How To Teach 5th Graders To Write An Essay

By now, your child knows the drill: writing is a process that requires research, input, and revision. Under the Common Core Standards, fifth graders are expected not only to respond to others’ prompts for improvement — they’ll evaluate their own work, too.

Super study skills

In fifth grade, note taking becomes an essential academic skill. Under the Common Core Standards, fifth graders are expected to use books, periodicals, websites, and other digital sources (like a library database) to do short research projects using 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 she uses — noting what she learned, the name of the source, and the page number or url so she can find it again and 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 she’s learned. What did she find out about the animal’s habitat from each source? What themes were present in the author’s novels? (Yes, these research and summary skills apply when the source materials are fiction, too.) These practices of considering and sorting evidence into categories and summarizing the information will help your fifth grader with the planning, writing, and revising stages of her writing project.

Can your fifth grader get organized to write an essay?

 

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 she plans to include, and determining the best way to clearly present her 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 written communication 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 she can evaluate her work and see that — if it’s not up to snuff — she should keep trying until it is.

5th grade opinion pieces

Since kindergarten, the Common Core Standards have been stressing the mechanics of writing strong opinion pieces. This year, there’s an added emphasis on logically organizing written work. Your child’s opinion pieces should start by clearly introducing and stating her opinion about a topic. Then, she should set up and follow a logically ordered structure to introduce each reason she’ll offer in support of her opinion. Her 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 her evidence-backed reasons to her opinion. Finally, she should close her argument with a well-articulated conclusion that supports her original opinion.

5th grade informative writing

Logic reigns when evaluating your fifth grader’s informative writing. The purpose of this type of writing: to convey facts and ideas clearly. So a logically ordered presentation of supporting points is, well… quite logical. Your child should clearly introduce his topic and present related information in the form of a few clear, well thought-out paragraphs. He should draw on facts, definitions, concrete details, quotes, and examples from his research to thoroughly develop his topic. To clearly connect his research, your fifth grader should use advanced linking words (e.g. in contrast, especially) to form compound and complex sentences that convey his 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 fifth grade informational writing:
•”How to save water”
•”Saving a Resource”
•”Water Saveing”

Can your fifth grader write an informational essay?

 

5th grade narrative writing

A narrative is a story, plain and simple. But this year, your child’s stories will be far from simple. 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. A fifth grade story writer 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 react to what’s happening. Finally, keeping the pacing and sequence of events in mind, the events should unfold naturally, bringing the story to a close. Does that mean your fifth grader’s ending needs to be boring or predictable? Not at all — but the story’s details and events should plausibly lead wherever the story ends.

Making connections: reading and writing

Under the Common Cores Standards, a writing standard called a “range of writing” calls for more writing, more often — both in short spurts and through more ambitious projects that may take weeks or months. When helping your child with these various writing assignments, the same questions you ask to boost her reading comprehension will come in handy. Questions about fiction like Can you offer specific details from the story to show us how characters reacted? and questions about nonfiction like Can you point to specific evidence that supports a certain point? will help your child connect how she thinks about reading to how she should be writing.

Grammatically advanced

Now that your fifth grader has a firm grasp of the parts of speech, she should be prepared to perfect grammar skills. 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). They’ll 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.) — and with this tense mastered, fifth graders will now 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

Perfecting punctuation, spelling, and vocabulary

This year, the quest to spell ever-harder words — and to further understand nuances in word meanings and the English language — continues.

This means your child will:
• Regularly refer to print and online dictionaries, thesauruses, and glossaries to spell challenging words correctly
• Use academic terms in writing
• Find ever-more nuanced descriptors (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”).

Now that your child understands how to correctly use most punctuation, this year’s punctuation star is the common but commonly confusing comma. To start, 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. Yes, 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.)

Commas aside, your child will 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? Publishing! Once all the hard work (the research, planning, writing, revisions, edits, and rewrites) are finished, your fifth grader’s ready to publish. The Common Core Standards specify using “technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others.” The format is open — printing or electronic publishing on a blog, website, or even an app. While teachers should be there to support your child, he should be doing the work. So what does interacting and collaborating with others look like? It could mean, for example, that your child reads his classmates’ published work online and either comments on it or references it when answering a question in class.

What about the big H?

