The Grade 4 mathematics program emphasizes a three-pronged approach for mathematical competence: conceptual understanding, arithmetic and vocabulary. To develop competence, students build skills and then practice within the context of real problem solving. Math activities allow for cooperative group work and for students to use math as a tool, developing communication skills while working on long-term projects. Using the Math In Focus Singapore Math program, students explore mathematical concepts through real world problems as well as hands-on and visual representations all designed to build flexible mathematical thinking. Topics include estimation strategies, problem solving and logical reasoning, geometry, measurement of area/perimeter, review of basic math facts, long division, fractions and decimals, algebraic thinking, data collection and interpretation.
A variety of integrated units explore the human brain, decomposition, electrical circuits and forces. Students focus on the scientific process, measurement, note-taking and study skills. Inquiry-based experiences both in the classroom and in the science lab engage students in discovering science concepts and in applying science process skills.
Grade 4 students practice Spanish in pairs, small groups and whole class activities. They also continue to use a textbook, organized around such themes as likes/dislikes, school activities and family. Students utilize the Internet as a resource for language learning and practice by accessing online dictionaries, learning activities and other reference materials. After engaging in various unit-based dialogues throughout the year, students culminate the year by performing original skits that encompass all units.
Grade 4 students continue to use computers as important learning tools. They use a variety of applications and productivity tools at this level and begin to make decisions on the appropriate way to communicate information using technology. Interacting with multiple programs simultaneously, students also begin to use the Scratch coding program, Makey-Makey hardware, 3-D printers and Lego Mindstorms to enable the students to make a true link between software and hardware. Best practice for Internet and search engine use as well as basic troubleshooting to independently solve routine hardware and software problems are also reinforced.
Teachers recognize students’ unique learning styles and assist them in reaching their full potential by helping them develop strategies for success. Learning resources are also available from Learning Specialists, who provide both extra challenges and extra support with specific skill work as necessary. Social/emotional resources are also available from the Day School Counselor, who offers parent education; meets with teachers, individual students, small groups and entire classes; and provides the social/emotional support that helps children feel secure, successful and happy.
Grade 4 goes to the library weekly for stories, books and library activities. During group story time, students enjoy listening to longer chapter books as well as completing research activities based on class assignments. Students are introduced to additional information sources such as almanacs and nonfiction literature and use these resources in completing a spring biography project. During independent library time, students continue solidifying browsing skills and reading comprehension through increasingly sophisticated use of online quizzes and the online catalog.
The primary goal of visual arts instruction is to engage children in the use of visual language. Students learn to understand content, meaning and context, connecting them to the larger world. Spatial and sculptural concepts in visual language are the primary guide for all of the activities with media that include paper, clay, found objects, wire and plaster. Students gain a technical understanding for each medium and develop important conceptual and analytical thinking skills.
Grade 4 students continue to develop instrumental, singing, reading and writing skills during the the year. Performance skills practice often includes solos and small groups. Composition, improvisation, dancing and movement are integral to the music program. Orff instruments are used Kindergarten - Grade 5.
Grade 4 PE classes emphasize multi-skill development in a fun, non-threatening environment. Team games make the PE and intramural classes emotionally engaging, physically challenging and dynamic. Grade 4 team games and specific skills are complex and demand more maneuvering, tactics and strategies. Students hone such skills as kicking, throwing, catching, shooting, dodging, dribbling and passing.
Grade 4 students are often very competent swimmers with a strong array of swim skills. In addition to learning and refining advanced swim skills, students experience lessons, games, safety training and water rescue, snorkeling and free play time. Students also enjoy playing water volleyball, wet ball (a junior version of water polo) and relay games. In addition to regular lessons, after-school swim club is offered for Kindergarten - Grade 5.