Supervising Assistant Principal for Fourth Grade: Sara Despres, Sdespres@ps321.info
Fourth grade is an exciting year when students are maturing into abstract thinkers and building on many of the skills they have learned in the lower grades. Our workshop approach to teaching means that fourth graders spend most of the day working partnerships, small groups, or independently, and that instruction is differentiated. We spend considerable time developing strong classroom communities and work hard on social and emotional skill development.
Reading & Writing
Teachers conduct ongoing and interim assessments in literacy, sitting side by side and listening to each student read, discussing books, assessing high frequency words and spelling, noting what skills they have and which they need, and looking closely at their writing. Running records help teachers track student progress toward benchmarks and guide instruction. Our curriculum emphasizes deep inferential comprehension. Consistent with the Common Core Standards, we have increased the amount of nonfiction/ informational text in both reading and writing. By the end of fourth grade, children are expected to be able to read with understanding level Q books such as All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, Anastasia Krupnick by Lois Lowry, and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.
In math, we are strongly committed to a concept-based, problem-solving, hands-on approach to mathematics. We believe children need to be involved in constructing meaning in math, deciding on which strategies to use as they solve complex problems. We also know that children need to learn and practice basic math facts so that they can calculate quickly and efficiently, and so we do that as well. The Common Core Standards outline end of year expectations in math on each grade, and our pacing calendars are designed with that in mind. We draw on TERC Investigations, Math in Context replacement units, units developed by Metamorphosis, and more, and emphasize differentiating math instruction.
Some of the key end-of-year 4th grade math benchmarks include:
- Use place value understanding and properties to perform multi-digit arithmetic
- Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm
- Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by one digit and multiply two two-digit numbers using strategies based on place value
- Solve word problems involving multiplication of a fraction by a whole number
- Understand decimal notation for fractions
In Social Studies, students study American History from Native Americans to the American Revolution and Current Events. Shared studies include: The Iroquois/Explorers, Colonial America/Plimoth, and the American Revolution. The curriculum incorporates inquiry and engaging trips throughout the year.
Science – information to come
All fourth graders have computer, art, music, science, physical education, drama, and dance. The day incorporates many opportunities for movement during transitions and recess.
Teachers are always informally assessing students to guide their instruction. Report cards are distributed in November, March and June.
All fourth graders take state math, ELA, and science tests in the spring.We believe that the best preparation for these tests is great teaching every day, and we are not a school that emphasizes test prep to the detriment of instruction in a wide range of subjects. We provide children with many varied experiences in the arts as well as in the tested subjects and we teach children to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. We do some explicit test prep in the two weeks before each statewide test so that children are prepared for the format and type of questions.
Common Core Standards
For a detailed listing of the Common Core Standards for ELA and Math, please click here.