Grade 5: A Closer Look at “Mother to Son”


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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.

RL.5.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.


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

RI.5.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.


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.5.4 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.

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

W.5.9(a) Apply grade 5 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or a drama, drawing on specific details in the text [e.g., how characters interact]”).

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]”).

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.


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

L.5.1(a) Explain the function of conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections in general and their function in particular sentences.

L.5.1(b) Form and use the perfect (e.g., I had walked; I have walked; I will have walked) verb tenses.

L.5.1(c) Use verb tense to convey various times, sequences, states, and conditions.

L.5.1(d) Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense.

L.5.1(e) Use correlative conjunctions (e.g., either/or, neither/nor).

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

L.5.2(a) Use punctuation to separate items in a series.*

L.5.2(b) Use a comma to separate an introductory element from the rest of the sentence.

L.5.2(c) Use a comma to set off the words yes and no (e.g., Yes, thank you), to set off a tag question from the rest of the sentence (e.g., It’s true, isn’t it?), and to indicate direct address (e.g., Is that you, Steve?).

L.5.2.(d) Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to indicate titles of works.

L.5.2(e) Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.

L.5.3 Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

L.5.3(a) Expand, combine, and reduce sentences for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style.

L.5.3(b) Compare and contrast the varieties of English (e.g., dialects, registers) used in stories, dramas, or poems.

L.5.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 5 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

L.5.4(a) Use context (e.g., cause/effect relationships and comparisons in text) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

L.5.4.(b) Use common, grade-appropriate Greek and Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., photograph, photosynthesis).

L.5.4(c) Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.

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.5.4 Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.



This Grade 5 unit titledA Closer Look at “Mother to Sonby Jody Pittock and Cathy A. Feldman cited on the Literacy Design Collaborative website is intended to be completed in nine sessions of ELA/Literacy instruction with the intent of implementation mid school year. During this unit, students deepen their ability to analyze meanings of metaphors in poetry, develop an understanding of how an author develops a theme through word choice, and as a culminating activity, they demonstrate their learning through an informational essay.


Connecticut teachers should be aware that the unit developers list many standards, but identify two specific reading standards to target during instruction—RL.5.2 and RL.5.4. It is important to note that five days of the unit focus on the writing process; writing should be identified as a targeted standard as well.  It is unclear if there is explicit instruction for many of standards listed for the unit. The rubric included does not provide sufficient guidance for interpreting student performance.


The unit is a good example of how to make reading text(s) closely, examining textual evidence, and discerning deep meaning a central focus of instruction. Students are routinely expected to draw evidence from texts to produce writing that informs or explains. The lessons include appropriate scaffolding so that all students directly experience the complexity of the text. There are also appropriate supports in reading, writing, listening and speaking for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or who read well below the grade level text band. Extensions for differentiation are included throughout the unit.