Grade 5: Research Pack – How Human Activity Impacts the Environment


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Informational Reading

RI.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

RI.5.3 Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

RI.5.5 Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts.

RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.


W.5.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

W.5.2(a) Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

W.5.2(b) Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

W.5.2(c) Link ideas within and across categories of information using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., in contrast, especially).

W.5.2(d) Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

W.5.2(e) Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.

W.5.7 Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

W.5.8 Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.

W.5.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

W.5.9 (b) Apply grade 5 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point[s]”).

Next Generation Science Standard

ESS3.C Human Impacts on Earth Systems

5-ESS3-1 Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments.


This Grade 5 unit titled “Research Pack – How Human Activity Impacts the Environment” based on the Writing for Understanding Approach, from the Vermont Writing Collaborative and posted on is designed to support learners in developing research skills and writing to inform and explain. The unit is broken down into three sections: a full class task (approximately 3 weeks), a peer supported group task (approximately 2 weeks) and an independent research task (approximately 2 weeks); teachers can choose to use one, two, or three of the components. This research pack centers on the single topic of how human activity impacts the environment and relies heavily on books and articles as the main resources in different settings: whole class, small group, and individual work. Students build knowledge from informational texts, acquire new vocabulary, and practice using evidence from texts in their writing. As a culminating activity, students follow the steps they have learned to independently research and write an informative/explanatory piece.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials require familiarity to be used effectively. There are no Speaking & Listening standards listed for this unit, but they should be added since these skills are addressed in many of this unit’s activities. Although there are teacher examples of completed organizers and samples of student written responses to guide assessment guidelines, there is no aligned rubric to provide sufficient guidance for interpreting student performance of the major targeted grade-level standards listed above. Click here for a sample rubric for an Informational Performance Task Writing Rubric (Grades 3-5) from Smarter Balanced. Several of the texts used in the unit will have to be secured as they are not provided in the unit materials.


This unit is an exemplary example of how to guide and develop students’ research skills through a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time. It integrates science content with literacy while cultivating student interest and engagement in reading, writing, and speaking about texts in either an ELA or science curriculum. Instructional expectations are clearly addressed and are easy to understand and use. The instruction is developed with an emphasis on key aspects of the Common Core, including building knowledge from reading grade-level informational text and using evidence from text in writing. Lessons provide all students with multiple opportunities to engage with text of appropriate complexity, while using scaffolding so that students directly experience that complexity. Students are routinely expected to draw evidence from texts to produce clear and coherent writing that informs/explains. The unit gradually removes supports, requiring students to demonstrate their independent capacities. Teacher materials provide clear, detailed lesson plans, a listing of instructional materials provided and needed, blank student work packets for each step of the research process, sample student responses for all graphic organizers and student work pages, and a sample student informational essay.

Click here to learn how to create your own Research Packs.