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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!
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 full five paragraph essay
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:
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.
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:
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:
To save this post for later, simply pin this image to your teacher Pinterest board!
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 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.
Informative Writing Techniques
How to Write a Thesis & Introduction for a Critical Reflection Essay
How to Write a 3,000 Word Essay
How to Write an Essay Explaining a Concept
How to write an essay with a thesis statement.
How to Do an In-Depth Analysis Essay
How to Use a Graphic Organizer for Writing a Paper
- Great Schools: Your Fifth Grader and Writing
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.
5th grade nonfiction writing samples
by: Jessica Kelmon | Updated: July 23, 2016
When it comes to writing, fifth grade is a red-letter year. To prepare for the demands of middle school and high school writing, fifth graders should be mastering skills required for strong nonfiction writing . Learn more about your fifth grader’s writing under Common Core . All students should be learning three styles of writing:
Reports that convey information accurately with facts, details, and supporting information.
Stories, poems, plays, and other types of fiction that convey a plot, character development, and/or personal stories.
Writing in which students try to convince readers to accept their opinion about something using reasons and examples.
Fifth grade writing sample #1
This student’s report starts with a decorative cover and a table of contents. The report has eight sections, each clearly labeled with a bold subhead, and includes a bibliography. At the end, this student adds three visuals, two images from the internet with handwritten captions and a related, hand-drawn cartoon.
Type of writing: Informative/explanatory writing
Fifth grade writing sample #2
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Dylan’s report is thorough and well organized. There’s a cover page, an opening statement, and four clear sections with subheads, including a conclusion. You’ll see from the teacher’s note at the end that the assignment is for an opinion piece, but Dylan clearly writes a strong informational/explanatory piece, which is why it’s included here.
Fifth grade writing sample #3
The Harmful Ways of By-Catch and Overfishing
This student includes facts and examples to inform the reader about by-catch and overfishing. Then, at the end, the student tries to convince the reader to take a personal interest in these topics and gives example of how the reader can take action, too.
Type of writing: Opinion writing
See more examples of real kids’ writing in different grades: Kindergarten , first grade , second grade , third grade , fourth grade .
6 ways to improve a college essay
Quick writing tips for every age
Writing on the wall
Why parents must teach writing
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Help your 5th Grader Write a Great Essay
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.
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.
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.
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 5th Grade Level Essay
There are four basic types of prompts for fifth grade students: narrative, persuasive, expository, and creative writing.
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.
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.
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 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.
Topics: Essay , Writing Skills , Fifth Grade , paragraph writing , Writing Prompt
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Teaching with Jennifer Findley
Upper Elementary Teaching Blog
February 5, 2017 | 37 Comments | Filed Under: Writing & Grammar
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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
August 2, 2023 at 11:11 pm
Hi! Is a resource available?
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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
July 22, 2018 at 7:53 pm
My sentiments exactly!!!!
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
September 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm
Thank you so much for sharing a modified schedule for 30 minutes!!!
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.
October 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm
Where do you get ideas for the on demand prompts that you use the last 3 weeks of the units? Thanks!
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?
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.
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.
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!
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?
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!
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!
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:
Thanks for asking!
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!
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?
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
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.
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?
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!!!
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. Learn more about me.
Writing Prompts for 5th Grade
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By fifth grade, students are developing basic fluency as writers. In order to hone their skills, fifth graders should practice supporting claims with factual information, conveying information clearly, and writing narratives in a logical order. The following fifth-grade writing prompts encourage students to develop their skills through topics that are meaningful to them.
Narrative Essay Writing Prompts
Narrative essays tell a story based on a student’s personal experience. They encourage students to use descriptive writing to reflect on their experiences, explain them in a logical manner, and draw conclusions from them.
- New Beginnings . This is your last year of elementary school. What are you most excited or most nervous about when you think of starting middle school ?
- Betwixt . Students in 5th grade are often referred to as “tweens,” meaning that they are between the young child and the teen years. What is the hardest thing about being a tween in today’s society?
- Besties . What is the best book you’ve ever read? What made it so special?
- Reflections . Do you remember your first-ever day of school ? Describe one vivid memory from that day.
- Bullies . Have you ever witnessed someone bullying another student? What happened and how did it make you feel?
