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January 22, 2017

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Curriculum guide - Grade 4

The elementary school program is designed to develop students’ confidence in themselves as learners, to instill a love of learning, and to help them develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to communicate effectively, understand the world about them, and participate fully in a democratic society.

This web page outlines the major content areas and skills taught in grade four.

Students will engage in integrated or thematic study that requires them to read, write, investigate, converse, design, create, analyze, share and present data and opinions as they pursue solutions and understandings.
While all students will study at least the topics indicated here, there are also opportunities for students to choose other areas of study based on their interests and needs.

Parents can support their children’s school learning by using the vocabulary and discussing the concepts identified here as they share reading, discuss current events, or explore new places with their children.

Please click on any link below to learn more about that topic:

Language Arts
Mathematics
Science
Social Studies
Health
Art
Library Media
Music
Physical Education

 

Language Arts

The Language Arts--reading literature and informational texts, writing, speaking, listening and language--are a major part of students’ elementary school program. The goal of Guilderland’s Language Arts program is to adhere to the K-12 Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and to develop literate students in the 21st century.

Students read and write every day for various purposes and receive frequent written and oral feedback from their teachers and peers. Instruction occurs individually, in small groups and in whole class settings.

Students are expected to read and understand more complex material and write and speak with more sophistication as they progress through the grades. Attention to Language Arts skills and strategies is integrated into student learning throughout the day.

Reading
The purpose of reading is to make meaning from written material. It is a highly complex act of communication requiring active involvement. The overall objective of reading instruction is to develop motivated readers who process written language efficiently and derive meaning from what they read.

In grade four, reading instruction builds upon previous learning and adds focus on:
Both literature and informational texts
Self-selecting appropriate level texts for independent reading
Building reading stamina
Describing in depth a character, setting, or event using specific details from the text
Effectively engaging in a range of collaborative discussions (for example, in partnerships, book clubs, whole group)
Comparing and contrasting the points of view from which different stories are narrated
Reading increasingly more complex texts with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension
Determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text

Progress in reading is assessed formally and informally throughout the year. In addition, students will take the New York State ELA Assessment.

Writing
The goal of Guilderland’s writing program is to develop students who can write competently and with confidence. Guilderland recognizes that writing is a complex process, and its writing program addresses the following student learning objectives:

Use of writer’s notebooks
Students need frequent opportunities to write and receive a great deal of appropriate instruction and feedback
Students need to realize that their lives, ideas and interests are worth writing about
Students need to know that audience and purpose will influence decisions they make about their writing
Students need to know the qualities of good writing and how to evaluate their own work
Students need to increase writing stamina

In grade four, writing instruction builds upon previous learning and adds focus on:
The Writing Process (with an emphasis on organization, purpose, and audience)
Informational writing using research and various text structures
Opinion writing
Narrative writing
Responding to literature
Producing and publishing using technology (including the internet) with some support

Students are expected to produce a variety of writing pieces throughout the year. They will complete their work with attention to the qualities of good writing, correct spelling and mechanics. Progress in writing is assessed through individual conferencing and review of the students’ writing folders with attention to specific areas of instruction. In addition, students will take the New York State ELA Assessment.

Handwriting
Students will integrate Zaner-Bloser cursive into class work on a regular basis at a comfort level for the child.
The expectation of all written work is that it should be legible, appropriately spaced, and organized in terms of line and space on the paper.

Spelling
In grade four, students are expected to spell most high-frequency words correctly and use basic spelling principles to help them spell difficult words. They will use resources such as a dictionary and a thesaurus.
Students will engage in a word study approach that includes the development of phonics, spelling, word recognition and vocabulary.

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Mathematics

The New York Common Core Standards for Mathematics became mandated in the 2012-13 school year. The purpose of these newly developed learning outcomes is to create math instruction that is much more focused and coherent for students. In essence, children become more deeply familiar with math skills and concepts with a projected goal of mastery. The sequence of the standards allows our students to become more competent math learners by applying their math knowledge to everyday, critical math topics. The long-term goal of the Common Core initiative is to better prepare all students for college and the opportunities they will face in the future.

