Term I

4th Grade

Advisor time is used to help fourth graders become successful and self-sufficient. The primary focus is to instill the TLS Guidelines for Success listed below.

  • Treat everyone with courtesy and respect.
  • Embrace a positive attitude.
  • Model honesty and integrity.
  • Practice responsibility.

During morning advisor time good study habits as well as organizational and planning skills are developed. Handwriting without Tears reinforces the handwriting instruction students have had in previous grades. During afternoon advisor time teachers help students check their assignment books and organize their materials before leaving for the day. Finally, advisors monitor other behaviors to ensure students follow and internalize the school's Guidelines for Success.

Language Arts & Social Studies

In fourth grade, language arts and social studies are intertwined. While other fourth grade classes are taught as separate disciplines, in language arts and social studies, reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills are at the heart of both.

Novels are the core of the fourth grade literature program. The three read, discussed, and written about during this term provide a look into difficult choices and how people weigh the pros and cons in different situations. In the Newbery Award winning book Shiloh, Marty, a young boy, must choose between protecting the dog he loves and telling the truth to his parents. Is it right for Marty to hide a dog belonging to an abusive owner and not tell his parents? During lively discussions, children not only share their opinions but, more importantly, explain the reasoning for their opinions. Throughout the term, students work to clearly explain their thinking in written form. Students also work in groups as they use Shiloh to gain a better understanding of plot, character, and setting.

The Midnight Fox by Betsy Byars is the story of Tom, a young boy who very reluctantly must spend the summer at his aunt and uncle’s farm. Much to his surprise, he enjoys his stay and becomes enchanted by his encounters with a black fox. Will Tom tell his true feelings to his aunt and uncle, or will he keep quiet? Will the fox get killed, or will she escape to freedom? Numerous writing assignments accompany this book.

In addition to those two great novels, students also read a great biography on Daniel Boone, and much of what is read and discussed in that book is also addressed in the social studies text. It is a more powerful experience for students to be introduced to the same or similar information from a variety of sources and in a variety of styles.

The other components of the reading program are the literature and social studies texts, reading conferences, and CAFE skills. In the literature text, students complete a unit with the theme of risks and consequences and begin reading another unit about the lives of America’s earliest colonists. These excellent and varied pieces of literature provide a constant check on reading comprehension. Comprehension is also reinforced constantly as students read, discuss, and respond to every social studies lesson. The language arts teacher meets with each student to support, encourage, and aid that student's reading. CAFE skills (Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding vocabulary) are taught, and students attempt to implement these skills whenever they read.

Part of the philosophy on the teaching of writing to fourth graders at TLS is that more is better. Students write regularly in their journals, which offers the students a great deal of creative freedom and written feedback from teachers. Journals are collected and assessed, and creative experimentation and improved writing mechanics are strongly encouraged. In addition to numerous writing assignments that accompany our novels and literature text, students also learn to write through Writing Lab. Writing Lab allows the entire fourth grade to meet once per cycle. Several writing activities focus on dialogue. In one of the two labs devoted to dialogue writing, students select a main character from two different stories read this year and have the characters debate with each other on which of the two has taken the greater risk. One lab is devoted entirely to essay writing skills, and in another lab students delve into historical fiction as the students create a fictitious journal written by someone in the Boonesborough area in the late 1700’s. Another lab focuses on perspective in writing as students work in groups to write about situations or events from a variety of points of view. The results are often very entertaining and provide the students with a good look at the importance of characterization in what they read and write.

Writing mechanics and spelling are addressed through journal writing, word processing, lab writing, Daily Oral Language sentence repair, assignments related to the fourth grade literature series, and weekly spelling dictations. Students work on writing mechanics and spelling through the vocabulary program as well. The structure of sentences is taught formally using the text English. Also, students learn a great deal about sentence construction during workbook activities and discussions about them. After sentences are studied using English, students learn how to identify common and proper nouns, make them plural, and make singular and plural nouns possessive. Editing is emphasized while learning about sentences and nouns.

The Writing Lab covering essay writing and constant encouragement of essay preparation for every test provides all students ample opportunities to develop critical writing skills. Students are given test essays roughly a week before each test and are encouraged to turn practice essays in so that teachers can supply necessary feedback. During testing, students are required to develop a plan and write it down on the test before beginning each essay answer. Students learn how to rephrase the questions as parts of their answers as they construct clear topic sentences. They also support their main ideas with a great number of and a greater sophistication of related details. Finally, they are taught to wrap up each essay with a strong concluding sentence or paragraph.

Students begin to explore the research processes as they complete “Pre-research Papers.” Students choose topics about which they are already experts, so no actual research is necessary. Skills that are necessary include choosing a topic, dividing it into appropriate subtopics, organizing note cards that add necessary depth to each subtopic, arranging notes in a sensible way, and using those notes to develop an interesting, informative, clear, and nicely organized essay. Finally, all essays are presented to classmates during which time good presentation and listening skills are emphasized.

The social studies curriculum in the first term covers general information about Kentucky and about the study of history and what it entails. Students take a look at world geography, including latitude and longitude, and Kentucky’s place in the world. Students study the various geographical regions of Kentucky and Kentucky’s earliest inhabitants. Toward the end of the term, students study early European explorers and settlers like Daniel Boone, and discuss the conflicts between Native Americans and these settlers who were looking for opportunity in what was then the western frontier. Students are reminded that a text is a tool, and they learn the best ways to use it as such. Students also practice outlining skills so that each student learns how to identify main ideas in the text and put them into their own words.

