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5th Grade Writing Centers (or 8 Whole Class Lessons) for English Learners

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Dear Amazing 5th Grade Teacher!

It’s true that when we think of centers, we usually think of lower grade classrooms. But, in this case, what’s good for younger students is good for 5th graders. Lower grade teachers know that they need to pull aside small groups to work with them on content and skills while the rest of the class is engaged in focused work around important concepts in writing. These 8 easy to set-up and model centers will give you the time you need to work with a few small groups of individuals on their writing needs. For example, if you have 35 students in your class, you can set up 6 centers of 5 students each. (You will have the other 5 students at a table with you!) If you want 20 minutes with your small group, have each center last 20 minutes and then rotate. If you devote 1 hour twice a week to centers, you could do 3 rotations every time you do writing centers allowing you to work with everyone in a week. (You can also easily use each center as a whole class lesson!)

Most importantly, your language learners will need special writing instruction to help them become effective and powerful writers for multiple audiences and purposes. These centers are designed with language learners in mind and support them with research-based practices.

WHAT? Use writing centers once or twice a week to give you the opportunity to pull-out small groups for targeted instruction. (Or you can use each center as a 2-3 day lesson!)

WHY? All students need differentiated instruction but language learners are especially in need of your attention and centers allow you to differentiate in 2 ways: your small group instruction can cater to specific student needs and each center gives a different and fun way for students to practice skills and apply what they have learned in writing that is aligned with the Common Core.
Figure out how many centers you need. Choose from the 8 offered here.
Set them up around the room or put each one in a box with a label so they are portable.
Whole class, slowly and carefully model what students should do in each center from start to finish. (Use the lesson plans below to introduce each center.)
For the first two times you do centers, do only 2 small groups and spend one rotation observing and assessing how the students are working in the centers. Make any needed adjustments or offer additional instruction and feedback.
(Optional) You may wish to have students keep their center work at the center in a folder until it is done and turned in.
Each of the centers below is aligned to the 5th grade Common Core State Standard for Writing.
Drop me a line if you have any questions or suggestions: trish@cuttingedgeeducation.com

Included in your download are:

+ 8 lessons/centers
+ Blackline masters for each center/lesson
+ sheltering strategies
+ picture cards
+ sentence stems
+ descriptive word bank
+ visuals and examples for whole class lessons
+ charts
+ center signs

Sheltering Strategies for Language Learners
Common Core State Standards: Writing Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Key Vocabulary personal experience, category/categorize, interesting, mundane, boring, detail(s), action words, quotes, experience, event, silent, dialogue, accurate, caption, label, cruel, mean, sarcasm, comic strip, beginning, middle, end, setting, conflict, solution, magazine, persuade, inform, remind, entertain, change opinions, honor someone, feature article, survey, editorial, advertisement, calendar, interview, benefit, call to action, competition, human interest, seasonal, scene, profile, approval, main point, tally, praising, facts, attention-grabbing, competition, deadline, discount, real, imaginary, opinion, graph, amount, category, label, bar graph, pie graph, results, notice, audience, specific audience

Vocabulary Teaching Strategies Model the key words using gestures and body motions when introducing the centers and interacting with groups, provide picture dictionaries and vocabulary cards with pictures and words that are relevant to the center; create personal dictionaries for individual students who may benefit on index cards with the word, a picture, definition, and the word used in a sentence; role-play difficult new concepts.

Connecting to Prior Knowledge/Providing Background Information Volunteers will partner-share interesting and mundane personal experiences; talk about and constructively “pass notes” in class; write captions and labels for familiar classroom items and texts; discuss comics, talk about magazines they know; read survey results related to their lives; discuss notices they’ve seen.

Hands-On Materials Books students have read, sticky notes, book pages, picture dictionary, every day items picture cards, classroom walls, computers with Internet access, word banks, sentence strips, markers, digital camera(s)-if available, colored pencils, sticky note pads; scissors; staples, tape, or push pins, markers, copies of books or stories the class had read or copies of pictures from books the class has read, descriptive word bank, sample age-appropriate comics, sample print magazines,

Meaningful Practice Students will talk with peers and write with peer support about their personal experiences, “pass notes”, write captions and labels for familiar classroom items and texts; write comics about an event in their lives; write an article of interest for their peers; survey their peers; write a relevant notice for their peers; create a personal portable word wall to support their writing.

Open-Ended Questions When observing centers and/or for closure, ask the following questions to elicit higher-order thinking and understanding of the concepts that are embedded in the writing anchor standards.
1) How do you know if your writing makes sense? How do you know if your writing is accurate?
2) What are you noticing about different ways to organize writing?
3) Can you have too many details in writing? Too few?
4) How does writing change for different audiences?
5) Does technology (for example, the Internet, computers, cell phones etc.) make writing better or worse? Why?
6) Why and how do we do research for writing? What would happen if no one did research before writing (including scientists, doctors, children’s book writers, poets etc.)?
7) How do we decide what is a “good source” for our research and writing?
8) What happens when someone makes a claim and does not support it compared to when someone makes a claim and does support it?

Constant Assessment Ask open-ended questions related to the center objective (see questions above) when assessing students during center time, check ongoing student work in center folders or bins and/or provide constructive feedback whole class, in small groups, or individually on both content and language.
Total Pages
Answer Key
Does Not Apply
Teaching Duration
1 Month

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5th Grade Writing Centers (or 8 Whole Class Lessons) for E
5th Grade Writing Centers (or 8 Whole Class Lessons) for E
5th Grade Writing Centers (or 8 Whole Class Lessons) for E
5th Grade Writing Centers (or 8 Whole Class Lessons) for E