Grade 4

Communities, Change, and Changemakers 

In this course, 4th grade students explore geography through the lens of changemaking. They begin with a study of geography and the Native Nations of North America prior to the colonization by Europeans. Students read and analyze a range of different maps, both contemporary and historical, throughout the course. As they explore different regions of the United States, they engage in short case studies that address (1) migration to and within North America, and (2) a changemaker(s) from that region. These case studies enable students to develop empathy for people from different backgrounds and will help them understand how people, both individually and in groups, have worked to make change. Students continue their exploration of changemakers in 5th grade.

While the primary focus of the course is the United States, students will also explore Mexico and Canada, and learn that borders have changed over time and have powerful meanings to different cultural groups.

Units of Study Year-long Essential Questions

Geography and Native Nations of North America

  • Why does “where” matter?
  • How has human migration shaped our nation?
  • When is change progress? For whom?
  • How do people, both individually and in groups, bring about change in their world?

Changemaker Case Studies, Part I:

  • Lowell Mill Girls: Immigration and Labor Rights
  • African Americans: Enslavement and the Underground Railroad

Changemaker Case Studies, Part II:
Westward Expansion: Progress or Peril?

  • Mexican-Americans: Borders, Boundaries and School Integration
  • Chinese-Americans: Immigration, Labor, and Citizenship
  • The Lakota Nation: Sovereignty and Resistance

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