Fourth grade is a time of transition in the classroom. The students will be working toward independence in classroom expectations, class work, and homework. The independent steps will be supported by the teacher, and will meet each student at his/her readiness level. Academics reflect this step. Skills that have been acquired in the lower grades will be the tools used in fourth grade.
St. Joseph School teachers follow the Common Core State Standards in math. Teachers have created focus standards for grades kindergarten through fourth grade that are essential for building a strong math foundation for middle school and beyond.
The essential standards in fourth grade include:
In fourth grade, we focus on reading and language skills in the following areas: advanced word study, reading fluency and in-depth comprehension of text with greater complexity as well as conventions of standard English and vocabulary acquisition and use. Students read, discuss, reflect, and respond, using evidence from text, to a wide variety of literary genres, diverse world voices and perspectives, and informational text. Our reading pillars include fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and phonics. Within these pillars, we work to increase independence, build strong content knowledge, comprehend and critique, understand the value of evidence, use technology and digital media.
In grades K-4, we have adopted the Fountas and Pinnell Reading Program. This program is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards and provides students with daily opportunities to engage in interactive read-alouds and literature discussions, shared and performance reading, differentiated guided reading groups as well as sustained silent reading and writing about reading. The Fountas and Pinnell rich collection of fiction and nonfiction books reinforces key vocabulary, has diverse content and serves as an essential tool to build our students' language comprehension.
As we develop skills to comprehend literature and informational text, we engage in three ways of thinking about a text while reading. Thinking within the text involves efficiently and effectively understanding what's on the page, the author's literal message. Thinking beyond the text requires making inferences and putting text ideas together in different ways to construct the text's meaning. In thinking about the text, readers analyze and critique the author's craft.
Our classroom teachers work in close collaboration with our Learning Resource specialist and Advanced Learning specialist to ensure that all students receive the support they need to become skilled readers.
At St. Joseph School, our goal is to develop life-long readers who can decode with accuracy and read at an appropriate rate with suitable prosody that leads to accurate and deep comprehension and motivation to read!
St. Joseph School follows the religion standards of the Archdiocese of Seattle. The standards are tied to the 6 tasks of Catechesis: 1) Knowledge of the Faith, 2) Liturgical Formation, 3) Morality/Life in Christ, 4) Prayer, and 5) Life, Community and History of the Church, 6) the Church’s Missionary Life and Service.
Core religion concepts taught in fourth grade include; Morality and Church Doctrine - Essential questions include: What is God’s plan? How do we know? What is the “image of God?” What is the greatest commandment? What does God call us to do? What does it mean to value life? What is the significance of the Creed? When will we see God? Service is a big part of each grade-level at St. Joes. As a Jesuit parish school we teach our students about St. Ignatius and the Jesuits. We begin in kindergarten teaching what it means to be Open to Growth, Loving, Religious, Committed to Doing Justice, and Intellectually Competent.
St. Joseph School has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards and uses curriculum from Carolina Science. Students in the fourth grade take part in hands-on experiments, research, technology use (internet searches, videos, Keynote presentations), guest speakers, and discussion. We teach and emphasize the scientific method in all units.
Energy Works: Students explore the complex topic of energy through a series of hands-on lessons. Inquiry-based investigations help students to discover their own claims by using evidence, and then later setting up their own experiments. Students look at the different types of energy, the transfers and transformations of energy, and how energy is used in the world. During this unit, students will set up circuits, create models of waterwheels, and participate through interactive demonstrations.
Plant and Animal Structures: Students study plants and animals, particularly how all organisms are able to grow, survive, and reproduce, in order to survive. Students have a series of hands-on experiments, including a flower and squid dissection to look at these structures more closely. Later on in the unit, the focus shifts to the five senses. To look at these structures more closely, the class dissects a sheep brain and a cow eye. This gives the students a real connection to be able to explain how both are key in animal senses.
Changing Earth: Students focus on the history of Earth and its landforms. Students have a series of hands-on lessons to learn about the rock cycle, plate tectonics, and how changes on Earth can impact humans. Students observe and compare different rock samples, simulate the rock cycle, and will create their own stream tables to learn about erosion, weathering, and deposition.
The new K-4 STEM program educates and introduces students to science, technology, engineering and math with a hands-on approach and emphasizes problem based learning with peers. Students are introduced to the key elements of science by making observations, predictions and creating a hypothesis. Additionally, students learn the basics of coding using Lego WeDos, KIBO and code.org.
The instructor works with homeroom teachers to integrate the STEM projects to homeroom learning in science, math and social studies. For example, when exploring 3-D shapes in math, students construct 3D shapes in STEM using toothpicks, gumdrops, marshmallows, etc.
For writing we use the Writer’s Workshop curriculum, created by Lucy Calkins and Teachers College. The program emphasizes process, choice and product. It invites students to see themselves as writers. Throughout the writing process, students are constantly trying out new writing styles, studying mentor texts, and revising and editing their own work. In fourth grade students focus on three big writing projects: realistic fiction stories, persuasive writing, and informational writing.
Students continue to demonstrate increasing sophistication in all aspects of their writing, from vocabulary and syntax, to the development and organization of ideas, and address increasingly demanding content and sources. In fourth grade students focus on three big writing projects: realistic fiction stories, persuasive writing, and informational writing. Students utilize self-evaluation, peer conferencing, and goal-setting for improving writing skills.