The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Lower School

Grade Four

Grade Four

In fourth grade, students continue their journey of understanding who they are as learners and what it takes to be a successful student at Fay. Students begin each day in homeroom groupings, which are created to support the learning and personal welfare of each child. Students meet with specialists for all core academic instruction, which includes language arts, mathematics, science, foreign language, music, art, design and digital literacy, wellness, physical education, and library. Students participate in a lively academic program that includes direct instruction, class discussions, investigations, and projects. Instructional routines and practices are aligned with the developmental, cognitive, and emotional strengths and needs of each particular group of fourth graders, and teachers encourage increased independence and responsibility for one’s learning as the year progresses.

List of 11 items.

  • Mathematics

    The goal of Lower School mathematics is to encourage and support students as they develop number sense, computational fluency and efficiency, strategies for problem solving, and a beginning understanding of the connectedness of mathematical topics and procedures. The curriculum offers opportunities for self-discovery and exploration of concepts and personal strategies as well as exploring and understanding traditional algorithms. Visual models are used at every level to provide concrete examples of abstract concepts.

    Grade four expands upon the goals and objectives of third grade mathematics with a continued focus on the conceptual and procedural understanding of whole number operations with a concentrated study of multiplication and division. Fractional concepts are introduced with concrete models supported by mathematical conversations and writing. The curriculum encourages students to think critically, question, and analyze, asking more than a recall of basic facts. They learn to represent and explain their thinking using pictures, numbers, and words. Students continue to develop and extend mathematical proficiency in the following areas: number and operations; fractions, decimals, and percents; measurement, geometry; data analysis and probability; and algebraic thinking.

    Students who successfully complete the grade three mathematics program will be able to fundamental understanding of topics in the following categories:

    Number and Operations
    • Recalling and applying basic addition and subtraction math facts
    • Reviewing and applying multi-digit addition and subtraction with re-grouping
    • Reviewing strategies for multiplication fact fluency
    • Describing the relationship between multiplication and division
    • Showing beginning computational fluency with double-digit multiplication
    • Practicing and applying the partial-quotients division algorithm with single-digit divisors
    • Identifying various meanings for multiplication and division
    • Finding factor pairs of whole numbers 1-100; Determining whether a given whole number is a multiple of a given one-digit factor
    Fractions, Decimals, Percents
    • Showing how equal fractions of a whole have the same area
    • Showing that equal parts of shapes are not necessarily congruent
    • Describing equivalent relationships among halves, fourths, and eighths
    Geometry & Measurement
    • Measuring area and perimeter of basic quadrangles
    • Describing the relationship between area and perimeter
    • Describing transformations of two-dimensional shapes
    • (rotation, reflection, sliding)
    • Using tools for geometric constructions (compass and straight-edge)
    • Identifying and constructing lines, segments, rays, and angles
    • Classifying polygons based on their properties
    Data Analysis & Probability
    • Visually representing data to use as a tool during the analysis process
    • Summarizing numerical data sets in relation to their contexts
    • Defining ways data can be collected
    • Investigating, creating, and interpreting scatter plots
    Algebraic Thinking
    • Evaluating the meaning of a number sentence to determine whether it is true or false
    • Applying vocabulary and notation for open sentences
    • (introduction of variables)
    • Representing growing patterns geometrically, symbolically, and graphically
    • Using the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems; symbolically and numerically representing contextual problems
    • Solving multistep word problems and representing these problems using open number sentences and variables
    • Generating a number or shape pattern that follows a given rule or function
    • Using parentheses to evaluate expressions
    • Writing simple expressions and equations that record calculations with numbers
    • Evaluating and interpreting numerical expressions without calculation
  • Reading

    In a classroom environment rich with literary materials, grade four students participate in a wide variety of reading experiences in guided and independent settings. Students read independently each day from books at their designated reading levels, choosing from a range of genres including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. To improve comprehension, students apply grade-level and reading-level strategies that include prediction, connection, visualization, questioning, and summarizing. Teachers conduct one-on-one conferences with students to monitor individual progress and set individual goals. Guided reading groups are conducted where students practice oral reading skills, ask and answer questions, and learn how to have a book discussion.

