptive verbs, adjectives, or adverbs when possible. It also helps to have someone else read your work to point out things you might have missed. Then make the necessary corrections and changes in a second draft. Repeat this revision process once more to make your final draft as good as you can.

Download the pdf .

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Help your 5th Grader Write a Great Essay

how to write an essay fifth grade

Writing essays can be a daunting task for students. 5th-grade students have a strong foundation of writing skills to help them construct body paragraphs and express their ideas using complex sentences. Still, they may need an extra push to write confidently and expressively.

The most challenging task when writing an essay is starting the writing process and learning to be confident.

Helping students tackle the task and build their confidence in writing multiple types of essays such as a persuasive essay, an informational essay, or even a narrative essay such as short stories takes a lot of practice, focus, and support from instructors and parents.

Learning to Express Ideas

Pre-writing is a crucial step in the writing process. Fifth graders should be in a place in their writing journey where they can perfect all the pre-writing strategies before they even write a word of an essay.

This will set them up to successfully construct excellent five-paragraph essays consistently.

When your child sits down to write a five body paragraph essay, the very first thing they should do is read the prompt. Understanding what the prompt is asking for is the first step in being proactive about writing an excellent essay.

You want them to ponder these questions: am I writing a persuasive essay? Am I writing an essay on a topic requiring me to do my research? Will I need to list evidence? Am I writing a narrative story that requires figurative language?

How to Successfully Brainstorm An Essay

One excellent way to get the brainstorm rolling is to have your fifth-grade student utilize a graphic organizer such as a cluster map as a way to write down all the related words or small phrases they can think of about the prompt.

The organizer will help get their creative minds rolling until they write something they are interested in or perhaps even excited about exploring further.

Brainstorming is a crucial component of teaching writing. This first step should be the most relaxed, no-pressure section for the student.

As a fifth-grader, your child will have a good idea of how to brainstorm different ideas on paper, but an essential part will be to organize these ideas into something of an outline.

Through brainstorming, students learn to think creatively to answer the prompt. Sometimes logical thinking is also required. For example, with a persuasive essay, students must brainstorm their arguments and develop reasons or evidence to back up their claims.

Supporting this step will allow students to perfect the details of the content they’re writing about and give them the main idea for their entire essay.

How to Turn a Brainstorm into an Outline

Encouraging your fifth grader to write a quick outline in a way that’s organized according to the five-paragraph essay format will give them a solid foundation to write their first rough draft.

These pre-writing skills are crucial in turning students from simple sentence writers into detailed five-paragraph essay writers.

Five-paragraph essays are the standard way to construct an essay, including writing an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Using this format, your fifth grader should write a short and straightforward outline that showcases every paragraph’s main ideas and contents in logical order.

Instead of freewriting the essay off the top of their head, an outline in the five-paragraph essay format will help your fifth grader have a guide to help them construct the first draft of their essay and flesh out ideas when they write body paragraphs.

Constructing a 5 Paragraph Essay

Read below for a brief five-paragraph essay instructional unit to help you guide your child in writing an exceptional essay.

1) How To Write An Introduction

In the five-paragraph essay format, the introduction is vital in grabbing the reader’s attention and holding it throughout the essay.

When teaching writing, the introduction is explained as the initial place to set up the topic of the essay. It usually requires a direct address of the contents to follow in the form of a thesis.

A thesis statement is a sentence in the introduction that directly answers the prompt and has reasons and evidence for the writer’s claim. It’s like a short preview of what the students will write about in their body paragraphs.

Furthermore, students write the thesis at the end of the introduction paragraph and ensure it follows a specific sentence structure to make it stand out as the most critical part of the intro.

2) How To Write Body Paragraphs

An excellent way to help students be confident in their work is to help them build clear strategies or steps to tackle daunting parts of an essay, such as a body paragraph.

Acronyms are one good way to remember all the steps of constructing a remarkable body paragraph. For example, TEEA is a wonderful acronym to get your fifth grader started on the task.

TEEA stands for:

T: Topic Sentence

The topic sentence is the very first sentence of a body paragraph. It explains what your section is about and its main idea. Ideally, this should be one sentence long and directly explain the topic at hand.

For the second section, you will want your fifth grader to answer the following question: WHY are you talking about this topic or idea? Why is this important? This should be about 2 or 3 sentences long because you will want your child to use lots of details to support the idea in the topic sentence.

  E: Example

In the third section, the student should prove what they explained about their topic by giving a solid, real-life example. This can be 2-3 sentences. The key here is to make the example applicable to the topic and explanation.

A: Analysis

Lastly, the analysis explains how the example supports your topic. This will probably be 1 or 2 sentences.

The analysis is the most tricky part of a body paragraph. The best way to get your child to think about this is to emphasize the how question. How does your example prove you are right? How does the example relate to the topic?

Using TEEA, your child will be able to construct a clear and strong body paragraph for almost any prompt or topic.

3) How to Write A Conclusion

Lastly, to conclude an essay, students must think about what idea they want the reader to leave with after reading their essay.

To start, students can use their introductory paragraph as a guide. They should restate their essay topic or thesis differently.

Next, students should summarize the main points made in the body paragraphs.

After this step, students can play the “so what?” game. Have your fifth grader think about what they’ve written in the conclusion, then answer the question, “so what?” Why is this important? Why should anybody care?

The very last sentence of the conclusion is a fantastic place to answer the “so what” question and leave the readers with a good impression or the desire for more information.

Using this instructional guide, with practice, your 5th grader will be able to construct logically sound and impeccably organized essays in no time.

how to write an essay fifth grade

The Reading Ranch Method

Struggling writers can experience various difficulties in any step of the writing process. The Reading Ranch Intervention Program is a research-based program to help students strengthen their writing skills in an interactive and dynamic environment. Our curriculum prides itself on being an interactive writing curriculum proven through various studies to immensely help struggling writers. Contact us today if you’re looking for help with your child who struggles in school and at home because they are stuck when they write and unable to keep up with their peers. We offer either online or in-person programs we feel confident we have something just right for every family.

