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

    In fourth grade, Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop, handwriting, keyboarding, grammar, and word study expands on the lessons and genre studies introduced in third grade. 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 reading 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. As in third grade, the genres studied in Writing Workshop often parallel the genres read in Reading Workshop and/or social studies. Genres include 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. Two teachers work as a team during RLA classes to differentiate instruction and to facilitate one-on-one and small-group revision work. Grammar and mechanics are addressed through stand-alone lessons and through editing and revision work. Prefixes, suffixes, base words, and syllables are the foundation of word study. Fourth graders practice cursive handwriting, publishing at least one written piece in cursive. Students also continue to practice keyboarding and publish at least one written piece 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.
 

Curriculum > Math

List of 9 items.

  • Pre-kindergarten

    Pre-kindergarten students build their number sense by comparing amounts of items and learning the corresponding numbers for those groups. By using both small and large manipulatives such as blocks, marbles, pebbles, and cubes, the students compare differing amounts and use descriptive words for them such as ‘greater’, ‘less’, and ‘equal.’ The curriculum emphasizes conceptual knowledge in addition to numeracy and works to help students develop a knowledge of math concepts by using numbers to understand their world. Using formative assessments, teachers work with students individually and in small groups to support their growth in order to foster a love of math.
  • Kindergarten

    Kindergarten students build their number sense, learning how numbers correspond to quantities and learning how to put numbers together and take them apart. The curriculum emphasizes not only procedural skills but also conceptual understanding; students go beyond understanding just the basic computations and develop an enduring understanding of math concepts. Concrete visual models, such as five and ten frames, bead racks, and number lines are used as tools for developing numeracy. Using many different forms of frequent assessment, teachers work with students individually and in small groups to support their growth. Students learn through a balance of games, inquiry, multi-sensory activities, and direct instruction. 
  • First Grade

    The first grade math curriculum helps students develop the strategies needed to understand numbers in their world. Focusing on topics such as computational skills in addition and subtraction within 20, whole number relationships, and geometry, students engage math problems through use of hands-on manipulatives, games, and whole and small group instruction. Visual models, such as ten frames, bead racks, and open number lines support students’ numeracy and conceptual understanding of math. While students are assessed through unit tests, they also engage in projects and experiences that help math come alive for young students excited to see the world this way for the first time.
  • Second Grade

    In second grade, math becomes a way to solve problems. Studying place value, patterns, and equations, as well as money, time, and data sets, students continue to develop as mathematicians. Visual models, such as bead racks, open number lines, and base 10 area pieces support students’ move from concrete representation to the more abstract in mathematics. Through whole and small group instruction and math games, second graders continue to practice fundamental computational skills in addition and subtraction. With a solid foundation in these concepts, students demonstrate their understanding through solving multi-step, open-ended problems. 
  • Third Grade

    In third grade, students develop a deeper understanding of math topics such as multi-digit addition and subtraction, data graphing, and 2-D geometry. They begin their study of multiplication, division, and fractions. Students use manipulatives and solve real-world problems. A primary focus is solving more complex, open-ended problems that require higher-order thinking skills. As students’ fluency in these concepts build, they apply them by working through and solving open-ended questions. Math discussions play a larger role in the math classroom, with students refining their ability to communicate their math understanding and strategy use. Teachers and students 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. 
  • Fourth Grade

    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.
  • Fifth Grade

    In fifth grade, students focus intensively on several critical areas: developing fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions, developing understanding of multiplication and division of fractions, extending division to 2-digit divisors, developing understanding of operations with decimals to the hundredths place, developing fluency with whole number and decimal operations, and developing understanding of volume. As in prior grades, students apply their skills and fluency in math to solve open-ended problems as well as real world applications of math.
  • Sixth Grade

    In sixth grade, students transition to the Glencoe Middle School Math Program. They also are placed into more homogenous groups in order to provide the appropriate level of rigor. Students continue to practice fundamental math skills such as multi digit computations. Area and volume are studied in greater depth and as an element of spatial analysis. Additionally, students begin to study pre-algebra. As in prior grades, students apply their skills and fluency in math to solve open-ended problems as well as real world applications of math. The accelerated sixth grade math course covers additional topics like probability and statistics, inequalities, and linear and non-linear functions. Additionally, some students, based on a portfolio of information, skip sixth grade math and take pre-algebra honors with seventh graders. They then take honors algebra in seventh grade and honors geometry in eighth grade.
  • Grades 7-8

    In seventh grade, most students enroll in pre-algebra. The course is taught in two levels, regular and honors. The course is a rich exploration of topics in pre-algebra and builds on the foundations developed in prior courses. The main differences between the two levels are the pace of curriculum progression, depth of topic discovery, and independence in problem solving expected from students.

    In eighth grade, most students enroll in algebra. Like seventh grade, the course is taught in two levels in order to best challenge students. Those eighth grade students who have already completed algebra enroll in honors geometry. Students in the geometry course investigate geometric situations, develop conjectures from them, and ultimately progress through the full range of proofs. Topics covered during the geometry class include, among others: reasoning (logic, inductive, deductive), constructions, polygons, transformations/ symmetry, and trigonometry. Students completing this track will have credit in both algebra and geometry.

Homeroom Teachers

List of 3 members.

  • Billy Vargas 

    Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community
    University of Maryland - B.A.
  • Chris Ward 

    Lower School Science and Math Teacher
    Wellesley College - B.A.
    Rice University - M.A.T.
  • Fielding Winters 

    Lower School Math Coordinator
    Brown University - B.A.
    University of Maryland - M.A. & Ph.D.

Highlights

  • Morning Flag Raisers and Chapel Setup Crew
  • 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
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.