The Common Core State Standards have focused on three basic types of writing: narrative, informational, and argument. The interpretive essay/argument writing, is the next unit of study for many fifth graders. When I first saw this, I thought about how tough this would be for ten-eleven year olds. But if we break it down as it is done in A Curricular Plan For The Writing Workshop, Grade 5, it is manageable.
This month students will be writing two essays--one grounded in their lives and one in the lives of characters they have been reading about in literature--read alouds, independent reading, book clubs. To start this unit it will be easier for the children to write about an opinion and theory. They will dig deep to grow ideas about themselves. They might want to start by writing a list in their notebook: "I am the kind of person who..."
The students will choose a theory and write a thesis statement, for example: "I am the kind of person who cares about others." Taking the statement they will notice events and happenings that support or challenge that theory. Collecting these small stories can be done in their notebooks. This is where gathering evidence come into play. The stories, quotes, and observations will be the evidence to support their statement.
The organizing of these collections has to be done in a logical fashion. Perhaps, lessons on transitional phrases to show how each part supports their thesis statement will need to be done. Seeing what students are doing as they write, will drive your instruction.
They will need to learn how to use quotes, anecdotes and observations within the essay. It will take about two weeks to draft and revise this first essay. It will be rigorous work, but remember it will be approximating. You are teaching the writer...not the writing!