Kiran Gokal   is a freelance writer, teacher, and lover of the written word specializing in content articles, blog posts, and marketing copywriting. For the past three years, she’s been teaching bright young students all about reading and writing at The Reading Ranch®,  while also lending her writing skills to different businesses and non-profits in the education sector.

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How to Write a Fifth-Grade Essay

How to write a sixth-grade essay.

Essays in the fifth grade should be concise, clear and flow easily. Students need to be able to express their ideas with proper and effective word choice and use a variety of different sentence structures. Logical sequencing of main ideas should be evident throughout the essay. In the fifth grade, students learn to expand and elaborate on their ideas. They are describing and going more in-depth in their writing than in previous grades. Fifth-grade students are exposed to different styles and genres of writing, so their writing will begin to reflect the varied structures and purposes of writing.

Decide on an essay topic. Your teacher may provide an essay topic to explore or you may be able to come up with an idea of your own. Either way, you can decide from what angle you want to approach the topic. Keep the topic focused and narrow. The essay's information should fit easily within the length of the essay assigned by your teacher. Write down various ideas that occur to you as you prepare to write the essay. You can use a graphic organizer such as a cluster map of your thoughts or brainstorming to help you organize your ideas.

Write a thesis statement. The thesis statement is the main idea of the essay and it expresses what you want to tell the reader in one or two sentences.

Research the topic. Keep research within the bounds of the essay's topic so you don't waste time searching for and reading unnecessary material. Take notes of what is important and supports the thesis statement. Also keep track of where each piece of information is found so you can easily cite your sources if the teacher requires it.

Plan the essay. Write an outline that lists each section of the essay, including an introduction, middle and a conclusion. Paragraphs that support the thesis will be in the middle of the essay.

Write a first draft of the essay. The introduction should catch the readers' attention and contain the thesis statement. The middle will contain the information you found and your ideas about it. The conclusion should summarize your main points and tell readers why the topic is important. For example, if you're writing about the history of the Sputnik satellite launch in 1957, you could state in the conclusion that Sputnik helped to begin the space race between the former Soviet Union and the United States and it helped pave the way for the building of the International Space Station that is shared between the two countries today.

Look over your essay and make sure there are no grammatical or spelling mistakes. Also pay close attention to how the essay is structured. Each paragraph should contain sentences that express the main idea of the paragraph. The paragraphs in the body should be arranged in a logical order, such as from least to most important or in a step-by-step order if you're writing a how-to essay. Make any changes you think are needed to make your essay clearer and then write out your final version when you are satisfied with it.

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Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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How to Write A 5th Grade Level Essay

5th grade writing

There are four basic types of prompts for fifth grade students: narrative, persuasive, expository, and creative writing. 

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay requires them to tell a story, real or imagined, using descriptive writing to reflect on their experiences, explain them logically, and draw conclusions from them. The writing prompt will be something like this: Think about a time you did something that made you feel guilty. Describe what happened.

To answer this, your child will have to tell the story of a time they did something wrong and what the consequences were. They will likely make use of the “five senses” and discuss how they felt moment-to-moment as they describe the events. Dialogue is an important part of this, too; they may describe the conversation they had with their teacher or with you, confessing what they did and apologizing.

Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay is written to convince another person to agree with the writer or take action. The prompt will look something like this: What is your least-favorite food at the school cafeteria? Give three compelling reasons why your school should quit serving it. To answer this, your child needs to make sure to have three logical and persuasive reasons for why whatever food they choose is bad.

For example, they may hate the green beans they are given. The reasons they give don’t have to be particularly nuanced, but should still be realistic and logical. Their reasons may be that they are canned and therefore aren’t as nutritious as fresh, they are overcooked, and they make everyone’s breath smell bad. Their essay should also make a case for a replacement or better idea, such as serving fresh green beans or different vegetable options.

Expository Essay

An expository essay requires your child to explain something, like a how-to guide or providing facts about a topic. This essay prompt will look something like this: Your favorite book was made into a movie. Compare and contrast the film and book versions. To answer this, your child will need to point out the differences and similarities between the two works.

For example, the movie may have cut out a lot of scenes from the book or added new ones. Characters may dress differently or say different dialogue in the movie, or they may be perfect representations of how they look in the book. There shouldn’t be a list of similarities and differences; instead, your child should organize these comparisons in paragraphs that have a logical flow. For example, they may start by going through differences in the events of the two works and how the movie improves on certain plots, then discuss character differences and how they are better in the book, and finish with their ideas about which version tells the story better.

Creative Writing

Creative writing has your child use their story-telling skills while also practicing vital writing skills such as sequence and description. A creative writing prompt can look something like this: Write a story from your pet’s point of view. A creative writing prompt requires your child to consider things from a different perspective, and they may even write a poem or song instead of an essay, depending on their assignment.

To answer this prompt, they will need to consider what the world looks, sounds, and feels like from a very different view. It doesn’t have to be a perfect narrative, it can be the pet’s ideas and feelings about their life and how they feel about your child. Creative writing prompts are an opportunity for your child to stretch their imagination and try out different things in their writing.

If your child is having a hard time with these prompts, a way to help is to enroll them in Reading Genie. The program is designed to give your child practice writing while engaging them in fun topics and ideas. The teachers at Reading Genie give helpful and kind advice, and your child will have opportunities to get feedback from their peers to build their confidence.

You can also practice writing prompts with your child at home; they can be a lot of fun! Even if you don’t end up writing anything, discussing ideas with your child and how to approach certain prompts and questions can help get their minds active.

Genie Academy offers a range of after-school programs focused on enhancing skills in mathematics, literacy, composition, and coding. These educational services are available at various sites across New Jersey, such as Plainsboro , and are designed to cater to the learning needs of children from Pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade.

Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/fifth-grade-writing-prompts-4171627

Topics: Essay , Writing Skills , Fifth Grade , paragraph writing , Writing Prompt

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Teaching with Jennifer Findley

Upper Elementary Teaching Blog

How to Teach Writing in 5th Grade

Let’s be real for a moment. During my first year teaching I did a terrible, horrible, rotten job at teaching writing. My students (3rd graders at the time) were not assessed on writing, and I really didn’t know how to teach writing at that point in my career (especially since my students seriously struggled with all things literacy when they came to me).

I remember teaching it and having some fun lessons that I am sure helped the students a little. But mostly, we just aimlessly read read alouds, wrote to prompts, and shared our writing. I “did” all the right things but I didn’t do them very purposefully or effectively. I honestly feel like I should write a formal apology to my first group of students.

Fast forward a few years and a grade level change, and I finally feel like I have a handle on teaching writing. I am super purposeful and everything I do now has a reason behind it. Though my instruction is still not perfect (is anything in teaching ever perfect?), I feel much more confident that I am growing my students as writers and helping them to love writing.

In this post, I want to share how I teach writing in 5th grade (very applicable to 3rd and 4th grade as well).

Want to take a peek at how others teachers teach writing? This post details exactly how one teacher teaches writing in 5th grade using a writing workshop model.

I spend approximately 9 weeks on each main genre of writing (narrative, persuasive, and informational/expository).  I teach the writing genres in this order: personal narrative, fictional narrative, persuasive, how-to informational, compare and contrast, descriptive/explanatory informational.

Want to take a peek at how others teachers teach writing? This post details exactly how one teacher teaches writing in 5th grade using a writing workshop model.

Closer Look at Each 9 Weeks

Now, let’s take a closer look at what each of those 9 weeks would look like:

Two Weeks Explicitly Teaching Genre

I spend the first two weeks of my pacing explicitly teaching the aspects of the genre we are studying and writer’s craft as it relates to the genre we are studying. We do this by reading mentor texts and making charts about what we notice the author does well. These noticings then turn into mini-lessons. You can read more about how I come up with writing mini-lessons (and the three types of mini-lessons) by clicking here .

During these two weeks, the students are writing their first essays in this genre, but it is very guided. For example, we would read mentor texts to look for good beginnings, then we create a chart of good beginnings, then we choose a writing topic from our lists (read more about that here ), and practice writing good beginnings. I may have the students write 2-3 beginnings, then chose their favorite. We also spend a lot of time sharing during this time so the students can apply what they are learning and hear lots of examples from their peers.

Three W eeks of Writing Based on Lists and Specific Lessons Based on Students’ Writing  

After we have learned and applied all the strategies for a genre to one piece of writing, we are ready to try out some more. In this three week period, the students choose more topics from their lists to write about.

As the students are writing, they are referring to charts and examples from our previous mini-lessons to help them apply what they have learned. I also do a lot of conferences during this time, but mostly lean-in conferences because I want the students writing and trying out the new strategies.

The mini-lessons during this time frame are very specific to the students’ writing. While I am completing my lean-conferences, I jot down notes of struggles and strengths. At this point in the instruction, I am writing notes about conventions and mechanics for future mini-lessons, but my main focus is on the writer’s craft and getting the students to write and try out the genre.

At this point, it is also clear which students need extensive re-teaching. About 2-3 times a week, I pull small groups for re-teaching. However, I typically only pull the students who are seriously struggling at this point in instruction.

Three Weeks of Writing to On-Demand Prompts

At this point in our pacing, I have taught a lot of writing craft skills, and the students have several essays, applying what they have learned (usually 3-5 essays by this point). Now, it is time to get into perfecting their conventions and practicing on demand prompts .

The lessons during this three week period are very mini and focus mostly on conventions and mechanics. These lessons come from what I see as a need during my lean-in conferences and what I know will help move my students beyond their current writing (varying sentence lengths, using complex sentences, using introductory phrases, etc).

Also during this time, we typically have a longer share time, so the students can hear each other’s writing, give and get feedback, and learn even more writing strategies to use in their own writing.

As I mentioned above, this time is also spent primarily writing to on-demand prompts. These can be a simple prompt, a prompt that also uses a text stimulus (or paired text stimulus), or a prompt in response to a mentor text. This three week period is important because the students learn to write about topics that are not their choosing and they learn to stay on topic and follow the expectations of a prompt (which I explicitly teach them). However, I don’t recommend writing to prompts all the time because it doesn’t promote a love of writing with most students.

Remember how I said I did mostly lean-in conferences in the above section? Well, at this point, I have enough data to group my students into small groups for re-teaching or extension lessons. During independent writing time, I regularly pull small groups (about 1-2 a day) for reteaching. I also mix in independent conferences as well, as needed.

One Week of Publishing

For our final week in a genre, my students choose their favorite piece, meet with me for an independent conference and a final revise and edit, and then type it. We only publish (by typing) one story in each genre. However, we revise and edit every piece that we write. Ultimately, the students decide which of their essays are worth publishing. This essay is also taken as a final grade.

…………..

By the end of the 9-week period, my students have usually written around 6-8 essays in that genre. My expectation is an essay per week, and I do have them turn them in. I use these essays (along with my conferences) to guide my mini-lessons and reteaching groups.

Here is a recap of each 9-Week Period:

Want to take a peek at how others teachers teach writing? This post details exactly how one teacher teaches writing in 5th grade using a writing workshop model.

Note : I do modify this a bit for informational writing since I explicitly teach how-to writing, compare and contrast writing, and then explanatory/descriptive informational writing separately and then together.

What Does a Typical Writing Lesson Look Like?

The total time I have for writing is 60 minutes (I will share a modified schedule for 30 and 45 minutes, too). Here is how I typically segment my writing time. However, from reading the above section, you will notice that sometimes mini-lessons or share times are shorter or longer, depending on where we are in our pacing.

