Term III

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

Novels continue to be the backbone of the fourth grade literature program, and the four read this term provide many opportunities to read about, write about, and discuss some wonderful themes involving human behavior, emotional growth, and the increasing responsibilities associated with adolescence.

At the beginning of the term, students complete the novel, Island of the Blue Dolphins, the 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 book in a wide variety of wonderfully creative ways.

Summer of the Swans describes a teenage girl’s struggle with her own physical and emotional development.  Throughout these struggles, she also is concerned about her mentally retarded younger brother and how society may view him.  The class invites a guest speaker, our own Jonathan Herrington, who shares his own experiences as the brother of a mentally and physically handicapped sibling.  The climax of the book offers an excellent metaphor comparing life to a set of stairs, providing another opportunity for written work and discussion as students compare their own lives to sets of stairs.

In addition to those two novels, reading one of two Civil War novels allows the class another opportunity to blend together language arts and social studies curricula.  The Perilous Road is the story of a young Tennessee boy struggling with the fact that his brother chose to fight for the Union.  Soldier’s Heart follows the path of a young Minnesota boy who sees war as a glorious adventure and lies about his age in order to enlist.  He is then confronted with war’s harsh realities.  Each fourth grader reads one of the two novels, and at the conclusion of this unit students compare and contrast the two novels during a lengthy and lively discussion.  Students are regrouped during this unit so that they are able to work with classmates from all four of the fourth grade advisor groups.  Finally, Old Yeller, the story of a young boy assuming greater family responsibilities allows a comparison of life on the Texas frontier shortly after the Civil War with our lives at the beginning of the 21st century.

During studies of grammar, students learn about capitalization and punctuation, pronouns, and adverbs and prepositions.  Vocabulary studies continue through the book Worldly Wise.   Many of the twenty lessons were not completed this year, so any parents looking for a way to keep their child learning vocabulary, may continue to use Wordly Wise over the summer.  Fourth graders also continue with the spelling program, Daily Oral Language, Daily Oral Geography, and Daily Oral Analogies.

Part of the fourth grade philosophy on the teaching of writing to fourth graders is that more is better.  To develop writers it is important to expose them to a variety of writing tasks.  Students write three major pieces for their writing portfolios that will travel with them to fifth grade.  The three pieces of writing are personal narrative, persuasive, and a year-end reflection of personal growth as a writer.  These pieces are taken through the writing process, which includes prewriting or information gathering, writing, and revising and editing.  In all cases, students are encouraged to select topics of personal interest in order to make pieces more exciting, entertaining, and enjoyable.

The culmination of the year’s writing is the writing, editing, and illustrating of lengthy stories for Writers Guild.  These gems are compared to books written in previous years and give each fourth grader pride in a job well done and stand as a reminder of each child’s development as a writer.

Some of the topics covered in the social studies text include the Civil War and Reconstruction, Kentucky during the 20th century, the structure and workings of state and local government, and how people make a living in Kentucky.  As always, there are two components to each test: factual material and answers to essays.  The concluding activity in social studies is the researching, writing, and presenting of a research paper on a topic dealing with Kentucky.  Students are instructed in where to find information, how to write the information on note cards, and how to use those note cards to write a report.  The culminating step for each student is an oral presentation to the class.  Students are required to create and present a visual aid to accompany and enhance their presentations.  As always, good audience listening skills are stressed.

Other social studies activities include a slide presentation by Susan Hughes on architecture in Kentucky, a trip to Frankfort (Kentucky History Museum, Old Capitol, current Capitol), and a walking tour of downtown Lexington.

 

Other social studies activities include a slide presentation by Susan Hughes on architecture in Kentucky, a trip to Frankfort (Kentucky History Museum, Old Capitol, current Capitol, and a walking tour of downtown Lexington.

Math

The final term in mathematics is devoted to the introduction of several new concepts and to the review of many “old” topics (polygons, multiplication, symmetry, probability, etc).  During the third term, students work with fractions, decimals, and percents (finding equivalents and converting fractions and decimals to percents). Fourth graders experiment with transparent mirrors, learning about symmetry, reflections, translations, and rotations.  Also, we explored the concepts of area and perimeter, and we began learning to determine the area of two-dimensional figures like triangles and parallelograms, as well as squares and rectangles.  Further, students extend concepts related to three-dimensional figures and learn to calculate the volume of a rectangular prism.  Students review weight and capacity, and are introduced to addition and subtraction of negative integers. Finally, students spend time learning about rates and about comparison shopping.  Lessons and activities are focused around helping students become wiser consumers as a result of this work and these discussions.

