Unit 1

The Birchbark House


Grade 5

Unit Length and Description:


49 Instructional Days


Students read literary and informational texts about how Native Americans and global explorers laid the foundation for the United States. Students understand and express their understanding of how we learn about our past and how that impacts who we are today by writing about character and theme development and discussing how point of view is important for constructing meaning.

Target Standards:


Reading Literature:

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.5.3 Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

RL.5.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language and connotative meanings

RL.5.5 Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.

RL.5.6 Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

Reading Informational Text:

RI.5.3 Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in 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.

RI.5.6 Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.

RI.5.7 Utilize information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

RI.5.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).

RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Reading Foundational Skills:

RF.5.3a Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

a. Use combined knowledge of letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.


W.5.1a-d Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

a. Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.

b. Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.

c. Link opinion and reasons using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., consequently, specifically).

d. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.

W.5.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

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.

b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

c. Link ideas within and across categories of information using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., in contrast, especially).

d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

e. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.

W.5.8 Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.


L.5.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

a. Interpret figurative language, including similes and metaphors, in context.

b. Recognize and explain the meaning of common idioms, adages, and proverbs.

c. Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., synonyms, antonyms, homographs) to better understand each of the words.

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.

a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

b. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.

c. Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.

d. Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions.

SL.5.2 Summariz e a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

SL.5.3 Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence.

SL.5.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task, audience, and situation.


The following standards are embedded in all units:

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

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.5.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

RF.5.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

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 different approach.

W.5.6 With some guidance and support from adults, produce and publish grade-appropriate writing using technology, either independently or in collaboration with others.

 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.5.4 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.

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

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

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.

L.5.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal contrast, addition, and other logical relationships (e.g., however, although, nevertheless, similarly, moreover, in addition).


Enduring Understandings:


·         Authors teach us life lessons through characters and their development.

·         The foundation of the United States is based on Native Americans and early explorers.


Essential Questions:


·         How does an author of fiction use real events to teach us about the past?

·         What was the impact of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World?