Students at the primary grades will develop a solid foundation from which future math concepts and skills are built upon. At the fourth grade level, a stronger emphasis is put on the conceptual understandings of more difficult mathematical operations with multiplication and division as well as computation with fractions. Students begin to generalize their understanding of place value, make sound estimations and begin to calculate mentally. Fact fluency expectations in fourth grade require that students now add and subtract within 20 and multiply and divide within 100 with automatic recall and are fluent with procedures to add and subtract within 1,000,000.

Go Math! by Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt Publishing Company is specifically written to support the Common Core State Standards. The critical areas and mathematical practices outline in the New York state curriculum are integrated into Go Math! chapters. Student tools allow children to engage in context-based mathematical situations that build to more abstract problem solving. Students use models, manipulatives, quick pictures and symbols to build deeper mathematical understandings. Instructional methods focus on the use of literature and technology as well as encourage students to talk and write about math.

Mathematical Content
Fourth grade Common Core Standards are organized into the following domains:
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Number and Operations in Base Ten
Measurement and Data
Geometry
Number and Operations—Fractions

Pervasive throughout the domains are several key mathematical practices. These are:
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
Reason abstractly and quantitatively
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
Model with mathematics
Use appropriate tools strategically
Attend to precision
Look for and make use of structure
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Required Fluencies in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
When it comes to measuring the full range of the Standards, usually the first things that come to mind are the mathematical practices, or perhaps the content standards that call for conceptual understanding. However, the Standards also address another aspect of mathematical attainment that is seldom measured at scale either: namely, whether students can perform calculations and solve problems quickly and accurately.

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Science

In the 21st century a person must be armed with a science overview to adapt to the extraordinary changes that will occur, to be employed by the new industries that will emerge, and to participate in the decisions that society will make. The key is education and programs such as Science and Technology for Children (STC) to give every student science content and science process needed to develop scientific literacy.

Our elementary science program places an emphasis on acquiring skills, knowledge and attitudes toward science through active involvement in hands-on activities. The heart of the program is problem solving. Students are actively engaged in situations which begin with their questions and take them through the process of inquiry. Students gather information to help them find answers to their questions using the data they have collected.
Because many of the ideas being studied have direct relation to other disciplines, students are encouraged to make connections. We provide literature and other resources to foster such connections.

Teachers are encouraged to enrich science instruction with topics of interest to their students and themselves. The catalyst for such studies may be student-generated questions, teacher or parent interest or current events. Problem solving is the common thread which ties these topical studies to our core curriculum.

Teachers assess student progress by observing their development as observers, hypothesizers, careful data gatherers and generalizers and by watching them work, reviewing their journals, and assessing their written and oral responses.

Our core program includes a series of topical units of study that include hands-on activities, specific scientific skill development (observing, measuring, comparing, predicting, estimating, and describing), problem solving, and assessment.

In grade four the topics are ELECTRIC CIRCUITS and CHEMICAL TESTS.

In the ELECTRIC CIRCUITS unit students expand their understanding of electricity through investigations with wires, batteries, bulbs and switches. They gain experience in constructing circuits by manipulating materials to replicate and create models.

In the CHEMICAL TEST unit fourth graders are introduced to the science of chemistry, and are challenged to explore and determine the identity of five common household chemicals: sugar, alum, talc, baking soda, and cornstarch. Students develop basic laboratory skills; strengthen their ability to collect, record, and organize data; and learn about laboratory safety.

The grade 4 science assessment is administered in April.

Always building upon prior knowledge and understandings, students will use the following vocabulary words in the study of science in grade four:

 

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Social Studies

The ten key concept goals of the K-6 social studies curriculum are:

1. CHANGE
basic alterations in things, events, and ideas

2. CITIZENSHIP
membership in a community (school, state, nation...) with its accompanying behaviors, rights, and responsibilities

3. CULTURE
the way of living any society develops to meet its fundamental needs

4. EMPATHY
the ability to understand others through being able to identify in one’s self responses similar to the experiences, behaviors, and responses of others

5. ENVIRONMENT
surroundings, including natural elements and elements created by humans

6. IDENTITY
awareness of one’s own values, attitudes, and capabilities as an individual and a member of groups

7. INTERDEPENDENCE
reliance upon others in mutually beneficial interaction and exchange

8. NATION-STATE
a geographic/political organization uniting people by a common government

9. SCARCITY
the conflict between unlimited needs and wants and limited natural and human resources

10. TECHNOLOGY
the tools and methods used by people to get what they need and want

social studies graphicThrough social studies experiences in the elementary grades, students will develop mental categories which provide a foundation for social studies learning in grades seven through twelve. As a result of participating in the social studies program, students should demonstrate steady growth in the following abilities and the skills which contribute to them:

The ability to obtain, organize, process and communicate accurate social studies information and ideas.

