Fourth grade is a time of dramatic growth. During this pivotal year, students take on increased responsibility as leaders of the lower school. They enjoy acting as role models for the rest of the student body. They lead by example, showing how best to act in the hallways and on the playground, as well as leading the Pledge of Allegiance at Morning Circle. They are responsible for the daily raising and lowering of the flag, as well as our school’s classroom recycling program. Additionally, fourth graders take on more independent work in the classroom than they did in the lower grades, achieving in both individual and group endeavors. This greater role that fourth graders play within the lower school community assists them in transitioning to the more significant level of personal and community responsibilities they will have when they move on to middle school.
Our math curriculum is a skill-based program from Houghton Mifflin in which we concentrate on the mastery of basic computational skills. These include advanced addition and subtraction, multiplication and two-digit long division. We use games and manipulative materials to reinforce and expand upon concepts such as place value, money, fractions, decimals and situational problem solving. Fourth graders are also introduced to basic algebra.
In reading, we explore several different genres, including historical fiction, biography, mystery and fantasy. In small, reading groups, we concentrate on oral reading with good voicing and expression, comprehension, character and plot development. At least one of the chapter books that the students read relates to the current All-School Theme. We also foster and develop confident presentation skills, such as speaking with expression and fluency, by reading aloud in both small groups and for the entire student body at morning Circle. Students also work on Spelling and the study of vocabulary is enhanced through the use of Wordly Wise.
In 4th grade we utilize the Collins Writing Program, which helps students to improve their writing fluency, organizational and editing skills. This program strives to help students become better writers through the use of five types of writing. The students will be given times to be “totally creative” (Type One,) times when they will move through a process of creative and critical thought (Types Two through Four,) and finally a time when the use of critical thinking and style is paramount (Type Five.) The progression of this program helps to remove obstacles that many people face when writing, such as fear of evaluation and fear of failure. We will use this program across all content areas.
In social studies, the fourth grade focuses on four different units. We begin the year with the study of Map Skills, which leads to our second unit, Landforms. This unit culminates in a project that is shared with the school. Our third unit concentrates on United States History with a focus on Westward Expansion, including the Oregon Trail, Pioneer Life and Lewis and Clark. Our final unit, which we explore throughout the year, includes various aspects of our yearly Lower School Study Theme. In past years we have explored themes such as, the Circus, Medieval Times, China, Maritime studies, Native American studies and Space. When working on projects, students learn to use many research tools including books in the library and the Internet.