Connecticut Core Standards

Grade 4: Coming to America - A Nation of Immigrants (1820-Present)

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Common Core Standards

Reading Literature

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

Reading Informational Text

RI.4.2 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize 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.4.9 Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.


W.4.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Speaking & 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.

Dimension 2, Geographic Representations

GEO 4.6 Describe how environmental and cultural characteristics influence population distribution in specific places or regions.

Description of Unit

This Grade 4 unit titled “Coming to America: A Nation of Immigrants” by Karen Francis-Barnes and Dr. Lisa Armstrong from Stamford Public Schools and cited on is intended to be completed in approximately 7 weeks of integrated ELA/Social Studies instruction. The purpose of the unit is to have students read and think critically about the impact of immigration on the makeup of the United States’ cultural geography. Throughout the unit, students read text closely, elicit evidence as they read, draw on text-based evidence in class discussion, and use that evidence in their writing. There is a balance of texts included in this unit including: historical fiction, non-fiction, and non-print text, as well as timelines, maps/charts, and political cartoons. Students engage in several writing activities as they work through the unit, building to the summative writing piece. As a summative assessment, students write a narrative paper that demonstrates their understanding of how the experiences of immigrants over various periods of United States history compare to those of immigrants today.


Connecticut teachers are cautioned that the unit materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. While most of the resources and materials needed to implement the unit are included, some texts are not and will need to be secured.

Rationale for Selection

This unit is an exemplary example of how to integrate the Social Studies C3 Framework with Common Core Standards for ELA/Literacy. It integrates reading, writing, speaking and listening so that students apply and synthesize advancing literacy skills. The plan utilizes a balanced literacy model that incorporates mini-lessons, literacy stations and a closing. A teacher can complete the unit as is, or shorten it to fit curriculum goals. Academic vocabulary is noted in each of the lessons, both tier two and tier three, with suggested activities and hyperlinks to ensure students engage meaningfully with the words. Numerous texts are included in the unit, all of which fall within the grade level band or above. The unit integrates appropriate supports for English Language Learners, struggling learners and enrichment students with opportunities under the heading “Strategies for Varied Learners”. Numerous rubrics and guidelines for student assessment are included. Several extension opportunities are offered.