Everything done in Everyday Mathematics this year has some application to real-life situations.  Fourth grade children becoming better and better prepared for sound decision-making in areas that involve mathematics.

Science

Third term science work includes the completion of the Oceanography and Marine Biology unit. At five centers, students participate in tasks that help them learn to differentiate between and among abiotic and biotic factors, including marine vertebrates and invertebrates. Work at the computer center includes playing a simulation game to experience life as a part of a coral reef food chain.

The study of fresh water (limnology) takes students to the end of the term. Work done in this unit includes an in-depth study of the Okefenokee Swamp and the biotic and abiotic features found there. Center work focuses on differentiating among a variety of producers and consumers, with an emphasis on studying invertebrates specific to fresh water ponds. Observation and identification of the microscopic protists and invertebrates found in local pond water provides an especially exciting experience. Singing songs about life in and around the swamp adds yet another dimension to third term studies.

Small group and partner work is stresses this term and throughout the year, as is the completion of independent, student-centered tasks. Some gender based grouping during the year helps prepare students for their fifth grade science experiences.

Spanish

Throughout the third term, fourth graders learn how to express feelings with our unit on common emociones (emotions). Along with emotions, students learn vocabulary for deportes (sports) and read the story El chico perezoso (The Lazy Boy). Using the vocabulary from the story, students rewrite the story. Leaving grammar behind for a bit, we “travel” to La Mancha, Spain to learn about Don Quixote de la Mancha, the colorful Cervantes character who read so many books about knighthood that he began to imagine himself a knight. We end the year with a complete review, playing an all-time favorite, Jeopardy.

Art

During the third term fourth graders begin with a unit on fiber art. They select their subject matter and plan a design. Color, texture, and composition are important elements in this project. This is new material for self expression as they learn to create with yarn. They are encouraged to learn traditional stitches and offered opportunities to create new ones as well. The next area of study is design and illustration. The students plan the lettering and illustration for the cover of their Writers Guild covers. This is followed by a study of Frank Stella’s abstract work. Abstract design is explored as students create a collage using only shapes and colors. The assignment is to express some type of activity. This is a group project with an emphasis on collaboration. Next, students study Eric Carle and his collage method of illustration. The students decorate paper with various new methods. A large imaginative collage with these papers is the final project.

Computer

The fourth graders stay busy third term in the computer lab typing their Writers Guild pieces. They create their title and dedication pages for their books in computer class. The students also work on a project using the lyrics to My Old Kentucky Home. They learn to insert graphics and symbols in the place of the text. They have guidelines to follow, and each student must problem solve so the final producst stay within those guidelines. They learn how to format a document to make their work look unique. The students learn to use Photo Story where they insert photos onto a window, arrange them, apply custom narrations, transitions, custom auto-generated music, and export the result as a WMV file. The fourth graders practice keyboarding at home using Keyboarding for Kids.

Music

Most every fourth grade music class involves daily exercises intended to strengthen the range and size of the young voice. Additionally, each class devotes attention to developing and maintaining sight reading skills and score reading. Score reading is vitally important to a basic understanding of the parameters of music including rhythm, timbre, melody, and harmony. During the third term, attention is focused on the learning of several challenging choral repertoire pieces for the Spring Choral Concert that are at once age appropriate and present sufficient learning opportunities. The results of this intensive training are quite apparent in the performing skills on display during the Spring Choral Concert.

PE

Fourth grade physical education students complete three units in the third trimester.  In the floor hockey unit, hockey is introduced as a fast moving game that entices even the lesser skilled students to move and compete. 

Following hockey students bounce into a volleyball unit and then move into net games unit including badminton, pickle ball, and Takraw ball.  These games are played using regulation badminton nets and court configurations, with the net height being the only variable that changes.  once students master lower level elements of the games they learn recreational skills and rules as well as more advanced techniques.  They play mostly doubles matches and if court space allows, some singles matches as well.

In the latter part of May students begin base games such as whiffle ball, tenni-ball, and softball.  Before the year ends in fourth grade, students are tested on the mile run.