  • Writing

    The Lower School writing program encourages students to develop an understanding of and appreciation for creative and expository writing, poetry, and drama, and to communicate effectively through written and spoken language. Students write daily and complete assignments through a multi-step process known as the writing workshop, where they develop strategies for organizing their thoughts, revising and discussing their work in student/teacher conferences, and presenting completed assignments to the class.

    Students explore and apply proper language and grammar usage with the goal of improving their own writing. Throughout the writing curriculum, process writing and grammar study are designed to be parallel and interconnected methods of ensuring mastery of skills. Using the 6+1 Traits of Writing (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation), students begin working through the various stages of the writing process, from writing simply to get ideas down on paper, to later and final drafts of publishable writing. From the earliest stages of a piece of writing through work that can be read aloud, revision focused on these specific traits guides students as they work.

    In grade four, students begin to work through the stages of the writing workshop at their own pace and are encouraged to edit their work more independently as they become more facile with the mechanics of writing. Students learn about paragraph formation, dialogue, and literary devices as ways to enhance their written work. The spelling curriculum advances to the next level.

    A yearlong vocabulary and word study program is also an integral part of English instruction. In fourth grade, teachers create a word-rich environment by modeling an interest in words through what students see in the classroom, read in a variety of texts, hear in the classroom, and use in speaking and writing. As part of their word study, students explore derivational relationships and Greek and Latin roots, making meaningful connections between words they know and words they may not know.

    Projects such as the speech presentation also provide opportunities for developing public speaking and presentation skills.
  • Social Studies

    In grade four social studies, students study how, when, and why people explored and migrated to America before the founding of the United States. Students focus on the human aspect of geography as they learn about the relationships between where people live and how and why they live there, as well as why people move. Among the topics introduced are the Native American tribes of North America, European exploration, and immigration in America. These topics also provide a transition to the study of history in future grades.

    Students who successfully complete the grade four social studies program will be able to:
    • Understand how, when, and why people explored and migrated to America before the founding of the United States
    • Analyze information
    • Compare and contrast
    • Identify and extract main ideas and supporting details from a variety of resources
    • Organize information with an introduction to note taking
  • Science

    The Lower School science practices have been adopted from the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2012) and directly build upon skills and material covered in Primary School. Students who demonstrate success in Lower School science courses will be able to:
    • Ask clarifying and extending questions
    • Apply the scientific process to creative real-world projects
    • Create and follow a written plan for an investigation
    • Understand how to gather, organize, and explain data
    • Predict the outcome of an investigation and analyze the results
    • Collaborate effectively to complete investigations and solve problems
    • Use evidence from real-world observations to demonstrate conceptual understanding
    • Communicate concepts and observations through writing and drawing

    During the year, fourth graders engage in a study of the environment, with a focus on water, land, and air pollution. Students conduct in-class research on this issue, culminating with the creation of student-produced informational videos and an engineering design project in which students design, build, test, and redesign a pollution solution. In a unit on color, light, and sight, students learn about the senses of vision and hearing and how the ear, eyes, and brain work together. Finally, fourth graders explore biomes, focusing on what it is that plants need to grow. Revisiting their work from the fall, students design and create sustainable biomes that enable plants to grow in potentially adverse conditions.

  • Design and Digital Literacy

    Design and Digital Literacy provides students with key technology and design skills that they need to be successful both in and out of the classroom. Students explore the question, “How do designers impact the world around them?” Students learn how to leverage technology to achieve their goals; they also learn how to be responsible digital citizens by using technology in safe, legal and ethical ways. Digital Literacy focuses on learning how to use technology as a tool for productivity, with a focus on construction, design, thinking, communication, and collaboration. The Design and Digital Literacy curriculum is based on the International Society for Technology in Education Student Standards, as well as the Design Process (Find, Define, Ideate, Make, Evaluate). In grades 4 - 6, students participate in a Digital Literacy Badging program where students learn discrete skills that they can apply both in school and at home. By the end of grade four, students will be able to identify different types of environments, describe ways in which designers can positively and negatively impact the environments around them, apply their knowledge of the relationship between designers and their environments to ideate and design solutions to a problem, and construct, test, and evaluate their solutions.

