English Language Arts - 3rd - 5th

What are the standards my child needs to know?

Writing Prompts and the grade level expectations

Dear CLES Families,

There have been some questions about our ELA Homework prompts, and what we as parents should expect from our students. In an effort to support you with the writing prompts at home, please find below the standards for grades 3rd-5th as they relate to reading and writing. As your child writes a response to their prompt, you can have a deeper understanding of how they are expected to perform. Our job is to instruct them on these standards at their instructional level and ensure they have the opportunity to apply these skills with rich tasks. As you will note on the progression from 3rd through 5th, skills are built upon each other. For example, you might have a similar prompt in grades 3, 4 and 5, but the expectations and text complexity will clearly be different for each grade level. Just as we could ask a Kindergarten student to compare two characters, we could also ask that of a student in 3rd through 5th, but the expectations and standards that the students are expected to apply to that question would be much different.

The following information comes directly from the MD Common Core State Standards:

Reading Standards for Literature 3rd – 5th

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Independent Daily Reading

We have had additional questions on our Independent Daily Reading structure in 4th through 5th. See some of the questions below and the response:

Are students working in group? What does this look like as a school?
  • Our curriculum has speaking and listening standards. Students are often asked to work in groups, talk to each other, and respectfully agree/respectfully disagree based on the standards taught.
  • With group activities, they are doing projects in school, and they are presenting either by themselves or with small group. This helps with presentation in future years. One example in 5th grade of a wonderful research project which provides opportunity to present is our Simulated Congressional Hearing (SCH). This allows students to demonstrate presentation skills, work in groups and conduct research on a given topic.


Quarterly reports - How can my child have the same experience as they had with IRPs (Independent Reading Projects)?
  • IRPs were done once a quarter. Students were required to read a book a quarter, answer ten questions, and make an art project. These were only done 4 times a year. In comparison IDR requires weekly reading and writing with the expectation that students select from the different genres.
  • Independent Daily Reading - There is a menu that students choose from. They are reading 20 minutes a day and writing in response to what they are reading. They are challenged to read up to 40 books a year from the different genres.
  • By working within the school day on these rubric based written responses, students are provided immediate feedback by their teachers and the expectations are not simply once a quarter but throughout the year.
  • You can have the same prompt in each grade level but the expectations are differentiated by standards and grade level.

We have heard parents share that their students are stating such things as this for homework: Why should I work so hard on this if I am not getting it graded?
  • The response is that teachers are giving feedback on the writing. If the teachers are noticing specific errors then they will use it to guide their instruction.

What happened to the Museum Project?

  • Rather than have a research project that does not align with the content of the grade level and provide opportunity to use their 21st century skills, we are embedding research into our technology and media classes. For example, in technology, students will determine an interest of research from the American Revolution and make a google site related to the research. Rather than using poster board to share their research, they will pick out something they want to do with 21st century skills. One example provided was students developing coding programs related to their area of interest.


How will my student learn time management without these projects and research?

  • IDR incorporates time management weekly. Students must write 2 letters every two weeks with a given timeline. The students must learn to manage their time in order to finish by due date. This provides a bi-weekly timeline versus a quarterly timeline.
  • Research will also be conducted within the media class. Students will learn how to gather bibliographies and develop information based on this information
  • Students will have their research materials in their IDR bins to access this information outside of media or technology class.
  • The cross integration of standards creates as much choice as possible.
  • These type of research projects allow for more integration of the curriculum than the museum projects.
  • There is also content based research projects in 5th grade classrooms as well.
  • They are going to be writing more based on standards and real life connections tied to curriculum. The children must also find vocabulary that they are not familiar with and write a definition. The students draw a picture to go along with the definition. (Research: A large body of research indicates that visual cues help us to better retrieve and remember information.)
  • Please see the rubric we use for our Independent Daily Reading
  • Within a 2-week period, students are required to produce 2 letters. It results in one summary per week and the responses are linked to a standard introduced by the teacher.
  • These letters are graded by the teacher and shared with the student, which provides more authenticity in the feedback. The students have more buy in because they get to choose their books. As shared previously, research shows that the more students read and write, the better they overall in life in reading and writing.
  • IDR allows guided practice, time for teachers to confer, and provide support.
  • Daily Five is a wonderful structure good for primary and the first half of 3rd grade, but in the intermediate grades, IDR provides more focus on the skills that prepare them as they move on to middle school.


Something to remember:

  • Curriculum is developed for each grade level to prepare them for the next year.

Homework - Parent Idea

A parent shared how she is addressing the weekly writing prompt:
Monday- Brainstorm and rough draft
Wednesday - Edit the rough draft
Friday - Type up final draft

Thank you for all the positive feedback on our new homework procedures! We have heard back from several parents that the type of math questions has allowed for practical application in their lives. In addition, families have shared that their children are able to enjoy reading their own texts and more engaged than in years past.

Counselor's Corner

What! My child had a “Lunch Bunch” with the counselor? Is there a problem? … To be succinct, “No.”


Students have "Lunch Bunches" for a variety of reasons: A venue to make friends, as a reward, or a chance for students to meet new classmates. On any given week, I provide close to a dozen of lunch bunches. Most of these meetings have nothing to do with therapeutic concerns.... Again it is another opportunity for students to increase their circle of friends. Recognizing the quantity and benign nature of these lunch bunches I do not follow up with parental contact unless there is a concern that arose during a lunch bunch.
Many lunch bunches are initiated by another student who wants to invite a kind, friendly peer to their lunch bunch. Many lunch bunch topics are silly and inconsequential topics. Topics like: "If you could have only one super power, what would it be? What is your favorite food? What is your favorite animal? If you had one useless super power, what would it be? (A 5th grader gave my personal favorite answer. “The ability to read minds. … But only my own.”)
I hope this notice is informative and sheds light on a frequently asked question.