Fourth Grade Curriculum
The reading curriculum provides students opportunities to read texts across many different fiction and nonfiction genres, develop their critical thinking skills, build knowledge, apply comprehension skills and strategies, read with greater fluency, and expand their vocabulary. The reading instructional time is divided between direct instruction using Into Reading by HMH and a workshop model. During the workshop time, students work in small groups with the teacher, make written responses about texts, and read independently.
Into Reading provides numerous award-winning and culturally relevant texts across a wide variety of genres. Students learn characteristics of genres, expand their understanding of literary elements, cite evidence from texts, make cross-text connections, and synthesize the information they have learned about the topic of study. Throughout each module, students build networks of knowledge in order to construct meaning as they read.
Each reading unit focuses on a “big idea” and an essential question that connects learning. Students explore a new aspect of the unit concept every two weeks, acquire new vocabulary, and read related texts. The fourth grade reading units include:
- What Makes Us Who We Are? - How do your experiences shape your identity?
- Communication Nation - What forms can communication take?
- Tricksters and Tall Tales - What lessons can you learn from characters in traditional tales?
- Marvels of Nature - What makes Earth's natural wonders exciting and unique?
- Global Guardians - What can people do to care for our planet?
- Art Everywhere - How far can your talents take you?
The writing curriculum encompasses instruction in the writing process, grammar, and spelling. The fourth grade writing units allow students to explore narrative writing as well as continue to develop their skills in academic writing. Through explicit teaching, practice applying strategies, studying mentor texts, and sharing writing, students engage in deep and thoughtful writing experiences. They produce numerous pieces of formal writing that involve the full writing/revision process. Additionally, in each unit students apply their new writing skills to respond independently to a writing prompt under a given time constraint, usually about 45 minutes. The Units of Study Program by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project serves as the core resource. The fourth grade curriculum includes the following core units:
- The Arc of Story - Writing Realistic Fiction: Students apply what they have learned from reading fiction to writing fiction. They develop believable characters with struggles and motivations, create a vivid setting, and craft an engaging story-line.
- Boxes and Bullets - Personal and Persuasive Essays: Students learn the value of organization and form as they gather evidence to support and express their opinion on various topics.
- Bringing History to Life: The year culminates with students researching, collecting evidence, and using details to vividly describe people from present day to long ago through the writing of a biography. Their multi-page pieces include organized content and various text features such as a table of contents and glossary.
District 27's K-5 math curriculum emphasizes deep mathematical understanding and reasoning through real-world problem situations. In addition to learning and practicing important math skills, students invent, question, model, represent, and explore math strategies to solve problems and deepen their understanding of math concepts. The mathematical concepts, skills, and strategies connect and build across the grade levels. In grades K-5 students explore math topics through Math Expressions by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The fourth grade units include the following:
- Place Value and Multi-Digit Addition and Subtraction: Students use place value to compare and round multi-digit numbers. They use place value concepts and grouping and ungrouping methods to add and subtract multi-digit numbers.
- Multiplication with Whole Numbers: Students use place value, area models, and numerical methods to multiply one-digit numbers by two-, three-, and four-digit numbers. They also solve two-digit by two-digit multiplication problems
- Division with Whole Numbers: Students adapt methods they learned for multiplying to divide with whole numbers. They interpret quotients and remainders in the context of real-world problems.
- Equations and Word Problems: Students write and solve equations to solve real-world problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They also find factors and multiples of whole numbers as well as identify and extend numerical and geometric patterns.
- Fraction Concepts and Operations: This unit introduces basic fraction concepts and building fractions from unit fractions. Students apply fraction concepts to add and subtract fractions and mixed numbers with like denominators and multiply whole numbers by fractions.
- Measurement: Students develop their understanding of U.S. customary and metric measurement units, including converting from larger units to smaller units. Students apply their knowledge to area and perimeter formulas.
- Fractions and Decimals: Students compare fractions with like and unlike denominators. They model related fractions, mixed numbers, and decimals.
- Geometry: Students classify and draw angles, triangles, and quadrilaterals. They identify and draw parallel and perpendicular lines as well as lines of symmetry in geometric figures.
District 27’s K-5 science curriculum emphasizes scientific processes/skills and builds students’ conceptual knowledge in biology, physics, chemistry, and earth science. The science program deliberately attends to students’ existing scientific ideas, provides authentic science experiences, encourages science exploration, and develops students’ science literacy. The fourth grade curriculum includes the following units:
Matter: Students study many different objects and their properties. By investigating the properties of different materials, students realize that the properties of those materials are a reliable means to identify specific materials and distinguish them from other materials. Students conduct a number of experiments and use their observations to identify a Mystery Powder. Throughout the unit, students learn to make quality observations and organize data.
Living Environment: Through experiments and computer simulations, students investigate animals’ responses to environmental factors and study the needs of living things. Experiments testing the effects of light, temperature, and water guide students in their understanding of how major environmental factors can influence organisms. Within each activity, the students observe, collect, record, and interpret data from experiments that they have helped design. Students build a terrarium and make regular observations of the growth and change within it.
Energy Conversions: Students assume the role of systems engineers for Ergstown, a fictional town that experiences frequent blackouts, and they explore reasons why an electrical system may fail. Through activities, discussion, reading, writing, and engaging with a digital simulation, students make discoveries about the way electrical systems work. Then, students apply what they have learned as they choose new energy sources and energy converters for the town, using evidence to explain why their choices will make the electrical system more reliable. As they work to solve the problem of blackouts in Ergstown, students will use and construct devices that convert energy from one form to another, build an understanding of the electrical system, and learn to identify energy forms all around them.
District 27’s K-5 social studies curriculum addresses five key themes of social studies: Geography, history, government, economics, and culture. Certain themes are addressed in more detail at certain grade levels. Social Studies Alive by TCI serves as the core resource. In third grade, students broaden their awareness about the local and global communities in which they live. They learn the fundamentals of geography, explore different cultures, study immigration, and are introduced to global trade. The curriculum includes the following units:
- Introduction to the Social Sciences and Regions of the US.
- Researching Your State's Government.