  • 15-20 minute mini lesson
  • 30-40 minutes for independent writing and conferences/ small groups
  • 5 minutes for closing, sharing, and reflecting

Modified Schedule for 45 Minutes

  • 15 minute mini-lesson
  • 25 minutes for independent writing and conferences/small groups

Modified Schedule for 30 Minutes

For 30 minutes, I recommend more of an A/B type schedule. Something like this:

A Schedule: – 15 mini-lesson and 15 minutes of independent writing where the students are directly applying the strategy to their writing

B Schedule: 20 minutes independent writing (continued from Monday) and conferences and 10 minutes for closing and sharing

Monday : A Schedule Tuesday : B Schedule Wednesday : A Schedule Thursday : B Schedule

Friday : Whichever schedule you need to meet the needs of your students. I have found that it is better to end the week with more independent writing to apply all they have learned. Likewise, I prefer to begin the week with the mini-lesson.

Materials I Use to Teach Writing

  • Mentor texts- For mentor texts, I use tradebooks (picture books and excerpts from longer works), released exemplars from state assessment, student stories (shared with permission), and teacher-written stories. You can read how I used one mentor text during my persuasive writing unit by clicking here .
  • Anchor charts – As a class, we create anchor charts for almost every writing mini-lesson I teach. Those anchor charts then provide an anchor for the students while they are writing. Want to see charts that I used to guide some my persuasive writing mini lessons? Click here to go straight to the post .
  • Student reference charts – My students use their writing notebooks to keep their writing lists and to keep reference charts for almost every lesson that I teach. We create an anchor chart together and then I give the students a printable copy of the chart that is already made or that I make after the fact. These charts are glued into their writing notebook and they refer to them regularly as they write.
  • Sentence stems -Most of my students are nowhere near proficient writers when they come to me. One way that I support my students is through sentence stems. Based on the needs of my students, I may provide sentence stems for beginnings, adding more details, using transitional phrases, or conclusions. The best part is that the stems give the students much needed confidence in their writing. As they become more confident, they will move away from using the sentence stems and create more original and unique sentences.

What About Early Finishers?

Since I use a workshop model and the students work through the writing process primarily at their own pace, I do need to have expectations and procedures in place for early finishers. Here are the three different procedures I have put in place over the years for my students who finish a writing piece early:

1. The easiest one is already embedded in my instruction: the students choose another writing topic from the list of topics we generate at the beginning of a new genre.

2. The other option is to request a peer conference with another student who is already finished. If you choose this, you need to have a clear procedure in my place for finding or requesting a student, what to do if no one is ready to hold a peer conference with you, and you need to explicitly teach the students how to hold peer conferences.

3. For some students, they need a bit more structure when it comes to choosing an “early finisher” activity.  This is where my writing choice boards come in. I have one choice board per genre that I teach. As we learn about a genre, I print the choice board and place it on a ring. Over time, the ring will have several choice boards. Early finishers may grab a ring of boards (I make about 5-6) and choose any prompt from any of the choice boards.

Writing choice boards are a great way to get students about writing. Click through to read more about these choice boards and other ways to get your students to love writing.

These writing choice boards are available in my TeachersPayTeachers store. The resource includes 7 writing choice boards in all! Click here to see them now.

Preparing for Writing Assessments

The question I always get is: How do you use a workshop model and still prepare your students for very “unworkshop” like writing assessments? The answer is that I embed it throughout in an authentic way.  Let’s take a look at an example:

My students are expected to write essays in response to two texts. So, when my students are learning how to write compare and contrast essays, we pull up information, articles, and read alouds for them to integrate their information from. This is authentically preparing them for the writing assessment in a way that still engages them in the writing.

Here is another example:

While we are writing persuasive essays, we may read two articles from two different perspectives on the topic we are writing. Then we will use those articles (and our own reasons and experiences) to craft a persuasive argument. But I never do it in a this is “test prep” way. I always try to authentically and naturally introduce the text as a way to support and strengthen our writing-this makes a HUGE difference with the students’ mindset.

Another way that I prepare my students is by taking the last nine weeks of my pacing (or 6 weeks if the writing test falls sooner) to review and practice all three genres of writing together. I think it is very important that the students are exposed to writing in all three genres together and not just in isolation. This helps solidify the differences among the three types. A resource I use to jump-start my review of all three main types of writing is my Writing Test Prep Resource.

Want to take a peek at how others teachers teach writing? This post details exactly how one teacher teaches writing in 5th grade using a writing workshop model.

This resource has sorts, prompts, practice printables, teaching posters, and more. It is a great way to review all three genres of writing and teach students how to analyze and respond to writing prompts. I use this resource at the beginning of my  last nine weeks of instruction. It lasts about a week to go through the resources and review all the genres.

Want to take a peek at how others teachers teach writing? This post details exactly how one teacher teaches writing in 5th grade using a writing workshop model.

After using that resource , we move into more rigorous text stimulus writing (as required by my state assessment). However, because I have embedded this type of writing in my instruction all year, this is nothing the students haven’t already seen or done.  The activities from the Writing Test Prep Resource then go into a test prep writing centers to continue reviewing before the day of the test.

I plan to write another blog post about preparing your students for writing assessments all year (and in authentic, engaging ways). Stay tuned for that!

Is how you teach writing similar or very different from how I teach? I would love to hear your thoughts on writing instruction. Let me know in the comments.

P.S. Do you want to see how I teach reading? Click here to read a detailed post that breaks down how I teach reading in 5th grade.

Share the Knowledge!

Reader interactions, 37 comments.

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February 9, 2017 at 10:42 am

Thanks for this post! It is great to get a look behind the curtain into the way other teachers teach writing. Lots of schools are rolling out blanket approaches now and I really think it is best to leave it to the person that knows the class best – the teacher!

That said it helps no end to learn about other people’s practice.

Love your blog 🙂

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February 13, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Thank you for your kind words! Yes, it is great to have choice and to see how other teachers teach. I am always saddened when I hear that so many teachers don’t have the choice to do what they know is best for their students.

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February 16, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Thanks for sharing! It’s great to see what strategies and procedures other teachers are using in order to enhance what I’m doing with my students.

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February 18, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Hey I love this idea, what’s the best way or resource you have to get started!

February 19, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Hi Michelle, I am working on a resource for launching writers workshop, but it won’t be ready until next school year. Until then, I recommend Fountas and Pinnell Guiding Readers and Writers, which is where my philosophy and instruction is grounded.

