"Education is not filling a pail, but lighting a fire." – William Butler Yeats
This quote reflects the many doors that are opened in fourth grade, where our main focus throughout the year is the study of the U.S.—its regions, people, and history. We are able to learn about America through the use of textbooks, research, novels, field trips, video streaming, visiting speakers, web searches, computer programs, and more.
Fourth grade is also the time for all students to become more independent workers, critical thinkers, and risk takers. The journey begins with adult guidance in the beginning of the year and ends in June with self-confident, curious students guiding their own destiny. Maintaining social friendships is an area that challenges students at this stage of growth as the children try to be unique and mature. Fourth grade at Barnesville School provides a wonderful opportunity for every child to reach a new level of learning in a safe, enjoyable, and challenging environment.
Language Arts is a blend of many subjects and textbook materials. It encompasses reading various historical novels and short stories centering on American history. There are monthly book reports and projects based on various themes throughout the year, which are completed outside of class. In addition students work to expand their grammar and vocabulary by working separately in a workbook, adding to what is covered in their everyday reading lessons. Areas of personal writing development is also covered in fourth grade, which includes creative writing, formatting a business letter, interview writing, recording family history, journaling, fantasy writing, poetry, writing a biography, and organizing and writing a research paper. In addition, language arts includes weekly spelling lessons that vary in activities; testing occurs at the end of each weekly lesson. All these areas are covered weekly in each language arts’ leveled grouping.
Fourth grade Go Math! extends the following skills: numerations, operations and computation, data and chance, geometry, measurement, patterns, functions, and algebra. The program emphasizes real-life applications and problem solving strategies that further critical thinking and mathematical understanding.
In Fourth grade there are two leveled groups. The content material taught is the same. It is the approach that is used for the differentiated learning styles of the group that is applied. At this level, students have the opportunity to explore many concepts in greater depth. This involves a review of last year's skills, while adding more critical thinking and problem solving to develop a student's logic. Multiplication and division are the major focuses for the year. Whole-class time is designated to develop an understanding of new math concepts and to expand mental math skills.
Success in Go Math relies on grounding concepts in real life, rather than simple number manipulation and drill. Hands-on experiences, such as cooking and building—tasks that use various measuring concepts that enable a child to actually see the differences in unit measurements needed for answering class problems—are encouraged. Using geometry to create art gives it purpose beyond abstract study. Shopping, maintaining “checking and savings” accounts, planning trips, and keeping track of elapsed time provide realistic opportunities to incorporate numbers and operations in ways that matter. Explaining processes and strategies used to solve problems integrates language and written expression.
The social studies curriculum for fourth grade centers on the study of United States’ early American history from colonization to the signing of the U.S. Constitution. As the students read about the regions of the U.S., they learn about colonial times associated with that area. Students research these areas in more detail during the year, using supplemental books from the library and computer software while also partaking in field trips in the surrounding counties of Maryland. Also in the first month of school, Fourth graders break from the regions textbook for a short time to extend their knowledge of their own state of Maryland utilizing a different text.
In addition, fourth graders read, study notes, and take tests on each region of the U.S. utilizing a grade-level textbook focusing on the U.S. topography, people, and heritage. The American journey begins with the study of the Southwest, then moves to the Southeast, onto the Northeast, the Midwest, the Mountain States and finally the West.
Developing study skills regarding informational material are emphasized over the year making use of teacher created notes. Each student also is responsible for researching a favorite U.S. state from October to February. The majority of the research is completed independently in class. Students also put together a State Fair in March for parents and visitors.
Each student is responsible for writing a three-page research paper and doing a PowerPoint presentation on a colonial craftsperson. This is completed in the third trimester with teacher and parent guidance.
In Science, fourth graders team up with third graders to study life and physical sciences. They will compare find patterns within the life cycles of various plants and animals. Additionally, they will define traits among populations and explore the effects that different traits have on the success of individuals within a population. Students will investigate different forces, static electricity, and magnets during their physics unit. Finally, they will explore waves of light and sound energy. Throughout the year, students will participate in hands-on activities to explore topics; they will demonstrate their learning through a series of challenges. They will work both in large and small groups, as well as independently.
Fourth graders also use the Santillana program and meet twice a week for 45 minutes. Although they primarily use the workbook to structure their learning of grammar, they also learn through songs, fun videos, art projects and outdoor activities. Our goal is to expose the children to the language in a variety of ways that trigger their linguistic growth and maximize their skills in language arts as a whole. Students derive grammatical rules from exercises created for their level and with their needs in mind. They write and read in Spanish, and practice speaking through scripts, dialogues that they create in groups, and dynamic performances. Their growth from third grade depends on the complexity of the projects they are required to do and the exposure to images that demand a level of oral description superior to the previous years´.
soccer, and lacrosse. Climbing trees and jumping creeks are ways students experience outdoor fitness. Fourth grade focuses on developing perceptual motor efficiency in many movement-forms and proficiency in a few movement-forms. Life-long recreational activities such as hand and foot dribble while preventing an opponent from stealing the ball; throwing, catching, and kicking using mature patterns; moving in a repeatable sequence; and moving in and out of a rope turned by others are some of the many skills taught in the fourth grade. Knowledge of teamsmanship along with the skills and strategies of games is part of the fourth grade curriculum. Team building skills, etiquette, demonstration of rules, and scoring are part of many lessons.
Throwing objects for distance and accuracy are included in games, along with manipulating a variety of objects demonstrating flow, speed, level, and force. Skills and strategies have greater emphasis in fourth grade in lead ups, games, and skill-building sessions.
Participation is encouraged through enjoyment and self-fulfillment rather than through extrinsic rewards.
Fourth grade art revolves around the social studies curriculum. Students learn about the art and artifacts of colonial America and create art relating to their specific state study. Drawing is emphasized in the fourth grade curriculum as well. Some of the projects include learning how to draw a self-portrait, which is then put into colonial garb, doing embroidery, and making a ceramic state bird and flower tile. Formalized art instruction is one hour per week.
Singing and song repertoire constitute the basis of fourth grade music classes. Songs transmit culture, history, and the richness of shared human experiences, values, and feelings. Through music, the children celebrate the seasons, and observe in some meaningful way the traditional holidays and festivals. Special emphasis is placed on agricultural cycles since the Barnesville School is located in the Agricultural Reserve. The fourth grade always makes a fine contribution to the Lower School May Day with their dancing, singing, and enthusiastic participation in the traditional Unite and Unite processional up the gently sloping hillside to the flower-bedecked May Pole on the playground.
The fourth graders do a project that integrates music and art. For instance, this year they created and recorded a soundscape inspired by the jungle paintings of Henri Rousseau (incorporating animal chattering and growling, bird song, and tropical storm sounds). Their CD was designed to be heard while viewing the Rousseau-style paintings and masks they created in art class. Every month they sing a song about the Character-Word-of-the-Month.
Students in fourth grade meet for library class once a week. The student’s lessons are tied closely to the fourth grade curriculum. Students investigate print and online reference material to satisfy research needs. Students learn to access information from almanacs, encyclopedias, and other non-fiction books. They learn the importance of of keyword searches in print and online. They identify text features in print and online. Students begin to actively operate databases for assigned and personal information needs. They are introduced to the MLA 7 citation format for the state research project at the end of the year and to the automated citation generator, EasyBib.
Students select books for book reports based on the teacher requirements. Students learn to recognize the elements of each genre, and are advised on book selection. The librarian promotes student participation in the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan reading program.
Students in the fourth grade are introduced to online safety and etiquette via the Common Sense Media curriculum.