Fourth Grade

כיתה ד

 

The fourth grade program is rich in content and emphasizes the development of organizational and study skills. Now proficient in basic reading, writing, and mathematics, students build on these skills to analyze texts and ideas, synthesize information, think critically about issues, develop their writing, and support their claims with evidence from the text. Students in fourth grade work over the course of the year to prepare a portfolio of their work Students thoughtfully select pieces of work and reflect on themselves as learners through that work. Students lead portfolio conferences, in which their parents and their teachers participate, in the spring.

 

A milestone of the fourth grade is the students’ first experience with external testing, for which they spend time preparing. In addition, students participate in their first overnight program, an outdoor education experience focusing on their study of habitats. The fourth grade’s yearlong community service commitment is to work with the Ansche Chesed Men’s Shelter.

Art

Fourth grade begins with each student drawing a representation of his/her shoe. This then becomes part of each student’s shoe collection that s/he develops over the years at Schechter Manhattan. The fourth graders approach their shoe project using gesture drawing – while looking at their shoe, they do not pick up their pencil from the paper the whole time. Other topics in fourth grade art include a skyline of New York City as seen from Central Park, designing and creating an original and usable chanukiah in clay and metal, an exploration of color, an author study, caricature in the style of Hanoch Piven using everyday objects, creating kavanot (visual inspirations that are used in daily t’filah), a diorama in a shoe box of the various layers of the rainforest (in conjunction with their theme study of the rainforest), self-portraits, and free art.

Hebrew עברית

Fourth grade students are divided into groups according to Hebrew language proficiency. This arrangement makes it possible for students to study at the level best suited to their needs.

 

The language series on which the program in these grades is based, and which provides the continuity from class to class and year to year, is Aleph-Bet Y’ladim Lomdim Ivrit. A sequential program, Aleph-Bet Y’ladim Lomdim Ivrit follows a structured linguistic progression and integrates the four language skills – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – in each unit. Based on the most current understanding of language acquisition in children, it exposes students to multiple genres, including stories, conversations, telephone conversations, poems, songs, albums, journals, bulletin board notices, and the like. Students are challenged to speak and write, using the language patterns they are learning in both familiar and new contexts. Additional reading materials and language exercises developed by the school complement the published units and ensure that students have ample opportunity to practice their emerging language forms and structures within a naturally occurring, functional context.

 

In the advanced classes, students read short stories, write extensively, and speak in full sentences using verbs in several conjugations, in all tenses, and in active and passive voices. In addition, they prepare and perform their own plays, and make oral presentations.

 

In the intermediate groups, students review and reinforce their basic reading skills and learn to conjugate verbs in present and past tense and the infinitive form; in addition, they study agreement among nouns, verbs, and adjectives in gender and number.

 

All students work on projects that allow them to apply the skills they learn. For example, students interview Hebrew speaking staff and faculty and create virtual tours of places in Israel using Google Slides. Hebrew is also spoken throughout the day in class routines and in the Jewish Studies program.

Jewish Studies

The fourth grade Torah curriculum continues the study of Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Esau with a close reading of B’reshit (Genesis) 27-32. Key goals for the year include identifying parts of speech in context; recognizing direct speech and embedded speech and identifying the speaker in each case; and analyzing complex verb forms according to shorashim (roots), prefixes and suffixes, and tense. In addition, students review the use of vav hahipuch (the conversive vav) and ways of recognizing textual problems and anomalies.

 

Students work together to analyze the Torah text and create their own commentary, as well as to analyze classical and modern commentaries that address the same textual problems that they had identified in their own questions. Their interpretive repertoire expands to incorporate big ideas and essential questions.

 

A new subject in fourth grade is Mishnah. Students work in chevruta pairs to read and understand the text by identifying key words, verbs, and nouns, compare parts of the text to each other or to parallel texts, and ask and answer questions on the text, and come together as a class to brainstorm and to relate the text to their own experience.

