Term II

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

This second term includes more opportunities for student leadership and choice. In December students are asked to choose one of four novels to read after hearing a quick book talk describing each story. When the reading groups are finalized, students are in charge of dividing each book into six separate reading assignments, deciding how much should be read and discussed as a group each day and how much should be read individually, and leading group discussions and note-taking. Students gradually improve and gain confidence as the days pass, and teachers are able to circulate between the reading groups to monitor progress and encourage good focus and teamwork. Students respond to the books in their journals by alternating between writing summaries and reactions for each day’s reading. The concluding project for each group is to come up with a creative way to present a key idea from the novel to their classmates without referencing the plot.Similar reading groups are formed in January as we read a wonderful new novel, The One and Only Ivan. Teachers lead and model whole group readings and discussions at the start and end of each day’s reading, and, when left to their own devices, students are quick to improve on the book club reading and discussion skills that they had begun to develop in December. The main emphases include slowing down and really noticing the important points in the book rather than completing the reading at breakneck speed, improving note-taking skills, working as a team to read each section of the novel thoughtfully and carefully, and managing time wisely. The culminating piece of writing in response to this novel is another journal assignment, a five-paragraph piece including introductory and concluding paragraphs and paragraphs about each of three big ideas from the story that had caught the student’s attention.

Students also read the Newbery Award winner, Island of the Blue Dolphins, an exciting tale of a young girl’s struggle for survival and continual efforts to meet her needs, not just for food, shelter, and clothing but for friendship and love. Students respond to the novel in a wide variety of wonderfully creative ways.

Teachers read aloud to students a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over the course of a week and guide accompanying discussions. Fourth grade students are big fans of freedom and justice.

Students read a collection of short stories as well, with the dominant theme being the history of colonial America. These pieces are selected to coincide with lessons from our Kentucky history text, so students are able to draw parallels between sources describing similar subjects. Another advantage of the literature text is its comprehension quizzes accompanying each piece and short essay responses. Written responses to all novels and short stories allow students to refine writing skills and develop the skills and strategies necessary to become critical readers.

With those reading and writing skills in mind, regular one-on-one reading and writing conferences occur. Students bring independent reading to these conferences and often summarize and comment on what they are enjoying about the books. They then read aloud and work on fluency and accuracy as they read. Discussing finished written work and works in progress allows the opportunity to individualize instruction and emphasize areas of potential growth while providing positive and specific feedback in an intimate setting.

Writing and Author Labs continue this term, with the emphasis being on Author Labs. Author Lab showcases the talents of four student authors each time, and each author shares an autobiographical piece written early this school year and a piece of fiction or non-fiction that she or he has created during the year. The authors receive abundant verbal feedback, all of it positive, at the conclusion of each piece they share. Speaking, listening, and critical thinking skills are greatly enhanced through this process. Goals include improving the quality of writing shared as well as the authors’ presentation skills. The responsiveness and feedback from the audience are key to attaining these goals.

One new writing activity includes creating a recipe with ingredients that show the development of either a main character from a novel read or from one of our two biographies, Daniel Boone or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A nicely done recipe allows students to be creative and to show a good understanding of the themes and conflicts in either a novel or a biography.

Typing and saving autobiographical Henshaw Responses encourages more creativity and time management and allows students to develop word processing and computer skills that will be helpful for the remainder of the year and beyond.

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 study of grammar during this second term focuses on verbs and adjectives. Not only are students working to easily identify these parts of speech in what they read, but they are also working to broaden the range of verbs and adjectives they use in their own writing. Writing mechanics continue to be stressed with Daily Oral Language exercises and spelling and vocabulary activities.

Our studies of Kentucky include learning about our country’s fight for freedom and what was going on in the Kentucky region during the American Revolution. Next students study Kentucky’s struggle to achieve statehood and the changes in the young United States during the early 19th century.

Students work to develop and refine essay-writing skills by writing multi-paragraph essays on a wide variety of topics related to Kentucky history. Throughout the term students receive essay questions well in advance of each exam. Prewriting and writing practice essays before exams allows students to practice their skills and to become more comfortable organizing and adding depth to the content of each essay. They learn to restate each question in a good topic sentence, answer the question directly, and support each topic with meaningful details.


Second term work in mathematics begins with Everyday Math’s Unit 4: Decimals and Their Uses.  Lessons are focused on money, metrics, and adding and subtracting decimals.  Unit 5 deals with reading and writing big numbers (including powers of 10), estimating, and doing computation (multiples of ten and multi-digit multiplication).  In Unit 6, students begin doing “long division” using a variety of algorithms; students practice drawing and measuring angles with a protractor and also use numbers in map coordinate systems.  Unit 7: Fractions and Their Uses and Chance and Probability presents ways to identify the “whole” for fractions and to identify fractional parts of a collection of objects.  Students are introduced to making equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting fractions, comparing fractions, and predicting outcomes in chance events.


