Children read, write and discuss ideas in every area of the curriculum. Fourth graders continue to transition from having learned to read into reading and writing to learn. Students read books together as a class, participate in smaller book discussion groups and use multiple resources to research topics of their choice. The students write narrative and expository pieces such as book reviews, creative stories, poetry, procedures for math and science, lab reports, and persuasive speeches and learning journals. Lastly, they participate in group discussions, meetings and presentations.
Sample skills and topics include:
- Reading: book Clubs, meeting in small groups, reviewing and practicing reading strategies such as making predictions, making connections to self, other text, the world, and asking questions to monitor comprehension.
- Creative writing projects linked with reading, writing or project time studies. When we are studying the history and culture of Ghana, we read West African myths, folktales and proverbs. The symbolism embedded in the proverbs and folktales develops students’ ability to infer meaning based on cultural values. Students are able to write their own Anansi tale that encompasses the motifs of this type of West African folktale.
- Learning to locate research materials, distinguish between the main ideas and details, identify keywords, take notes, write an outline, construct a bibliography and organize the details of their report into a cohesive whole.
- Continuing the use of their D’Nealian manuscript writing throughout the year.
- Paragraphing, grammar, usage, and mechanics. Children are then expected to properly use these conventions in their daily writing.
- Spelling, root words, prefixes, suffixes, and parts of speech in the context of reading and writing. Children learn to recognize synonyms, antonyms, homophones and homographs.
Many fourth graders are beginning to understand abstract concepts and apply them to new problem solving situations. The Fourth Grade math curriculum is designed to provide classroom structures which will help develop a sense of personal and social responsibility, refine their math skills, polish their work habits, and support their innate thirst for knowledge.
TERC Investigations is the core mathematics curriculum for 4th grade. The goal is to help all children understand the fundamental ideas of number and operations, geometry, data, measurement and early algebra through hands-on and collaborative investigations. Proficiency with arithmetic skills is supported throughout the program. A variety of assessment techniques including observations, students’ self-assessments, quizzes, homework and individual oral assessment are used. Extensions or review sessions are offered to accommodate students who need further challenges or additional help.
The principal concepts taught in Fourth Grade are:
- An understanding of, and the ability to use various algorithms for the addition and subtraction of multi-digit numbers;
- Mastery of multiplication facts through twelve and multiplying by two and three digits;
- Division with remainders is introduced and mastered;
- Order fractions, finding equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting fractions with common denominators;
- Identification on a number line the relative position of positive fractions, positive mixed numbers, and positive decimals to two decimal places;
- Recognition that rectangles that have the same area can have different perimeters;
- Knowledge of the definitions of a right angle, an acute angle, and an obtuse angle. Understand that 90°, 180°, 270°, and 360° are associated, respectively, with 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and full turns;
- Knowledge of the definition of different quadrilaterals (e.g., rhombus, square, rectangle, parallelogram, trapezoid);
- Analyze problems by identifying relationships, distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information, sequencing and prioritizing information, and observing patterns;
- Express the solution clearly and logically by using the appropriate mathematical notation and terms and clear language; support solutions with evidence in both verbal and symbolic work;
- Estimation, mental arithmetic and problem solving strategies are also reviewed and practiced.
Building on the third grade curriculum, the history and social studies units continue to offer hands-on activities and provide opportunities to explore new concepts that help them embrace diversity and understand and appreciate a wide world. The children continue to record information in learning logs and are assessed through tests and/or special projects.
Sample units include:
- California History: In this unit, the essential question we seek to answer is, “Who and what are California’s Riches?” The unit focuses on the California gold rush of 1848 and the many groups of people who immigrated during or around this time. California’s wild and colorful past is brought alive as the children participate in a simulation of the gold rush and write imagined journals of their own.
- Africa (Ghana): In this unit, the essential question students seek to answer is, “How does learning about another culture help me understand myself better?” Our goal in teaching the unit on Ghana is to have students begin to see the depth and complexity of social and historical culture that just one African country embodies. We also look at how the political ideas, language and arts of Ghana have influenced peoples worldwide. Children study the Asante people in depth through film, slides, books, art, music, food, guest speakers and lectures.
Fourth grade science activities encourage children to inquire and guide their own learning based on their interest.
- The central goal of the unit, “The Scientific Method” serves to answer the question, “How do scientists work?”. Allowing students’ inquiry around electricity to unfold, students are introduced to the Scientific Method step by step. We focus especially on conducting experiments that involve controls and variables and keeping a science journal that includes sketches, labels and detailed descriptions that can lead to logical conclusions.
- Students develop questions based on their own findings and interests. From these questions, each student designs his or her own experiment. Students refine their observation skills, practice the scientific method, write lab reports and learn about laboratory safety. Children design their own exhibit and determine the best way to communicate their growing understanding of the question being pursued. After sharing projects with each other in class, the children show and explain their work to parents and other students on the day of the science fair.
- During our Oceanography Unit, students explore the question, “How can life exist in the greatest depths of our oceans?”. The children develop respect for our water planet as we look at ocean ecology and learn about the diversity of life in the seas. We study biological classification, the deep ocean habitat and basic ideas of evolution, including adaptation, diversity of species and the relationship between form and function.