Connecticut Core Standards

Grade 4: Be Aware! Be Prepared! - A research project on natural disasters and their impact on our lives

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To download this unit: Select “Examples of High-Quality Lessons & Units” on the right hand side of the page. Then choose Grades 3-5, Unit, ELA/Literacy. This unit will appear in a list of units for Grades 3 & 4.

Common Core Standards

Reading Informational Text

RI.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

RI.4.3 Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

RI.4.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

RI.4.7 Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

RI.4.9 Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.


W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

W.4.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

W.4.8 Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.


L.4.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

L.4.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic (e.g.,wildlife, conservation, andendangered when discussing animal preservation).

Speaking and Listening

SL.4.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

SL.4.2 Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

SL.4.5 Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

SL.4.6 Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation.

Description of Unit

This Grade 4 unit titled “Be Aware! Be Prepared! - A Research Project on Natural Disasters and their Impact on our Lives” was developed by Kira Shearer for the County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services under contract with the San Diego County Office of Education with a suggested instructional time of 9 to 11 days.  Through a series of learning tasks, students focus on how to conduct an inquiry/research project using informational texts, varied media, and collaborative discussions.  Students then synthesize their notes into usable information to present to others in a culminating authentic assessment task.


Connecticut teachers are cautioned that the teacher resources are extensive and will require familiarity in order to be used effectively.  Professional judgment will need to be used to determine adjustments to pacing and the quantity of content to be covered in order to achieve the rigor that is intended. Additional scaffolds may be needed for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band; more complex texts could be added to extend the learning of students reading above grade level.

Rationale for Selection

This unit is an exemplary example of a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time.  It includes a clear and explicit purpose for instruction.  Learning tasks integrate science content, reading, writing, speaking and listening as students solidify learning through the listening and viewing of various media sources, use of collaborative discussions, and shared research.  Students are routinely expected to draw evidence from texts to produce clear and coherent writing. Both academic and domain vocabulary are embedded throughout the unit. There are multiple opportunities to measure student science content knowledge, reading and research skills, and critical thinking for both formative and summative purposes.  Common Core-aligned rubrics elicit direct, observable evidence of the degree to which students can independently demonstrate the targeted standards.