Elementary School
Courses and Units

At elementary school, each Inquiry By Design course of study is made up of six units featuring detailed, but flexible, lesson plans aimed at building critical, standards-aligned, grade-level literacy skills. Each unit is built around challenging, grade-appropriate texts and spiraling cycles of work marked by reading, writing, and collaborative small-group and whole-class discussion. All grades of Inquiry By Design’s elementary course of study feature

  • Independent reading program designed to live alongside progressive, inquiry-based work throughout the year.
  • A literacy notebook for independent writing as well as other unit-specific writing projects and tasks.
  • Challenging informational texts to determine and analyze the development of central ideas and arguments in social studies and science.
  • Novel studies that position students to reflect upon, discuss, and answer important questions raised by the author.
  • Engaging short fiction to build skills at tugging out and analyzing ideas and themes both within and between stories in order to answer important questions.

Our Grade 3-5 curriculum may be implemented as a full course of study or as standalone units designed to target specific skill areas.

Elementary School Overview (Grades 3-5)

Grade 3 Units

  • Setting Up the Literacy Studio
  • Unearthing Pompeii (Informational Texts/Social Studies)
  • Animal Communication (Informational Texts/Science)
  • Novel Study: The Stories Julian Tells
  • Folktales and Messages
  • Messages Within and Across Folktales

Grade 4 Units

  • Setting Up the Literacy Studio: An Upper Elementary Investigation
  • Push and Pull of Immigration (Informational Texts/Social Studies)
  • Analyzing Main Ideas (Informational Texts/Science)
  • Novel Study: The Tiger Rising
  • Thinking Through Big Ideas and Themes in Literature
  • Big Ideas and Themes Across Texts

Grade 5 Units

  • Reading, Writing, Wolves and Whales: Further Developing the Literacy Studio
  • Pioneers (Informational Texts/Social Studies)
  • Analyzing Main Ideas (Informational Texts/Science)
  • Novel Study: M.C. Higgins, The Great
  • Themes in Literature
  • One Author, Two Texts: Big Ideas and Themes Across Texts