Grade 5: The Gymnast


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Reading Literature

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

RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

RL.5.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.


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

W.5.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience

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

Speaking and Listening

SL.5.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.


L.5.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

L.5.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.


This Grade 5 lesson titled “The Gymnast” by Gary Soto and cited on has an ELA/Literacy suggested instructional time of 5 days of at least 45 minutes/day. In this lesson, the main focus is to read a complex text closely to determine its central message. The first reading of the text is independent, followed by a teacher read aloud with students following along. (Depending on the amount of support needed by students, the teacher may choose to reverse the order of steps 1 and 2.) For the final time, students along with the teacher, re-read the text stopping to discuss and respond to questions using text evidence. Methods to structure the reading and discussion include: whole class discussion, think-pair-share, independent written response and group work. As a culminating activity, students write an informative/explanatory essay in response to a prompt about the central message, using evidence from the text to support their answer.


Connecticut teachers are cautioned that additional time and support may be necessary to meet the needs of some students. While there is a sample response to the writing, a CCSS-aligned rubric should be created to elicit direct, observable evidence of the degree to which a student can independently demonstrate all of the major targeted standards listed above. This lesson was created as part of the Basal Alignment Project; if teachers are using a trade book or different edition, the page references in this lesson will not match. In order to complete this lesson as intended, each student will need a copy of the text.


This lesson is a good example of how to focus on challenging sections of a complex literary text. It engages students in a productive struggle through text-dependent questions and other supports that gradually build toward independence. Instruction focuses on building students’ academic vocabulary in context. The lesson plan addresses instructional expectations and is easy to understand and use.