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August 2, 2023 at 11:11 pm

Hi! Is a resource available?

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March 25, 2017 at 10:50 pm

I feel as if you are an answer to prayers, as a first year teacher of 5th grade, my writing instruction has not been successful as far as I can tell. I am nervous to the writing assessment, but I now have hope that I can make some changes and improve my teaching. Thank you for sharing your craft.

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March 30, 2017 at 10:42 pm

I definitely agree with your writing pacing. I like that you spend nine weeks on one genre. That makes total sense to me! My district requires us to teach all three genres, narrative, opinion, and informational, all in one trimester. There is just not enough time to really focus on one genre. I also agree that it is so important to use students’ own writing to guide instruction through mini-lessons. I’ve found this to be very valuable in my classroom.

April 1, 2017 at 11:09 am

So glad you found this helpful, Meghan!

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July 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Just a quick question- I loooove this format for teaching writing but just have a couple questions. How do you start the year? Do you just jump right in with narrative the first week, or do you teach any of the 6 traits? Or anything similar? Just curious how you map out the first few weeks with writing. Thanks!

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July 22, 2017 at 11:34 pm

This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing your craft. Do you implement 6 + 1 writing traits at all? Or do you just do it without calling them that?

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August 20, 2017 at 7:52 pm

I have been teaching Lower Elementary for 17 years and am in my first year as a 5th grade teacher. The team I have joined has not been teaching writing and my background is writer’s workshop. This is a big help in figuring out how to implement Writer’s Workshop into my day since I’m going it alone.

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August 21, 2017 at 12:24 pm

I just want to take a moment to say THANK YOU for this. I have been struggling with writing instruction (last year was not good) and I have been searching for a post like this to help breakdown the workshop model. Thank you again for posting it! You are amazing.

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July 22, 2018 at 7:53 pm

My sentiments exactly!!!!

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August 25, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Hi!! First year 5th grade teacher but 13th year teacher. I can’ wait to really dive into this and read what great ideas you have!! My district uses a series and it lacks in some areas. I had a question about where you find inspiration for your mentor texts? Thanks

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September 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Thank you so much for sharing a modified schedule for 30 minutes!!!

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September 27, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Thank you for this post. I will take away much to break it in to smaller pieces for better organized conferences. I am curious though, what is a reasonable essay length to expect from a student? I would like to set a standard for a minimum on paper writing/typing page or word count for beginning year and end of year expectations. Maybe you have some reasonable amount you have expected for their age/grade level in each session and assessment? Some are gifted and can explain in detail their story, but putting into written form tends to stop up the creativity in my experience for a few.

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October 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Hi Jennifer,

Where do you get ideas for the on demand prompts that you use the last 3 weeks of the units? Thanks!

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November 14, 2017 at 10:15 pm

Thank you for this post! I just found your website, and have really enjoyed reading how you teach all your classes! I am new to 5th grade this year, and struggling to fit everything in. I work at a bilingual school, and I get one hour of English Literacy every day. In that time I am suppose to cover reading, writing, grammar, and spelling. Do you have any suggestions on how to divide the time?

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September 15, 2021 at 7:59 pm

I have that same questions. We are on a 9 period – 6 day rotation schedule with 2 groups we see ( AM and PM). Some days I see the kiddos for 80 mins and other days it could 120. Within that time frame some of those 80 min days its split. For example I have them for period 6 for 40 mins but don’t get them back until period 8 for another 40 mins. Any ideas on how to fit grammar, reading workshop, and writing workshop in would be HUGE! Thank you for your help.

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May 22, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Sister thanks for this sincere post you helped show me how to take responsibility for my teaching. I teach writing under some difficult situations 40 mins weekly. It started out as a special storytime/ shared reading/ read Aloud but and now creative writing. I have struggled for 4yrs and recently the Lord helped me to approach writing using Persuasive, narrative and expository. What about poetry? It gets confusing but reading your post helped out with some perspectives. God bless you dear.

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July 16, 2018 at 8:32 pm

Thank you so much for these tips and guides. I have been struggling to teach writing for five years now, especially with the way they expect students to cite text, use it appropriately and almost perfectly during their testing. Unfortunately at my school and most schools in my county writing is not taught until students get to fourth grade, where it is tested. In addition, the state does not release any mentor texts, only from the sampling year, which district personnel tell you to ignore as they are not good examples. I wanted to know where do you gather your mentor texts from? I love the idea of students learning from the other writers, but I don’t know where to find these resources. I would greatly appreciate any of your assistance. Thank you!

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November 11, 2018 at 7:53 pm

How would you differentiate for Learning Support Students in a 3rd Grade that can’t write a sentence independently?

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January 6, 2019 at 1:06 pm

I found this so helpful! Although I’ve taught for a number of years this is my first year teaching grade 5 writing. It was reassuring seeing your outline of the different genres of writing. We’ve done narrative and fictional writing so far. This gives me direction for the new year – persuasive writing. The links for anchor charts and mini lessons are so helpful – thank-you so much! I’m feeling inspired and excited to start up again after the break!

January 6, 2019 at 9:52 pm

Hi Jen, I am so glad you found this helpful! Thank you for your kind message!

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May 11, 2019 at 10:21 am

Thank you! This is very helpful! I teach 5th grade writing (and only writing-our students rotate and another teacher teaches reading) and started halfway through the school year. We just got a new writing “program” called SRSD for informational writing, and I really like it, but it’s more of a method of writing than a paced program, so this is really helpful for determining how much time to spend on each part. I have very limited resources currently for mentor texts, but use a lot of articles from Newsela- they have lots of articles on various topics and you can change the lexile level, which is really helpful! Since I don’t teach reading but all of our informational writing is based on texts, this has been a great resource!

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August 30, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Hi! I am absolutely in love with your resources. They have helped me tremendously! I was curious if you had resources similar to the reading/grammar resources for writing?

