Fourth grade is the year that students transition from the primary grades to the intermediate grades. The many academic, social, and emotional changes of nine and ten year olds make this an exciting grade to teach. There is never a dull moment, but the students are fun loving and enjoy the challenges of new responsibilities.
While having been carefully guided through the primary grades, students have now mastered the basic primary skills and gained a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. Developmentally, fourth graders move into a new stage. They are ready to take on new responsibilities for their learning and to expand their critical-thinking abilities. While reading skills are still being taught, students have transitioned from learning to read to reading to learn. All areas of the fourth grade curriculum take this change in focus into account.
Language Arts encompass reading and writing. The reading program uses the Reader's Workshop focusing on reading strategies that are used with a variety of literature. While decoding skills are still reviewed, the elements of literature and expanding vocabulary are the primary focus. The concepts learned are put to practical use in book reports, recreational reading and even textual reading. Integration of all subjects occurs within the writing program as the Writers Workshop model is used to teach writing skills. Narrative, opinion and informational writing are taught using a variety of methods and types of assignments in order to help students develop their writing skills. Spelling is taught as a separate subject using the Rebecca Sitton program, but as the year progresses, the goal for students is to spell core words correctly on all assignments, not just on a weekly test.
Math concepts are taught using the Singapore Math program. New concepts such as long division, two-digit multiplication, and computation with fractions are introduced in math. Number facts should have been mastered, and problem solving and extensive use of word problems are now emphasized. A major strength of this math program is the realistic and challenging word problems that are modeled and solved using the Bar Modeling concept.
Social studies in fourth grade introduces students to the history of California. The yearlong theme of “Discovering California” lends itself well to many different activities. Our study of California will take us into the various learning styles or modalities, including art, writing, drama, music and imagination. A study of the missions and a train trip to the mission in San Juan Capistrano is one of the highlights of the year.
Science is taught using hands-on activities and incorporates the Next Generation Science standards. We want students to be excited and experience the joy of discovery that science offers. Using the scientific method to nurture this natural curiosity is rewarding for both the student and the teacher.
Art, music, technology, PE, and spiritual nurture classes are all taught by specialty teachers. Service learning projects are also an integral part the curriculum.
Fourth grade is action packed with learning and fun. There are many field trips enhancing the curriculum and making it "come alive". Among the field trips is a trip on the train to visit a mission extending what has been learned in the classroom.