Kindergarten through Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Academics
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, 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.

  • 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.
     
    Projects such as the speech presentation also provide opportunities for developing public speaking and presentation skills.
     
    Word Study
     
    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.
     
    Students who successfully complete the grade four writing program will be able to:
    • Apply organization and study skills
    • Understand and demonstrate writing process and revision skills
    • Apply spelling skills, including dictionary skills
    • Use and understand plurals, homonyms, contractions, and possessives
    • Demonstrate knowledge of selected prefixes, suffixes, verb tenses, articles, prepositions, interjections, and conjunctions
    • Identify sentence types, run-on sentences, sentence fragments, and compound sentences
    • Use proper punctuation and capitalization, including in dialogue/fiction genres
    • Apply effective paragraphing skills, including the five-sentence paragraph used in expository or persuasive writing
    • Identify and write topic sentences
    • Write and deliver a speech
    • Understand literary devices, including simile/metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia, and alliteration
    • Write and read poetry
    • Write and read prose for understanding
    • Use graphic organizers for writing and reading comprehension
  • Digital Literacy

    The goal of the digital literacy program is to provide students with the library and technology skills they need to be successful in their current and future classes.
     
    Students learn library and technology skills in designated digital literacy classes; these skills are also an integral part of the reading, English, science, social studies and math curricula. Students leave the Lower School having explored a variety of library resources and technologies they may use both in school and at home. Whenever students use the Internet, they learn how to be safe online and become familiar with the school’s Acceptable Use Policy.
     
    Students have access to computers in the library and in the PC and Mac labs, as well as a mobile lab of networked, wireless laptop computers that can be wheeled into any classroom.
     
    Resources
    Lower School students use a variety of library and technology resources and tools that may vary from year to year but primarily include:
    • Nonfiction books
    • Reference works
    • Online encyclopedias and magazine databases
    • Dictionaries, almanacs, and atlases
    • Word processing software
    • Graphic organizing software
    • Presentation software
    • Web browsers
    • Keyboarding software
    • Email
    • Lower School Links at http://library.fayschool.org
     
    Fourth graders learn how to find good information online, focusing on the differences and advantages of print sources, online sources, and subscription databases. Students participate in an online safety curriculum, and they continue to develop keyboarding skills. Fourth graders build information literacy and research skills in classroom projects.
     
    Students who successfully complete the grade four digital literacy program will be able to:
    • Use the library and its resources to find a book to read for pleasure or to search for information
    • Access a variety of research sources and technology tools including books, websites, subscription databases, word processing software, presentation software and communication software
    • Demonstrate the importance of citing all research sources and using information and technology ethically
     
  • 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. Students will continue to develop and extend mathematical proficiency in the following areas: number and operations, algebraic thinking, geometry, measurement, and data analysis and probability.
     
    Students who successfully complete the grade four mathematics program will be able to:
    • Exhibit and apply an understanding of mathematical concepts, representations, operations and relationships
    • Carry out mathematical procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently, and appropriately formulate, represent, and solve mathematical problems
    • Reason logically, explain, and reflect on the validity of results
    • Sustain attention and engagement while solving problems and completing tasks
    • Communicate and justify mathematical thinking orally and in writing
  • Social Studies

    In grade four social studies, students continue their study of geography and the “Five Themes” (location place, region, human-environment interaction, and movement) begun in grade three. 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:
    • 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
    • Demonstrate understanding verbally and through written responses
  • Science

    Throughout fourth grade, students explore the role of scientific principles in everyday life. Students explore the inside of the Earth, learning about Earth systems such as convection and plate tectonics and their connection to natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis. During the pollution unit, the damage of a mock oil spill on a river ecosystem leads students to understand human impact and ecosystem interactions. The students participate in an engineering design project as they design, build, test, and redesign a method for oil spill cleanup. Parents join students for a morning in this process with their children at a Family Science Collaborative. During the color, light, and sound unit, students learn how we see and hear; they experiment with waves and their ability to transfer energy and information through space, and they explore the application of sound and light waves to daily use in televisions, paint, and phones. Students also gain a clearer understanding of the senses of vision and hearing and how the ear, eyes, and brain work together. Finally, students explore their “green thumbs” by planting vegetables and gardens during a unit on plants and nutrition. The life cycle and diversity of plant life remains a focus as students connect the nutritional benefits of plants to our everyday diets.
     
    Students who demonstrate success in fourth grade science will be able to:
    • Ask clarifying and extending questions
    • Apply the scientific process to creative real-world projects
    • Create and/or 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 written and visual medium
  • 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 educating the child’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 also collaborate in groups as they design an original board game.
     
    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 through construction of a personal totem based on Pacific Northwest Native Americans
    • 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

    At this level, the focus continues to be 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 oddef each class. They begin with warm-ups and stretching exercises.
     
    Activities:
    Fall: Football, field hockey, cross country, soccer, and tennis
    Winter: Basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, climbing wall
    Spring: Lacrosse, softball, baseball, track and field, and pilo polo
     
    Other PE Activities:
    Tag games, capture the flag, kickball, parachute, obstacle courses, Frisbee (ultimate and golf), basic tumbling and stunts, Jump Rope for Heart, 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.