Grade 4 Social Studies

We Are ACS Model Citizens and Learners

Unit Sketch

This cross-disciplinary mini-unit launches the year with a short focus on the ACS Core Values and Approaches to Learning while building classroom community, routines and rules/expectations. All grades will be exploring these ACS foundational documents as well as the essential Responsive Classroom practices of Morning Meeting, Energizers, Closing Circle, Hopes & Dreams, and Teaching Discipline.

In addition, grades 4 - 5 integrate the CCSS Speaking and Listening standards for collaborative conversation as they establish rules/expectations for classroom discussions.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Communities of learners rely on everyone's responsible participation.

  • Groups of people (families, classrooms, institutions, etc.) make rules to create responsibilities and protect freedoms.

  • People benefit from and are challenged by working together.

  • Model ACS Citizens demonstrate core values and approaches to learning when interacting with one another.


Students will be able to...

  • Identify purpose, create and adopt classroom rules

  • Review and demonstrate classroom routines (bathroom, transitions, lining up, walking in the hallway, raising a hand to ask a question)

  • Follow the sequence of a morning meeting (greeting, sharing, group activity, morning message)

  • Follow the sequence of a closing circle (quick share, song or chant)

  • Use deliberative processes when making decisions or reaching judgements as a group

  • Identify ACS Core Values and develop scenarios that demonstrate them

  • Identify ACS Approaches to Learning and develop scenarios that demonstrate them

  • Identify "if...then" scenarios and actions that reflect core values and approaches to learning

  • Identify rights and responsibilities of themselves as "classroom citizens" and "ACS citizens"

We Are Social Scientists

Unit Sketch

In this one and 1/2 week launch, students learn how social scientists use a process of inquiry to study issues. consider a relevant issue from the stance of various social scientists. Working in teams, they ask questions that geographers, historians, economists, political scientists and cultural anthropologists would ask in relation to the issue at hand and determine what types of tools each social scientists would use. Using a source bank, students identify those that might be useful in gathering information to solve problems related to the issue. At the end of the week, they present their findings in the form of a claim and share an action plan for what they might do next.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Inquiry is an authentic process used by social scientists to solve authentic problems.

  • Social scientists study people and how they interact in the world.

  • Social scientists consider discipline-specific questions, use discipline-specific tools and follow specific processes when studying an issue, an event, or a problem.

  • Social science is a multi-disciplinary subject that relies on multiple perspectives and ways of thinking.


Students will be able to...

  • Identify questions, tools and processes of various types of social scientists

  • Follow discipline-specific processes when addressing issues and solving problems

  • Work together to create action plans

  • Define social science

  • Explain the roles of various social scientists (geographers, historians, economists, political scientists, cultural anthropologists) and global citizens

Ruling the World

Unit Sketch

This inquiry is an exploration into governments around the world; it examines how the fundamental principles of governments vary in different world communities with diverse political systems. In uncovering the idea that the role of citizens varies in governments around the world, students develop an argument supported by evidence that answers the compelling question “Does it matter how leaders are chosen?”

The inquiry combines elements of the attached New York Grade 3 Leadership & Government inquiry with the study of both the US and the UAE government. It then explores the various governments of the world.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • The US government is based on democratic principles. The fundamental principles of other governments may be similar to or different from those of the US government.

  • The United Arab Emirates is a constitutional federation established in December 1971.

  • The process of selecting leaders, solving problems, and making decisions differs across governments in nations and communities around the world.

  • The definition of citizenship and the role of the citizen vary across different types of political systems, and citizens play a greater role in the political process in some countries than in others.


Students will be able to...

  • Explore the concept of leadership and the relationship between leaders and followers

  • Identify the purpose of government

  • Explore various forms of government and sort by who holds the power

  • Identify ways in which government leaders are selected around the world, including the US and the UAE

  • Compare governments and leadership selection processes around the world

  • Identify advantages and disadvantages for various forms of government

  • Discuss role of citizens within various forms of government

  • State a claim in response to the question, "Does it matter how leaders are chosen?" and support with source-based evidence and reasoning

  • Critique evidence-based claims of self and others

  • Design an ideal government system for a fictitious country

Global Trade and Interdependence

Unit Sketch

This inquiry leads students through an investigation of economic systems by focusing on the context of trade among world communities. Trading is one of the oldest forms of economic interaction among humans, yet it is also among the most complex. In examining the reasons for international trade and the exports of world communities, students should be able to develop an explanation supported by evidence to answer the compelling question “Why do countries need each other?”

An extension of this inquiry leads students to explore the positive and negative consequences of global trade. After examining sources that provide evidence of these consequences, students construct an evidence-based claim that answers the question "Is global trade always a good thing?"

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Each community develops an economic system that addresses three questions: what will be produced, how will it be produced, and who will get what is produced?

  • World communities have needs, wants, and limited resources. To meet their needs and wants, communities trade with others. Technological developments in transportation and communication have influenced trade.


Students will be able to...

  • Construct a definition of "trade"

  • Engage with economic vocabulary via hands-on activities

  • Consider global interdependence via hands-on activities

  • Analyze and explain global resource maps

  • Identify natural resources and the countries that export them

  • Compare political, physical and thematic maps to draw conclusions and ask and answer questions

  • Identify reasons for trade

  • Identify factors in increased or decreased global trade

  • Draw conclusions about impact of trade on local environments, people and culture

  • Explain why countries trade with one another, providing source-based evidence

  • State a claim that draws attention to an undesired consequence of global trade and provide evidence to support their claim

  • Construct an evidence-based claim related to the benefits and/or costs of global trade

  • Participate in scaffolded critique processes to reflect on their evidence-based explanations and evidence-based claims and those of their classmates

Rights and Freedoms

Unit Sketch

The compelling question around which this unit is developed, is, "How have people's perspectives shaped rights and freedoms around the world over time?" Students will be exposed to three types of centers (listening/ video center, paired text center, photograph center) that highlight different events across time in regards to rights and freedoms.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • What rights and freedoms are and why we need them.

  • Different perspectives push individuals to resist or advocate for change


Students will be able to...

  • Illustrate historical and contemporary means of changing society

  • Generate questions about individuals and groups who have shaped significant historical changes and continuities

  • Explain why individuals and groups during the historical period differed in their perspectives

  • Use evidence to develop a claim about the past


Unit Sketch

In this follow-up inquiry, students review and practice the economic principles of trade to participate in a market experience. Having identified a global problem that is a consequence of global trade practice, students choose an organization that might benefit from their philanthropic efforts.

In addition to reviewing economic principles, this inquiry brings to the forefront the concept of philanthropy. Teachers should use the Learning to Give resources to help students define and understand what philanthropy is and how they can make a difference in their community and world. Four introductory videos are linked below. These are excellent resources for ensuring consistency of definition around the service learning process (IPARDE).

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Philanthropy is the giving of giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.

  • Economic principles are at work in a marketplace.

  • Charitable giving can have an economic dimension.

  • The service learning process of IPARDE (Investigate - Prepare - Act - Reflect - Demonstrate - Evaluate) helps ensure volunteering and philanthropic acts that help others.


Students will be able to...

  • Define and give examples of philanthropy at home, school, in the community, and around the world

  • Compare and contrast the four types of service learning (direct, indirect, advocacy, research)

  • Determine philanthropic recipients through collaborative investigation

  • Determine goods and/or services to provide in marketplace activity

  • Develop business plan and marketing strategy

  • Consider economic principles such as competition, profit/loss, expenses, etc. when preparing for marketplace activity

  • Participate in grade-level marketplace activity as a fundraiser

  • Participate in service learning reflection activities