mrsjaffe14

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Language Arts

During the first week of school, your child will be assigned to a fifth grade teacher for language arts which includes instruction in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary development. This assignment is based on past performance, input from fourth-grade teachers, and instructional needs. In this way, we can tailor our teaching to your child’s particular level.

Our English/language arts curriculum is multi-faceted. First, instruction in reading is given in small, guided-reading groups, as well as whole-class lessons. Guided-reading groups make it easier to focus on areas for improvement. In September, my reading class reviews some of the important strategies used by active readers: making predictions, asking questions, visualizing, using context clues, and making personal connections. This sets the tone for what is expected of children in fifth grade. Our goal in fifth grade is to derive greater meaning from books. To accomplish this, we focus on reflecting on what we read.

Above all, your child will be encouraged to read, read, read! Research shows that the best way to improve one’s reading ability is to read more! I will work with children in my reading class to choose appropriate books that nurture their interest in reading and continually build their confidence. This is a long-term goal for the year and one I always look forward to working with students to accomplish.

This coming month we will also review the major elements of fiction – setting, character, plot, problem, conflict, resolution, and theme. In writing I favor an approach to teaching referred to as “writer’s workshop.” Part of our writing time features skill-based mini-lessons that instruct students in a range of conventions and styles. Then, I give them as much time as possible to freely write on topics of their own choosing. An important component of writer’s workshop is my one-on-one conferences with students. It is during this time that students share their own ideas about their writing, and I provide specific feedback.

That said, there are certain forms of writing I must teach, such as narrative, informative, and persuasive, but students have a lot of latitude to choose their own topic. Not all writing assignments are graded; but when they are, students know upfront what is expected of them. Grades are sometimes a tally of points or based on a rubric of specific skills.

Spelling practice, vocabulary development, and use of proper grammar are all essential components of improving writing skills. We no longer use a formal spelling or vocabulary text, so if there are spelling tests, they will be based on misspelled words from students’ own writing.

Vocabulary development will be tailored around the books we read together in class.

Grammar is another important part of your child’s competence as a writer. We do use a grammar text. A new skill is introduced or reviewed each week, and nightly homework is assigned to provide your child with regular practice.

That said, there are certain forms of writing I must teach, such as narrative, informative, and persuasive, but students have a lot of latitude to choose their own topic. Not all writing assignments are graded; but when they are, students know upfront what is expected of them. Grades are sometimes a tally of points or based on a rubric of specific skills.

Spelling practice, vocabulary development, and use of proper grammar are all essential components of improving writing skills. We no longer use a formal spelling or vocabulary text, so if there are spelling tests, they will be based on misspelled words from students’ own writing. Vocabulary development will be tailored around the books we read together in class.

Grammar is another important part of your child’s competence as a writer. We do use a grammar text. A new skill is introduced or reviewed each week, and nightly homework is assigned to provide your child with regular practice.


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