In our classroom, we read on a daily basis! We read for pleasure, to find information, and to investigate new writing techniques. The 4th grade reading program focuses on comprehension and making connections to the text, while maintaining a high level of accuracy. Students in our class will regularly participate in the following reading formats: literature studies, book clubs, independent reading, and shared reading.
Literature studies are used throughout the year to promote a love of reading and to teach reading skills. Using “real” literature gives students the chance to see how a story develops, how beginning, middle, and end are related, and how an author develops characters throughout a story. All aspects of reading can be taught through these literature studies. Book clubs are used to enrich our reading and to provide time for reading on individual reading levels. These “clubs” promote discussion and listening skills as well as a love for reading.
Independent reading allows students to self-select books and other reading materials that they find personally interesting. Students will communicate with me about their independent reading experiences during reading conferences. Shared reading occurs daily as I read aloud to the students and we participate in discussions about reading strategies, the book’s plot and characters, and the author’s crafting techniques.
Writer’s Workshop encompasses the entire writing process, from brainstorming to publishing. During this time, students are busy doing the “real work” of writers. Conferences are held with individual students on a regular basis to teach language and writing skills as they are needed. In addition, mini-lessons on topics related to the writing process will also be taught in a whole-class setting.
Throughout the course of the year, students will produce a variety of writing pieces, including memoirs, fiction, poetry, letters, and informational pieces. While grammar, mechanics, and spelling are important, and will be explicitly taught, they make up only one of the six traits of good writing. Students’ writing pieces will be graded on all six traits. Our focus during Writer’s Workshop will be on the writing process and written expression. Students will be encouraged to write about the topics that are meaningful to them throughout the year. Please see the 6 Traits Writing Rubric for more information on how students’ writing will be graded.
Math concepts are primarily taught using a "workshop" model, which emphasizes mathematical reasoning and problem solving. To become good problem solvers, students must learn to describe, to compare, and to discuss their approaches. Communication about math is a central theme, and students will frequently be asked to explain their thinking by writing, drawing, making models, and speaking.
The math curriculum is organized into several units of study. In each unit, students will explore mathematical concepts in depth through a series of lessons and "math labs," gradually encountering and using many important mathematical ideas. Rather than working through a textbook or workbook, doing page-by-page exercises, students will be actively engaged in working with materials and with their peers to solve larger mathematical problems. Students will work in depth on a small number of problems, actively using mathematical tools and consulting with peers as they find their own ways to solve the problems.
You will notice that the math homework looks different from traditional math programs. On some days, your child will bring home math games to play with you. On other days, the homework may consist of only one problem that students must solve in two different ways. The purpose of this homework is to get the students to think about and communicate their problem solving strategies, and to practice skills that were taught in class. Please be aware that students will not be given math worksheets to complete every night.
Mastering math facts is also an important component of the 4th grade math program. When students can instantly recall these facts, they become more accurate and confident problem solvers. Students will be required to practice their math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) throughout the year, until they have reached an appropriate level of fluency.
In fourth grade, students will experience the following science topics: the scientific process, weather, water conservation, energy & magnetism, and plant & animal adaptations. Each 4th grade teacher chose one of these science topics to become an “expert” on. Students will spend a few weeks in each of the other 4th grade classrooms to learn about these different topics. Our science program is based on student inquiry, encouraging students to become scientists and explore the world around them.
In 4th grade, we study our great state of Arizona, including its geography, people, and history. Students will participate in a variety of activities and projects, culminating in a class trip to the Grand Canyon near the end of the school year. This trip is scheduled for Friday, May 4. I will provide more information about the trip in the spring, as the date draws nearer.