Upper Elementary 3 - 5 Lessons
Reading and Comprehension Skills
• Strategies for Reading...There are many strategies that can help you become a better reader. To help you understand what you read, practice finding the main idea in a paragraph. As you read, use context clues to help you understand words that might be new to you. Some types of context clues are examples, synonyms and definitions, or antonyms and contrasts. Another way to help remember what you read is to organize the information. You can put information into groups or categories. Lastly, following directions is very important when you are reading. Directions tell you exactly what you need to do and how to do it. Using these strategies when you read will help you to be a successful reader.
• Word Attack Skills...If you can divide a new word into syllables, you can look at the different parts to help you determine its meaning. After you learn how to divide words into syllables, find the root word, prefix, and suffix, if the word has them. Prefixes are groups of letters that you add to the beginning of a word. They change the meaning of a word; for instance, “happy” becomes its opposite if you add “un-,” making “unhappy”. Suffixes are groups of letters that you add to the end of a word. Suffixes change words too like the verb “teach” becomes the noun “teacher” when you add “er” to it. The next time you see an unfamiliar word, think about the rules you have learned to decode the word and uncover its meaning.
• Comprehension Strategies...There are many strategies you can use to help you understand what you read. One strategy is to use background knowledge. This means to think about what you already know that may help you understand new information. You can also make inferences about what you read. This is called drawing conclusions. When you read, sometimes you use the making predictions strategy to think about what might happen next in the story. To organize the information in a story, you might compare and contrast details to find similarities and differences. If you want to understand the relationship between two ideas or events, you might use the cause and effect strategy. Use a combination of all of these strategies to help you become a better reader.
• Nonfiction...Books can be divided into two groups: fiction and nonfiction. Fiction books tell us a make believe story to entertain us. Nonfiction books give us facts and information to explain something to us. We read nonfiction everyday. When you open your social studies or science textbook, you are reading nonfiction. If you want to find the definition of a word, you use a dictionary that is nonfiction. To find out if your favorite sports’ team won the championship, you might read a newspaper which is also nonfiction. While a fiction story has a plot, setting, and characters, a nonfiction story has a main idea and supporting details. The main idea is very important and tells us what the topic is about. The supporting details give us facts to explain the main idea. We like to read fiction for fun. It is also important to read nonfiction so that we learn more about our world.
• Exploring Fiction...Fiction books are some of the most exciting books to read. They are rich with imagination, details, and feelings. To help us understand fiction, it is important to understand the parts of a story, like the setting, the point of view, and the author’s purpose. It is also helpful to use a story map to understand how these parts fit together.
• Graphic Organizers...A graphic organizer is a picture of information. When you read, you use strategies to help you think about the story or text. Sometimes it helps to have a picture of the information. When you make a picture or graphic, you can organize the information to make it easier to understand. A story map helps you to organize information about the characters, setting, and plot. There are several types of graphic organizers that help you identify, organize, and remember what you read.
• Facts and Opinions / Reality and Fantasy...We see and hear Facts and opinions everywhere we go. They are in our conversations with friends, in books we read, on television, and so on. Be careful believing everything you hear; it may not be true. Look for those “judgment words” that give us clues that a statement is an opinion. Words like beautiful, better, like, think, etc. Usually if those words are a part of a statement, you are looking at an opinion. If the sentence is a straightforward statement and can be proven true, you are looking at a fact. Sometimes they are tricky, so make sure to read every part of the sentence.
• Fairytales...Fairy tales are stories with magic, heroes, problems, and happy endings. Most fairy tales begin with “Once upon a time” or “Long, long ago.” There are good characters who are heroes and bad characters who t are villains. Many fairy tales have royalty like kings, queens, princes, and princesses. There is a problem in a fairy tale that has to be solved. Sometimes magic is used to solve the problem. Sometimes magic can be part of the problem! At the end, a lesson is learned about being good, kind, and generous to others. Recently, some of our classic fairy tales have been changed. We call these stories “fractured fairy tales” because they are based on a real fairy tale, but changed. In a fractured fairy tale, the characters, setting, or problem might change. Whether you read a classic or fractured fairy tale, you will enjoy the make- believe setting and learn lessons that will help you in life.
• Using KWL Technique...Ella and her class learned how to use KWL charts to help them learn more about new topics. Now you have, too! A KWL chart helps you organize your thoughts. It helps you think about what you already know. It makes you curious about learning more. It helps you focus as you read new material. The KWL method can be applied to non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. If you add an “H” at the end, you can keep learning until you become an expert!
• Base Words and Root Words...Root words, or base words are the most basic form of a word and do not contain prefixes or suffixes. By learning about root words, we can learn new larger words easier.