The ability to identify and investigate issues, generate and test hypotheses, and take and support positions persuasively.

The ability to make appropriate decisions, to identify and solve problems effectively and to initiate appropriate action.

The ability to form or acquire a set of standards and apply them to the evaluation of assumptions, sources, evidence, reasoning and arguments (critical thinking) and to the evaluation of beliefs, qualities and behaviors (valuing).

The ability to determine and understand their rights and responsibilities and decide how they should be exercised as contributing citizens (citizenship competency).

 

In grade four the child will explore the local community, focusing on in-depth studies of local history and local government. A chronological context for placing events in local and New York State history will be provided with an accompanying overview of United States history. Through the study of NYS history, children will gain political knowledge that will contribute to functioning as a participatory citizen and self-identity, social interaction, and participatory citizenship will receive major emphasis.

Central Themes Content Direction Skills Emphasis
History Development of local community in relation to U.S. historical changes Information collection
and presentation
Cultural/Social Interaction of cultural groups in context of U.S. historical changes Valuing
Political Basic elements of American democratic institutions Decision making
Economics The role of scarcity as key element in economic choice Critical thinking
Geography United States and Northeast with emphasis on local maps Map reading
Graphic interpretation

 

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Health

Health is a condition of well-being that is required for the development of each individual and for society as a whole. Health instruction at the elementary level builds a strong foundation to promote the health and well-being of our students. The health education program works in partnership with the home, school, and the community. To support this partnership with the parents, a list of videos that may be used is posted on our district website, and, prior to instruction of any personal safety lesson or video, a parent notification letter is sent home with students.
The elementary program provides accurate, age-appropriate information and builds upon prior learning. The curriculum consists of six strands and is taught by the classroom teacher and sometimes the support of other school staff or guest speakers. The six strands are:
Personal Activity and Nutrition
Diseases
Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs
Family Life and Maturity
Violence Prevention
Unintentional Injury Prevention

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Art

The elementary art curriculum in fourth grade continues with a sequential learning process that exposes children to a variety of techniques, concepts, and skills in both the two-dimensional and three-dimensional arts. The fourth grade visual art curriculum is aligned with the NYS Learning Standards in Art. It allows the art teacher to guide children through hands-on learning activities in a studio like setting that integrates art history from both past and present cultures, art criticism, aesthetics, technology, visual and digital literacies and careers in art.

Elementary art teachers work closely with classroom teachers to promote a positive, exciting learning experience. Connections are made across subject areas while simultaneously allowing children to express themselves as unique individuals. Each learning experience includes both a process and/or a product that may conclude over a period of several classes. All students meet once/week in the art room for 40 minutes.

In addition to the skills and content already learned, the fourth grade artist is introduced to and will experiment with but not limited to the following; color values/tints and shades, radial patterns, emphasis is placed on NYS history, reinforcement of appropriate use and manipulation of materials and tools.

Student artwork is displayed throughout the classroom and building on a regular basis. An annual K-5 student art exhibition is held in the spring at the Guilderland Public Library.

*The K-12 Visual Art Sequential Curriculum is built upon the fundamental principle that the Arts assists in the development of the whole child as it supports the child’s emotional and intellectual growth through sensory experiences that promote creativity, imagination, innovation, problem solving, critical thinking and artistic expression.

