Fourth Grade

Fourth graders apply the skills they learned in previous years to make bigger connections to the world around them. As a foundation for their middle school history classes, the fourth grade social studies curriculum centers on early humans and ancient civilizations in Sumer, Egypt, India, and China. The year begins with a unit on archaeology and early man to help students understand how the past helps shape the present. Fourth grade reading is literature-based, allowing students to further develop their reading skills while connecting texts to themselves, other texts, and the world around them. As writers, they refine their understanding of grammar and build their vocabulary to create more detailed, precise, and rounded writing in a variety of genres. The math curriculum builds on prior concepts: solving problems using the four basic operations, multiple digit numbers, and fractions. Fourth graders apply quantitative reasoning and computational skills to solve challenging, open-ended problems. In Spanish, the curriculum builds vocabulary and cultural understanding around the theme of school and home. In science, students study machines – from the human body to robots, their study focuses on how these systems function. Likewise, in physical education, students learn new games and continue to practice familiar activities while considering themselves as individual players and parts of a whole team. In music, fourth graders study the American-born musical style, jazz, with attention to history and development, form, artists, and improvisation culminating in the spring jazz program.

List of 10 items.

  • Reading/Language Arts

    Fourth graders read novels representing a diversity of characters and settings, genres, themes, and literary techniques. They respond to reading through group discussions, oral presentations, and writing in their reader's notebook. Notebooks include letters to their teachers about both their independent reading and their book club reading. The goal is to form ideas about the reading supported by evidence from the text. In addition to formal letters, reader's notebooks contain notes about thoughts, strategies, ideas, and observations about the text to bring to class or partner discussion. A highlight of fourth grade reading is performing a play based on either a book read during class or a myth connected to ancient cultures. Students frequently create props or write additional scenes for the plays. Students read literature from various genres, including personal narrative, expository writing, persuasive writing, fiction, and poetry. Using the Writer's Workshop model, students work one-on-one with the teacher and in peer-editing groups to revise and edit their work. They learn to incorporate feedback into their final drafts and learn to provide constructive feedback to peers. Grammar and mechanics are addressed through stand-alone lessons covering editing and revision work. Prefixes, suffixes, base words, and syllables are the foundation of word study. Students also continue to practice keyboarding and post at least one written work using a laptop. Fourth grade readers and writers develop a heightened awareness of the choices authors make and the craft of writing.
  • Math

    In fourth grade, the curriculum continues to develop a solid fluency in computational math, covering topics such as: multiplying and dividing multi-digit numbers; using all four operations to solve problems; adding, subtracting, and multiplying fractions; and analyzing geometric shapes. Emphasis is placed on students representing and solving mathematical problems by using equations and algebraic reasoning. Students learn through a combination of small-group, individual, and whole-class activities. Students continue to hone their ability to explain their mathematical thinking during math discussions and forums. Teachers and students continue to use visual models, such as open number lines, areas models and arrays, ratio tables, and base 10 area pieces, to support students’ movement to understanding increasingly abstract representation in mathematics.
  • Social Studies

    The main focus of the fourth grade social studies curriculum is ancient civilizations. The year starts with a unit on archaeology to show students how prehistoric information is discovered. The unit culminates with the Big Dig project, where students take on the role of archeologists as they look for fossils and artifacts in Norwood’s own excavation site. Back in the classroom lab, they organize, classify and catalog their findings. The next unit of study focuses on the various groups of early humans. The move from hunters/gatherers to agriculture leads to the study of the earliest civilizations, beginning with Sumer and then on to ancient Egypt, India, and China. In the spring, students visit the Walter's Museum in Baltimore to see artifacts from these civilizations. Throughout the year, projects and assignments are inquiry-based, which enables students to take on the role of experts as they create connections to the past.
  • Science

    Fourth graders continue to immerse themselves in the hands-on world of the science curriculum. In the unit on human anatomy, students complete a peer teaching project where they work in a group to study a specific human body system in detail and then present the information to the class. In the robotics unit, students use LEGO NXT kits to explore energy conservation and asses the efficiency of solar and wind energy. That data is tracked on a tablet PC, and students evaluate the data sets completed during the experiment. 
  • Spanish

    Focusing on school life, fourth graders study the lives of Spanish-speaking children their own age. They also take a closer look at the Spanish-speaking countries of South America, learning the capitals and some of the geographic features of the region. Units covered include: hobbies and extracurricular activities, giving directions, school life, and businesses in the community. While students learn about these topics in the target language, they cover grammar topics like the use of prepositions, sentence construction, and verb tenses. Connecting with the math curriculum, students learn to discuss numbers: counting to 1,000, skip counting, adding, subtracting, and multiplying.
  • Art