- Man’s Best Friend . Do you share a bond with your dog or other pet? Describe your pet, and explain what makes your relationship unique.
- Families . A family isn’t always a mom, a dad, and their children. Write about the ways your family is the same as and different from other types of families and what makes your bonds so strong.
- Holiday Memories . Think about one of your favorite holiday-related memories. Write an essay describing it and tell why it is so unforgettable.
- Guilty . Think about a time you did something that made you feel guilty. Describe what happened.
- The Ultimate Field Trip . If you could choose anywhere in the world to go on a field trip , where would you choose and why?
- Family Game Night . Do you enjoy playing games with your family? Describe your favorite family game or activity.
- Tasty Treats . What is your favorite food? Describe it as if you were introducing it to someone who has never seen or tasted it.
- Someday . Have you thought about what you want to be when you grow up? Write an essay explaining why you think you’d like that career.
Persuasive Essay Writing Prompts
Persuasive essays are those written to convince another person to agree with the writer or take action. These persuasive essay prompts inspire 5th graders to share their passions with an audience.
- Pets Day . You’ve just gone to work with your parent for “bring your child to work day.” Write an essay convincing your school to have a “bring your pet to school” day.
- Yuck . What is your least-favorite cafeteria food? Give three compelling reasons why your school should quit serving it.
- Let’s Trade . Your friend’s lunches from home always look better than yours. Write an essay convincing your buddy that you should start swapping meals every day. Be sure to highlight the benefits of the food you bring!
- Home Alone . Write an essay convincing your parents that you are old enough and responsible enough to stay at home alone.
- Sunny Day . The weather outside is beautiful for the first time in weeks. Persuade your teacher not to assign any homework so that you’ll have time to go out to play.
- The Sequel . The long-awaited sequel to your favorite book or video game is now available. Convince your brother or sister to do your chores this week so that you have plenty of time for reading or gaming.
- Seating Chart . Because of your teacher’s seating chart, you’re not going to be able to sit next to your friend all year! Persuade your teacher to let students choose their seats.
- Birth Order . Are you an only child, the oldest sibling, the youngest, or the middle? What makes your birth order the best?
- The Ultimate Game . What is the best video game on the planet? Explain why it’s better than similar games.
- Life Lessons . What are the three most important lessons parents should teach their children and why?
- Test Time . Do you think standardized tests are helpful or harmful? Explain your answer.
- Tunes . Some studies have shown that listening to music can help students concentrate. Should students be allowed to listen to music using headphones during independent work times at school? Persuade the reader of your answer.
- Catch-22 . You’re not a big fan of writing. Write an essay convincing your teacher that you shouldn’t have to write any more essays this year.
Expository Essay Writing Prompts
Expository essays are often called how-to essays. They usually teach the reader something or provide facts about a particular topic.
- Let’s Play . Your family frequently attends community theater productions, but your friend has never seen one. Write an essay describing what he or she can expect during the evening.
- Band . You're graduating elementary school, and a younger student is taking your spot in the school band. Explain to him or her how to clean and care for your musical instrument .
- Lessons Learned . Write an essay to a younger sibling explaining two or three key strategies for having a positive 5th-grade experience.
- Class Pet . You’ve cared for your class pet this week, but now it’s another classmate’s turn. Explain how to feed and care for the pet properly.
- Upgrade Ahead . You have an idea to improve your school. Explain it.
- Safety Zone . Explain three of the best steps kids can take to be safe online.
- Family Traditions . Does your family have any customs or traditions that might be unfamiliar to a classmate? Describe them.
- Pen Pal . Describe for your pen pal who lives in another state an animal native to your area, including its physical characteristics, behaviors, and any sounds that it makes.
- Creepy Crawlies . Compare and contrast two insects or animals that are similar, but have different characteristics such as a bumblebee and a yellow jacket or a horse and a mule. How are they alike and how are they different?
- Clean Up . Your class is going to spend a day cleaning up at a local park. You’ve done this with another group before, but some of your classmates haven’t. Explain the process.
- Action . Your favorite book was made into a movie. Compare and contrast the film and book versions.
- Team Players . Explain how contributing responsibly helps or how it hurts a group when someone doesn’t do his part.