September 8, 2019 at 4:41 pm

Hi Brooke, I don’t for writing. For 5th grade language, I do have some resources which you can see here:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jennifer-Findley/Category/ELAR-Language-Resources-88773

Thanks for asking!

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March 3, 2020 at 12:20 pm

HI there. I have been using a lot of your resources for ELA during this school year and decided to research how you teach writing. I have never been a very strong writing teacher and realize that I am doing my students a disservice in this area.

I need some ideas on how to do an effective writing review in 5 weeks time to prepare the students for the state assessment, which is at the end of April. Mind you, I have not been teaching writing as effectively as you have during the year. I currently have a 90 minute ELA block which includes reading, writing, grammar, etc. I think I may only be able to do 30, maybe 45 minutes per day.

What do you recommend? Feel free to email me your response if you would like.

Thanks so much!

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September 30, 2020 at 6:11 am

This article is EVERYTHING right know! I am currently teaching 4th Grade ELAR as a first year teacher, I am struggling to teach writing well! My student are all very low, and struggling to provide good writing- do you have any tips? Thanks for all writing this?

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March 10, 2021 at 10:49 am

I love every one of your resources and they have been a huge hit in my classroom. We have totally adopted your math centers and resources while I was departmentalized so I am eager to add in ELA when we go back to self-contained with our fifth graders. I would love to hear about how you organize the ELA instruction for students – how many notebooks, folders, what they are called, what gets turned in daily, weekly, how many and which ELA grades are weekly and which ones are final project grades. Love how real you are. Any attempt to add structure to this crazy ride of education is so greatly appreciated

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April 25, 2021 at 2:54 am

Hi Jennifer, I was happy to come across your Anchor Charts for persuasive essay on your website when searching on how to teach my son to write a persuasive essay. I would love to have your anchor charts for narrative and informative writings. Do you have a digital package I can purchase where you have the anchor charts information all together to help out homeschooling moms by any chance? Thank you.

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June 5, 2021 at 7:52 am

Love your resources and posts. Thank you! How do you balance reading and writing lessons? Through a week or another time period, what’s your schedule for when you teach writing and when you teach reading? Hoe do you successfully plan for both?

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August 4, 2021 at 8:36 am

Excellent information!- I am a tutor and was trying to gauge my pace with what typically happens in schools- I do not think you are typical- you are a 99%ile teacher I can tell- but still extremely helpful. Thank you so much!!!

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November 7, 2023 at 9:09 am

Not sure how much you read this post these days, but I wanted to put a question out there anyway. I am a fifth-grade teacher at a hybrid school. We plan lessons for 5 days but teach in our classrooms on M-W-F only. Parents teach at home T-TH. This has its own unique challenges. But teaching writing is the bane of my existence. We are forced to use a program called IEW. I hate it! Kids who have been on the program are some of our worst writers. But I have to use it. Have you ever heard of it? What we have is really not a curriculum either. So it leaves me pulling my hair out most days. Any advice on teaching writing when you are getting to teach 5 days?

November 7, 2023 at 10:33 am

I haven’t heard of that program, but that does sound so difficult! How are your students assessed in writing? Are they writing just to prompts or in response to texts? Feel free to send me an email to jennifer @ jenniferfindley.com (no spaces)!

November 9, 2023 at 7:16 am

Thank you so much!!

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Welcome Friends!

I’m Jennifer Findley: a teacher, mother, and avid reader. I believe that with the right resources, mindset, and strategies, all students can achieve at high levels and learn to love learning. My goal is to provide resources and strategies to inspire you and help make this belief a reality for your students.

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Hello Fifth

A Teaching Blog

Writing in Fifth Grade

May 23, 2020 by Jill Shafer

how to write an essay fifth grade

I am so excited to share all things WRITING today! Because I’ve taught several different grades, I come to fifth grade knowing a bit more of the progression students have experienced as writers.  We have Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study available to us, and I also have been trained in Step Up to Writing, Nancy Fetzer, thinking maps, and I’m sure there are more that have occurred since I began my career in 2003. I frequently get asked what I use and what I use is a mix of resources that will hopefully give students exposure and practice with writing pieces that will grow and stretch them. We cover the three major genres: expository, narrative, and persuasive. We also practice constructed responses, produce response to literature essays, and learn from mentor texts and authors. You can check out THIS freebie to get a glimpse into our general scope and sequence but like with all things teaching, we also remain flexible. Our reading and vocabulary/word work block is in the morning but we do writing after recess (specifically before lunch).

how to write an essay fifth grade

I work really hard to tie in things like sentence structure and grammar into our writing mini-lessons.  The work we do in the morning is best when it is incorporated with the work we do later as writers. Okay, so let’s break down the different things we do and what it looks like.

how to write an essay fifth grade

Because I teach fifth, they come with a really solid foundation of what four parts go into a constructed response.  At our school, we do RACE: restate, answer, cite evidence, and explain. I explicitly teach each one, going over what the expectations are in fifth and then practicing all together.

We spend the first month of school really working on these.  We use picture books to begin.  I just type up the text and copy; Mr. Peabody’s Apples and Fly Away Home are two of my faves.  You can read more about them HERE .

When we begin our first novel study , we transition into text responses that match with our discussion and the story.

We start slow and scaffolded, but with each one, I release more and more to them.  It REALLY helps to have students color code their answers, underlining each component of RACE in a different marker or colored pencil.

how to write an essay fifth grade

 We LOVE using THESE mentor texts from Ralph Fletcher.  I have stories saved on my Instagram (@hello_fifth) that go through it in DETAIL.

This typically only takes 15-20 minutes and is a GREAT way to warm up writers!  I use these constantly when they’re in the publishing stage of the writing process, since I may not have a new mini-lesson to deliver.

how to write an essay fifth grade

November 18, 2020 at 3:23 am

Very helpful! Thank you!!

February 9, 2021 at 5:52 am

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how to write an essay fifth grade

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Opinion essay writing

Grammar and Writing Workbook for Grade 5

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Plan then write

In these worksheets, students plan and then write an opinion essay. The planning framework includes an essay topic sentence, reasons, supporting details, counterarguments and conclusions.