• Contractions, Apostrophes, and Possessives...Contractions act like the bows you tie on packages, only they serve to tie words together in a shortened or combined form. Apostrophes help out by showing where letters have been left out. Contractions are more commonly used in speech than they are in writing. Examples of contractions include I’ll (I will), he’s (he is), she’d (she would), they’ve (they have), and it’s (it is).
• Synonyms and Antonyms and Using Analogies...Synonyms, antonyms, and analogies can make reading and writing more interesting. Synonyms show how words are similar. Antonyms show how words are opposite. Analogies show how words relate to one another. Knowing these English concepts will help you become a better reader and writer!
• Homonyms, Homographs, and Homophones...Homonyms may be difficult to recognize because they sometimes look and sound the same. They are easy to recognize in context because you can figure out what the word means. Each has a different origin and they all are pronounced alike. In this instance, only context can help you determine meaning. Sometimes homonyms are spelled differently. A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word but has a different spelling and a different meaning. Sometimes, homonym pairs can be homophones. An example would be bare (tree without leaves) and bare (past tense of bear to carry) is a homonym pair. Another homonym pair is bear (mammal) and bear (to carry). Bare and bear are homophones. Therefore, homonym pairs can also be homophones. A homograph is a word with the same spelling as another word but a different meaning and sometimes a different pronunciation. Those bare/bare homonyms can also be homographs because they are spelled the same and have different meanings. Homonyms, homographs, and homophones are closely related.
• Recognizing Denotative and Connotative Meanings...In order to understand words, we need to understand have denotations and connotations. The denotations are the definitions given to the words in a dictionary. Connotations are the feelings associated with words. A person’s background and culture can affect the way a person feels about a particular word. A word can usually have a negative, neutral, and positive connotation. No two words have the same connotation. Context in sentences can change the connotation of a word.
• Frequently Misspelled and Misused Words...Learning about the many words in the English language is an important part of life. Some words are easy to spell, like “cat” and “dog.” However, other words are confusing because they sound like other words, yet they have different meanings. . Words like “your” and “you’re” sound the same, but they have very different meanings. Now that you know some of these commonly misused and misspelled words, you can make sure you use them correctly in the future.
• Singulars and Plurals and Compound Words...A noun can be singular and plural. Singular means just one, and plural means two or more. To change a singular noun to a plural noun, you will have to add some letters or change some letters in the word. Adding “s” to the word is the most common way to make it plural. But sometimes you will have to add different letters such as “es,” “ies,” or “ves to make words plural. Compound words are two words put together to make a new meaning. Learning compound words and how to make singulars into plurals will increase your vocabulary.
Grammar and Usage Skills
• Parts of Speech: Nouns...By using nouns, we have a way to describe the people, places, objects, or ideas all around us. There are many types of nouns. Pony, video game, and cake are all common nouns. Abraham Lincoln, Miami, and Lake Erie are all proper nouns. We use collective nouns to describe a bunch of flowers, a herd of cows, and a flock of geese. Sometimes nouns are not concrete; they are abstract such as thoughts, beliefs, and friendship. No matter what kind of noun we use, they are a very important part of our language and we use them constantly without even thinking about them. Understanding nouns will help us to learn even more about grammar and language.
• Parts of Speech: Verbs...Verbs can do many things. The most common types of verbs are action verbs. They show something happening. Linking verbs help to connect an action verb to its subject. We cannot actually observe these verbs. However, they are happening all the same like be, being, is, and are. Helping verbs assist the main verb in a sentence by adding meaning to it, such as may, might, and must.
• Capitalization and Punctuation...Written words will not be understood without the reader’s ability to obtain meaning from those written words. Many tools exist to help us do this. Two of these helpers are capitalization and punctuation. Placed within the text, they make meaning clear and reading easier.
• Types of Sentences...Knowing how to use declarative, imperative, interrogative, and exclamatory sentences will help you to be a better reader and writer. Furthermore, learning to write with sentence variety by using simple, compound, and complex sentences will make your writing precise and clear. As you begin using your knowledge of different types of sentences and sentence variety, your writing will have better flow and appeal.