 

In t’filah, the fourth graders continue to fill in the full texts of prayers that they have already studied in excerpted form. The focus this year is on completing the Sh’ma and the b’rachot preceding and following it. Students identify the main themes of each prayer based on key words, class discussions, and activities, analyze the text, relate it to their own personal experience, and write their individual commentaries on it. In addition to the Sh’ma and its b’rachot, fourth graders also learn new b’rachot for other occasions, as well as new sections of Hallel and Kabbalat Shabbat.

 

In chagim, students encounter new material and ideas that build upon what they already know: they formally study the laws and selected prayers of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim, and Pesach from an Israeli school children’s compendium of Jewish law, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch – M’kor Chaim. During Sukkot, students study what makes a Sukkah Kosher, and then wrote a journal entry from the point of view of the Sukkah. The Pesach unit is focused on the “Seder of the Seder”: what is the order of the seder, and how does that order help us connect to the exodus from Egypt?

Language Arts

In the fourth grade, reading and writing are fully established tools for learning and communicating across the content areas. They continue, as in previous years, to work hand in hand, facilitating connections with one another, not only as skills, but also, through the workshop approach, as coordinated systems of self-discovery and thinking and talking about personal experience.

 

In reading workshop, key goals for the year include using reading comprehension strategies effectively, including visualizing, questioning, connecting, predicting, inferring, and interpreting; identifying main ideas and supporting details; explaining how a text supports a claim or an opinion; comparing and contrasting characters and stories; and becoming a supportive learning community in which reading experiences are shared. At the same time, the students review and reinforce previously learned skills of decoding, comprehension, and analyzing plot, character, and setting.

 

Students continue to read many of the same genres they read in previous years: novels, non-fiction books, short stories, biography, and selected poetry. They also formally study reading comprehension as a test skill.

 

In writing workshop, students learn how to use a writer’s notebook as a place to collect inspirations for writing. They then develop them into drafts, and revise and edit them with their writing partners. Genres covered during the year include personal narratives, responses to non-fiction reading, structured paragraphs, and poetry. Students regularly share their writing pieces and celebrate their “published” pieces as a learning community.

 

Key skills that are introduced or reinforced in the fourth grade include the use of topic sentences and supporting details, writing paragraphs that consist of one complete idea, writing multi-paragraph essays that incorporate introductions and conclusions, using texts to support a thesis, varying word choice and sentence length and structure, incorporating thoughts, feelings, dialogue, and inner monologues, and using quotes and other punctuation marks. Students continue to work on spelling, punctuation, capitalization, vocabulary, cursive writing, dictionary use, sequencing, and formatting and presentation. They also gain experience writing in Google Docs- drafting, revising, editing, and sharing their work. The steps of the writing process, with which they are already familiar, become gradually integrated in their writing.

Mathematics

The computational skills learned in fourth grade are significantly more challenging than students have encountered previously; at the same time, the curriculum continues to encourage mathematical thinking and understanding. Students work with tangible objects to support their early learning of new ideas and operations, undertake projects that incorporate real-life applications of the skills they have learned, and create their own problems and games to express and reinforce their grasp of the concepts they study.

 

Key goals for the year include multiplying two-digit numbers; understanding division; identifying and using equivalent fractions and decimals; computing perimeter, area, and volume; graphing growth; and strengthening word-problem solving skills in all topic areas.

 

The following topics are studied in fourth grade:

  • Measurement
  • Data analysis
  • Review and extension of addition, subtraction, and estimation
  • Arrays (factors and products)
  • Multiplication – review of times tables, two-digit computation
  • Division
  • Fractions, including equivalent fractions
  • Decimals
  • Line and bar graphs
  • Geometry – lines, area, three-dimensional (cubes), angles, triangles, polygons
  • Probability
  • Solving multi-step problems
  • Test preparation

Music

The fourth graders enter their second full year of recorder instruction. They continue learning about the instrument by writing their own songs and playing them. In addition, they complete the full do re mi scale, including high C and D and F sharp, extend their rhythmic repertoire to include such patterns as repeated eighth notes and dotted quarter and eighth note, and work on ear training (solfege) across the full octave. Students apply their recorder skills to playing pieces in preparation for the Carnegie Hall program, as well as Israeli songs for the annual school concert.

