In fourth grade, students work to deepen their comprehension skills by practicing and developing their ability to summarize, analyze character development, make inferences, explore themes, and use evidence to support claims. Much of this work happens through explicit skill development and differentiated book clubs. Students continue to build fluency with grade-level texts and work to develop reflective and cohesive responses to literature. In writing, fourth graders are developmentally ready to expand their depth of thought. With the support of mentor texts, the focus is placed on the author's craft, and purpose, as well as on reviewing and expanding the paragraph structure. These skills are integrated into thesis-driven persuasive essays, information writing, and research, realistic narrative fiction, and poetry. Students also build grammar, spelling, sentence fluency, and vocabulary skills. Revision, editing, and practicing constructive feedback strategies are also a part of their writing process.
Using Comprehensible Input, students in the fourth-grade Spanish program engage in more writing and reading in the target language. Students move from character development to story development, where instruction uses stories to provide a context for rich conversations while repeating and targeting vocabulary words and structures. Students collectively write familiar stories and newly generated stories and view, discuss, and write about short videos during Movie-talk activities. Focus is also on students acquiring the 'Sweet 16' verbs in the first, second, and third persons through oral and written activities. The expectation for fourth-grade students is that they develop confidence in reading and interacting with written texts with familiar vocabulary and grammar structures. As emergent writers, students write sentences in basic structure using the targeted vocabulary.
Fourth graders in PE are encouraged to embrace challenges and learn from their experiences while developing skills of teamwork, communication, and a sense of fair play. They practice running for distance, combining traveling and manipulative skills, and transferring weight from feet to hands while carrying speed and using large extensions (mule kick, handstand, cartwheel). They learn to throw, catch and dribble while increasing and decreasing speed and to pass and receive a ball with a moving partner. An additional focus for this grade level includes kicking, volleying, and striking in a dynamic environment and combining manipulative skills and traveling for execution to a target (e.g., scoring in soccer, floorball, and basketball). Fourth-grade students also create a jump rope routine with a short or a long rope.
The Lower School library curriculum encourages students to be information literate, to become independent learners, and to engage in social responsibility. They read; are read to; make connections between the class curriculum and library resources; share their stories; learn to be inclusive and open-minded through an array of literature; and find joy in reading. Fourth graders explore different print and nonprint information surrounding a current event happening in the world. They practice literary analysis, complete a poetry study, and continue their exploration of digital citizenship, online etiquette, and finding reliable resources.
Fourth grade delves into California history, beginning with considering how California's geography impacted the ways of life for its first peoples. Students then learn about Natives' first contact with European explorers and the Spanish colonial era that followed. When exploring topics like the Spanish Mission System, students consider the presentation of narratives and whether or not they include perspectives from all peoples impacted during these historical periods. Students continue to keep this in mind as they explore California history during the 19th century, learning about the first Republic of Mexico, the Mexican-American War, the Bear Flag Revolt, and the California Gold Rush. In the latter part of the year, learning shifts toward contemporary California history and social justice movements. Much of this learning is supported in historical fiction-themed book clubs that highlight migrant farmworkers, contributions of women and LGBTQ figures, as well as the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII.
In fourth grade Mandarin, students continue to develop a foundation in the key areas of Mandarin language learning. This stage focuses on speaking and listening and introducing students to conversing with their teacher and classmates in an interactive manner. The focus is on learning common courtesy expressions, introductory conversational statements and phrases, expressions of feeling and emotion, asking and responding to questions, and learning commonly used verbs and descriptive phrases. Various cultural topics are also intertwined into language learning as students deepen their understanding of Chinese characters, reading, and writing.
Fourth graders, in DBi, use their time in the DBi lab to make connections to their core curriculum. They explore the themes of water and California with a particular lens on designing systems. Labs include building prototype levees, aqueducts and California monuments. Students also explore beginning robotics to bring their Wild Robot story to life.
Fourth grade service learning focuses on the environment and habitat restoration. In partnership with Friends of Sausal Creek, Lake Merritt Clean-up, and the Alameda Dump, students learn about our impact on the environment, waste reduction, and recycling; they also engage directly in clean-up and habitat restoration activities.
Fourth graders in math build on and develop conceptual understandings using the concrete-pictorial-abstract approach that incorporates the use of diagrams and bar models to solve real-world problems. Students learn numbers sense through the millions place, multi-digit multiplication and division, data and probability, geometry, algebraic expressions and patterns, fractions, and decimals.
Lower School art is where students explore and express their creativity through a variety of mediums and study artists from diverse backgrounds. Instruction is fluid and philosophically rooted in the idea that all children are artists and that growth comes from continuous practice, experimentation, and reflection. Projects in fourth grade include creating embroidered photo-collages based on the work of Mexican artist Victoria Villasana, observational oil pastel drawings of California poppies, and single-color block prints in the woodcut tradition.
Expressing, creating, and performing continue to be integral in fourth-grade music. Students learn more about the musical alphabet and note names on the treble staff. They review literacy skills such as note reading, rhythm reading, and musical dictation and continue to develop breath management, vocal tone, range (head tones), expression, part-singing, and intonation (in-tune singing). The 4th-5th grade spring musical is a culminating experience for fourth graders as they deepen their participation in dancing, singing, instrument exploration, and creative movement.
Outdoor Education takes students outside of the familiarity of the classroom, encourages them to stretch, try something new, support their classmates, and connect to learning beyond school walls. In March, for one night and two days, fourth-grade students go to Coloma, California. There, students engage in a California Gold Rush program designed for fourth graders. They use the lessons of the past in relation to the Goldrush to awaken their interest and sense of responsibility for the environment and historical impacts relating to migration and community development. This experience is led by the California Outdoor Discovery School and chaperoned by the 4th-grade teachers and parent volunteers.
Fourth grade scientists explore ecosystems and environments, wetland habitats, geographical formations, rocks and minerals, and electricity and circuits. Students explore the various micro-environments of our school and conduct a waste-system audit of the lower school.
Fourth graders continue to work on laptops, and honing their saving and navigation skills on the “cloud.” Media literacy is a focal point throughout the year, and students begin to search the internet independently as they evaluate various websites for each project. They use GoogleDrive extensively, improve formatting and organizational skills, and are introduced to the collaborative power of cloud work, that include digital citizenship responsibilities.
In split classes, fourth-grade students in Garden to Table keep our plants and habitats healthy and learn how to apply their growing knowledge to the kitchen classroom. They apply their math skills and use tools to build planters, raised beds, and birdhouses. Students actively participate and engage in the cycle of planting, nurturing, and harvesting varieties of plants (including edibles) and utilize their knife skills and flavor know-how to cook recipes based on California social studies learning.