Traditionally, fifth graders have been expected to master cursive and print handwriting. For decades, typing skills have also been required. The Common Core Standards clearly state that fifth graders should be able to type two full pages in one sitting. However, even with the emphasis on using technology and publishing writing, not all of your child’s writing is expected to be typed. It’s logical to conclude that your fifth grader’s penmanship matters. However, there’s no mention of cursive in the standards. So learning cursive is essentially up to your child’s teacher. If cursive isn’t part of the teacher’s curriculum, you may want to work on this craft with your child at home.

Updated November 2013 to align with the Common Core Standards

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Their college life is impossible to imagine without paper work, and that is why it is very important for them to know how to write an essay, an assignment, a dissertation, a composition, etc. So, your task as a teacher is to tell them how to write an essay write and be able to express their thoughts clearly. How to do that? What aspects to pay attention to in order your students could become the best essay writers?

Here you are welcome to find some tips concerning the most important essay aspects to tell your students about. Step by step, you will make it much easier for them to understand the principles of essay writing and their importance for their future practice.

  • Topic

    It is obvious, that the very first thing your students should think of before writing an essay is its topic. Remember, that an essay is not only about writing skills, but it demonstrates the ability of your students to research as well. So, you task is to teach them to research. That is why try to reject the chosen topics if they are too easy for a student, and you see that it will not take much time to write such a essay.

    An essay is not an essay without any research. Explain your students, that it is always better for them to choose a topic they understand well and have an opportunity to make a research on. Good research capability is important for every student to get, that is why do not forget practicing different research tactics with them: tell in details about the methods they can use to find all the information needed, how to use this info wisely, and what are the best ways to distinguish the important facts.

  • Purpose

    Informative and well-styles essays are impossible to write without a purpose. An essay can not be just a piece of writing about general things everybody knows and understands perfectly. So, teach your students that they should not be in a hurry to write their essays at once they've chosen the topic. Make them decide upon the purpose of an essay.

    When a student perfectly understands what he writes an essay for, it will be much easier for him to draw the outline and start writing.

  • Examples

    The process of teaching is impossible without examples. For your students to understand what a good piece of writing actually is, just give them some examples of excellent essays. It may be an essay of your former student for example. When they see a sample, your students will have an idea what a good essay should look like.

    Use samples to tell students about each element their essays should include. They will perfectly understand what the good introduction is, what an informative body of an essay should look like, and how to make an appropriate conclusion. Moreover, your students will also have an opportunity to see how sentences are built, and what grammar constructions are used in an essay.

  • Outline

    The last thing to do before starting to write an essay is to make its outline. Choose some topic and make a list of points your students would need to mention if they wrote an essay on it. Such a technique will give them a better understanding of what and essay is, and how it should be written.

    Make sure that all students perfectly understand the fact they should follow an essay outline, because it will be much easier for them to write this piece of paper. Make it clear to them that every point of the outline should start from a new paragraph. Moreover, the smaller these paragraphs are – the more attractive an essay will look for its readers. It is not very comfortable to read very long paragraphs, as it will be more difficult to get the point in such a way. Eventually, it will be easier for students themselves to compose shorter paragraphs of an essay.

  • Introduction

    Finally, it is time to start writing an essay. And here comes its most important part that is called an introduction. As a rule, students find it very difficult to write this part of their essay, as they do not know how to start a piece of writing in order to attract readers' attention and tell them shortly about what this essay is about.

    It is clear, that an essay will not be good without a proper and attractive beginning, so, your task is to explain this moment to your students. Tell them, that no one will continue reading their essays if they do not make it eye-catchy and clear for a potential reader. Moreover, an essay introduction should be intriguing a bit.

    Depending on the topic of an essay, students can start it with a story from their personal experience. This is a good way to grab an attention. Discuss this option with your students, listen to their suggestions. Discussions will help them learn the material better.

  • Conclusion

    We have already mentioned the outline of an essay, that will help your students write the body of their essay right. Now it is high time for a conclusion, which is not less important than an introduction by the way. It is a real art to finish your writing in a way your reader would feel good and satisfied with everything he has read.

    Tell your students how to conclude their essays appropriately. Explain, that it is not good to abrupt a piece of writing. And do not forget to mention, that a conclusion of their essay should contain a summary if all points they discussed in the body!

    To summarize everything mentioned above, we can say that the importance of essay writing skills should not be underestimated. Such skills will help students express their thoughts clearly and write really good and even professional essays and other kinds of paper work during their further study at colleges or universities. Be sure, they will thank you for teaching such a necessary information to them.

  • This is a guest article by Alex Strike. Alex is a copywriter of Essay-All-Stars.com website and a passionate reader of Stephen King's books.

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