In fourth grade, we begin the year with our Open Court Reading Series. Before and during reading, students apply reading strategies such as predicting, summarizing, clarifying, and comparing and contrasting. As students become stronger and more fluent readers, we delve into many novels. Character development and literary elements are emphasized when reading these novels. The spelling program targets high-frequency words as well as cross-curricular vocabulary. Writing a concise paragraph is reinforced throughout the curriculum and practiced when writing essays and Topic of Interest assignments. The parts of speech are learned as reinforcement for writing a research paper. Students will learn the research process and write a research paper on a historical person of their choice.
Math in fourth grade builds upon the skills learned in third grade. We begin the year with place value. Decimals are introduced and students learn to multiply, divide, add, and subtract decimals. Students then switch gears and learn how to collect data, compare data, and create different types of graphs showing data. Geometry stimulates the creative side of math and students investigate the area of rectangles, measure angles, and create fun pictures with tessellations. Whether the students are adding decimals or working with fractions, word problems and “show me your thinking” skills are reinforced all year long.
In fourth grade, students delve more closely into the building blocks of life—cells. After studying cells, students learn about the importance of nutrition by participating in the “Great Grow Along Project” using specially bred laboratory rats. After that, the concepts of magnetism and electricity are explored as they begin to understand the structure of atoms with neutrons, protons, and electrons. Then it is on to weather, learning about the uneven heating of the planet, the water cycle, and different pressure systems. Lastly, fourth grade looks into the sky and studies the solar system.
The focus is on where our place is in our world by using maps and learning about the United States as well as our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. The United States is divided into regions of the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West, Northwest, and Southwest. The students memorize the states and capitals. They learn about the geography and history of each area of the country. After studying the United States, our focus turns to our neighbors Canada and Mexico. The children work in groups to research the culture and history and present their findings to the class.
Fourth grade is an exciting year in our art program, when form and space become a central theme. Students create a variety of two- and three-dimensional projects that integrate both new and previously introduced artistic mediums. Fourth grade students are challenged to use critical thinking and creativity to problem solve while creating their unique works of art. They have the opportunity to apply their artistic knowledge and imaginative inspiration into well-designed projects built over the course of several classes.
In fourth grade, students’ use of the library shifts from just leisure and reading to a resource for their first formal research reports. They are introduced to: the steps for constructing a research report; the concepts of ethical and critical research; various web based resources; the use of EasyBib for constructing a bibliography; and Destiny, an online automated catalog that is also available for viewing at home. The reports are done in class in fourth grade so that every aspect of the research is carefully guided by the librarian and classroom teachers.
In addition to singing, students begin to explore composition skills through “Garage Band” on the computer. They continue to study music history through listening lessons and podcasts. Music theory skills are taken to a deeper level with an increasing use of notation. Musical forms and different periods of music history are explored. Fourth graders also study many different careers in music. Finally, in March they present their own spring concert that combines elements of their social studies curriculum revolving around the Fifty Nifty United States.
The physical education curriculum for fourth and fifth grade students consists of the following goals: To refine basic skills of sports through various skills, drills, and participation; to provide a basic understanding of rules and procedures in sports and games; to increase fitness and coordination through sports, games, and dance; to teach cooperation and sportsmanship through sports and games; to continue the development of listening and direction following skills; to encourage students to use creative thinking and problem solving strategies in various individual and group situations; to help develop responsibility by being prepared (having appropriate gym uniform and acting responsibly in locker room; to develop and maintain good health habits by nurturing a lifetime desire for maintaining physical activity and recreation; to help create a positive self image.
In fourth grade, students have Spanish class every day for twenty minutes. Curriculum content continues to expand as students use phonetic understanding to read and write in Spanish, learn grammar, and respond to their teacher in the target language. Scholars count to one hundred and beyond, spell Spanish vocabulary including weather, parts of the body, rooms in a house, family members’ names, classroom items, calendar, greetings, and sight words. Students engage in lessons, sing songs, play games, color pictures, watch videos, and work collaboratively, all in an environment that is delivered in the target language, Spanish. Culture is embedded into the daily learning as our teacher offers exposure to food, dance, and traditions.