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Updated by Brette Ridings Callaway on Jun 23, 2015
Headline for 21st Century 4th Grade Learners
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21st Century 4th Grade Learners

Here is a list of lesson plans that help learners develop skills necessary for the 21st century.


*Abraham Lincoln and Internet Buddies: * With this lesson, older students pair up with younger students to perform online research about the life of Abraham Lincoln. That research is followed by the completion of one extension activity. I love how this activity encourages older students to be leaders by working with younger students and showing them the "ropes" of researching online and using the computer to complete a project. While this particular lesson plan does not require students to necessarily use technology in the extension activities, technology could easily be required by having students create a online presentation, typed report, Powtoon, etc. about what they have learned. This lesson could also easily be expanded to include research on any number of other leaders in American, state, or local history. It is awesome to think that students will be practicing leadership skills while simultaneously learning about great leaders.

Digital Literacy

With the Going Digital lesson, students will explore many of the features available with online eBooks and using eReaders. While my school does not have a large number of eReaders, since we are a BYOD school, we do have a growing eBook collection. Each school year, as is done with this lesson, I remind students what eBooks are available, the various tools that can be used with them, and then show them how to access them from any device or Wi-Fi connection. I often do a comparison between electronic and print text with students just so they see the value of using both formats for different purposes. eBooks can be such a powerful tool in the classroom, especially for struggling and reluctant readers. I also show students how to use the scaffolding tools available with eBooks and the links that most of them provide to other information online. The best part of students learning digital literacy in this way is that they are excited about the possibilities and independence that such books can give them. They are always so excited to share our eBooks and what they are learning with other teachers and their parents. To me, the sharing of information with others is the most important part of digital literacy. Digital literacy is not only about how to use the internet and electronic resources effectively and safely, but it is also about sharing what we are learning with others so that they can benefit as well.


Weatherman, Weatherman: While the described lesson refers to 5th grade standards, this lesson can be easily modified to fit 4th grade weather standards as well. The basic concept of this lesson would be used in that students would research a particular type of weather using the links and resources provided and then present their findings to the class as "weathermen." While I like the foldables the students have created, this project could easily be redesigned to incorporate more technology and have students create more interactive presentations with PowerPoint or other web 2.0 presentation maker software. Such a change would still require students to focus not only on the information about weather, but also how to communicate it to their classmates. However, because of the use of presentation maker software, students must use their knowledge of both the weather types or cycles they are learning about as well as their technology skills to effectively communicate the information required to successfully complete the project.

Emotional Intelligence

Students will use this lesson to demonstrate emotional intelligence as they write about themselves by creating six word memoirs. Technology could easily be used when students are researching synonyms, spelling, and for publishing their poems. I like the idea of having students use word art to further express the meaning of each word that they choose. Additionally, students could use this concept to express their feelings about a range of topics. I love that students have to use restraint and carefully consider each and every word.


To understand multiple concepts of business and entrepreneurship, students will play the just clicks business game in small groups. This lesson would be easy to align with existing Mini Society standards in 4th grade. This lesson integrates both technology and hands-on-learning, which will surely help to motivate learning and foster engagement. One could easily turn the game play into a class competition or goal setting challenge to encourage excitement and focus during game play. Additionally, once the students have played this game, it will be much easier to discuss various concepts of business and entrepreneurship since students will have a greater understanding of how various factors and concepts affected their gameplay.

Global Citizenship

It's News to Me--Students will create a globally themed newspaper that will be made available on the web and disturbed throughout the school and community. During this project, students will use literacy, writing, research, and technology skills as they explore global issues and create their newspaper. This project is certainly cross curricular, as students will work to meet English Language Arts, Writing, Social Studies, Science, and Technology standards throughout the researching, writing, and publishing process. Additionally, this project emphasizes many of the skills deemed necessary for 21st century leaners, including Global Citizenship, Team Work, Communication, and Digital Literacy.

Problem Solving

This lesson encourages students to solve word problems. The pictures and suggestions for manipulatives are wonderful. Students in 4th grade often struggle when solving word problems because it requires them to combing literacy skills, problem solving skills, math skills, and, in this case, technology skills simultaneously. Students also have to work through multiple steps and consider many different elements together while working these problems. However, students must become successful word problem solves so that they can apply these skills to other problems that they face in real life. I would have students work through this site in pairs or groups of three for support. This site could also be used as a math center during the word problem math unit.

Team Wok

With this online bridge building game, students will simulate the efforts of building a real bridge through technology. This type of activity is excellent to inspire team work in the classroom as students work together and compete against other groups of students in the classroom to build the best bridge. The best part of using a simulation game instead of creating "real" bridges is that you do not need all of the physical objects to build it--just computers. It would also be interesting to have some groups use the computer and other groups use real objects to complete this project. Additionally, this game and bridge building activity would be an awesome addition to any unit about forces or geometry.