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How to write an essay 5th grade

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How to teach Opinion Writing to 3rd, 4th and 5th Graders

Opinion writing, also known as Persuasive writing, is by far an easy enough genre to teach 3 rd , 4 th, and 5th graders. Unlike narrative writing where creativity and flair come into play, the elements of opinion writing are more structured, almost formulaic, and thus easier to assimilate.

How to teach opinion writing to 3rd, 4th, 5th grades

Teaching The Structural Components of Opinion Writing

Students are known to turn out better writing pieces if they have direction. Hence explicitly teaching the structural components of a persuasive/opinion essay is essential.

If students are taught the form and structure of opinion writing, the job is half done. The success of the other half pretty much depends upon the writer’s content knowledge of the subject.

Teaching the structure of an opinion essay can thus be broken down into three major sections: The Introduction, The Body, and The Conclusion.

How to teach kids opinion writing

✏ The Introduction of Opinion Writing

How many times have we reminded our students that the beginning of an essay is so very important – that it has to arrest the reader’s attention so they are hooked to continue reading.

For the introduction to be effective, it must have a hook , the writer’s opinion, and a thesis statement . This is the structure of the introduction.

If students just practice writing an introduction on several given writing prompts for a week, adhering to structure for this section, will be second nature.

The Hook In the Introduction

Teaching students just one way to hook the reader in an opinion essay is not enough as different types of hooks would create different effects – besides we need to give our little writers lots of choices when it comes to writing. This flexibility goes a long way in getting their creative juices going when writing supporting details that support their opinion.

5 Popular Hooks to Support the Opinion

So you can teach your 3 rd , 4 th, and 5 th graders to begin their opinion essay with any one of the five different hooks. Interestingly, they are also called sizzling starts. And rightly so.

Students may begin with any one of the below hooks:

  • Strong Statement
  • Rhetorical Question

The first two starters are popular starters and I often encourage my 5 th graders to use either of them in their introduction.

How to teach persuasive writing to 3rd, 4th, 5th grades

Writing the Opinion of an Opinion Essay

Right after the hook, students write their opinion on the issue after weighing the pros and cons.

Now for the lower grades (grades 1-3), students could simply begin their opinion with any of the phrases:

  • ‘In my opinion..’
  • ‘I firmly believe…’
  • ‘I am of the opinion…’

However, 3 rd , 4 th, and 5 th graders need to show more sophistication in their writing, so beginning with these opinion starters would not do justice to the writing skill they are actually capable of implementing.

Instead, students need to convey their opinion subtly by reflecting on the issue. This will consequently lead to the thesis statement that follows next and sums up the introduction.

Do you need to teach your 3rd, 4th or 5th grade students how to write an opinon or a persuasive essay? This resource will help scaffold the techniques and the structural elements.

✏ Writing The Body of an Opinion Essay

We can teach our 3 rd , 4 th, and 5 th graders to adhere to structure when they write the body paragraphs of their opinion essay too.

Each body paragraph needs to have a reason introduced by a topic sentence , supporting details that support the reason, and a concluding sentence that sums up that body paragraph. If students are explicitly taught this structure, then they are more likely to stay on task and won’t get carried away in their writing.

So, how many body paragraphs should there be?

The best number, I tell my 5th-grade students is – three. Each reason is given its very own paragraph, with the last paragraph reserved for the most important reason.

The least strong reason should be sandwiched between the first strong reason and the last. This is in keeping with the notion that the beginning and end of any piece of writing are the most important.

How to teach opinion writing to 3rd, 4th, 5th grades

✏ Writing The Conclusion of an Opinion Essay

Some students are known to get so carried away with their reasoning in the body paragraphs that they often skip this last important section or don’t have the time to write it – if sitting a timed writing examination.

It is in this section, that students need to be reminded to re-visit their opinion, provide a summary statement of their reasons, and the most important of all – give a call to action that causes the reader to reflect on the issue.  In a real-life context, this call of action would induce the reader to take action on the basis of the arguments put forth.

how to teach opinion writing to grade 6

The Effective Approach to Teaching Opinion Writing

Now that all the structural elements of an opinion essay have been dissected, how does one go about teaching them explicitly to students – that is the question.

Based on my personal experience and in my opinion, the best approach would be to teach each structural component separately . This would entail providing ample practice and modeling on the elements involved.

Once students have a good understanding and practice of the structural components of each section, then they can write out the entire opinion essay, given a prompt. Prior to doing so, brainstorming ideas for each section on a graphic organizer would help structure students’ writing further and provide direction.

My Summary of How to Teach Opinion Writing to 3 rd , 4 th and 5 th Graders

So just a few take-away points for you when you next teach your 3 rd , 4 th, or 5 th graders how to write an opinion essay.

1. Teach students each structural component separately prior to having students write out the entire opinion essay based on a prompt.

2. Teach students how to write the introduction first in an opinion essay. This should include the different types of hooks, the opinion, and the thesis statement.

3. Teach students how to write the body of an opinion essay. This should also include each reason introduced by a topic sentence, 2-3 supporting details to support the reason, and a concluding sentence to conclude the paragraph and link back to the first reason in the topic sentence. This explicit teaching should be done for all body paragraphs.

4. Teach students how to write the conclusion which restates the writer’s opinion, provides a brief overview of the reasons, and gives a call to action.

5. And above all, remind students to edit their draft prior to publishing.

All this explicit teaching needs to be adequately supported by teacher modeling and ample student practice for each structural component of the opinion essay.

To conclude this post, structure provides focus and clarity of thought. Both of which we desire our students to have in order for them to turn out writing pieces that they are proud of and that we enjoy reading and – yes marking.

How to teach persuasive writing to 5th grade

Need a collection of self-written mentor texts ( no need to spend on books ), print-n-go sheets, interactive notebook activities, Scavenger Hunts, flipbooks, anchor charts, posters, checklists, and  marking rubrics  to teach your students a step-by-step approach to writing an opinion essay effectively? Then access the Opinion (Persuasive) Writing Growing Bundle.