• Parts of Speech: Pronouns...A pronoun can replace a noun or another pronoun. Pronouns make sentences easier to understand. Pronouns are classified into several types. They include the personal pronoun, the demonstrative pronoun, the interrogative pronoun, the indefinite pronoun, the relative pronoun, the reflexive pronoun, and the intensive pronoun. A personal pronoun refers to a specific thing, place, or person. It changes its form to show number, gender, case, and person. Person refers to first, second, or third person. A subjective personal pronoun shows that it is acting as the subject of the sentence. Types of subject pronouns include: “I,” “we,” “you,” “he,” “she,” “it,” they.” Objective or object personal pronouns act as an object of the verb, compound verb, preposition, or infinitive phrase. Types of object pronouns include: “me,” “you,” “her,” “him,” “it,” “us,” “you,” “them.” A personal possessive pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as the “owner” of the possession. It defines who owns a particular object or person. The personal possessive pronouns are: “mine,” “yours,” “hers,” “its,” “ours,” “theirs.” A demonstrative pronoun points to and identifies a noun or a pronoun. "This" and "these" refer to things that are nearby either in space or in time, while "that" and "those" refer to things that are farther away in space or time. An interrogative pronoun asks questions. The interrogative pronouns are "who," "whom," "which," "what."
• Parts of Speech: Adjectives...Adjectives are a part of speech that provides more details for the reader. They modify nouns and pronouns. There are a number of different types of adjectives, including superlative adjectives, predicative adjectives, attributive adjectives, and comparative adjectives. Knowing what adjectives do can be helpful in many areas, including reading and writing, or even painting and drawing! Adjectives make words and sentences more interesting.
• Parts of Speech: Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections ...Verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs are the most well-known parts of speech. However, they would not make sense in sentences without the help of conjunctions, and prepositions. And paragraphs would not be as interesting without the occasional use of interjections. Conjunctions and prepositions are joining words that help words, phrases, and clauses connect to one another. Interjections are exclaiming words that show emotion. These parts of speech are just as important as nouns and verbs!
• Contractions and Possessives / Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases...The apostrophe is an important part of English writing. It can be used when making two words into one word to form a contraction. It can also be used to show that someone or something owns another thing. Knowing how to use apostrophes when writing, whether using them in contractions or in possessives, will make you a better writer.
• Parts of Speech: Adverbs...Adverbs are the parts of speech, which modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They answer questions like “who,” “where,” “when,” “how,” and “to what extent.” Adverbs add interest to sentences because, like adjectives, they provide clarifying details. Learning to use adverbs correctly will make your own writing more interesting!
Written and Oral Language Conventions
• What is a Paragraph?...When you organize your thoughts and ideas into sentences, you are writing a paragraph. A paragraph has a main idea and then details that tell us more about the main idea. We can write to describe something. We can write to compare two of our favorite things. We can give instructions to a friend who wants to build a birdhouse. There are many reasons for writing. The most important thing to remember is to have one main idea. Then, think about all the words to describe that idea. This is called brainstorming. After we brainstorm, we make sentences out of our ideas. Lastly, make sure your sentences are in order. You do not want to confuse your reader. Always proofread what you have written by reading your writing aloud. Then you can hear your mistakes. You can also find out if you have given your reader enough information.
• The Writing Process...Good writing doesn’t happen in one quick step. The most well-known authors follow the same writing process that we use in school every day. Pre-writing is a very important first step to organizing and preparing our thoughts and ideas. Then we can put those great ideas down on paper - drafting. But that’s not it. Next, we need to revise; reconsider what we have written and add or change it to make it even better. Proofreading is an opportunity to give your writing one final run-through before you present it to others.
• Expository Writing...An expository essay explains or informs your reader. You would write an expository essay if you wanted to describe the habitat of a snow leopard, or if you wanted to explain how to ride a bike. First, you need a topic or thesis. After you have a topic to write about, use a graphic organizer to help you list your ideas. You will usually have three or four main ideas. For each main idea, write supporting details. Your supporting details should have lots of description. As you write, think about who will read your essay. If you write in a diary, you will probably use the first person and the word “I.” Most of your essays will be in third person. You will explain or give information and use words like “he,” “she,” or “they.”
• More Expository Writing...Expository writing focuses on informing, explaining, or describing. When doing this kind of writing, you should first, think about your topic and how you will write your introduction. You learned that your introduction should grab your reader’s attention. You can use facts, anecdotes or stories or a quote to make your paragraph exciting to read. In your introduction, make sure you list at least three main ideas about your topic. You will use each main idea to write a body paragraph. In each body paragraph, elaborate or give lots of details. Finally, summarize your ideas in your conclusion. This will be the last paragraph of your essay.
• The 5 W's and an H...A news story is a good example of the concept of “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why”, and “how” question words. If you remember these words and answer these questions when you write, you will have a complete news story and also a good essay. In a news story, we answer those questions in the introduction paragraph. We try to answer all of these questions in just one sentence. News writers call this sentence a “nutgraph” because it has all of the important information for the story. When you write, remember to make your introduction exciting so that it grabs the reader’s attention. Use research to get the facts. Research can be an interview, using an encyclopedia, or surfing the Internet for information. Include quotes in your story to make it even more interesting. Do not forget your conclusion. It is a very important part of your story, no matter what you write about.
