Fourth graders become more independent, sophisticated readers. As their skills and experience increase, fourth graders will have the confidence to take on literature and nonfiction that broaden their reading experiences significantly. The teacher facilitates their continued growth as readers by designing appropriate reading assignments, organizing literature circles, and facilitating discussions. Students will also continue to receive direct instruction in reading by working individually with teachers.
Fourth graders can read independently.
Fourth graders read for pleasure and for information. They continue to build their vocabularies and increase the number of words that they recognize. They deal with new words by breaking them apart and by looking at the meaning of their various parts (prefixes, suffixes and roots). They will find the meaning of some new words by looking the word up in a dictionary. They will use many skills to help them understand what they have read.
Fourth graders react to what they have read.
Fourth graders discuss and write responses about the personal connections to readings and about questions and ideas the reading sparked. They are able to identify the character roles (such as hero and villain), the setting, the plot, the lessons and morals, and can react to the conclusions of many stories.
Fourth graders write their own personal narratives, information articles and “how to” pieces.
Fourth graders focus on organizing their stories in a logical way. They learn to describe things in a “step-by-step” manner (First do this, then do that, then that, and finally you’ll have). They will write stories from their own experiences and from their imaginations.
Fourth graders become comfortable with cursive writing.
Fourth graders continue to develop their skills in reading and writing cursive (script).
Fourth graders will use story maps and other creating techniques to improve their writing.
Fourth graders continue to create story maps to guide them as they write their compositions. They list the main characters, the events that occur, and where and when everything takes place in their story. They check to see that the events are organized in a logical sequence. After their story map is ready, they use each event from their story map to create the paragraphs in their composition.
They will also experiment with other methods for creating and organizing ideas such as clustering, free writing, and outlining.
Fourth graders improve their writing by writing with a real audience in mind.
After completing a story, fourth graders share their work with small groups or the class. They receive suggestions and compliments from their classmates and then, using this advice, they improve their own work. They are expected to go back over their story and add detail; substitute words that have been used several times; check for correct punctuation; look for incomplete or run on sentences; get rid of double negatives; check verb tense and correct spelling mistakes.
Cornerstone uses the University Of Chicago’s Everyday Mathematics program, a progressive curriculum that presents concepts in a spiral manner. This means that concepts are presented over multiple years so that students are given several exposures to skills before they are expected to master them.
Fourth graders work with numbers up to 1,000,000.
Fourth graders will be able to read numbers up to 1,000,000. They learn to add and subtract numbers in the thousands, ten thousands and hundred thousands. They continue to use regrouping (carrying while adding, borrowing while subtracting). They write numbers out in words and can change numbers to expanded notation.
Fourth graders continue to multiply and divide.
Fourth graders learn to multiply numbers (up to 999) by the numbers 1-10. Fourth graders are expected to memorize division facts up to 100 (from their mulitplication tables).
Fourth graders study geometry.
Fourth graders study polygons and polyhedra. They learn that lines can be parallel, perpendicular or intersecting. They learn that lines that cross each other can have acute angles (smaller than 90 degrees) or obtuse angles (greater than 90 degrees). They learn to recognize shapes that are congruent to each other (that match), even if they have been flipped (mirror image), rotated (turned) or translated (moved). They learn to identify line segments, rays, vertices and midpoints. They can calculate the area and perimeter of figures made up of square units.
Fourth graders solve problems that contain several steps.
Fourth graders are given better tools and skills to handle more complicated problems. They learn to follow the rules of the “order of operations” (that they must divide and multiply before they add or subtract) and that sometimes it is easier to rearrange a problem using the associative property [4 x(3 x 7) = (4 x 3) x 7)] and the distributive property [4 x 6 + 4 x 8 = 4 x (6 + 8)].
Fourth graders work with fractions and decimals.
Fourth graders add and subtract fractions that have the same denominator (bottom number). They learn to work with decimals that have up to two places (0.00: tenths and hundredths). They learn to change a decimal into a fraction.
Fourth graders work with numbers in a variety of ways.
Fourth graders use fractions to show the probability of a chance event occurring. After putting a group of numbers in order, they identify the range, median and mode. They work with tables and charts learning to look up and find information.
Fourth graders work on other basic math skills.
Fourth graders continue to improve their abilities to solve problems involving time, money, and temperature; to measure and estimate length up to kilometers and miles, weight up to tons and kilograms and capacity up to liters and gallons; to decode and continue patterns; to solve word problems with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; to collect and display data on line, circle and bar graphs; and to locate ordered pairs (x, y) on line graphs.
Fourth graders spend most of this year studying the history, geography, culture, economy and government of Florida. Using an 8′ x 8′ wall map of Florida, students investigate and explore how Natives, Europeans, and Africans have shaped and continue to shape the Sunshine State. Using a myriad of resources, students investigate a specific area of study and then apply their knowledge graphically on the map. Not only do they learn to access information in atlases, nonfiction texts, charts, and graphs they also brainstorm methods for visually displaying relevant information texturally. This year-long format allows students to build skills in research and application, both individually and cooperatively. This approach allows students to demonstrate an understanding of course materials and main idea as well as create a multi-sensory visual resource. The result is that by the end of the year students grasp Florida contextually in terms of climate, ecology, history, industry, population, and issues in government. This hands-on, multi-sensory, multi-intelligence method results in more complex thinking as well as an in-depth understanding of the interdependent nature of the social world.