    In the Lower School, the art curriculum enables students to gain confidence, knowledge, experience, and appreciation for a wide variety of art ideas and materials. Throughout their experiences in art class, students are introduced to a sequential program which emphasizes process while exposing them to the elements of art. Media covered include drawing, painting, ceramics, collage, sculpture, and printmaking. As students develop as artists, teachers emphasize the development of personal expression, imagination, curiosity, and careful observation. Students apply these concepts and techniques while making connections, problem solving, and developing self-confidence and their personal artistic voice.
  • Music

    The Fourth Grade music program is devoted to instilling a joyful sense of music and music making in every child.  The goal is to develop students’ aesthetic sensibilities by increasing musical understanding through activities involving performing, listening, and creating.  Fourth graders experiment with increasingly sophisticated forms of creating harmony in chorus and enjoy performing at the Lower School Winter Concert.  They further develop their music reading skills through solfege and the playing of the recorder.  Attention is given to ensemble playing both with the xylophones, African drums, and recorders.  The focus of the spring semester is the American art form jazz and students eagerly embrace the rhythms, excitement, and sheer joy of this genre through improvised performance, dance, and song.  The spring program features the music and history of jazz and is a highlight of this final year in lower school.   Additionally, fourth graders participate in an annual field trip to hear the National Symphony Orchestra’s “Young People’s Concert,” an expertly produced live performance which inspires and entertains in a wonderfully age-appropriate manner.     
  • Physical Education

    In the Lower School, students are introduced to basic loco-motor skills and activities that develop hand-eye and hand-foot coordination, spatial awareness, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Each year builds on the skills, games, and experiences from the previous year. Going beyond the games and activities, teachers process the experiences with students individually and in groups, asking questions like, “Can a self-win also be a team win?” and “What does it mean to be a good sport?” In the lower grades, students learn the mental and physical foundations that will help them succeed in later experiences on and off the field of play. 
  • Library & Technology

    Fourth graders are able to listen to longer texts, and they make text-to-text and text-to-self connections with the literature. They compare and contrast different genres, continue to learn about Newbery award winning books, and study character portrayal and development in literature. Students use tablets to reinforce keyboarding skills and learn to integrate more types of media into their work. They also explore the fundamentals of layout and design. Students perform online research and begin to learn how to evaluate and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
  • Life Skills

    As part of our commitment to the whole child, Norwood School’s Life Skills Program introduces students to age-appropriate information about personal and community health and well-being that will help them lead happy, healthy lives and make positive contributions to their community from early childhood through adolescence and beyond. Some of the topics for lower school students include friendships, self-esteem, being inclusive, bullying, conflict resolution, peer pressure, responding to teasing, and safety. At all ages, the program establishes skills and strategies for lifelong well-being and promotes caring for the well-being of others. Throughout the program, teachers emphasize the important role students’ own family members play in guiding goal-setting, problem-solving and decision-making.
A Week in the Life of a Norwood Fourth Grader

Each morning starts with a community gathering to focus on the value of the month and to prepare for the day ahead. Fourth graders then enjoy a balanced schedule combining social studies, library, math, science, composition, PE, reading, recess, art, music, chorus, and Spanish.

Homeroom Teachers

List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Bridget Donofrio

    Bridget Donofrio 

    Fourth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    Thomas Aquinas College - B.A.
    Notre Dame of Maryland University - M.A.
  • Photo of Hannah Ingram

    Hannah Ingram 

    Fourth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    The Evergreen State College - B.A.
    Teachers College at Columbia University - M.A.
  • Photo of Virginia Murphy

    Virginia Murphy 

    Fourth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    Georgia State University - B.A., M.B.A. & MBIS
    George Washington University - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Thenthia Taterway

    Thenthia Taterway 

    Fourth Grade Homeroom Teacher
    East Stroudsburg University - B.S.


  • Lower School Leaders
  • Morning Flag Raisers & Chapel Set-Up
  • Lower School Recycling
  • Kindergarten Buddies
  • Reading Class Plays
  • Archaeological Dig
  • Writer’s Workshop
  • Writing Celebrations
  • Cave Painting
  • Sumerian Cuneiform Tablets                          
  • Ancient China Brochure
  • Chinese Calligraphy
  • Camp Letts Overnight Trip
  • Harappan Seal Reproductions
  • SOME Shoebox Gifts
  • Spring Musical Production
  • Walter's Museum Field Trip
  • Ancient Civilizations Celebration
  • Young People’s Concert at the Kennedy Center
  • Martin Luther King "I Have a Dream" Project
Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.