4th Grade: Water Class » Fourth Grade Curriculum Overview

Fourth Grade Curriculum Overview



The aim of the reading curriculum in the WATER class is to cultivate “wide awake readers” who are asking questions, making predictions, and identifying connections as they work through text. Students begin to go beyond basic comprehension and develop tools to read with deeper meaning and nuance. WATER students also hone their nonfiction reading skills, as they use various texts as resources for their research. They become more adept at pulling factual information from literature and using that information as a catalyst to make their own meaning and draw their own conclusions.



By fourth grade, students have developed strategies for idea generation, as well as explored various writing genres. While we continue to work on these skills, a more concentrated focus is placed on structure and organization. WATER students will learn how to collect information (both from outside factual sources and their own ideas) and create a piece of writing that has cohesive sections and logical flow. In addition, authors in the WATER class begin to dig deeper in their writing, going beyond the surface to answer the “how” and “why.” Students will start to place a watchful eye on self-editing and revising, as they embrace the notion that the work of a writer requires multiple drafts.



Students work on problems and investigations in the areas of number, operations, algebraic thinking, measurement, and geometry, developing their mathematical thinking and reasoning skills. Some of these problems and investigations grow out of ventures into everyday life, while others delve more deeply into the world of mathematics itself. Students are encouraged to explore, develop, test, discuss, and apply ideas: to see mathematics as something that is creative and relevant. Science, engineering, and technology are often integrated into the math curriculum.


The WATER class uses the theme of home to guide the social studies curriculum. We explore various facets of home, both big and small. Beginning with the guiding question: “What is Home?”, they create photo essays exploring various aspects of culture and community and the meaning of home to different people in their lives. The topic of immigration is explored and the role it plays in the forming of our country. Students investigate their own ancestral history, with a keen eye on the similarities and differences between what home was like for their relatives and what it is like for their families now. We question why people would leave their homeland to start anew as well as the pros and cons of these decisions. We also focus on California as a home. Who were the first people to call California home? How did non-natives make their way to California and why? What was and is the impact of migration? A significant amount of time is spent on the Gold Rush and its part in creating the rich history of our state.


As with the other content strands, the fourth grade science curriculum is tied to the theme of home. Students begin the year with an “Earth as Home” project, exploring the forces that shape California, their home state. With such a variety of geographic formations in our area, it is important to understand how this rich terrain came to be. They also learn about the layers of the Earth and the causes of earthquakes, and then connect their home state and physical homes as they engineer earthquake-resistant structures. Next, they shift their focus to “Habitat as Home”, evaluating our school site as a habitat for wildlife and devising solutions to improve the habitat. Finally, they study magnetism and electricity and design alarm circuits for the Science Fair. On the class trip to Coloma, the WATER class explores California native plants. 


WATER students use the theme of home to explore themselves, their families, and their community. From examining their personal identities, where their ancestors came from, and the unique attributes of their classmates, students develop a deep understanding of and appreciation for culture, individuals, and different groups of people. This understanding allows WATER students to identify injustice in the world (both big and small) and empowers them to take action and become positive change makers. A study of home naturally leads to discussions of homelessness, for example, and WATER students develop a service project that support those in need.


The overarching theme of social emotional learning in the fourth grade is "a move towards independence.” In the WATER class, we cultivate enthusiastic and curious learners who are beginning to recognize the value of their education and its real world application.  Students are asked to be accountable for not only their work and materials, but also their actions and words.  They work on recognizing, verbalizing, and regulating typical daily emotions and seeking out teacher assistance when necessary.  Fourth graders hone their ability to make connections with peers and express sympathy and compassion in appropriate situations.  The WATER students are becoming aware of the world around them and the role each individual plays within a community.