A distinction for fourth graders is the chance to go off campus to learn, designing special animal enrichments for the Minnesota Zoo’s Sea Otter exhibit and riding bikes to Minnehaha Falls, Fort Snelling and the Lock and Dam #1. Here are some Fourth Grade highlights:
Students study business, economics and free-enterprise through hands-on lessons and simulations. The unit concludes with a full day trip to Biztown where students, accepting jobs such as CEO, CFO, scientist, meteorologist, nutritionist, DJ, and mayor, participate in a simulated economy. STEM skills are integrated during the experience through activities such as alternative energy exploration and research, water quality testing, weighing, measuring, and accounting. While exploring STEM careers students actively use STEM skills such as employing the scientific process, thinking critically, problem solving, using math, and collaborating as a team.
Students and teachers are provided exciting opportunities to investigate the contributions African Americans have made and are making to the fine arts. In the past three years, we’ve studied the operatic singing of Marian Anderson, the music and dance of the Gullah People of coastal South Carolina and Georgia, and the music that impacted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his role as a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement.
Each year an artist visits our classrooms and leads us through lessons and learning experiences revolving around the year’s topic. Our learning is extended as students share what they have learned with the greater community, and culminates when we attend a special concert. This years’ concert is Let Freedom Ring and celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and features the Sounds of Blackness and the VocalEssence Chorus.
Here is a closer look at the curriculum:
The McGraw-Hill Imagine It literacy curriculum is supplemented in fourth grade by independent reading and novel studies. The curriculum incorporates grammar, word structure and usage, sentence building, vocabulary, study skills, composition, and literature appreciation. The Accelerated Reading program is used throughout the year.
The Writing Workshop provides an opportunity for students to develop their voice and skill as a writer through units of study. Units explored during the year will include memoir, personal narrative, non-narrative, poetry, realistic fiction and others. Students will follow the writing process and take their ideas from the earliest stage through to publication. Monthly writing celebrations will honor the work of our young authors.
Spelling skills, concepts, and patterns are taught using Rebecca Sitton Spelling Sourcebooks, which emphasize high frequency words, proofreading, dictionary skills, and word mastery. Communication skills, such as public speaking, are fostered during the year across the curricular areas.
Fourth grade begins the move away from arithmetic toward more difficult problem solving, with an emphasis on computing and problem solving with fractions and decimals. Students continue to master bar models for problem solving, and are introduced to negative numbers, functions, coordinate graphs, angles, lines, perimeter, and area. Fourth graders are expected to express mathematical ideas through representations and make connections between mathematical ideas and concepts. These topics are developed with an emphasis on problem solving, skill consolidation, and a deep understanding in preparation for Algebra.
Conveying the love and goodness of God is the primary goal of the Christian Schools International Bible curriculum (Record of God’s Nation). Students study an overview of the Bible, and the lives of Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Daniel and Esther. Events leading up to the Divided Kingdom and the Return are also explored. Through stories of God’s working in the lives of Old and New Testament people, students learn to recognize God’s work and His plan in their own lives. All Lower School students and teachers meet together weekly for a chapel service.
The Macmillan/McGraw-Hill’s Our Nation curriculum is the basis of fourth grade social studies, and the textbook content is currently completed in fifth grade. Mastery of the 50 states and capitals, and the continents, is required. Student projects, field trips, and special speakers enhance the learning. The continent study in fourth grade focuses on the geography and culture of North America. Minnesota state history is also a primary component of the fourth grade social studies curriculum.
Hands-on activities applying the scientific method are incorporated throughout the entire science curriculum. The Discovery Works science curriculum used in fourth grade integrates units in life science, physical science, and earth science. Topics include animal behavior and habitats, astronomy, measurement and experimentation. The Foss program is used to study magnetism and electricity. A Science Fair project is required of all fourth grade students. All Lower School students are strongly encouraged to participate in the annual Science Fair evening, although evening attendance is not a requirement of the project assignment.