During the final year in Lower School, students are given more responsibility; efficiency, organization, and independence are heavily emphasized. Fourth graders integrate the St. Andrew’s mission into their everyday lives, embracing the principles of a diverse community (through teamwork), spiritual growth (specific and active service obligations and character development), and academic excellence (developing mastery of basic language and mathematics skills). The themes of character, service, discovery, and inquiry are integrated in a challenging curriculum rich in cultural overtones and creative opportunities. Application of basic skills acquired in the earlier grades is brought to a mastery level as students prepare for Middle School.
The language arts curriculum encompasses reading, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. The program integrates students’ developing skill levels in these areas primarily through four in-depth novel studies as well as the history curriculum. Oral language is developed through presentations and class plays, which are most often interdisciplinary in nature, depending on current study across the curriculum. Fourth graders are offered many other formal and informal opportunities to present orally through book reviews, reports, dramatic expression, weekly journaling, poetry, and serving as group spokespersons.
Fourth grade students engage in in-depth study of four selected novels that rotate each year, each of which covers important themes. These are novels such as In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (global studies, diversity, character, courage, individuality, prejudice), Sign of the Beaver (culture, history, character, responsibility, courage, survival), and Number the Stars (global studies, culture, Holocaust, character, friendship, faith). Through these rich, relevant novels, students are exposed to other cultures, ideas, and historical eras, and develop their skills of inquiry and inference, a knowledge of the writing process, and a love of reading.
The fourth grade language arts program reinforces multisyllabic decoding skills, develops reading fluency, teaches vocabulary using word roots, and strengthens spelling retention.
Grammar and Vocabulary
The grammar curriculum provides reviews and extension of basic grammar skills and writing mechanics and offers opportunities for developing the writing process. Fourth grade vocabulary skills include vocabulary development, inferencing, usage, and application, which are linked with writing assignments, novel studies, and general classroom conversation. In addition to writing three directed narratives, fourth graders have the opportunity to enter an annual writing contest, the Golden Pen Award for Writing Excellence.
Fourth grade math stresses the successful development of mathematical thinkers. The curriculum, Math in Focus: Singapore Math, uses a focused and coherent syllabus that integrates concepts, skills, processes, attitudes and metacognition all required in the problem solving process. It addresses relatively few topics in detail with time built into the lessons to develop understanding, using a Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach. The model drawing technique used provides students with a visual model to help solve problems, which leads directly to the abstract models used in algebra. Lessons focus on the application of mathematics to real world situations as students work with whole numbers to 100,000, fractions, decimals, data and probability, and geometry.
Fourth graders embark on a journey through United States history using an active, integrated learning approach that combines history, economics, geography, and civics. Fourth grade history builds a working understanding of how our country was established and participate in activities that bring social studies alive, such as participation in the Stock Market Game, a visit to a colonial tavern and school room on Colonial Day, and a day-long trip to Vicksburg, Mississippi, for a scavenger hunt of the battlefields. Through acquiring and applying new vocabulary, writing creative pieces, completing charts and matrixes, making character comparisons, and using basic research skills, fourth graders gain an appreciation and knowledge of United States history.