Students read a variety of genres including novels, short stories, poems, essays, plays, mysteries, fables, folktales, legends, biographies, and nonfiction. In fourth grade, students think about the origin of words and awareness of Greek and Latin roots. A weekly current affairs publication enhances nonfiction reading strategies. Students identify and utilize elements of nonfiction texts, and develop skills to determine fact versus opinion, and to use evidence from the text to clarify comprehension. Independent reading of fiction, encouraged on a daily basis, helps students read critically. Students keep a record of their independent reading books, and take responsibility for using the classroom and school library to ensure they always have a book in hand. In small literature circles, students interpret word play, make inferences, analyze themes, and discuss open-ended questions. Written responses to literature may take a variety of forms, such as answering formal comprehension questions, journaling or reading logs, diary entries, newspaper articles, and character interviews.
Using the writing process, from brainstorming and drafting, through editing and revisions, the fourth grade writing curriculum emphasizes using powerful vocabulary and organizing writing into paragraphs. The writing program emphasizes the development of fluency in a variety of forms of writing including personal narratives, journals, letter writing, persuasive writing, poetry, scriptwriting and different types of creative stories. Expository writing assignments include essays, research reports, journalism (class newspaper), and writing in the content areas of all subjects. Grammatically, students focus on proofreading, applying proper capitalization and punctuation, as well as identifying types of sentences and determining subject and predicate parts. Spelling units focus on synonyms, antonyms, homophones, prefixes, and suffixes.
In the fourth grade Math curriculum, students build basic skills in the four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division while applying this knowledge to fractions, decimals, and positive and negative numbers. New concepts include probability and statistics, where students interpret and record data using tables and graphs with real-life applications. Students gain practical and conceptual experience using and changing units of measurement. They are able to identify the basic properties of plane figures in geometry and to use a protractor to measure angles. They learn the pre-algebraic concepts of exponents, functions, and variables. Students enjoy the challenge of applying problem-solving strategies through highly motivational, interactive games.
The fourth grade study of Science begins with the workings of the human body. Students examine the cellular structures of living organisms that interact to carry out specific functions, including human body systems. Students investigate the human skeleton with direct observation, photographs, diagrams, and models. They research nutrition and design experiments. Students also explore weather topics and research and write a report. They conduct controlled experiments, record and graph data, and draw conclusions based on results. Students conduct an investigation of mixtures and solutions, exploring separating mixtures, reaching saturation, concentration and chemical reactions. They participate in programming projects. Students research and present inventors, and participate in the Invention Convention, in which students identify a real-life problem and strive to solve it in order to make a difference in the world.
The main objective for the fourth grade Social Studies program is exploration of the richness of American history from the first Americans through the age of exploration, the Colonial and Revolutionary War era, the building of our government, westward expansion, the Industrial Revolution and immigration. With the geographical component of this program, students develop the ability to use atlases, maps and globes as learning resources.
Students keep up with current events through Time for Kids news magazines. Students find history enlivened through role-playing, simulation, music, videos and student projects. Writing assignments include research on historical figures, and diaries and narratives told from the point of view of a fictional period character created by the student. Each student researches an important figure from American history and then embodies him or her in a presentation. Students read nonfiction texts and books and navigate journeys on raised relief maps of the United States.