 

A highlight of the work in fourth grade is preparing for and participating in the Carnegie Hall Link Up! program. Through this curriculum and program, the students learn about classical composers and their works and come to appreciate music’s building blocks, from the simplest to the most complex pieces. Students study excerpts of masterworks, such as Haydn’s Surprise Symphony and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

 

Singing Hebrew and Israeli songs is central to the fourth grade musical experience. Students in Kitah Dalet expand their repertoire of Hebrew songs. Their focus is not only on the singing, but also on the song itself. For example, they spend time studying the music and lyrics of songs written by Shlomo Gronich, a well-known Israeli poet, singer, composer, and pianist.

Physical Education

In fourth grade, after reviewing basic skills and techniques in soccer and kickball, the students move on to playing the games. These game situations give students the chance to practice these skills in context and to learn game strategy, teamwork, and sportsmanship.

 

Once physical education moves indoors to the gymnasium, students build on their kicking skills from soccer by playing two different types of indoor kickball, dome-ball and end-line kickball. In the basketball unit, students continue to review and practice dribbling, passing, and shooting, followed by mini-games. Teamwork, sportsmanship, and cooperation with classmates are reinforced during these games, as students are reminded to use their teammates.

 

As in previous years, the outdoor spring season in Central Park focuses on softball. Students continue to work on proper throwing, catching, and batting techniques, and they learn rules and strategies.

 

Thematic Studies, Science, and Social Science

The fourth grade theme is habitats, with a specific focus on rainforests. Students look at this theme through geographical and environmental lenses. They study the ecology, wildlife, flora, and cultures of the rainforest, and in connection with these studies, they work on a variety of projects, including creating terrariums and Google Slide presentations.

 

In their study of geography, students use maps, atlases, globes, and Google Earth to learn basic geography concepts and terms and understand the relationship between culture and geography. Later they explore the layers of the rainforest, understanding how the differing levels of light, among other things, help to shape multiple habitats in the rainforest. As part of the rainforest study, students participate in an art exchange program which matches them with a partner class in a rainforest habitat.

 

The science component of the theme study is inquiry-based and investigative in nature; students learn about the rainforest ecosystem and the plants and animals that thrive in it from experiments and simulations; Students get first hand experience with observing and testing animal adaptation and interactions by engaging in a study of meal works. They conduct experiments to see how the meal worm respond to various stimuli. In addition, they take field trips to the zoo and botanical garden to observe, record, and describe their observations.

 

Students prepare an individual research project, choosing one of the plants or animals of the rainforest. The resources available to them are primarily books, other printed matter, and the internet; in addition, the class goes on field trips and listens to recordings to help them visualize and think about how animals coexist in this habitat. The culminating event, at which the students present their projects, takes the form of an eco-tour of the rainforest.

 

In addition to the written research paper, students communicate what they have learned through discussions and oral presentations, as well as in homework assignments, artistic representations, models, and poster displays.

 

Towards the end of the year, students engage in two other STEAM units. The first, on 3D printing, allows the students to gain experience with engineering and the design process by using a program called Tinkercad to design a prototype of a box to hold a solar powered light. Through this program, the students in our class are partnered with a class in Honduras who with whom they communicate through video message. The two classes work together to design the project, while also learning about life in the two countries, with an emphasis on the different uses of technology.


At the end of the year, students complete a chemistry unit on mixtures and solutions. They conduct various experiments to compare the different levels of saturation and dilution between mixtures, and also observe the chemical reactions created by combining different substances.