Teaching Opinion Writing digitally? Learn more here.

And if you’d like a set of free Opinion Writing Signal Words posters to display in your classroom, access the link in the image below.

Opinion Writing Posters

Until Next Time…

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COMMENTS

  1. 5th grade writing Writing

    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 ...

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  3. 5th Grade Essay Writing Worksheets & Free Printables

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  5. How to write a perfect essay

    Follow your outline, using each of your supporting points as the topic sentence of its own paragraph. Use descriptive words to get your ideas across to the reader. Go into detail, using specific information to tell your story or make your point. Stay on track, making sure that everything you include is somehow related to the main idea of your ...

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    Constructing a 5 Paragraph Essay. Read below for a brief five-paragraph essay instructional unit to help you guide your child in writing an exceptional essay. 1) How To Write An Introduction. In the five-paragraph essay format, the introduction is vital in grabbing the reader's attention and holding it throughout the essay.

  7. How to Write a Fifth-Grade Essay

    Essays in the fifth grade should be concise, clear and flow easily. Students need to be able to express their ideas with proper and effective word choice and use a variety of different sentence structures. Logical sequencing of main ideas should be evident throughout the essay. In the fifth grade, students learn to expand and elaborate on their ...

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    The writing prompt will be something like this: Think about a time you did something that made you feel guilty. Describe what happened. To answer this, your child will have to tell the story of a time they did something wrong and what the consequences were. They will likely make use of the "five senses" and discuss how they felt moment-to ...

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    Essay writing made easy using this 5th-grade writing template that provides a step-by-step essay writing process and thesis statement organizer. This basic essay format template is a brilliant resource to use when helping children to write their very first essay on any topic of their choice. With a bunch of helpful prompts, children will be ...

  10. Video: How fifth graders write informational essays

    Video: How fifth graders write informational essays. Most kids in fifth grade know how to write an introduction, thesis statement, and conclusion for an essay. And they can provide detailed support for their ideas. Find out more about how fifth graders typically write essays in this video from GreatSchools. Find out what most fifth graders know ...

  11. Introduction to Opinion Writing // 5th Grade Writing Online Lesson

    This lesson focuses on the components of opinion writing for a fifth grader.This is a series of videos that start at reading the passage and prompt in order ...

  12. How to Teach Writing in 5th Grade

    Here is how I typically segment my writing time. However, from reading the above section, you will notice that sometimes mini-lessons or share times are shorter or longer, depending on where we are in our pacing. 15-20 minute mini lesson. 30-40 minutes for independent writing and conferences/small groups.

  13. Writing in Fifth Grade

    Writing in Fifth Grade. May 23, 2020 by Jill Shafer. I am so excited to share all things WRITING today! Because I've taught several different grades, I come to fifth grade knowing a bit more of the progression students have experienced as writers. We have Lucy Calkin's Units of Study available to us, and I also have been trained in Step Up ...

  14. Can your 5th grader write an informational essay?

    Watch this video to see how 5th graders learn to write an essay. Step 2: write, revise and edit.GreatSchools is a nonprofit organization that helps millions ...

  15. Printable 5th Grade Informative Essay Structure Worksheets

    Write Your Essay This worksheet will help your writers begin to craft their essay by walking them, step-by-step, through paragraph writing and structuring their ideas. 5th grade

  16. Opinion essay writing worksheets

    In these worksheets, students plan and then write an opinion essay. The planning framework includes an essay topic sentence, reasons, supporting details, counterarguments and conclusions. Worksheet #1 Worksheet #2 Worksheet #3 Worksheet #4 Worksheet #5 Worksheet #6. Worksheet #7 Worksheet #8 Worksheet #9 Worksheet #10. Similar:

  17. Printable 5th Grade Persuasive Essay Structure Worksheets

    Students will put their persuasive skills to work with this worksheet. They will plan and write a draft of a persuasive paragraph on whether or not to buy an electronic device of their choosing. Browse Printable 5th Grade Persuasive Essay Structure Worksheets. Award winning educational materials designed to help kids succeed.

  18. PDF Grade&5& Expository&and&Opinion&Writing&&

    Read the TOPIC and related main idea sentences below. Then, write a one word "Blurb" that sums up what the main idea sentence is about. Next, see if you can figure out which detail sentence belongs to which main idea. Some may seem like they fit into more than one main idea category. That means they overlap; they are not distinct enough.

  19. How To Write An Essay 5th Grade Teaching Resources

    4.9. (42) $0.99. PDF. This digital download makes teaching how to write an expository essay fun and effective. Your students will use the layout of a sandwich to understand the parts of an essay. The step-by-step instructions teach about the introduction, the main ideas, and the conclusion. Multiple graphics for display purposes and student ...

  20. How to teach Opinion Writing to 3rd, 4th and 5th Graders

    Writing The Body of an Opinion Essay. We can teach our 3 rd, 4 th, and 5 th graders to adhere to structure when they write the body paragraphs of their opinion essay too. Each body paragraph needs to have a reason introduced by a topic sentence, supporting details that support the reason, and a concluding sentence that sums up that body ...

  21. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Second, follow these steps on how to write an argumentative essay: Brainstorm: research, free-write, and read samples to choose a debatable topic. Prepare: organize thoughts, craft a thesis, decide on arguments and evidence. Draft: outline an essay, start with an engaging introduction, delve into arguments, and conclude like a boss.

  22. Printable 5th Grade Argument Writing Worksheets

    Literary Argument Writing: Supporting Your Claim. Worksheet. PEEL Paragraph Graphic Organizer. Worksheet. PEEL Writing Strategy Handout. Worksheet. 1. Browse Printable 5th Grade Argument Writing Worksheets. Award winning educational materials designed to help kids succeed.

  23. Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

    Sample College Essay 2 with Feedback. This content is licensed by Khan Academy and is available for free at www.khanacademy.org. College essays are an important part of your college application and give you the chance to show colleges and universities your personality. This guide will give you tips on how to write an effective college essay.