Teaching Literacy in Fifth Grade  book cover
1st Edition

Teaching Literacy in Fifth Grade

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ISBN 9781593853402
Published November 16, 2006 by Guilford Press
150 Pages

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Book Description

For students, fifth grade is a time of increasing independence and responsibility. Yet fifth-graders vary widely in their reading and writing abilities--and they are still young enough to require considerable teacher support. Depicting an exemplary teacher in action, this indispensable book presents innovative, practical strategies for creating an organized, motivating, and literacy-rich fifth-grade classroom. The authors show how to assess student needs and implement standards-based instruction that targets comprehension, vocabulary, writing, genre study, and other crucial areas. Grounded in current best practices, the book includes helpful planning tips, illustrations, and reproducibles.

Table of Contents

1. The Typical Fifth Grader Is Anything But
2. Setting Goals: Standards, Needs, and Quality
3. Establishing a Classroom Environment for Literacy Learning
4. Assessing to Plan Instruction
5. A Week in Jacqueline's Literacy Classroom
6. Integrating Curriculum Using Multiple Genres to Enhance Literacy
7. Finding Resources for Planning and Instruction
Appendix: Book Club Journal Information Sheets

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Susan I. McMahon, PhD, is a professor of reading and language in the Curriculum and Instruction Program at National-Louis University, where she teaches master's- and doctoral-level students. She began her professional career as an English teacher and taught at both the middle and high school levels in rural, urban, and suburban settings for 16 years. After completing her PhD in literacy development with an emphasis in reading, Susan accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she taught for 7 years. Her research interests focus on classroom-based assessment of students’ comprehension. She has spent several years working with districts to develop assessment tools that inform instruction. Her publications include The Book Club Connection: Literacy Learning and Classroom Talkand several book chapters and journal publications, including Fifth Graders Helping Peers Discuss Texts in Student-Led Groups,which won the Harold E. Mitzel Award for Meritorious Contribution to Educational Practice through Research. Susan continues to work with elementary school teachers to improve their literacy instruction and assessment.

Jacqueline Wells, MS, earned her BA in elementary education from the University of Iowa and her MS in reading curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1998, the International Reading Association (IRA) awarded her a Teacher as Researcher Grant. She was also a presenter at annual conventions of the IRA on topics such as student discourse, Book Club, and integrated curriculum. Jacqueline has 16 years of teaching experience at the elementary level and is currently a fifth-grade teacher in the small, suburban community of Waunakee, Wisconsin. In her current school district, she serves as building coordinator in communication arts, member of the contract negotiations team, and mentor to new teachers. In 2005, her peers elected her Teacher of the Year.


This book focuses on the developmental literacy needs of fifth-grade students. Clear rationales that link theory to practice, with a focus on assessment and standards, will provide guidance and confirmation for a novice teacher.--Connie Briggs, PhD, Emporia State University, Kansas

This practical book is an excellent resource for future teachers, beginning teachers, and even experienced classroom teachers who want to learn more about how to teach literacy effectively. McMahon and Wells provide a refreshing and meaningful balance between theory and practice to help teachers understand how and why to implement best practices in their literacy instruction. The book’s specific focus on fifth grade allows for in-depth treatment of instructional approaches, effective teaching strategies, methods of assessment, and other nuts-and-bolts issues facing classroom teachers. I recommend this book for use in undergraduate and graduate courses on teaching literacy in the upper elementary grades.--Laurie Elish-Piper, PhD, Northern Illinois University

Research-based yet readable, this book is filled with practical ideas and strategies for teaching, from classroom layout to unit designs. I could see myself using this book in literacy methods courses for preservice teachers, in student teaching seminars, in induction programs, and for professional development. Preservice teachers often ask me, 'What does it actually look like to teach?' I can now point them to this book and say, 'Here's what it looks like to be a good fifth-grade literacy teacher.'--Susan Davis Lenski, EdD, Portland State University

This is my second year of teaching fifth grade. Previously, I taught third and fourth graders; having those experiences made me really appreciate how very different fifth graders are. This book offers an insightful look at the challenges confronting teachers who work with this unique age group. Vignettes from a practicing classroom teacher lay a foundation on which well-researched, best-practice suggestions are built. The book gives teachers an understanding of how the social-emotional changes being navigated by fifth-grade children greatly affect both their educational needs and the manner in which instruction should be delivered.--Elizabeth Griffin, PhD, fifth-grade teacher, Dr. Bessie Rhodes Magnet School, Skokie, Illinois