What is Fourth Grade all about? Kinderbuddies, Kings and Queens of England, Shakespeare, Field Trips, Poetry Cafe, Decimals, Fractions, Multiplication, Division, Book Clubs, and — best of all — making new friends!
Click on the subjects below for a summary of the Grade 4 curriculum.
A 90-minute literacy block is scheduled daily in Grades 1 through 5. Reading instruction is an integral component of literacy. Our goal is first and foremost to foster a love of reading. Research data indicates that in order for students to develop as readers, they must be afforded ample time to read. Therefore, we are committed to providing large periods of time for students to immerse themselves in reading books of their choosing as much as possible. We steer children toward books that they can read with fluency, accuracy, and comprehension. Our approach supports the five essential foundational pillars of reading:
- Phonemic awareness,
- Vocabulary, and
The Reading Workshop approach provides a consistent framework and continuum of literacy progression through the Lower School grades. Each child's performance assessments provide the basis for informed decisions to plan and individualize instruction through a gradual release of responsibility model. Students receive explicit instruction to build skills and strategies that promote reading automaticity, and stamina, helping them learn to become engaged, strategic readers. Comprehension strategies are taught through mini-lessons, modeling, read-alouds, discussion, small group instruction, and one-on-one conversations/conferences with the teacher.
Phonics, Spelling, Vocabulary and Word Study
In Grades K – 2, the Fountas and Pinnell program serves as our guide to teaching phonics, spelling, and how words work. Through direct instruction in early literacy concepts, letter sound relationships, spelling patterns, sight and high-frequency words, children learn how to put these skills into practice when reading and writing. When they are empowered with a range of strategies to solve words with efficiency and automaticity, the mind is freed up to attend to the more complex skill of comprehension.
Reading and writing skills develop in tandem. Children learn to write for a variety of purposes and audiences. Choice and creative ideas are at the heart of the writing process. A common language is used to provide continuity across grade levels. Writing strategies are taught through mini-lessons, modeling, mentor texts, discussion, small group instruction, and one-on-one conversations/conferences with the teacher. Planning, structure, graphic organizers, grammar, and mechanics are essential tools for developing writers.
Weekly trips to the school Library add more opportunities to grow as a reader. From daily sentence writing, to creative stories and research reports, fourth graders know an audience awaits!
A 60-minute math period is scheduled daily for students in Grades 1 through 5.
Our approach draws on best practices, and highlights problem solving as the focus of mathematics. Opportunities to engage in conversation about the process are promoted and valued. We expect learners to construct and maintain positive attitudes toward math, to persevere, and to monitor their own thinking.
We begin each day with Every Day Counts: Calendar Math. As additional math experience, this provides time for preview, review, practice, and discussion of critical math concepts and skills. It increases engagement and motivation while building mathematical understanding.
Math In Focus with a coherent sequence of topics forms the core of our mathematics curriculum. It affords learners the opportunity to engage in model drawing experiences, which tap into their visual-spatial and reasoning strengths. At each grade level, time spent on topics allows for depth of exploration followed by mastery. This deep level of understanding eases the journey into higher levels of math.
The children’s studies come alive with field trips to Plimoth Plantation and the Pequot Museum. They learn what was happening in England in the 17th Century through their research of the monarchs Henry VIII-James II. William Shakespeare’s works come to life with classroom performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night. Exploring the countries and geography of Europe completes the year.
Investigations include a study of bones and skeletons including a dissection of an owl pellet; magnetism and electricity with an electrical engineering project to design an alarm system; and a look at earthquakes, volcanoes, and mineral identification.
Grade 4 students begin the year studying the art of Native Americans in the United States. The elements and principles of art taught through this rich study of a culture who so well combined the use of pattern, texture, color and balance in all they made and used. Students love working in clay creating coiled pottery and painting the designs of several pueblos. Baskets are woven in fiber and buffalo hide paintings tell stories of the past. Studying historical works not only give us insight into the past, but also can provide us with valuable insights and a means for discussion about the present.
Fine motor skills are better developed while working on pieces designed to fit a certain form. Patience, knowledge of materials, and use of carving and sculpting tools are being taught.
Later in the year, the students travel to another continent while integrating a curriculum with French class. They study the French Impressionists, what it was like to develop a new art movement, and learn many expressive ways to paint with acrylics. Their art vocabulary and their understanding of aesthetics are further developed. The art making process actively engages them and they begin to question about why and how these paintings were made. “What makes good Art?” begins one discussion and they start to make connections to previous lessons and analyze what they have learned. It is a wonderful time to explore the creative process. Their fine motor skills are better developed, and they are open and willing to trying many creative approaches.
In fourth grade computers, students achieve an understanding of correct keyboarding techniques, word processing, Internet safety, multimedia presentations and computer hardware. In addition, students are introduced to basic programming concepts through MIT-developed Scratch and the movie making process of SAM Animation. Through TypingAce.com, every fourth grade student has an individualized keyboarding plan according to their skill level that ensures the correct finger positions and increases their typing speed and accuracy (10-15 wpm). Through the use of hands-on projects, the students exhibit their knowledge of computer skills and concepts they have learned.
The Lower School Drama program offers a mix of drama games, skit-work, readers' theater, and improvisation that lets all the students develop ease speaking before a group. These games are times to practice quick thinking, teamwork, self-control, leadership, ability to let others lead, and patience.
The program is geared to stretch the imagination. Lower School Drama also provides a venue in which bold declarations and bashful remarks are welcome, valued, and practiced by all.
Students learn to read music from the grand staff and to notate the melodies and accompaniments they create. They are invited to join one of three ensembles: Chorus, Band, or Strings (their choice) and to perform with fifth graders at assemblies and concerts.
In Grade 4, Spanish classes are designed to increase students’ verbal proficiency with the language and include more opportunities for practicing reading and writing in the language. Topics build upon their three years of previous study and will also include reading of biographies, historical research, and writing bilingual books.
Fourth grade students meet for one hour and complete two formal research assignments during the school year. Class times are doubled when working on research projects. The fall project is locating information from resources on an endangered species. The second project is collecting information and writing notecards on pilgrims and Native Americans. Both projects are directly related to their classroom studies and students follow the Modern Language Association’s standards of research methodology and documentation. Fourth graders recognize different genres and continue to select novels and nonfiction for their recreational reading.
At this level, the focus moves toward team sports and fitness activities. The emphasis is on developing skills through specific drills, leading up to the actual playing of various team games. The curriculum at this level involves teams sports such as soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, paddle tennis, basketball, volleyball and softball (rag-ball). There are opportunities to develop and strengthen fitness skills. Jump rope, obstacle courses, scooter boards and tumbling skills are experienced at various times in the year. Many games are more involved and call for decision - making, strategy, teamwork and application of manipulative skills.