    Each Lower School student has access to a Chromebook for use in all classes throughout the day, and students use a range of Google Education tools, including Gmail, Google Classroom, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, Sites, Jamboard, and Keep. Students also participate in activities that utilize tools including Seesaw, Adobe Spark, Common Sense Media, and a range of coding and keyboarding practice applications.
  • World Languages: Spanish and French

    Fay’s Lower School French and Spanish program is based on F.L.E.S. (Foreign Language in the Elementary School). The F.L.E.S. methodologies are based on the developmental progression of first language acquisition, which involves the active use of and exposure to the language being learned. The learning style is hands-on and activity-based with textual support. Listening and speaking skills are emphasized through interactive activities such as games, choral repetition, TPR (Total Physical Response), acting out dialogues, and music. Through the use of Francophone and Hispanic children’s literature, students develop basic reading and writing skills. The study of culture continues to be a highlight of the program, as it allows the students to learn and appreciate French and Spanish speaking communities. The students are encouraged to use French or Spanish to express basic ideas and to participate in brief conversations.

    In grade four, students review the material learned in grade three and expand on basic vocabulary. Students learn simple grammatical concepts, theme-based vocabulary, and common cultural expressions through hands-on activities, games, and age-appropriate Francophone and Hispanic literature and media. Throughout the year, students participate in group activities that enable them to sharpen skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The class transitions to a more expanded use of French or Spanish, thus enabling the students to enhance their listening comprehension and speaking skills. By the end of the year, students are comfortable using French or Spanish expressions and basic language in the classroom. Culture is an important part of the program, and the students learn about special Francophone and Hispanic traditions and celebrations.

  • Music

    The Lower School music program is based on the educational philosophy of Zoltán Kodály and incorporates other methods, including Orff and Dalcroze. Children acquire musical skills and appreciation through singing, speaking, listening, games, movement, music reading and writing, improvisation, composition, and playing instruments. Students also perform in school concerts and plays. Students are exposed to a repertoire of music from folk songs and world music to classical music. As music is a language of emotion, the music curriculum supports Fay’s core value of Wellness of Mind, Body, and Spirit by supporting the development of children’s emotional intelligence.

    Grade four goals include review of all grade three concepts; identification and demonstration of the extended do pentatonic scale (low la, low so, high do); recognition of the do, la, and so pentatonic scales; reading whole notes and whole rests; identifying uneven rhythms (syncopation); identifying 1/2 steps; learning the solfege tone fa, identifying tetrachords and hexachords, learning about key signatures; identifying meter of 3, and singing in harmony. Fourth grade students continue their study of the soprano recorder at a more advanced level.
  • Art

    Students focus on techniques of illustration throughout the year. They work with pencil, pen, watercolor paints, oil pastels, dry pastels, and acrylic paint. They learn about the differences and similarities among these media. One major project is a painting on canvas from observing a still life. 

    Students who successfully complete the fourth grade art program will be able to:
    • Use media and tools appropriately
    • Listen to and understand multi-step directions
    • Understand the slab method of clay construction
    • Work cooperatively
    • Understand the color wheel as they learn to mix paint for a still-life on canvas
    • Care for their materials and maintain a clean workspace
  • Physical Education

    In fourth grade, the P.E. program continues to focus on cardiovascular fitness and developmentally appropriate skills and activities as well as continuing progress towards developing an awareness of and participation in team sports. Teachers address skill development, effort, participation, and sportsmanship, with a focus on how to handle competitive situations in a positive manner. As grade four students will be choosing from among a range of athletic offerings in grade five, the department introduces options to students by inviting a coach from each Upper School sport to speak to the grade four students in a guest lecture format, so students can listen to the expectations of coaches on that level and to ask questions. Students begin using lockers in Harlow Gym and are expected to change into appropriate physical education attire at the beginning of each class. They begin with warm-ups and stretching exercises.

    Fall: Flag football, field hockey, cross country, soccer, and tennis
    Winter: Basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, climbing wall
    Spring: Lacrosse, softball, baseball, track and field, and pillo polo

    Other PE Activities:
    Tag games, capture the flag, kickball, parachute, obstacle courses, Frisbee (ultimate and golf), basic tumbling and stunts, creative movement and spatial awareness activities, relay races, scooter activities, muscle conditioning (vs. weight lifting)
  • Wellness

    Throughout the year, fourth graders participate in a Wellness class that meets one time per rotation. Students address the issues of cliques, bullying, decision making, creating an inclusive environment, nutrition, problem solving, self-advocacy, mindfulness, and cooperation. The curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of the students based upon class social dynamics, school climate, and other issues that may emerge.

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