Fourth graders examine culture, power, change, and rights as they learn about and relate to different groups. Throughout the fourth grade curriculum, specific areas of focus are Ancient Egypt and the American Civil Rights Movement.

Language Arts

READING

The fourth grade reading curriculum nurtures students in the interpretation and synthesis of fiction and nonfiction texts. Emphasis is placed on becoming increasingly skillful readers who move from literal comprehension to greater inferential understanding. Students read silently and orally, working towards increased fluency and expression. Additionally, students demonstrate comprehension through discussion, writing, visual art, and performance. 

In class, students engage in literature through “read-alouds,” partner and small-group, and independent reading. These readings enable discussion of vocabulary, characterization, plot development, and themes. Through these discussions, and in concert with written and oral assessments, students demonstrate their comprehension and enjoyment of literature. Independent reading choices and progress are recorded regularly; periodically, each child gives a “book talk” in which he or she recommends a book to the group.

WRITING

In the writing program, students explore ways to communicate their ideas and feelings to a variety of audiences. Using mentor text models from both fiction and nonfiction, students create personal narratives and poetry, as well as expository text such as research reports and book projects. The students learn to see writing as a process that includes pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Students write for a variety of purposes, including technical writing in content areas, creative writing, and personal narrative. They work on technical writing skills such as sentence and paragraph structure, capitalization and punctuation of dialogue, as well as literary devices like imagery, similes, and metaphors.

Library

Third through fifth grade students have library twice a week with Newbery Award winning author Laura Amy Schlitz. They meet once as an individual class (solo library) and once as a whole grade group (shared library). 

There is a classroom time in the story corner, during which a story is read or told. Often, a brief discussion period follows the story. After time in the story corner, students are dismissed for silent reading. They are also invited to browse and check out books, which they do independently. “Shared” library tends to favor formal presentations such as book talks, lectures about culture, dramatizations, and longer books and stories.

Mathematics

The fourth grade mathematics curriculum, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, offers students an approach to mathematics that focuses on mathematical thinking and reasoning. It emphasizes depth in mathematical thinking rather than superficial exposure to a series of fragmented topics. Through these explorations, students learn to develop efficient strategies. The curriculum supports students in developing and expanding ideas and making sense of mathematical objects, structures, and connections.

Units covered include:

  • Factors, Multiples and, Arrays
  • Describing the Shape of the Data (Data Analysis & Probability)
  • Multiple Towers and Division Stories (Multiplication and Division)
  • Size, Shape and Symmetry (2-D Geometry and Measurement)
  • Landmarks and Large Numbers (Addition, Subtraction and The Number System)
  • Fraction Cards and Decimal Squares
  • 3-D Geometry

Science

The fourth grade science curriculum explores the ideas of form and function and their manifestation in both living and non-living systems. Students explore ecology and the idea of sustainability, thinking about their place in the world and the relationships between living and non-living things. While “mummifying” cucumbers, students gain practice in the skill of experimental design, including the use of variables and comparison to a control, and writing a comprehensive conclusion based on their experimental findings. Students continue to examine structure and function with an inquiry into the science behind simple machines and movement. The year culminates with an overview of the workings of the human body and its systems, inclusive of human reproduction.

Spanish

Fourth grade students engage in age-appropriate language activities that develop both listening and speaking skills. Authentic cultural connections are purposefully woven into lessons enhancing students’ global perspectives. Spanish teachers conduct classes primarily in Spanish and design curriculum that encourages students to participate both verbally and physically. The spiraling curriculum allows for the use of targeted vocabulary and language and increasingly complex sentence structures across grade levels, providing the repetition needed to retain chunks of language. In fourth grade, students are introduced to more text and encouraged to create sentences in writing. Students draw comparisons between the structures and layouts of familiar cities in the United States and similar cities in the Spanish-speaking world. They explore advocacy and farm workers movements, discuss the features of markets, and learn skills that allow them to confidently participate in authentic market settings.

Technology

In fourth grade, children explore ways to organize, evaluate, and ethically use information from multiple sources of online media. Students utilize Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets and graphs and create three-dimensional designs with Google Sketchup. Fourth graders also begin using iPads to record video and audio for film creation with iMovie. Elective after-school programs offer fourth and fifth grade students the opportunity to explore robotics and programming with Lego Mindstorms.

Theme Studies, Social Studies, History

The theme studies program is cross-curricular. Projects include a science unit on simple machines that explores how the pyramids were built, and the “mummy book” in which each child writes an historical fiction piece reflecting what he or she has learned about Ancient Egypt. During the study of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, focus is on the history of the period and how its themes play out in today’s society. Students exhibit their mastery of concepts central to the Civil Rights study through a class assembly that integrates visual arts, music, and drama.