In addition to the content and skills described above, students also learn about and practice patterns of effective communication. Through a series of activities and initiatives students find themselves needing to collectively solve problems involving collaboration and execution. After the activity, students reflect on the process, concluding on methods for efficiently keeping everyone focused on the end goal. Student skills are sharpened through discussions, debates, and philosophical ponderings. By the end of the year students find that their ability to work with others is diversified not just by their understanding of their own skills, but by their ability to empathize and look at challenges from multiple perspectives. Through this process they become more critical and creative problem solvers.
Finally, throughout the year, students engage in a number of service projects aimed at identifying a need, designing a way to fulfill the need, and then implementing their plan. Such projects might include organizing a run to raise money for hurricane victims, partnering with Lake Jackson Alliance to persuade local officials toward preservation of a local resource, or working with Tall Timbers to help restore native longleaf pine ecosystems. Through the various projects, students find that compassionate action, grounded in sound research and united behind shared goals, can and will make a difference. An education that is purposeful teaches students that their voice matters, thereby building the foundation for engaging and meaningful citizenship.
Science in the fourth grade builds on the concepts of cycles and systems. Rather than stand alone, the science curriculum runs parallel to and is integrated into the social studies investigation of Florida.
Students begin with air, atmosphere, weather, and climate. This content strand is supported with experiments as well as with text and data. Students construct complex graphs that illustrate patterns in Tallahassee’s climate. With an understanding of climate, students embark on a trip to the geologic past to learn about Earth’s interior, plate tectonics, and fluctuations in Earth’s climate. These elements place Florida within the context of a global, interrelated system. It is within this frame that students look closely at Florida during the ice age, the climate, the shoreline, the vegetation, and the mega-fauna.
Fast forwarding to the landscape and geography of today, students study the basic topographic features of Florida, highlighting geologic regions on the map. Through their study of water, they layer the map with water systems, while intellectually they tackle the water cycle. Students study and research various aspects of Florida’s flora and fauna, learning about the interactions between abiotic and biotic elements in a healthy ecosystem. This provides the foundation and structure for looking at life at a cellular level. Gradually, they move toward more individualized investigations of specific ecosystems of Florida.
The final unit pulls back from Florida as they study the solar system. Students research and create reports on the various planets. They work together to construct a scale model of the solar system using basic items from a grocery store, as well as a scale distance model stretched out the length of the school. This unit culminates in an overnight trip to NASA.
Skills throughout the science curriculum include questioning, experimenting, concluding, graphing, researching, sketching, constructing, conceptualizing, writing, and exploring. Students keep science journals, and constantly update the map with new information regarding geography and ecosystems as it relates to Florida.
Fourth Graders also have the benefit of Cornerstone’s life science teacher twice a month who facilitates gardening with the children. As a yearlong project, the children plant, cultivate, harvest, cook and sample the food grown in their gardens.
The creative drama process is engaging and active. Through the use of creative drama, Cornerstone students are given tools that will help them tap into their own creativity and exercise their imaginations. Each class is guided by the teacher as leader to explore, develop, express and communicate ideas, concepts, and feelings through dramatic enactment. In each grade level, developmentally appropriate activities are used to explore themes using elements of drama to give form and meaning to the experience.
As Fourth graders in Creative Drama the ability to work within small groups to produce short scenes from original prompts is practiced. Improvisational skills are strengthened. Drama games become more complex problem solving exercises. Larger scale productions are considered when they stem from the classroom creative process.
Through the use of Drama Games the students are encouraged to explore new concepts in a non-threatening environment. The essential goal of creative drama is to impart life skills and increase the student’s awareness of connections in learning.
Fourth graders attend formal art classes.
Fourth graders attend formal art classes with an art teacher each week. They will create visual arts projects using a variety of materials and techniques and will be exposed to works of professional artists. At times their projects will be centered on specific themes related to classroom work. At Cornerstone Learning Community students are taught that art is a form of communication and a means of expressing themselves. Through this communication and self-expression, art becomes a source of discovery and joy.
Every student in kindergarten through eighth grade attends a minimum of two 50 minute classes in physical education per week. To reflect the National Association of Sport and Physical Education standards by providing meaningful, appropriate games and activities, the elementary physical education program explores and promotes the development of skill-and health-related physical activity components.
Students also have at least 30 minutes of recess everyday.
Fourth graders attend weekly music classes.
Fourth graders attend weekly music classes taught by a professional music teacher. The classes strengthen and integrate basic music skills such as singing and harmonizing, rhythm, reading, writing, theoretical analysis and creating of music and instrument playing. Instruction is hands-on and energetic so that children develop enthusiasm for music as a means of artistic expression. They also learn active listening techniques as they listen to examples of traditional music from a variety of cultures.