Fourth grade responds to students’ increasing sense of intellectual curiosity and budding social independence.
Fourth graders make the critical transition from learning to read to reading to learn, so assigned texts weave together social studies, science, and math. Learning experiences require students to practice personal integrity, classroom responsibility, and community participation.
Social emotional learning (SEL) highlights a balance between independence and interdependence. SEL supports respectful interactions, develops trust, and leads students to be contributing members of the community. Regular experience with good citizenship comes from serving as role models for first grade buddy classes as well as engagement in service-learning and community-service projects.
Literacy and language arts instruction is based on a workshop model. Students are explicitly taught how to write, developing strategies for good writing and building skills in craft, elaboration, and conventions. They are given ample time to cycle through the writing process of prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing as they explore narrative, essay, informational, and opinion writing. In reading, students play a critical role in the selection of fiction and nonfiction texts as they practice reading comprehension skills as well as reading fluency and accuracy.
Math in the fourth grade engages children’s thinking and reasoning abilities through age-appropriate problems and investigations in the areas of place value, operations, algebraic thinking, measurement, data, and geometry. During the year, students focus intensively in the following areas:
First, students develop an understanding and fluency with the four basic mathematical operations with an emphasis on multi-digit multiplication and division involving multi-digit dividends. Second, students develop an understanding of fraction equivalence, addition and subtraction of fractions with like denominators, and multiplication of fractions by whole numbers. And third, students understand that geometric figures can be analyzed and classified based on their properties, such as having parallel sides, perpendicular sides, particular angle measurements, and symmetry. Students work individually and in small groups at a pace and level that best meets their needs as growing mathematicians.
The focus of social studies in fourth grade is understanding multiple perspectives. This is explored through studying personal identities, the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery, and human rights issues worldwide.
We begin the school year with an exploration of personal identities, which includes sharing our perspectives on the world and how these perspectives affect the way we interact with each other. Later in the fall fourth graders begin research on tribes of the Pacific Northwest, including customs and history as well as the history of the various tribes leading up to today. This study of the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest is also integrated into our Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop curriculums.
From this foundation of knowledge, fourth graders also learn about the history of indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest through the Honoring Tribal Legacies curriculum. Students explore the Lewis and Clark Expedition through multiple perspectives, including various native tribes as well as non-native settlers and the U.S. government. While learning about the tribes of the Pacific Northwest and the Lewis and Clark expedition, students also cover social studies topics directly related to Washington state such as state government and geography.
Our fourth graders wrap up the year with a project-based learning unit by conducting student-driven research centered around human rights. Students create a photo essay on a human rights topic of their choice and tie their research into the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Life science: During this unit, students take ownership of one of the Pacific Northwest’s most valuable resources, salmon. Students also experiment with how water affects the land and how this is demonstrated in the Elwha River Valley in the efforts to bring back salmon runs to the area. Students learn about pollution and what can be done to reduce it and conserve natural resources.
Physical science: Students explore the natural resources humans use to generate the power we depend on every day, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuel.
Earth and environmental science: Students explore the massive movements that are constantly shaping Earth: volcanoes erupting, trenches creeping open, and continental plates colliding and sending mountain ranges skyward. Visit the Science Lab to learn more>
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