Grade 4: Scientific Research – Researching Simple Machines “How Do They Help Do Work?”


5 apple rating   Grade 4: Module 3A Unit 2


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.4.5 Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.


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

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.

W.4.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

W.4.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

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.4.3 Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.


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.


This Grade 4 unit titled “Scientific Research – Researching Simple Machines – How Do They Help Do Work?” developed by Expeditionary Learning for is intended to be completed in 2-4 weeks of integrated language arts and science instruction.  The emphasis is on having students routinely draw evidence from scientific text and complete experiments to produce clear and coherent writing that informs or explains. Instruction also focuses on building students’ academic vocabulary in context. Lessons are designed to have students work in various classroom settings to build background knowledge using multiple texts.


Connecticut teachers should be aware that some science lessons are intentionally designed as English Language Arts to have students practice reading, analyzing and drawing conclusions about scientific text.


The unit is an exemplary example of how to provide for authentic learning, application of literacy skills, student-directed inquiry, analysis, evaluation and reflection.   As the unit progresses, supports are gradually removed, requiring students to demonstrate their independent capacities to: read a new science text, answer text-dependent questions, conduct an experiment, and record observations and conclusions.  Multiple readings are provided with the corresponding Lexile levels, facilitating differentiated instruction for all students.  Formative and summative assessments with corresponding rubrics facilitate student success. Materials, instructional aides and teacher tips included in the unit are invaluable.  The first link that follows demonstrates an instructional practice that promotes student interaction in a content area. The second link provides an example of a class using a review strategy to practice vocabulary and/or concepts while promoting collaboration and shared understanding.

Strategy: Science Talk (from Expeditionary Learning)  Fourth-grade students in Rebecca Osborn’s and Josephine Dale’s class at Dr. Walter Cooper Academy in Rochester, NY, engage in a “science talk,” an instructional practice that promotes inquiry and collaboration. Science talks allow all students to do exactly what scientists do: think about, wonder about, and talk about how things work, the origins of phenomena, and the essence of things.   

Strategy: QUIZ QUIZ TRADE (from Expeditionary Learning) –Fourth-graders in Rebecca Osborn’s and Josephine Dales’ class at Dr. Walter Cooper Academy in Rochester, NY, engage in a quiz quiz trade protocol. This protocol is inclusive of all students and promotes collaboration and shared understanding as students either guess or share important words or concepts with their classmates in an interactive way.