Hello, my name is Staci Zielinski and I am the 5th grade ELA teacher. I am extremely passionate about teaching literacy and have spent my career preparing myself to effectively teach students to become confident readers and writers. My goal is to not only teach students literacy skills, but to instill a love of learning and help them become life-long readers. It is my intention to foster an enjoyable learning environment where students feel comfortable to take risks, engage with one another, and fully work to their intellectual potentials.

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Rowan University
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Writing Arts and Communications from Rowan University
    • Master’s Degree in Reading from Montclair University
    • Reading Specialist Certification from the NJ Department of Education
    • Middle School Language Arts Certification from the NJ Department of Education
    • Orton Gillingham trained by the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education
    • Inclusive Classroom Teaching Certificate from LaVerne University
    • Motivation and Classroom Management Certificate from LaVerne University

th Grade ELA Course Description

The 5th grade ELA program adheres to Common Core State Standards and is based on 35 years of research and development made by the Teachers College at Columbia University. Drawing on learning gleaned from decades of research, curriculum development, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with students, teachers, and school leaders, Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project have developed the Units of Study for Teaching Reading and Writing. Designed to meet ambitious 21st century global standards, this reading and writing series offers curricula rooted in the Project’s best practices and newest thinking. It includes state-of-the-art tools and methods for teaching reading skills and strategies, grounded in the Project’s learning progressions for narrative and informational reading. Each unit is paired with a corresponding writing unit that complements the learning done in their Reading Workshop. The students will move through Narrative, Informational, and Opinion Writing Units.

Fifth grade is a time for children to hone their intellectual independence. In the first unit, Interpretation Book Clubs: Analyzing Themes, students draw on a repertoire of ways for reading closely, noticing how story elements interact, understanding how different authors develop the same theme, and comparing and contrasting texts that develop a similar theme. During this unit, students will focus on Narrative Writing, which helps students deliberately use their knowledge of narrative craft to make their stories more thematic. 

In the second unit, Tackling Complexity: Moving Up Levels of Nonfiction, children investigate the ways nonfiction texts are becoming more complex, and they learn strategies to tackle these new challenges. This unit emphasizes the strong foundational skills, such as fluency, orienting to texts, and word solving, that are required to read complex nonfiction. During this unit, students will focus on Informational Writing to draw inspiration and understanding from mentor texts, historical accounts, primary source documents, maps, and timelines to write focused research reports that engage and teach readers.

In the third unit, Argument and Advocacy: Researching Debatable Issues, students read complex nonfiction texts to conduct research on a debatable topic, consider perspective and craft, evaluate arguments, and formulate their own evidence-based, ethical positions on issues. During this unit, the students will focus on Opinion Writing to learn to build powerful arguments that convincingly balance evidence and analysis to persuade readers to action.

In the final unit for fifth grade, Fantasy Book Clubs: The Magic of Themes and Symbols, students work in clubs to become deeply immersed in the fantasy genre and further develop higher-level thinking skills to study how authors develop characters and themes over time. They think metaphorically, as well as analytically, explore the quests and themes within and across their novels, and consider the implications of conflicts, themes, and lessons learned. During this unit, students will review all 3 writing units in order to help students grasp that form follows content, learn to take insights about their lives and decide whether these are best expressed in narratives, in essays, or in a hybrid genre created especially to convey the writer’s content.

Calkins, Lucy, et al. “Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grade 5.” Heinemann, Heinemann Publishing, 25 June 2015,

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