The fourth grade program is rich in content and emphasizes the development of organizational and study skills. Now proficient in basic reading, writing, and mathematics, students build on these skills to analyze texts and ideas, synthesize information, think critically about issues, develop their writing, and support their claims with evidence from the text. In addition, students participate in their first overnight experience, an educational retreat to Camp Allen where they experience a walk through “living history” with camp staff dressed as characters off of their history pages.
In reading workshop, the key goals for fourth grade include using reading comprehension strategies effectively, including visualizing, questioning, connecting, predicting, inferring, and interpreting; identifying main ideas and supporting details; explaining how a text supports a claim or an opinion; and comparing and contrasting characters and stories. Students continue to read many of the same genres they read in previous years: novels, non-fiction books, short stories, biography, and selected poetry. In guided reading groups, students learn to have rich and focused discussions about the books that they are reading and learn to support one another’s thoughts and insights. They also keep a nightly reading log and formally study reading comprehension as a test skill.
In writing workshop, students begin with entries in their writing notebooks, develop them into drafts, and revise and edit them with their writing partners. Genres covered during the year include personal essays, responses to non-fiction reading, content writing (biography), letter writing, fantasy, fictional, realistic, and mystery narratives. In writers’ circle groups, students regularly share their writing pieces and celebrate their finished products with a publishing celebration.
Key skills that are reinforced in the fourth grade include the use of topic sentences and supporting details, writing paragraphs that consist of one complete idea, writing multi-paragraph essays that incorporate introductions and conclusions, using texts to support a thesis, varying word choice and sentence length and structure, incorporating thoughts, feelings, dialogue, and inner monologues, and using quotes and exclamations. Students continue to work on spelling, punctuation, capitalization, vocabulary, cursive writing, dictionary use, sequencing, formatting, and presentation.
In the BYDS fourth Grade math class, the Singapore Math program offers students effective strategies to analyzing all types of quantitative and algebraic problems. The Singapore sequencing helps students build intellectual capacity by taking a problem and moving from the concrete to the pictorial, to the abstract. Students in fourth grade continue to develop the facility to apply the Singapore method of creating storyboards to solve word problems, and these word problems encompass greater complexity. Long division and multiplication strategies, using up to four digits and sometimes more, are emphasized. Work with fractions takes on all four operations; understanding comparisons and relationships between fractions is taught. The study of data uses more precise number types, including fractions, percentages, and decimals. Metric measurements are taught in the fourth grade, consistent with scientific measuring taught in the Science program. In-class preparation for standardized testing continues, as ERB tests take place in the spring. As in all Elementary grades, 4th – grade math is taught each day, both in the scheduled math class time but also during transition times and during segments of the day that yield the teachable moment.
The4th – grade social studies program focuses on the history of Texas and the multi-cultural nature of not only Texas but the Western Hemisphere. Texas history is studied from the indigenous peoples and earliest exploration through statehood. An analysis of where people settled, how they organized their societies, and how they made their living provides students with a comparison of the common and unique features of Texas. In their study, students use maps, atlases, globes, and geography books to locate the countries around the world and explore their similarities and differences in climate and topography. Students then explore Texas heroes and create individual projects. They present these projects to the school by creating a wax museum of Texas heroes as a “kick off” to Celebrate Texas Day. In culmination of this unit, the 4th – grade class takes field trips to both Camp Allen and the Texas Heritage Society.
An additional unit of study concentrates on map skills including terminology and map making. Geography is reviewed and used in the study of Texas regions, rivers, and landforms. Students then create their own imaginary states demonstrating their mastery of map making skills and enjoy a creative writing assignment in which they write a story involving make-believe characters from the state that they created.
The fourth-grade science curriculum is designed to deepen students understanding of experimental design, scientific reasoning, and conservation of resources. Students learn to create electricity, use conductors and insulators, and experiment with different forces. They also continue learning about earth and space and spend the final months of school covering adaptation, behavioral and inherited traits, and interesting facts about organisms and their environment.
In the 4th – grade students are encouraged to start focusing not only on accuracy but also on speed. Students are required to use two hands while typing. Some exceptions are made for students who have not been keyboarding since first grade, but even those students are asked to attempt two-handed keyboarding whenever possible.
4th-grade students are given school e-mail accounts that are accessible through gmail. Students are taught to use these e-mails safely. Students are also taught to use google docs as an alternative to saving files on the network. They are also taught how to share these documents safely.
By 4th – grade, students are expected to be able to save and retrieve files properly. Students are taught to save to their network folders. Every document is saved to their named folders.
4th – grade students engage in many targeted research projects throughout the year. They are given many opportunities to do research on the computers both in the computer lab and in their classrooms. 4th-grade is guided to appropriate sites for their given topics. They are guided through how to find information through the use of directed/targeted questions. They are also given an individual research project at the end of the school year. During this project, students use the skills that they have learned during the year to write a research paper, a bibliography and create a Power Point project, Glogster or other demonstrative aid. Win an increased on-line presence, students are also made more aware of cyber safety and cyber ethics.
Office Productivity Suite
4th-grade students use Word and Power Point. Throughout the year, they complete a variety of projects on both. In Word, students are able to change fonts change color, insert pictures, and shapes. Students are able to add transitions and animation, choose layouts and add slides and change the color and font of their text. Students are also able to insert pictures from clip art and from outside files.
From Kindergarten through 5th Grade, Spanish is taught during the regular school day as a third language after English and Hebrew. The focus of the program is on Spanish conversation.
Hebrew and Judaic Studies
4th graders continue in their studies toward mastery of Hebrew and lead portions of the Shabbat services. 4th graders participate in the weekly Shabbat program. They are eligible for Mensch of the Week awards during that service. Students participate in community service as part of the values-based program.
The highlight of the year for fourth graders in Judaic Studies is when they lead a Havdallah service. Light refreshments are served, and students receive a havdallah set to use at home each week.