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Falling Behind: Fifth Grade Intervention Strategies in Reading/Writing

written by: Stephanie Torreno • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/20/2012

Students in fifth grade move beyond basic reading and writing skills in preparation for middle school. What if, however, children struggle with important skills they should have previously developed? If you don't think your child is meeting current expected skills, you can help!

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    Reading Skills in Fifth Grade

    By the time students reach the fifth grade, reading comprehension skills depend more on understanding the meaning of text than just recognizing words. Students should be able to identify an author’s purpose and describe how the writer’s words contribute to the work’s meaning. In fifth grade, students learn about the parts of a story’s plot including main events, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Fifth graders should be able to map these parts of a story and should also be able to identify a text’s themes. Vocabulary skills should continue building as children work with figurative language, such as similes, metaphors, idioms, and personification.

    Use these reading strategies for struggling students in fifth grade to help children read texts more thoroughly and with greater understanding.

    • Parents should ask children to read aloud and provide feedback to develop speed and ease in reading. Provide guidance when needed to help read words accurately and quickly to construct the text’s meaning.
    • Teach children strategies to guide reading comprehension. Discuss how to develop and answer questions, use the structure of a story to remember events, and use graphic organizers to help visualize the information.
    • Help students complete a Venn diagram if a novel includes two or more main characters. Have them fill in the diagram as they are reading to help them think more deeply about characters' actions and purpose to the story.
    • To increase their vocabulary, have children pick out challenging vocabulary words or choose the words for them. Then, have them complete a vocabulary word map for each word.
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    Writing Skills in the Fifth Grade

    To prepare for middle school in which students will write longer reports and research projects, fifth graders will need to begin writing for different purposes and subjects.During the school year, students learn about the writing process, which includes prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.Students work on various types of writing and learn how to develop paragraphs and essays.

    Use these writing strategies to help your child understand the writing process and become a better writer and speller.

    • Continue exposing children to new genres of books. If you have a favorite genre, such as poetry, share poems with them by either reading aloud or by bringing it to their attention. Reading other writing frequently inspires students’ own writing.
    • Talk about the role of revision and editing. Emphasize that writing is a process and it is not finished perfectly the first time.
    • Ask children to read their writing to you to encourage proofreading. Coach them on using functional spellings until they develop stronger spelling skills because it will encourage more fluent writing.
    • Encourage self-editing and help children use the dictionary and thesaurus. This will teach students to ask questions about spelling and to become more independent spellers.

    One of the best strategies for a struggling student is to continue encouraging them to read and write. Parents who share their love of reading and writing will help their children develop that same enjoyment.