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Instructional Unit Samples - 4th Grade

Over the fall/winter of 2013-14, the content specialists in the Standards and Instructional Support office worked with educators across the state of Colorado to build instructional units based on select curriculum overview samples. Teams of teachers authored units for each grade and content area of the Colorado Academic Standards.

Below, are sample instructional units for 4th grade mathematics, reading, writing, and communicating, science, social studies, comprehensive health, visual arts, drama/theatre, dance, and music. The units include learning experiences, teacher and student resources, assessment ideas, and differentiation options.

As examples, these units are intended to provide support for teachers, schools, and districts as they make their own local decisions around the best instructional plans and practices for all students. Click here to view additional 4th grade curriculum overview samples and write your own instructional units using the Colorado based template.


Comprehensive Health

Unit Title: Safety (Poudre School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is designed to build upon basic decision making skills and incorporate higher level communication behaviors needed to manage external influences such as interpersonal relationships, peer pressure and social media.  The development of these tools will allow students to become better equipped to deal with potential life experiences such as resolving conflicts, maintaining personal safety, and protecting personal boundaries.  The ultimate goal of this unit is to provide students with the confidence and knowledge to develop healthy relationships and maintain overall health and wellness.  It concludes with students analyzing social dilemma scenarios to design a role play that depicts the negative choice followed by a depiction of a positive resolution.




Unit Title: Dancing a Map (Colorado Ballet, Douglas County School District, St. Mary’s Academy, Colorado Dance Education Association, and Littleton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores crating a dance based upon a map’s landmarks and symbols. Students will be introduced to a simple map with landmarks and symbols.  Across the unit students will rely upon unique patterns and movement relationships through the creation of group shapes, a variety of dance positions and transitional movements.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment asking students to perform a dance sequence with body shapes and transitional movement to represent a map.  Once the dances are performed, students will reflect and evaluate the similarities and differences between each group’s interpretations.



Drama and Theatre Arts

Unit Title: Back in the Day… Primary Sources Come Alive

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on using primary (and secondary) historical sources to develop dramatic performances that can help us better understand the perspectives of people in history and the conflicts that illuminated/reflected these perspectives. Across the duration of the unit, the students will engage in improvisation, write short monologues based on (primary and secondary) sources, and reflect on the ways in which a historical event can connect with people today. The unit culminates with a performance of the student-created monologues enhanced by tableaux and/or visuals. The unit utilizes the Colorado gold rush as a focus (see Considerations) but any historical event /conflict with multiple perspectives /points of view could be used in this unit.




Unit Title: Fraction Frenzy (Norwood School District and Greeley School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students explore fractions as quantities.  Students build on their prior knowledge with whole numbers to compose and decompose fractions in multiple ways; the early development of addition and subtraction of fractions.  Students also explore the concept of finding a fraction amount of a whole number. In addition, students begin to compare fractions by recognizing the need to examine both the numerator and denominator and the importance of maintaining a consistent unit or whole.  Throughout the unit students are focusing on the quantitative, verbal and symbolic parts of a number to provide a strong foundation for the formalization of fraction operations in fifth and sixth grade.  Finally, students explore the concept of equivalent fractions and the special cases of fractions with denominators of 10 or 100 to prepare them for their work with decimals.




Unit Title: Music Tells Our Story (Adams-Arapahoe School District and Metro State University of Denver) 

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This 4th grade unit focuses on the musical connections to Colorado History, including stylistic influences – past and present – with connections to modern musical trends in Colorado. Across the unit’s duration, students will consider ways music is related to Colorado and analyze the various musical styles, traditions, genres, and instrumentation related to Colorado music. Throughout this unit, students will demonstrate their understanding by creating and selecting materials that will culminate with a 4th grade presentation or performance.


Unit Title: Play Me a Song (Colorado Springs School District, Jefferson County School District, Boulder Valley School District, and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores composition using the processes of creating and performing music. The unit has a focus on standard notation, musical forms, improvisation and composition which will be played on instruments. The students will compare and contrast a variety of musical selections in order to create, improvise and compose music that is both vocal and instrumental. This unit culminates with a final project in which students will create short, original compositions.



Physical Education

Unit Title: Health Related Components of Fitness (Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Denver Public Schools, and East Grand School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit advances understanding and application of the 5 components of health related fitness as it impacts a student’s daily health and wellness. The focus is on developing skills to measure initial personal fitness levels and creating personal fitness goals based on analysis of the health related components, the FITT principle, nutritional choices and overall wellness. This unit culminates with students presenting healthy recommendations when faced with a fitness or nutritional challenge.



Reading, Writing, and Communicating

Unit Title: In My Opinion (Mapleton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This 4-6 week unit explores the personal and collective values that shape perspectives and opinions on relevant topics.  Students will examine appeals to values in a variety of persuasive texts and analyze the language, strategies, and structures of these texts.  After researching a topic of their choice, students will produce and present an opinion piece that appeals to -- or perhaps even challenges -- their audience’s values.  The unit culminates with students writing an opinion piece conveying their opinion and values.




Unit Title: Solar System (Park County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit introduces the components of the solar system, which include the earth, moon, and sun, and examines the relationship between them.  It also focuses on how the revolution of the earth, in relation to the sun, impacts life on earth through predictable patterns such as seasons, moon phases, and sunrise and sunset. Beginning with the components of the solar system, across the unit students investigate the Earth, the moon, the sun, the difference between revolution and rotation, predictable patterns, and the seasons.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to take the role of a news reporter asked to report to their local community on potential changes that could be observed in Colorado if a meteor hit Earth.



Social Studies

Unit Title: Boom and Bust

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on the human and social phenomenon of cycles of boom and bust. Colorado’s dynamic history, unique physical geography, and diverse natural and human resources provide the content and context for the unit. Across the unit’s 4-6 week duration, students will consider the social/cultural forces and resources that drive and/or sustain particular economic “booms.” Likewise they will examine the factors (including limitations of physical resources/geography and the effects of human activity) that can facilitate economic “busts.”


Unit Title: Choices and Consequences (Boulder Valley School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will learn about the social and economic development of Colorado; as well as the important role that physical and natural resources have played in developing and establishing economic stability in the state.  Students will investigate how different groups have adapted to their environment and used the local resources and how resource use has had both a positive and negative impact on the region.  Finally, students will study how the use and availability of resources have affected community expansion and development and how state and federal governments work together to manage and regulate the use of these resources.



Visual Arts

Unit Title: Reflecting Culture through Art (Colorado Springs School District, Woodland Park School District, and Colorado State University)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students will explore the elements of culture and tradition through mask-making and historical research. Students will be asked to reflect upon their own cultural identity and/or traditions through researching various cultures and their art making heritage. Students will analyze how individuals and communities express their cultural identity through works of art (specifically masks); both their own and others. The unit culminates in a performances assessment that asks students to critically analyze and categorize cultural artifacts (masks).


Unit Title: Reflecting Culture through Art - Personal Maps (Adams 12 Five Star School District, Colorado Springs School District, and Colorado State University)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will connect the elements of personal culture and tradition through self-portraiture and map rendering. Students will be asked to reflect upon their own cultural identity and/or traditions through researching geographical elements and discussion of the influence of geography on personal identity. Students will analyze how individuals and communities express their cultural identity through works of art. This unit culminates in a final project asking students to tell their own personal story through a “Self Portrait as Map” final artwork. 


For content specific questions, please contact the appropriate content specialist listed here.


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