- Tell and Show . Your class is having a “tell and show” day. You have to describe your item in as much detail as possible without naming it. Only when the class guesses or gives up can you show your item. Write out the description of your item.
Creative Writing Essay Prompts
Creative writing allows students to engage their imaginations and story-telling skills while also practicing vital writing skills such as sequence and description.
- Magic Lamp . You’ve just found a magic lamp. What happens when you rub it?
- Say Cheese . You are given an exceptional camera. Everything you take a picture of becomes yours, but you can only take three pictures. Tell a story about the photos you take.
- Invisible Man . One morning, you glance in the mirror and realize that you don’t have a reflection. You’ve become invisible! Write a story about your day.
- Gone to the Dogs . Write a story from your pet’s point of view.
- All Hail the King . Imagine that you discover an uncharted land that you claim as a new country. And, you’re the ruler! Describe your country, its people, and your newfound position of power.
- Part of the Story . One night, you doze off after reading the latest book in your favorite series. When you wake, you discover that you’re in the story! Write about your adventures.
- Before or After . Imagine that you live either 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future. What is your life like?
- Dr. Doolittle . You’re walking through a pet store when you discover that you can talk to the animals. What happens next?
- Meet and Greet . Imagine that you can meet anyone you’re studying in school right now from famous scientists to historical figures to the characters in the class read-aloud . Write a story about your meeting with that person.
- Switcheroo . If you could switch lives with anyone in your school, who would it be? Write about your day in the life of that person.
- Holiday Loop . Imagine you get to relive your favorite holiday every day. What’s that like?
- Tall Tales . Tall tales are possibly true stories that contain highly exaggerated actions or events. Create a tall tale about something that happened in your family.
- Teacher's Pet . Imagine that your teacher is actually your parent. Describe a day in class.
- Fun March Writing Prompts for Journaling
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- Engaging Writing Prompts for 3rd Graders
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- September Writing Prompts
- 24 Journal Prompts for Creative Writing in the Elementary Classroom
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- Private School Application Essay Tips
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How to Write a 5th Grade (or any other grade) Essay Paperback – February 14, 2018
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- Print length 106 pages
- Language English
- Publication date February 14, 2018
- Dimensions 6 x 0.24 x 9 inches
- ISBN-10 0692064605
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- Publisher : Kathleen Powers (February 14, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 106 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0692064605
- ISBN-13 : 978-0692064603
- Item Weight : 5.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.24 x 9 inches
- #2,326 in Fiction Writing Reference (Books)
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About the author
When my older son, Billy, finished first grade, he couldn’t read. It came as a surprise, but at the time I was overwhelmed with a new baby too. I vowed that at the end of the summer and by September, he would read. I found Rudolf Flesch’s “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” and we began lessons with a strictly phonetic approach, reading list after list of words. My son hated it. I hated it. But those lists worked.
To supplement the lists, I searched my library for beginning reader books. I found Dr. Seuss and Margaret Hillert books—great, but not enough. So I began writing my own books with consonant-vowel-consonant words. In September, my son entered second grade, reading on grade level. Guilt avoided.
Time passed. I began tutoring neighborhood kids how to read. My sister, Anne, an art teacher, sketched drawings for my stories. Kids loved the funny themes and pictures. This encouraged Anne and me to polish the stories.
More time passed. I went back to school and earned my master’s degree in education. I tutored students how to read and how to write. My husband, Bill, suggested I start blogging. (Blogging? What’s blogging?) But I did. Comicphonics.com offered suggestions to other parents about how to teach reading. EnglishWritingTeacher.com presented information on good writing plus how to teach writing to children.
Bill suggested I turn the EnglishWritingTeacher blogs into a book. From that idea came “How to Write a 5th Grade (or Any Other Grade) Essay,” published in the winter of 2018.
Meanwhile I researched the features of good picture books for beginning readers and simplified the texts of my picture books. My sister refined her illustrations and added color. My husband designed covers and formatted everything. My younger son, Patrick, suggested activity pages to reinforce the vocabulary and extend the learning.
On July 6, 2019, we published five beginning readers.
Now while still tutoring reading and writing, I am learning how to market our reading books and preparing more stories for publication.
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