Last Monday, illustrator Joseph Santiago of Saint James Studios and his business partner Yamilca visited their son's fifth grade Core class with Stefanie Trepper to give a lesson on a crucial aspect of the filmmaking process: storyboarding.
In fourth grade at CGPS, students emerge as Grammar School leaders as they build independence and communication skills.
As the oldest students in the division, fourth graders act as ambassadors, sharing news about community events and grade-wide projects. In class, deeper discussions become a significant part of the curriculum. At this age, students are naturally passionate about social justice. They also love word play, descriptive language and expanding their vocabularies. In December, a unit of study combining music, performance skills and grammar rules culminates in all fourth graders performing the musical Pirates from Grammar Island.
- Language Arts 4
- Math 4
- Social Studies 4
- Science 4
- Spanish 4
- Art 4
- Music 4
- Technology 4
- Meeting 4
- Physical Education 4
Fourth graders receive daily instruction in language arts with classroom teachers. Reading specialists join the class daily to provide opportunities for small-group work and to support word study, reading and writing across the curriculum. Students learn strategies for reading non-fiction texts in connection with their social studies units. Through class discussions, they work on following themes and character development throughout different novels. Students review rules for spelling multisyllabic words, study prefixes and suffixes, and develop vocabulary knowledge using various programs such as Words Their Way, Megawords and Wordly Wise. The writing program emphasizes writing conventions and various writing structures and purposes. The focus spans a range of genres.
The Grammar School mathematics program develops mathematical thinkers who value collaboration and communication when investigating big ideas, identifying patterns and explaining relationships. Students learn to think flexibly and persevere through productive struggles as they develop the growth mindset needed for problem solving. Concepts and skills build from grade to grade in each of the major domains: counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, numbers and operations in base ten, numbers and operations with fractions, measurement and data, and geometry. Students are given ample opportunity to construct their own understanding of foundational concepts and computation strategies through hands-on experiences and rich opportunities for discourse, as well as the use of concrete materials, pictorial models and contextual problem solving. Our teachers and math specialists promote the type of learning environment that encourages risk-taking and celebrates mistakes as students revise and develop their thinking.
Fourth grade mathematicians eagerly tackle challenges and a variety of rich tasks that allow them to practice applying all that they know about the four operations with multi-digit numbers. They continue to use properties of operations as well as special relationships between numbers to find slick and sophisticated strategies for mental computation. Students enrich their understanding of a base ten number system by applying place value concepts to strategies for multi-digit multiplication and division and build a conceptual understanding that ultimately connects to a procedural understanding. Throughout the year, problem-solving strategies and creative thinking are indispensable partners as students engage in collaborative tasks rich with opportunities for discourse and critical thinking. A comprehensive unit on fractions and an introduction to decimals covers equivalent fractions, using multiplicative reasoning to find common denominators as well as exploring the connections between fractions and division. Algebraic reasoning is an overarching theme throughout as students work to identify patterns in number sequences, build proportional reasoning through ratio tables and use equations to represent contexts and diagrams.
At CGPS, the social studies curriculum focuses on events from the past and present through the lens of an essential question. For fourth graders examining exploration throughout history, those questions include “What happens when two different cultures interact?” and, “What motivates us?” During a unit of study on Marco Polo and the Silk Road, students visit the Rubin Museum. They also participate in an in-school field trip, playing the roles of spice merchants as they travel from one silk road outpost to another, and learning about the cultural and economic life along this route. Fourth graders study 1492 and explorers such as Christopher Columbus. They consider how geography and interactions with Native American people affected the goals of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The social studies curriculum emphasizes evidence-based learning. Throughout the year, fourth graders access both primary and secondary sources and develop their research and note-taking skills.
The environmental science curriculum takes fourth graders from the science lab to the Makerspace with a stop at the fourth grade student-run Lion's Cub Farmer's Market. Fourth grade scientists conduct research about food and how it affects the environment and design their own action plans to address problems that they uncover. In their study of geology, they explore minerals and the ways they change and coalesce to form rocks. They also focus on environmental engineering and the hunt for clean water. Using the engineering design process (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create and Improve), students design and test an innovative solution to a global water problem; the culminating project of this unit is to create a digital presentation of their water innovation research and design process.
World language exposure encourages empathy for learning a new language, development of problem-solving skills and an understanding of and openness to cultural differences. All Spanish classes are full-immersion experiences with focus on verbal and written acquisition. Units include a writing project with the goal of describing themselves, which helps young Spanish learners explore pronouns and the vocabulary for different character traits; a unit on hobbies; and a unit on family, which involves creating a family album with descriptions for family members. Throughout the year, students use the website Quizlet in order to review the vocabulary and play cooperative games. They also study pronouns in Spanish and the difference between the formal and informal pronoun use.
The fourth grade art curriculum fosters independent thinking and a more formal approach to drawing. Students use sketchbooks throughout the year to record their thoughts and ideas and to plan future projects. Such projects include mask making, profile figure drawing and graffiti typography. Students work with clay using both slab and hand-building techniques. Projects incorporate a range of materials and found objects, encouraging students to think unconventionally. The art studios provide students a valuable opportunity to express their feelings, thoughts and ideas in a safe and nurturing environment.
In addition to continuing with their instrument of choice from the third grade, fourth graders join Orchestra and Band. In general music class, fourth graders learn about musical form by singing, moving and playing in a rondo. Students play ostinati (repeated musical patterns) on barred instruments (such as xylophones, metallophones and temple blocks) while singing in both unison and canon. They learn to hear, sing and visually recognize the diatonic scale, as well as sing confidently in both the pentatonic and diatonic major scales. They learn to read, write and aurally recognize quarter, half, eighth and sixteenth notes, quarter and half rests. The fourth grade music curriculum also focuses on good habits for healthy singing such as sitting or standing with upright posture, singing in a "flute voice" and breathing deeply. At the end of the year, students prepare four songs for the Fourth Grade Promotion.
Fourth graders work in an “Open Technology” format. They are introduced to various technologies which they explore in the lab. Technologies include programming environments such as Scratch, ScratchX, Bettleblocks and Blockly, as well as Dash robots, and Pinbox pinball machines. Students design 3D objects in Tinkercad to print on a 3D printer. Targeted projects include the use of collaborative programmable 3D virtual spaces to create platforms to share their work in social studies, math and art. There is also focus on computer art, 3D design, stop-motion animation and photography, including a digital photography project that takes advantage of Central Park as a subject. Finally, fourth graders are introduced to 3D modeling, as they learn how to design a house with a pool and create their own digital factory from the ground up.
In fourth grade Meeting, students actively explore topics relating to their own social-emotional well-being. Previous concepts surrounding social problem-solving are reinforced, and work on relating to the self is introduced, including topics such as stress management and recognizing the interaction between thoughts and feelings. The curriculum is flexible and concepts are introduced on an individualized basis, with the goal of best supporting the students as they develop. As students grow and become more comfortable with the ideas being explored the model becomes primarily discussion based, with the opportunity to share their own experiences and learn from one another.
The fourth grade physical education curriculum incorporates a variety of individual, partner and group activities that introduce and continue to develop sport-specific knowledge. By using lead-up drills and game simulations, students are taught offensive and defensive strategies which are developed as they progress toward mastering game concepts. Cooperative team games and fitness activities are also integrated into the curriculum throughout the year. These lessons focus on building character and encourages students' awareness of sportsmanship, kindness and respect for others.