This year in our reading and language arts program we will be reading many novels and short stories of a variety of genres. We will be incorporating Iowa Core Standards into our lessons and assessments, both through whole group and small group instruction. In fourth grade, there are six ELA units. These units focus on both fiction and non-fiction text. During these units, students receive direct instruction on skills such as characterization, theme, finding the main idea, and writing a summary of both fiction and non-fiction text. In addition, ELA units three and five focus on poetry, prose, and drama. Our reading program also integrates independent reading and reading books at their instructional level. Furthermore, students will be receiving vocabulary instruction that teaches students how to break words into parts, hypothesize the meanings of unknown parts, and check meaning in context. The lessons also help students learn the meaning of the most common affixes, Latin roots, and Greek combining forms.
Fourth grade writing centers around a new writing curriculum called “Being a Writer”. The Being a Writer program provides a writing-process approach to teaching writing that interweaves academic and social-emotional learning for K–6 students and professional development for teachers into daily instruction. Using authentic children’s literature, the program provides support for creating a Collaborative Classroom environment where teachers facilitate student discussion, provide a model for the respectful exchange of ideas, and help students develop their own voice. We also incorporate the six traits of writing: word choice, voice, sentence fluency, organization, ideas, and conventions in our journaling, stories, and essays.
During the year, we will compose a variety of writings that include personal narratives, informative and expository essays, opinion writing, poetry, journaling, summaries, research reports, a resume, and an opportunity to create personal stories. Each piece of writing will go through the writing process which takes place during writer’s workshop. Grammar, mechanics, and the writing process will all be incorporated into reading, writing, and spelling lessons. Much of our writing will be related to other subjects and personal experiences.
Spelling word lists originate from a list of patterned words and are derived from our grade level’s weekly 95% Group lessons. Spelling lists will be differentiated based on the learning needs of the individual student. Student proficiency will be measured by a weekly post assessment.
- Spelling Pretest/Checking of Words
- Development of Differentiated Word Lists
- Direct Instruction Using 95% Group Lesson (s) to Support the Word Pattern
- Five sentences using spelling words. This will be done in the classroom and will not be homework.
- Practice opportunities
- Spelling Posttest
One goal of our mathematics curriculum is for student to know their math facts from memory. For our grade level, the goal is one hundred facts with 95% accuracy in the allotted time (addition, subtraction, and multiplication 5 minutes, and division 6 minutes). A student’s ability to automatically recall these facts helps them efficiently achieve other important math goals. One of the expectations of fourth graders is that they work at home several times a week on the facts they have not yet mastered. I have administered a baseline diagnostic test over all the math facts. Throughout the year students’ knowledge of the facts will be reassessed. There are numerous tools that can be used, from flashcards to various websites, to assist students with their review of the basic facts.
The District has trained teachers to slowly begin to incorporate mathematically productive teaching practices that align with how students learn mathematics and the CCSS for Mathematical Practice by engaging students habitually in sense making, conjecturing, justifying, and generalizing while continuously attending to-
• Regularity in repeated reasoning, patterns & structure
• Mathematical representations
• Connections within and across representations
• Mistakes and stuck points as starting points
• Reflection and metacognition
• Persevering and seeking more
This will coincide with the district math program, Everyday Mathematics, which is based on research that suggests that people rarely learn new concepts or skills the first time they experience them, but fully understand math concepts only after repeated exposures. Thus, the Everyday Mathematics curriculum is said to “spiral” where students are first introduced to concepts that are expected to develop over time with repeated exposure and extended understanding. The students experience student-centered experiential activities designed to introduce them to the various math concepts. Students also learn and practice basic applications through slate assessments, math games and daily math boxes. Through numerous problem-solving opportunities, the program strives to enable students to become better mathematical thinkers – everyday.
Everyday Mathematics is organized into the following content strands:
- Data and Chance
- Measurement and Reference Frames (time)
- Operations and Computation
- Patterns, Functions, and Algebra
An Everyday Math Lesson in fourth grade consists of the following components:
- Warm up
- Mental Math and Fluency – These exercises are designed to strengthen student’s number sense and to review and advance essential basic skills. They are brief and last no more than 5 minutes.
- Math Message – The math message usually leads into the lesson for the day; sometimes it reviews topics previously covered.
- Math Lesson– The lesson is where the new information is presented to the students. This is also the time when students practice applying the new information.
- Math Boxes – Math Boxes are designed as independent activities. They are not intended to reinforce the content of the lesson in which they appear. Rather, they provide continuous distributed practice of all skills and concepts in the program.