• Narrative Writing...Writing a short fiction story takes a lot of planning. When you plan, think about the beginning, middle and the end. Make sure you create characters with interesting descriptions. Think about a conflict that will make your readers want to know more about your story. With a conflict, do not forget that the turning point is the climax. After you write your climax, think about how you want to end or resolve the story. Read lots of books to get ideas for your next great story.
• More Narrative Writing...Narrative writing tells a story. It could be a short story in your classroom reader, the biography of your favorite baseball player, the story of your life, a poem, an essay, or even a play. Every good story has a beginning, middle, and an end. Throughout your story, you will use transition words and phrases to move your reader along and help explain your story. It is important to make your story vivid. Use lots of details to elaborate on the characters, settings, and events. Every story also has a conflict or problem. Do not forget to resolve it in your ending. This is the part where you tell the reader how the conflict is resolved and how the story concludes.
• Responding to Literature...Think of all of the places you have been. Think of all of the people you have met. All of these people and places have a strong effect on how you react to stories. Why do you like or dislike a certain character, certain part of the plot, or specific setting? Do they remind you of someone, some event, or some place in your own life? Asking these questions will show things about you and the story. Maybe the characters, plot, and setting are the start of an idea for your own story!
• Figurative Language...Figurative language is a valuable writing tool. When you use figurative language, the reader is able to see the words and understand exactly what the author means. Similes, metaphors, hyperboles, idioms, and personification are figures of speech that help the author to change an ordinary story into a story that comes alive. Figurative language helps the author to show his or her feelings and ideas to the readers in a way that is fun and interesting.
• Book Reports...A book report is a summary of a book you have read. In a book report, you tell the reader what you liked about the story or maybe what you did not like about the story. The elements of a story are an important part of a book report. Remember to include the plot, setting, and descriptions of the main characters. Was there a part of the story that you really liked? Describe that in your book report. At the end, tell your reader why they should read this book. If you really liked it, find other books by the same author. You might enjoy reading those too.
• Sensory Description...A good story paints a picture for the reader. The reader can imagine what they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. These are called our senses. We use sensory writing to describe details that help our reader become a part of the story. You can see yourself in the story, which makes it more interesting to read. We can use figurative language to make our stories even more descriptive. Think about the image of the Three Little Pigs living in their house and then they hear a sound. Imagine the “boom” of the wolf pounding on the door. Think of the pigs being “as quiet as mice” so the wolf will not hear them. These are examples of figurative language that help us to use our five senses when reading or writing a story.
• Biographies and Autobiographies...A biography is a story about the life of someone else. You have to do research to learn about the person. You might use the Internet and search for information. You might visit the library and search the library catalogue. You can also read magazines or encyclopedias to get more information. If you cannot find what you need, always ask the librarian or your teacher for help. An autobiography is the story of your life written by you. You can write about your whole life or just important events. You might want to just write about time you spend with your family. You could write stories about what you do with your best friends. Autobiographies help us to learn more about you. Biographies help us to learn more about other people.
• Poems...Working with poems and riddles provides an opportunity to “play” with words. Through poetry, we can practice parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Types of figurative language such as simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, and personification can be identified and explained. Couplet, end rhyme, stanza, verse, and syllables become part of a daily vocabulary. Synonyms and antonyms can be can be explored in new ways. Diamante poems, cinquain poems, free verse, riddles, and magnetic poetry take on new meanings. Poets teach new ways to express feelings, ideas, and thoughts. Poetry is fun!
Study Skills, Research, and Reference Skills
• Using Dictionaries, Thesauruses, and other Resource Materials...As you study and write, you might come across topics and words that you do not understand. The best way to learn about something unfamiliar to you is to look it up using one or more trusted research tools. You can use encyclopedias to look up various topics; you can go to the library and use the Dewey Decimal System to find books on various topics; you can use a dictionary to find the meanings of words; and you can use a thesaurus to find synonyms and antonyms for words. Thankfully, you do not have to only depend on your own knowledge. There are so many ways to learn what others have already learned!
• Parts of a Book...A book is more than just a set of pages with text. There are parts of a book that each have important jobs. When we decide to read or not read a book, we use the parts of the book to help us decide. The cover, spine, title page, table of contents, glossary, dust cover are all parts of a book. Together, they present a complete picture of what is contained within the pages of the book.