As students continue to identify and further their interests, they are introduced to a broad variety of experiences in Grade 4. Highlights of the curriculum include:
- Researching and presenting projects focused on regions of the United States
- Starting, marketing and analyzing a small business venture by participating in the Intermediate School Craft Fair and Bake Sale
- Presenting an original poem in a unique Poetry Coffee House event for parents and friends
- Mentoring Grade 1 students in a Pals Program that includes social interaction, leadership and service-learning activities
Language ArtsIn Grade 4, students continue their exploration of Word Study, Grammar, Writing and Reading. They polish their writing skills in a variety of projects including letters, superhero stories, small moment personal narratives, tall tales and various research projects. Students explore the structure of various poems and work on refining their handwriting. By reading realistic fiction, tall tales, historical fiction, fantasy, poetry, non-fiction and Newbery Award Winning novels, students are able to compare and contrast information, summarize important story elements and demonstrate comprehension. Through class discussions, students begin to extract meaning and imagery from these stories and gain experience in clearly communicating their thoughts and opinions.
Students progress in their study of numbers to include story problems with fractions and multiple operations, and multi-digit multiplication. In algebra, students learn about prime and composite numbers, common factors and least-common multiples. They use bar models to solve advanced word problems. In geometry, students construct, identify, draw and measure angles and shapes, then calculate area and perimeter. They create and interpret graphs, plot data, and identify range, mean, median and mode. Students also examine and express probability. With hands-on activities and games, students communicate, apply and master a wide range of mathematical concepts.
Students continue to broaden their musical education with both a general music course and an additional specialty course in either strings or recorder. Students refine their skills in singing, mallet percussion, and movement. Emphasis is given to composition and improvisation using Orff and Kodaly teaching methods. Students also complete a world music unit covering international music and culture. The annual fall/winter concert is a culmination of our general music performance unit. The spring concert features strings and recorder performance.
Students will choose either beginning orchestra, for those interested in joining the orchestra in Grade 5, or a recorder course that serves as an introduction for students wishing to join the band. In general music, students read music, sing individually and in groups, and complete written tests to assess their knowledge of various concepts and composers. Recorder students progress through four levels, practicing tone, fingering, note and rhythm reading, and playing style. In the orchestra course, students learn proper technique and learn to play a wide range of notes. Students in both courses will perform for parents and peers in a concert setting.
Physical Education & SwimmingStudents are introduced to a wide range of sports and activities. In gym classes, students play soccer, team handball, floor hockey, basketball and track and field. In our Red Cross swim program, students progress between Levels V to VI. Students refine strokes, turns, and racing dives in a swim meet environment. Students also complete safety and rescue swimming. They prepare for distance swimming and practice capsizing and re-entering a canoe. In Grade 4, students are also invited to participate in competitive swim meets with other schools.
Students complete six diverse units of study, gaining an in-depth understanding of each subject through extensive hands-on experimentation. In their study of weather, students chart wind forces and cloud formation. In other classroom lab activities, students compare and contrast the characteristics of sound and light—which includes dissecting a cow eye; test and evaluate soil samples; observe and analyze the function of wetland plants within the Living Machine; evaluate matter in its various forms; and build, test, and discuss simple machines.
Region by region, students explore the rich history of the United States. They learn from a historical perspective, studying native people, European settlers, trading and early immigrant life. They learn about Abolitionists and the Women’s Rights movement. The year-long study introduces climates, resources, industry, culture and government. In addition to learning key facts, dates and geography, students begin to evaluate and form opinions about what they’ve learned. They compare and contrast different aspects of these regions and reflect on various impacts and events. With lessons in economics and entrepreneurship, students create their own businesses. Students work with partners or as individuals to create a product to sell at the Intermediate School Craft Fair & Bake Sale. They gain real-world experience with setting goals, planning, managing, budgeting, marketing, selling and evaluating profit and loss.
At Old Trail, the World Language classrooms have evolved in response to research on language acquisition and best practice so that every student can find success. Spanish classes are executed with comprehensible input in mind - the idea that language-learners must be provided with spoken and written messages in the target language that are easily understood. Outdated, grammar-based practices have been replaced with genuine engagement in the target language. At the intermediate level, we continue to build upon the foundation of engagement and excitement for language that began in primary. At this level, students deepen their exploration of written input in the form of stories and “novels” as well as increasing the challenge of listening competency. Students at this level can read appropriate texts and readers, feel comfortable listening and making sense of oral input and can communicate simple ideas in Spanish. Intermediate school students are well prepared to transition into a more challenging language acquisition program in middle school.
Students create thoughtful imaginative works that apply their knowledge of balance, positive and negative space and symmetry. They are introduced to the color wheel and experiment with analogous colors, hot and cold colors, tints, shades and tones. They also review the work of artists and photographers, such as Vincent Van Gogh and Ansel Adams. Students apply these lessons as they create abstract landscapes, prints and natural branch weavings. Students study examples of Mexican pottery, build and paint their own terra cotta pots. Students weave on branch looms, using a variety of earth-toned yarns.