- Math Games – Games are an integral part of the Everyday Mathematics program, rather than an optional extra as they are traditionally used in many classrooms. The games are enjoyable ways to reinforce concepts, develop basic computation skills, and practice number skills (especially those that help children develop fact power).
- Home Links – Home Links are the Everyday Mathematics version of homework assignments. Each lesson has a Home Link. Home Links consist of active projects and ongoing review problems that show parents what their child can do in mathematics.
Assessment: There are a total of eight units in Fourth grade. An assessment will follow each unit. In addition, students will have an open response assessment every odd numbered unit as well as a cumulative assessment every even numbered unit.
Here is the website that students can access at home for Everyday Math:
Students will be given a password where they can access from home. This can be a great resource that coincides with classroom lessons.
The Social Studies curriculum in fourth grade focuses on regions of the United States. Students will also be learning the states and capitals as we study each region. The Pleasant Valley School District has adopted the TCI social studies curriculum. The TCI approach consists of a series of instructional practices that allows students of all abilities to experience key social studies concepts (theory and research based instruction; dynamic lessons that build mastery of state and national social studies standards, short, engaging assignments, multiple intelligence teaching strategies, carefully structured reading material that enables students at all reading levels to understand what they read; end-of-lesson processing assignments that involves higher-order thinking skills and challenges students to apply what they have learned).
Our district is in the process of changing our social studies curriculum. Our goal is to learn new ways of engaging students in meaningful and purposeful instruction to prepare students for college and career. Teachers will be using an inquiry model to engage students in thinking around big themes that are based upon the new social studies standards. We will utilize social studies inquiry texts that will focus on the enduring understandings that “Some consistency is inevitable, even with change”, “Change requires innovation”, and “There are consequences of change.” We are excited to move forward and share this literature and new thinking with our students!
As a part of our Social Studies and in coordination with our annual Junior Achievement curriculum, we visit Biz Town in May. Biz Town is a mock-city located in downtown Davenport. During their day as citizens of Biz Town, children work at an assigned job. Each business attempts to pay off their loan to the bank by the end of the day. Students get paid twice each day. After depositing their paychecks, students may shop at the other businesses during their two breaks. Starting in March, students will be learning many skills to prepare them for their visit to Biztown.
Students will be learning science from our science teacher Mrs. Puls. They meet with her 2-3 times a week for 40 minutes. Units of study for fourth grade include physics, electricity and magnetism.
We have six Windows computers and six Ipads in our room. Students are using the new program Ultra Key to build keyboarding skills. This experience will provide them with a strong keyboarding foundation essential to using the computers as the year progresses. We will utilize Word, PowerPoint and the Internet as part of integrated projects throughout the year. Google docs is another tool our district will be using this year. Students will have a Google docs account where they will be able to write and share access with other students, as well as myself, who can then make comments to their writing. Students will also be able to access these accounts from home. We will also be utilizing Google Classroom to aid in organizing class projects and assignments.
• They will login with
o Username: FullLastNameFullFirstName@student.pleasval.k12.ia.us
o Password: (8 Characters recorded in their assignment notebook)
- Edmodo is another resource that we will be utilizing this year. Students will be able to participate in discussions as well as complete assignments at home.
- ST Math is a new instructional software that is research-proven that utilizes Spatial-Temporal (ST) reasoning to teach math concepts that are aligned to Common Core and state standards. Students will be utilizing this program for 90 minutes each week.
Fourth graders use assignment notebooks provided by the district. This is a wonderful organizational and communication tool for students, parents, and the teacher. Students are to write their assignments in their books, and then check them off as they are completed. Time is spent daily updating their books with information on assignments and important dates. Students are required to take their assignment notebooks home each evening, show it to an adult at home, talk about their work, ask the adult to sign the book, and return it the following day. Please also look through the Take Home folder each evening and remove any notes from school. Feel free to write notes to your child or me in the assignment notebook and be sure to check for any notes from me.
Reading at Home
The Pleasant Valley School District fourth grade students are required to read for approximately 30 minutes a night. Your child is at a critical point in their lives where it is vital they read silently and orally frequently. By reading often, a child’s fluency and word recognition will increase. Students will have a reading log that they will complete each night. I will collect them at the end of each month.
Fourth grade homework may consist of weekly spelling words to study, spelling sentences, math facts to drill, math home link assignments, Edmodo assignments, free reading, study guides and/or any special projects relating to our subject matter.