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Library Media

The Library Media Program plays a vital role throughout all aspects of the curriculum. The mission of the Library Media Program ensures that all students and staff effectively generate questions, access resources and create and share their new knowledge. In addition to managing the book collection and library web page, the Library Media Specialist provides instruction for individuals, small groups and whole classes of students. Areas of instruction include library orientation and circulation, literature appreciation, information skills and utilizing technology and digital media. Our fourth grade students are introduced to and participate in a variety of library experiences, such as:
Expanding their use of the OPAC (library catalog) and Interlibrary Loan, becoming independent library users (Orientation and Circulation)
Classifying and experiencing various genres, appreciating award-winning books, acquiring visual literacy skills (Literature Appreciation)
Identifying parts of a book with emphasis on nonfiction features and conventions, expanding research processes emphasizing inquiry, evaluating print and online resources (Information Skills)
Utilizing online resources for research, such as databases and ebooks, creating digital products, evaluating websites, citing online resources and digital images (Utilizing Technology and Digital Media)

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Music

The purpose of the Guilderland music program is to advance the cognitive and cultural development of every student through active participation in music. Sequential class activities:
Promote critical thinking and listening skills.
Foster creativity through musical improvisation and composition.
Advance innate musical aptitude through class and public performances.
Encourage an understanding of world cultures.
Aid neural development of the brain benefiting literacy, spatial reasoning, verbal memory and problem solving skills.
Allow for a shared community experience by teaching music literacy (pattern structure recognition).

The elementary general music program is offered to students in grades K-5 twice a week for 30 minutes. The emphasis in music class is on the development of each child’s tonal, rhythmic and movement skills through a sound before sight approach. Similar to the way children acquire language skills, music is taught as an aural art. Students build a solid foundation of aural and performing skills through singing, rhythmic movement, and tonal and rhythm pattern instruction before being introduced to notation and music theory. The voice is a natural instrument for all children and emphasis is placed on the singing of a variety of songs from many cultures. Movement activities support dexterity, rhythm skill development, and beat coordination. Creativity, composition, and improvisation are encouraged at every level of music instruction. All students have opportunities to perform on classroom instruments including xylophones and rhythm instruments.

The curriculum utilizes Dr. Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory. Children are evaluated for music aptitude in both tonal (melodic) and rhythm skills. The movement portion of the curriculum is based on Phyllis Weikart’s Education through Movement developed as a result of her study of the body as the center of learning for children.

In fourth grade the essential elements of the curriculum focus on:
Music Literacy. Students move from recognizing familiar patterns to the beginning stages of decoding to reading musical notation for meaning. Beginning improvisation or the ability to spontaneously create music within the framework of patterns and harmonic function coupled with music literacy are the basis of a budding independent musician.
Fourth grade students also have the opportunity to begin instrumental music lessons. Students may choose to take an instrument and have weekly group instruction during the school day. Students who have gained enough skills may join a band or orchestra and have an opportunity to perform in an ensemble at a concert.
Fourth grade students also have the opportunity to join chorus, which rehearses once a week after school. For students who like to sing, chorus is an enriching experience giving students vocal executive skills combined with cooperative team activities. Chorus members perform in several evening concerts throughout the year gaining self-confidence through public performances. 

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Physical Education

Guilderland Central School District begins Physical Education in kindergarten. Basic concept and skill development are the primary concerns of the K-4 program. At these grade levels much time is spent helping the learner become aware of and develop a working knowledge of the Elementary Physical Education Concepts:
Agility
Balance
Directionality
Foot-Eye Coordination
Hand-Eye Coordination
Locomotor & Axial Movements
Physical Fitness
Reaction Time
Rhythm & Dance
Spatial Awareness
Strategy
Strength/Power/Leverage
Timing

With these concepts the following attributes are emphasized:
Safety
Risk-taking
Cooperation
Trust
Leadership
Initiative

Our fourth grade curriculum consists of further development of all thirteen movement concepts. In addition, fourth grade students are introduced to more specific sport-related activities such as basketball and soccer. This introduction is to help prepare students for their next year of study. Students are also allowed to participate in after school intramural programs, which give the students additional time to interact, exercise, and have fun with their peers in a physical education setting.

The students are also fitness tested twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring. At this level, students are introduced to the process and importance of setting realistic goals. With this knowledge, students then apply personal goals to the fall fitness test results for ideal aspirations for the spring fitness testing. After the fall results have been recorded the students write a goal on their fitness card and this gives them something to strive for.

After completing the Elementary Physical Education program, each child should be able to understand and apply all thirteen concepts whether in an organized physical activity or being active as a healthy choice. The Physical Education program is designed, ultimately, to enhance each child’s skill development and prepare them for the upcoming middle school program. 

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