“At last week’s Lower School Morning Meeting, I watched my daughter speak in front of the entire Lower School, over 100 students and teachers. Her composure, her confidence, her clarity….it was remarkable. I know that St. Michael’s taught her that.” – Mother of a SMCDS 4th grade girl, 2014.
Fourth grade showcases ever-increasing individual responsibility as students manage their own homework duties and take on greater time-management skills with several long-term assignments. In fourth grade, our students are exposed to various genres of trade books including historical, science, non-fiction and realistic fiction. In their literature circles, they delve deeply into books through discussion as well as through written essays.
During their work in the Singapore math program, fourth graders learn to multiply and divide multi-digit numbers, explore the concepts of fractions, decimals, and percents, and solve sophisticated multi-step word problems using the model drawing strategy.
The major thematic focus in the fourth grade is the study of the continent of Africa. Students learn not only about the customs and traditions of another culture, but they are allowed to become “experts” on a particular African country and animal of their choice. They share this knowledge as they invite other students to visit their “African Travel Agency,” during which they must present to their peers and to adults, about their research and writing.
Throughout the process and the year, students carry the information gathered in class to most of their specials classes and extend their knowledge through African folktale plays, music, and art projects. They also complete many elements of their final projects in the computer lab, utilizing the available technologies to further develop their work. During this study the students traditionally research and pick an African charity to support. Over the years they have held fundraisers to support the Heifer International Project, Edesia Organization and Flying Kites orphanage.
Fourth graders participate weekly in music, art, library, physical education, science in the middle school lab, and drama classes taught by specialists in these areas who work closely with the classroom teachers to integrate the curriculum so that subjects are studied in depth and from many viewpoints. They also have a half a year of French and a half a year of Spanish taught by the middle school language teachers.