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Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grade 5

A Workshop Curriculum

By Lucy Calkins, Alexandra Marron, Katie Clements, Kelly Boland Hohne, M. Colleen Cruz, Mary Ehrenworth, Teachers College Reading & Writing Project

These reading units guide fifth graders toward intellectual independence. In Unit 1 students practice close reading, noting how authors develop themes in fictional works. Unit 2 deals with higher-level nonfiction and emphasizes strong foundational skills, such as fluency and word solving. The third unit has kids read complex nonfiction under the umbrella of argument and advocacy. In the final unit students explore fantasy bookclubs.

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About the Grade 5 Units

Fifth grade is a time for children to hone their intellectual independence. In the first unit, Interpretation Book Clubs: Analyzing Themes, students draw on a repertoire of ways for reading closely, noticing how story elements interact, understanding how different authors develop the same theme, and comparing and contrasting texts that develop a similar theme. In the second unit, Tackling Complexity: Moving Up Levels of Nonfiction, children investigate the ways nonfiction texts are becoming more complex, and they learn strategies to tackle these new challenges. This unit emphasizes the strong foundational skills, such as fluency, orienting to texts, and word solving, that are required to read complex nonfiction. In the third unit, Argument and Advocacy: Researching Debatable Issues, students read complex nonfiction texts to conduct research on a debatable topic, consider perspective and craft, evaluate arguments, and formulate their own evidence-based, ethical positions on issues. In the final unit for fifth grade, Fantasy Book Clubs: The Magic of Themes and Symbols, students work in clubs to become deeply immersed in the fantasy genre and further develop higher-level thinking skills to study how authors develop characters and themes over time. They think metaphorically as well as analytically, explore the quests and themes within and across their novels, and consider the implications of conflicts, themes, and lessons learned.

About the Series

Drawing on learning gleaned from decades of research, curriculum development, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with students, teachers, and school leaders, Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project have developed the Units of Study for Teaching Reading. Designed to meet ambitious 21st century global standards, this reading series offers grade-by-grade curricula rooted in the Project’s best practices and newest thinking. It includes state-of-the-art tools and methods for teaching reading skills and strategies, grounded in the Project’s learning progressions for narrative and informational reading. 

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