In this course, students build on the language and literacy foundational skills established in the previous grades. The course is structured, systematic, cumulative, and provides consistent multisensory reinforcement while scaffolding to include a written spelling component.
In fourth grade, children delve into complex texts and see significance in details. In the first unit, Interpreting Characters: The Heart of the Story, children study the complexity of characters and explore themes while developing skills such as inference and interpretation. In the second unit, Reading the Weather, Reading the World, children form research teams to delve into topics about extreme weather and natural disasters while developing their skills in cross-text synthesis, practicing close reading, comparing and contrasting, and evaluating sources to determine credibility. Children take on the challenge of researching history in the third unit, Reading History: The American Revolution. Children study multiple points of view, support a position with reasons and evidence, tackle complex texts, and learn strategies for using new domain-specific words. In the final unit for fourth grade, Historical Fiction Clubs, children practice reading analytically, synthesizing complicated narratives, comparing and contrasting themes, and incorporating nonfiction research into their reading.
Written for children on the cusp of writing more academic texts, the fourth-grade units familiarize students with the genres they will regularly encounter throughout school - thesis-driven persuasive essays, literary essays, and research reports. Each of the units begins where children are and then provides a progression of instruction that brings students step by step toward increasing proficiency. In Unit 1, The Arc of Story: Writing Realistic Fiction, students learn that the lenses they bring to reading fiction can also be brought to writing fiction, as they develop believable characters with struggles and motivations and rich stories to tell. This unit is followed by Boxes and Bullets: Personal and Persuasive Essays in which students learn the value of organization and form as they gather evidence to support and express an opinion on topics they know well. By Unit 3, Bringing History to Life, students are ready to tackle historical research in which they collect evidence and use details to vividly describe people and events long ago and far away. Unit 4, The Literary Essay: Writing About Fiction, brings the series full circle as students build on their learning of essay writing and apply it with increasing sophistication to a unit on literary essays - that is, writing about fiction.