Fourth grade reading begins with the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Students work on the skill of understanding a character’s perspective and discuss the theme of choices. The second novel is The King of Mulberry Street by Donna Jo Napoli. This work of historical fiction connects to the social studies unit on immigration. Students then read biographies of famous individuals and perform monologues as the individual, outlining main events from the person’s life. Students also read Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine and Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. As students read each book, they engage in conversations, complete comprehension questions, and answer writing prompts. After finishing each novel, the students complete a culminating creative project. Students also study poetry during which they are introduced to several forms of poetry, including rhyme, free verse, haiku, and concrete. Students analyze the structures, tone, imagery, and meanings of each poem, as well as look for examples of figurative language (similes and metaphors).
The writing curriculum is based on the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing program. This approach teaches students to focus on the traits of: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation to improve their narrative and creative writing. Grammar is taught using the Framing Your Thoughts program. Students are taught the structure of a sentence and learn to identify parts of speech. Students are assigned spelling units from the Houghton Mifflin Spelling and Vocabulary: Words for Readers and Writers program. The word lists are organized by principles, patterns, and word parts.
Math is taught using the ThinkMath! program. One focus is on the main operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Students become fluent with their computation facts and solve word problems that utilize their conceptual understanding of the relationship amongst these operations. Students complete a geometry unit, in which they label triangles, classify quadrilaterals, determine area and perimeter, and find the volume of 3D shapes. Students explore fractions and mixed numbers through comparing fractions, finding equivalent fractions, and modeling addition of fractions. Students locate decimals on the number line, connect decimals and fractions, represent decimals using pictures and money, and add and subtract decimals. Students compute with time and money, measure temperature, and measure length, capacity, and weight using units of measure in both the customary and metric systems.
The first unit of study is the solar system. Topics include: the sun as our energy source, the phases of the moon, constellations, seasons, and the characteristics of the eight planets in our solar system. To conclude, students write a research paper about a particular planet and create a 3D model. The next unit focuses on the human body. Students learn about six of the body’s systems: skeletal, digestive, circulatory, nervous, respiratory, and muscular. Students also 3D print models of the body’s organs, muscles, and bones. The final unit is electricity. Students learn how batteries and wires conduct electricity to a light a bulb and what types of materials are conductors and insulators. Ultimately, students build a cardboard house and wire it to independently produce electricity in four separate rooms.
The first unit of the year is mapping. Students learn how to read and interpret different types of maps including main features such as: compass rose, map scale, and legend. Students also learn to locate cities on a map using lines of longitude and latitude. The next unit is immigration which on immigration to the United States from Europe between 1840 and 1920. The students study reasons for immigration, the journey to America, and the experiences that immigrants had once they arrived in America. In conjunction with our reading of Hana’s Suitcase in language arts, students are given an age-appropriate introduction to the Holocaust. During this unit, students explore how individual actions affect others in the past, present, and future. As part of this unit, students participate in The Bandage Project, a California-based tolerance study where students collect bandages as a way to memorialize the children who perished in the Holocaust. For the final unit of the year, students independently research a country, analyzing its government, economy, geography, and people.
Students continue to develop conversational skills, as they are expected to speak in Hebrew throughout class. The Yesh VaYesh program provides videos and activities for students to learn more about Israeli culture and Hebrew grammar. Students study the four seasons and learn vocabulary associated with weather terms, clothing, and activities. Students learn vocabulary used to describe people physically, their likes and dislikes, and hobbies. Students also learn the vocabulary of daily schedules at home and in school as well as food and nutrition. Throughout each unit, the students are taught Hebrew grammar. Discussions of modern life in Israel are infused into each unit.
Torah is taught using the MaTok curriculum which examines Torah in Hebrew verses. Students learn to find meaning in the text with the goal of becoming more independent biblical Hebrew learners. Some deeper conversations are conducted in English, but students are able to discuss the text in Hebrew as well. Connections are drawn between modern Hebrew and biblical Hebrew, and students review specific strategies to “unlock” the text (characters, roots, verbs, repeated words). The parashot of Vayetze, Vayishlach, Miketz, Vayigas, and Vayhi are studied in depth. The themes of these these parshot are explored in connection to the text.
Students experience community tefillah twice a week with the school rabbi and rosh ruach (song leader). Music is used to enhance students’ spiritual experience connecting their hearts and minds. Students learn the keva (structure) of the Shacharit (morning prayer service) and explore pathways to deepen kavana (intentionality). Students also participate in a Torah service and discuss the weekly reading as well as other sacred texts. Students explore neighboring synagogues to experience prayers in different settings.
As the school year progresses, students learn about the Jewish holidays in Hebrew. They examine different customs and traditions associated with each holiday. They also review any blessings that are connected to each holiday. Students focus on the history of different holidays and the connection to Israel. Students also read stories in Hebrew about many of the holidays.
Students develop a meaningful relationship with Israel through personal connections with language, people, places, and events. As an ancient land and modern state, we teach our students that Israel is a home for diverse and vibrant expressions of Judaism. Through our cutting-edge Hebrew language curriculum, experiential programs, and Israeli young emissaries (Shinshinim), our students engage with Israel at all grade levels and feel a deep connection to their homeland.
The goal of our music program is for students to become skillful and enthusiastic music makers, encouraging music literacy, participation and performance. Through classical and contemporary music, students learn to sing in-tune with expression and confidence while gaining confidence on stage. They read music and play several instruments including ukuleles and drums. Students also explore music composition using technology such as Garage Band. Music is integrated across the curriculum as students sing and perform to enhance understanding of subjects from social studies to Judaics. The curriculum fosters an atmosphere of fun, while teaching songs that enrich the children’s Hebrew literacy, knowledge of Judaics and love of the land of Israel.
Students work with a variety of drawing tools, paints, and papers in sophisticated ways. Students learn techniques for drawing, painting, printmaking, and collage. Within each grade level, elements of art such as line, shape, form, color, texture, value, and space are taught. Emphasis is put on the creative process rather than the finished product. Art history is an important component of our curriculum; students study different artists and art movements from the past to the present. Some movements that may be included are: Impressionism, Abstract, Folk and Pop Art. Throughout the year, art is integrated with units of study in the classroom and teachers work collaboratively on skills and concepts to deepen learning.
Fourth graders build upon previous years’ work by discussing how emotions can change over time and conveying this idea in improvised mini-scenes. During the year students learn different techniques for developing characters, focusing on how different energies can affect a person physically (for example, using different walks to show the difference in emotions and characters). Fourth grade is also a team-building year, working together towards the common goals of performance and prop/costume creation. Students also demonstrate the ability to self-improve by giving and accepting feedback from their peers as they work towards a performance.
Students in fourth grade physical education participate in sports education, teamwork, physical fitness activities, and athletic strategy. In addition to gross and fine motor coordination, stretching and agility, middle school students are taught age appropriate sports skills and team communication through drills as well as game-like scenarios. Units include soccer, flag football, team strategy games, floor hockey, ultimate frisbee, individual problem solving games and basketball. Social team building and sportsmanship skills are woven into game-like scenarios to teach students, not only the skills to play multiple sports, but the interpersonal skills to function in a fast paced team environment.