In science second term, students complete the study of dendrology. Material in this unit ranges from the vocabulary of ecology to specific information about trees on the school grounds to comparing and contrasting ecosystems in a variety of forest biomes. The unit culminates in the presentation of a “Tree-mendous Traveling Tree Show” in the preschool classrooms. This show, created by the students, incorporates facts they have learned and songs about tree organs and the process of photosynthesis. Sharing this program is another way of assessing understanding of the outcomes and objectives of the dendrology unit as well as giving students the opportunity to be courageous, creative, and to work as a team.

Following the conclusion of the dendrology unit is a very brief metric measurement unit that allows students to use a variety of scientific equipment to explore the abstract concepts of mass, weight, and volume. In both units, dendrology and metric measurement, use of authentic vocabulary like abiotic, biotic, and apparatus continues to be a common thread. Small group and partner work is stressed. The study of oceanography and marine biology begins after the break and continues into the third term.


During second term, fourth grade Spanish students focus on los objetos de la clase (classroom objects), ¿dónde está? (location), la familia (family), and los adjetivos (adjectives). Focusing on the vocabulary from the previous unit la clase, students learn the rules for identifying masculine/feminine and singular/plural nouns in Spanish (something not seen in English) and the definite and indefinite articles that correspond with them. Students participate in skits and written and oral activities incorporating vocabulary from various units and requiring them to work in groups or individually. Students begin work on their second project of the year, el árbol genealógico (Family Tree), in which they list their family members and give a brief description about each person using the sentences and vocabulary introduced in class.


During the second term, fourth grade students draw a still life using water soluble oil pastels. This is inspired by the colorful work of Henri Matisse. Overlapping and observation of form is emphasized. Following a study of Matisse, fourth graders learn about Impressionism and the work of Claude Monet. Students each complete a painting of a bridge and Monet's pond. Next they work in groups to make a large painting in the Impressionist style.

Form is the second unit introduced in the second term of the year. Students work with art and science together, the students learn to plan and create a realistic three-dimensional ocean creature in clay. They learn the properties of the material and add interest with textured surface design. Glazing is an integral part of this unit. These clay creatures are displayed in the fine arts wing.


Microsoft Publisher and PowerPoint are integral tools used by the fourth grade students in computer class.  Internet research is followed by special projects using these two elements of the Microsoft office suite.  Keyboarding for Kids is the at-home program used for improving keyboarding skills at this grade level.


In December, in a collaborative lesson between library, math, science, history and even Ms. Carrithers, the fourth graders learn about the tree that is responsible for one of the world’s favorite treats, chocolate.  Ms. Carrithers had the fortunate opportunity to visit Belize only a few summers ago, and experienced first-hand the process of chocolate making.  She shares this wonderful knowledge with the class.

Who will win the coveted Caldecott Medal awarded by the American Library Association?  In January, that is exactly what the 4th grade students attempt to decipher as they pour over several top contenders as honorary Caldecott committee members.  After an introduction to the award history and process, the students read and evaluate the potential winners.  Which book will the ALA Caldecott committee choose, and will our 4th grade class agree with their choice?   


During the second term fourth grade students develop into a formidable performing group.  A wonderful feeling of cohesion and ensemble develops as students rehearse and perform together. The second term begins with Kentucky Heritage Day and the presentation of “My New Kentucky Home.”  The level of each child’s participation sets a new standard of excellence from which to grow. Immediately afterward this performance work begins on music for the Holiday Concert. Students memorize the music and perform holiday classics for all to enjoy. Musical scores are chosen in order to provide an opportunity to further basic musical skills such as sight reading, rhythmic comprehension, and reading a four part score with instrumental parts. Each student’s vocal abilities, including diction, range, and tone production, improve dramatically with technically demanding choral literature. After the Holiday Concert the emphasis continues to be choral literature as students prepare music for the Spring Choral Concert in May.


During the second trimester fourth grade students learn a great deal in their tumbling unit.  During this unit students learn how to build a tumbling routine around skills learned in class.  Students look at several different stunts, such as rolls (forward and backward), cartwheel, roundoff, scales (strength and balance movements), headstand, handstand, as well as transition elements that aid in creating combinations.  Fourth grade students also practice different body forms for the different rolls such as tuck, straddle, and pike body positions.  Students practice each of the skills with supervision and explanations of form requirements.  After students demonstrate the ability to perform various skills they design and practice a short floor routine and then perform it for the instructor(s).

Additionally, fourth grade students delve into floor hockey as a unit.  Each student practices basic skills essential to understanding and playing this exciting game.  Safety is the first concern and is reinforced throughout each learning period.  Team play, passing skills, and moving with the hockey ball are other key elements that students practice during this unit.  As students progress in their skill development, they step into game settings to test the skill sets being taught and practiced.

As a rule, fourth grade students spend time each class developing cardio-respiratory strength and endurance.  Running is the main component utilized in achieving this one element of fitness. Fourth grade students use different paces to increase the stress on their cardio-respiratory systems within any running event.  In addition to running, fourth grade students work to achieve core strength and endurance, as well as upper body strength and endurance.