• Fifth Grade English/Language Arts

    Dear Fifth Grade Families;

    Welcome to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Family Pages. We hope the information you find here assists you in supporting your child while s/he is learning important skills and concepts throughout the fifth grade year. The information provided below is meant to outline some of the specific learnings your fifth grader will be engaged in this year. This guide offers highlights of fifth grade learning, rather than an exhaustive list.

    Balanced Literacy addresses K-5 Michigan English Language Arts Standards through Reader’s Workshop. Reader’s Workshop includes five key literacy practices: (1) Interactive Read-Aloud, (2) Mini-Lesson, (3) Guided Reading, (4) Literature Study, and (5) Independent Reading. The 3-5 resource is Guiding Readers and Writers by Fountas and Pinnell and Literacy Continuum by Fountas and Pinnell.

    The K-5 writing program is based on the Writer's Workshop model.  It includes whole group mini-lessons, time for children to write individually, and time for writers to share their writing with each other. The Ann Arbor Public Schools uses Units of Study by Lucy Calkins and Ann Arbor-created Genre Studies as it’s core writing resources. To take a deeper look go to: Atlas: 5th Grade ELA
  • Reading

    Key Ideas and Details (Fiction and Nonfiction)

    • Ask questions to deepen understanding of text
    • Refer to important information and details and use evidence to support opinions statements
    • Relate important information and concepts in one text and connect to information and concepts in other texts
    • Learn more about social issues, both local and global, as revealed through character, plot, and setting
    • Apply background knowledge to understand settings, problems, and characters and to extend understanding of historical fiction and science fiction

    Story Elements (Fiction)

    • Setting
    • Recall important details about setting after a story is read
    • Recognize and understand that texts may have settings that reflect a wide range of diverse places, languages, and cultures and character’s behavior may reflect those settings
    • Notice and understand settings that are distant in time and place from students’ own experiences
    • Evaluate the significance of the setting
    • Plot     
    • Follow a complex plot with multiple events, episodes, or problems
    • Notice and remember the important events of a text in sequence
    • Include the problem and its resolution in a summary of a text
    • Follow plots that have particular patterns – circular or parallel plots
    • Character
    • Follow multiple characters, each with unique traits, in the same story
    • Recognize that characters can have multiple dimensions: e.g., can be good but make mistakes
    • Infer characters’ traits as revealed through thought, dialogue, behavior, and what others think of them
    • Notice character change and infer reasons from events of the plot.
    • Think critically about the authenticity  and believability of characters and their behavior, dialogue, and development
    • Messages and Themes
    • Infer and understand the moral lesson or cultural teachin in literature
    • Notice and understand that themes can apply to their lives and the lives of others
    • Notice when a fiction writer is communicating a moral lesson 
    • Notice and understand themes reflecting important human challenges and social issues: e.g., self, self esteem, popularity, bullying, social awareness and responsibility, justice, war, racism

     Book and Print Features (Fiction)

    • Notice, use and understand the purpose of some organiza-tional tools: e.g, title, table of contents, chapter title
    • Notice and understand textual elements that have symbolic value, add to aesthetic enjoyment, or add meaning
    • Evaluate what some text resources contribute to the meaning of a text

    Organization (Nonfiction)

    • Follow and understand nonfiction texts with clearly defined overall structure, categories,  and subcategories and connect the structure to the table of contents
    • Notice that a nonfiction writer puts together information related to the same topic or subtopic
    • Gain new understandings from searching for and using information found in text body, sidebars, and graphics
    • Notice, use and understand the purpose of some organiza-tional tools: e.g, heading, subheading, glossary, index

    Vocabulary (Fiction and Nonfiction)

    • Notice and acquire new content words from texts and graphics
    • Use new vocabulary in discussion of a text
    • Derive meaning of words from the context of a sentence, paragraph, or the whole text
    • Learn many words that do not appear frequently in oral conversation.
    • Use academic language to talk about nonfiction genres
  • Writing

    • Personal Narrative
      • Understand that narrative nonfiction genres include biography, autobiography, and memoir
      • Understand the structure of narrative, including lead or beginning, introduction of characters, setting, problem, series of events, resolution of problem, and ending
      • Tell details about the most important moments in a story while eliminating unimportant details
      • Understand biography as a true account of a person’s life
    • Fiction
      • Understand that fiction genres include realistic fiction,  traditional literature and fantasy
      • Understand that a fiction text may involve one or more events in the life of a main character
      • Understand that a writer uses various elements of fiction: e.g., setting, plot with problem and solution, characters
      • Write a simple fiction story, either realistic or fantasy
      • Develop a plot that includes tension
      • Show rather than tell how characters feel


    • Understand that a writer creates an expository text for readers to learn about a topic
    • Understand that to write an expository text, the writer needs to become very knowledgeable about a topic
    • Write about a topic that is interesting and substantive and to which the writer is committed, keeping in mind the audience and their interests and likely background knowledge
    • Write an engaging lead and first section that orients the reader and provides an introduction to the topic


    • Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
    • Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose
    • Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details
    • Link opinion and reasons using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., consequently, specifically)
    • Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented
  • Partnering With Your Child’s Teacher    

    If you have questions or concern reach out to your child’s teacher—you are an important part of your child’s education. Ask to see a sample of your child’s work or bring a sample with you. Ask the teacher questions like:
    • Is my child at the level where he/she should be at this point of the school year?
    • What do you think is giving my child the most trouble? How can I help my child improve in this area?
    • Where is my child excelling? How can I support this success?

    Helping Your Child Learn Outside of School     

    1. Provide time and space for your child to read independently. This time should be free from distractions such as television.
    2. Ask your child what he or she learned from reading. Have him or her read the most interesting or useful sections aloud, and discuss how that knowledge can be used in real life.
    3. Assist your child in using references such as the Internet or a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words.
    4. Keep track of the time that your child spends reading every day. Note what kind of reading materials he or she likes (books, magazines, newspaper articles, the Internet, etc.). Then look for additional materials that would encourage your child to read more.