Discovering personal greatness in pre-school through grade 8 students - Burlington, Vermont

4th Grade


The fourth grade math curriculum is built on the foundation of place value and operations.  In fourth grade, students begin to expand on basic skills and operations like multiplication, division, fractions, measurement, and geometry, while developing more analytical and complex understanding of concepts as the year progresses. Their textbook, My Math, allows the teacher to guide students through the fourth grade curriculum by focusing on a multi-faceted approach to the content.  This book correlates with the National Common Core Standards, which recognize the need for more in-depth and varied exploration of math concepts rather than the traditional rote memorization educators focused so heavily on in the past.  This takes into account more fully the different learning styles and abilities of students in all grade levels. A helpful feature of this text is the online activities and practice available to teachers and parents.  Students and parents can access a variety of practice and modeling tools at home.


The major core standards for the fourth grade science curriculum include: Human heredity/traits; conservation of mass; electrical circuits; animal/organism relationships and adaptations; and composition of the Earth.  Students will approach these topics by learning concepts and developing skills that reflect the learning outcomes.  Most of these topics relate directly to our community.


The Reader’s Workshop program will be used as a resource throughout the year.  From time to time, the Houghton Mifflin basal reading program will also be utilized to expose students to a variety of literature genres and styles.  In addition, students will also read, discuss, summarize, and analyze literature in a literature circle format.  Fourth graders will work in small groups of three to four students to read books that are assigned by the teacher.  Each group member will take turns doing several jobs for the group during the five to six week reading schedule.  Written response will be an important part of the reading curriculum.  Writing assignments and journals will, at times, tie into the writing/English and also the Social Studies curriculum.  Emphasis will be placed on recognizing reading strategies and building comprehension proficiency.  All fourth graders are expected to read in a number of genres and should come with a book each day.  There will be at least three book reports.


Students in fourth grade will strive to develop a stronger, more confident author’s voice and style. They will begin the lifelong practice of demonstrating understanding, processing, and awareness as a fluent writer. Through spelling, grammar and writing instruction, students will learn to use the writing process COMPLETELY AND CONSISTENTLY and will work to develop more fluency and organization in their writing.

The curriculum challenges students to develop organization, creativity, and purpose in their writing by focusing on consistent, foundational skills and practices. It also allows opportunity for differentiation and/or accommodations.

Almost every written assignment given, in class or at home, is assessed with a rubric which will be provided to the student when the assignment is first given. Please note that the rubric sometimes places an emphasis on a particular skill or writing strategy. Students will review the rubric with the teacher for all assignments and will understand the specific expectations in advance.


The following outlines some key writing instruction that will be presented throughout grades four and five:

Main Ideas/Details

  • Identifying Main Idea
  • Including Strong/Relevant Details
  • Staying on Topic
  • Organizing Paragraphs

Forms of Writing

  • Purpose
  • Audience
  • Using the Writing Process

Descriptive Writing

  • Using Senses
  • Including Adjectives and Adverbs
  • Making Comparisons
  • Writing Poetry

Expressive Writing

  • Writing a Personal Narrative
  • Using Time Order (Transition Words)
  • Identifying Precise Verbs

Writing a Story

  • Identifying Key Parts of a Story
  • Recognizing Point of View
  • Using the Writing Process

Persuasive Writing

  • Identifying Reasons to Persuade
  • Using Facts
  • Organizing in Order of Importance
  • Finding Your Active Voice

Explanatory Writing

  • Finding Causes and Effects
  • Explaining an Event
  • Choosing Verbs
  • Using pictures

Informational Writing

  • Why and How Do We Inform?
  • Identifying Fact, Opinion, Bias
  • Biographies

Fourth graders will be using a combination of traditional and online spelling/word study activities to strengthen their foundational skills and to develop vocabulary. They will be focusing on both meaning and spelling, as they do word study and other vocabulary activities and are assessed weekly. Consistent practice and discussion of featured Latin and Greek roots will help to broaden vocabulary further and anchor student understanding of word meaning with authentic knowledge of word origin and make-up. 

We will be using the Exercises in English program (Loyola Press). Through explicit instruction, ample practice, and immediate application of skills, students will master grade-appropriate conventions to improve their ability to communicate clearly and correctly in their writing.


Social Studies

The year begins by reviewing map skills and geography, focusing specifically on landforms and bodies of water.  Students will use their map knowledge and geography skills to create a treasure map as the culminating project for this unit.   As the year progresses, students will explore the U.S. regions, with special emphasis on the five themes of geography:  location; place; human-environment interaction; movement; and region (types).  Much of this will be supported by the textbook—this also introduces students to critical textbook study strategies.  Fourth graders also learn about finance and economics (including how to use a debit account and checkbook). In the spring, fourth graders will explore the rich history, culture, economy, and government of our wonderful state.  This may include a trip to the State House and the Vermont Historical Society, and possibly a field trip to the Shelburne Museum at the end of the year.  Throughout the year, students will demonstrate their understanding of content through projects, tests, reports, class discussion, and daily classroom/home activities.


Students will compose and participate in daily prayer. They will study the key elements of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and will learn how to live out the Sacraments each day. Fourth graders will also review how the Mass is celebrated and will learn/analyze the Ten Commandments. They will cite scriptural passages and identify/celebrate the Beatitudes. Students will begin to make connections between the Commandments and daily moral choices. The class will also focus on social teaching of the Church, recognizing peace and justice in school, in our community, and in the world. Mater Christi’s core values will be taught and lived out throughout the year.