Grade 5: Reading and Writing Like a Scientist – Observing Nature, Conducting Research, and Creating a Field Journal Entry


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Reading Literature

RL.5.7 Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

Reading Informational Text

RI.5.1 Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

RI.5.2 Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize 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.5.6 Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.

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.5.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

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

W.5.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 5)

W.5.6 With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.

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.5.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

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.

SL.5.1(a) Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

SL.5.1(b) Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.

SL.5.1 (c) Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.

SL.5.1(d) Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions.


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


This Grade 5 unit titled “Reading and Writing Like a Scientist – Observing Nature, Conducting Research, and Creating a Field Journal Entry” developed by Expeditionary Learning is intended to be completed in 15 sixty-minute lessons designed to address English Language Arts standards. However, the unit intentionally incorporates Social Studies and Science content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. It provides all students with multiple opportunities to conduct research taking notes from print and digital sources in order to communicate information in writing.  The mid-unit assessment measures students’ mastery of note-taking skills. The unit’s final performance task asks students to write informational narratives in the form of rainforest explorers’ field journal entries that incorporate their research notes; students will also use the notes they took during the mid-unit assessment to create an additional field journal page.


Connecticut teachers should be aware that assessment guidelines and rubrics included in this unit will need to be aligned with Smarter Balanced assessment expectations as the unit from New York is aligned to PARCC expectations (Smarter Balanced Rubric links: Informative-Explanatory [pdf] Narrative [pdf]).)  Teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively.  There are two New York standards (SL.5.1e and SL.5.1f) in the downloaded materials that Connecticut instruction is not required to address.


The unit is an exemplary example of two key shifts in the CCSS: writing from sources and balance of writing. It routinely expects that students draw evidence from print and digital sources to produce clear and coherent writing that includes a balance of on-demand and process writing and short, focused research projects.  It is also responsive to varied student learning needs by integrating appropriate supports in reading, writing, listening and speaking for students who are ELL, have disabilities or read well below or above the grade level text band. It cultivates student interest and engagement and it provides for authentic learning and application of literacy skills.