Fourth Grade Research Paper

In fourth grade, students are starting to prepare for middle school, when nonfiction writing is practiced in all subjects. What’s more, under the Common Core Standards, nonfiction writing is more and more essential to the curriculum. Learn more about your fourth grader’s writing under Common Core. According to the standards, students should be learning three types of writing:

Informative/explanatory writing

Like a report, the purpose of this type of writing is to convey information accurately with facts, details, and supportive information.

Narratives

These can be stories or screenplays or other fiction written in the first, second, or third person.

Opinion pieces

In opinion writing, students encourage readers to accept their opinion about something by writing what they and why.


Fourth grade writing sample #1

John Cabot and the Rediscovery of North America

In this child’s report on John Cabot, you’ll see a few important features. First, there are five sections, each with a bolded header announcing what sort of information follows. Note that the fifth section is the bibliography, where everyone can see the two sources this student relied on for her information.

Type of writing: Informative/explanatory writing

 


Fourth grade writing sample #2

Big Book of Evolution

Dylan’s report on evolution is also divided into sections. Note that Dylan uses visuals throughout this report. What’s more, the report has a table of contents at the beginning, and at the end, Dylan cites his sources for the written information and the visuals.

Type of writing: Informative/explanatory writing

 


Fourth grade writing sample #3

A Tale of Despereaux

This is a classic fourth grade book report. Note that the student uses headers to announce what type of information follows: the summary, the characters, and the writer’s recommendation about the book.

Type of writing: Informative/explanatory writing

 


Fourth grade writing sample #4

Zoos Should Close

This student writes an opinion piece about why she thinks zoos should close. Note that she cites multiple reasons with examples of why zoos aren’t good for animals. She also addresses a counterargument and refutes it, which isn’t actually required until seventh and eighth grade.

Type of writing: Opinion writing

 


See more examples of real kids’ writing in different grades: Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fifth grade.

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Scholastic’s “Research Papers: A Writing Workshop” offers students (grades 3–5) the opportunity to learn more about a topic that interests them by writing a research paper on it — and makes the task of writing the report less intimidating by dividing the process into easy steps. While the focus of the project is the creation of a research paper, the step-by-step instruction for completing the report focuses entirely on the writing process.

The steps include:

  • Mini-Lesson (1 day): Mini-lesson 1 helps students learn how to choose the best resources for their research. Min-lesson 2 teaches students how to name their sources at the end of their paper.
  • Prewriting (3–4 days): Students choose a topic to research, gather resources, take notes, and create an outline.
  • Drafting (2–3 days): Students review their notes and use their outline to create a rough draft of their report — organizing their work and getting their thoughts down on paper. Encourage them to focus on the content and allow their ideas to flow freely.
  • Revising (2–3 days): Students focus on the content of their report. (Remind them that revising doesn't involve making changes for spelling, grammar, or punctuation.)
  • Editing (1–2 days): Now, students focus on spelling, grammar, punctuation (including use of quotation marks), capitalization, and subject/verb agreement.
  • Reviewing (1–2 days): Students get a final look before taking their work public. They discuss how to conduct a review process, including: peer review, self assessment, and teacher conferencing.
  • Publishing (1–2 days): Students celebrate their accomplishments and post their work on Scholastic.com. Other ideas for publishing their research papers are shared.

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