The 4th Grade program meets the students where they are and moves them toward even greater independence and a level of personal responsibility.
Along with a solid foundation of the basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics, the 4th Grade students’ natural curiosity and desire to learn are melded together to explore what it would be like to be in other peoples’ shoes. Across the curriculum, but particularly in Social Studies, they work to see someone else’s point of view and to understand the world from their perspective. The students learn to empathize with that person as well as discover more about themselves. They learn to formulate and express their thoughts and opinions comfortably both in writing and in oral presentations.
For example, early in the year, students may assume roles in an original play, which could involve King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, while they learn to work together and rely on each other. Later, the classroom may turn into a 17th century colonial courtroom, and students will examine facts and discover prejudices in a recreation of the Salem Witch Trials. Perhaps after reading a biography about a famous African-American, students will portray that character and present a scrapbook created about the person’s life and contributions. Later, conflicts and benefits concerning industrialization and expansion can be brought to life by a simulation about the Industrial Revolution. Students may then experience what it was like for citizens of the fictional to wrestle with the decision of whether or not to bring the railroad through the town. On a visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the 4th Graders become members of a family group who have crossed land and sea to apply for entry into the United States in the early 20th century.
Increasingly throughout the year, responsibility for learning is placed on the shoulders of the 4th Graders. The curriculum is bolstered by hands-on experiences and connects the eager students to their learning in meaningful and lasting ways.