These studies also include a trip to Boonesborough, and a major event is Kentucky Heritage Day, a historical celebration of immigration to Kentucky including song, dance, and a wonderful play.

Math

In the first term of fourth grade math, students complete three units:

  1. Geometric figures – naming them, knowing their properties, and constructing figures, using a compass and straightedge.
  2. Place value – dealing with whole numbers; practicing multi-digit addition and subtraction; and organizing data (finding the maximum, minimum, mode, median, range – also called “landmark numbers”).
  3. Multiplication and division facts and extensions; measurement and map scale; algebra (solving open sentences and number sentences using variables and parentheses).

Students have frequent opportunities to work collaboratively, to create math puzzles and problems, and to learn to solve a variety of logic problems.  Students also play math games and use apps on iPads throughout the term to strengthen basic skills.

Science

First term fourth grade science begins with the study of frogs. During this unit, students study amphibians and their characteristics and participate in activities that include research, creative writing, and note taking. The study of observation skills follows these units. This hands-on work includes making observations (using all senses that are safe to use), comparing, analyzing, predicting, and inferring. Also completed this term is the first part of a unit on metric measurement. Students practice measuring temperature in degrees Celsius, measuring length in meters, centimeters, and millimeters, deciding which unit to use, and converting from one metric unit to another. Mrs. Herd, the fourth grade naturalist, leads students on both a nature walk at Fort Boonesborough and a two-hour on campus field trip during which students make connections between classroom work and the natural world. The end of the term brings the beginning of the Dendrology unit. Students start individual picture dictionaries of ecology terms, “adopt” trees on the school grounds (with which they practice their skills of observation), sing songs about trees, learn about photosynthesis, and make natural dyes from leaves and bark.

Spanish

In fourth grade Spanish, the year opens with a review of common phrases, questions, and responses for greetings and getting to know each other. To warm up each day, students ask and answer questions with their peers in Spanish. Students work toward sustaining a three minute oral conversation with their peers and sharpening their listening comprehension skills. The fourth graders review and learn new colors in Spanish and focus on numbers 1 to 59. Students work on their first project, ¡Mucho gusto! (Nice to meet you!) where they write a litte about who they are. Moving on, students focus on culture while studying the Mexican holiday el Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) by making calaveras de azúcar (sugar skulls), a treat given to children during this time.

Library

Fourth graders begin a new chapter as students at The Lexington School, as they begin their year using the “big side” of the library for the first time.  Fourth graders are allowed to check out four library items, whether it is a book a magazine or an audio book, and they are responsible for bringing their items back to the library themselves by the due date.  The year begins by reading aloud the second half of the Newbery winner chapter book, Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (the students read the first half in their LA/SS classes).  During first term fourth graders use the online database CultureGrams to research their own heritage in preparation for Kentucky Heritage Days.  The students use their research to assist them with their art projects with Mrs. Hamilton and their stage performance with Dr. Cooper.

Art

Fourth grade students begin the term reviewing the elements and principles of art. They make designs using a variety of lines expressing movement, rhythm, and pattern. After this, they sharpen their observational drawing skills with lines and shapes. Then they progress to frogs, a subject that connects to science class. They draw the shapes and contours and explore ways to use watercolors.Students use camouflage or warning colors depending on the type of frog. Next, fourth grade artists review color mixing using tissue collage.

In preparation for Kentucky Heritage day, the students learn to draw people in correct proportion. Students review face drawing. They create a self portrait depicting the dress of their family’s country of origin. Using teamwork, students also work on a backdrop for Kentucky Heritage Day.

Computer

During the first term, the fourth grade computer students work to improve their keyboarding in both accuracy and speed. They are expected to continue to practice keyboarding at home by using the program, Keyboarding for Kids. Keyboarding for Kids emphasizes correct fingering when students are practicing at home. The students will complete three lessons every two weeks. By the end of November, the first eleven lessons are covered.

The students use Microsoft Publisher to create a brochure on Kentucky in which they insert Word Art, Internet pictures, text boxes, and clip art. In the brochure, they will pick topics about Kentucky to support their social studies curriculum and do research about information that is interesting to them.

Music

The goal of being a cohesive performing ensemble is the essence of fourth grade music class first term. Students experience over fifty individual voices singing and making music as one. Throughout the preparation for Kentucky Heritage Day, the students are lead to develop basic vocal skills that are age appropriate. The specific goals are to develop the range and breath control of each student so that they may begin to hear and recognize their true singing voices. Students have had an opportunity to observe and participate in the rehearsal process of a large scale musical. The lessons they have learned concerning audition, public speaking, and performance in front of a large audience form a pool of knowledge that will be drawn from throughout their lives.

PE

Fourth grade physical education classes are designed to improve fitness and develop skills for a lifetime.  Times are recorded for the mile run to provide a base line score.  In fact, standards are established for use in evaluating progress in all areas of skill or fitness.  The skills of soccer dominate the physical education program during the early weeks with particular emphasis on improvement in passing.

During October each component of our fitness assessment is carried out.  This includes cardio-respiratory endurance (mile run), upper body strength and endurance (pull-ups or flexed arm hang), flexibility, and abdominal strength and endurance (sit-ups). 

Leading up to the Kentucky Heritage Festival our fourth grade students prepare by working on two to three Kentucky folk dances.   A flag football unit follows with skills related to the game of football being emphasized.  Those include catching with hands, proper form while passing, centering the ball, pass patterns, and offensive and defensive formations.  Following all skill development work, students have the opportunity to actually play the game during class, whatever the sport.