Fourth Grade Overview

Fourth Grade Curriculum Overview 

English/Language Arts
RTSD addresses the PA Core Standards in English Language Arts in Second Grade in the following ways:

Reading Comprehension: The core resource for comprehension instruction is the Making Meaning program. This program uses literature and informational text from texts read-aloud to teach students nine different comprehension strategies while also creating a supportive community of readers. In the classroom students receive direct instruction through teacher modeling, time to practice, an opportunity to share and, most critically, an opportunity to apply at their level what was learned.
The Making Meaning units of study in Fourth Grade include:
  • The Reading Life: Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction
  • Recognizing Text Features, Expository Nonfiction
  • Determining Important Ideas and Summarizing
  • Tall Tale Book Clubs
  • Questioning and Navigating Nonfiction for Deeper Understanding
  • Analyzing Text Structure in Fiction and Nonfiction
  • Making Inferences and Visualizing with Poetry and Nonficiton
  • Making inferences and Examining Relationships in Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction
  • Social Issues Book Clubs
  • Analyzing Text Structure and Synthesizing Expository Nonfiction
  • Revisiting the Reading Life Through Book Clubs

Vocabulary: The Making Meaning Vocabulary supplement teaches high-utility words found in the Making Meaning read-aloud texts along with strategies students can use to unlock word meanings when they are reading independently. By using words from the books taught in the program, students learn words in context. The goal vocabulary instruction is to have students, without prompting, accurately using new vocabulary words in their everyday speaking and writing.

Writing: Written language instruction is based on Being a Writer. This core program uses trade books for genre immersion and author studies that encourage young writers to consider author’s craft. It also integrates writing instruction with regular community-building elements and guided partner work to develop in students a sense of autonomy, belonging, and competence. Being a Writer combines the use of explicit strategy instruction with student empowerment, cooperative learning and reflection to create a writer’s workshop that is engaging and powerful for the learner.

Units of study in Fourth Grade include:

  • The Writing Community
  • The Writing Process
  • Personal Narrative
  • Fiction
  • Expository Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Persuasive Nonfiction
  • Writing for a Test
  • Revisiting the Writing Community

Guided Reading and Small Group Instruction: Regular guided reading and other small group instruction allows students to practice and apply what they are learning in language arts. The purpose of guided reading is for students to have time to read and apply strategies and skills that were demonstrated by the teacher during read aloud and shared reading instruction. 


Foundational Skills: Grades K-5 include direct instruction in the area of word study.  Students in grades 4 and 5 use Dr. Richard Gentry’s Spelling Connection program. A wide variety of instructional resources including online game and activities, connections to writing and the content areas offer students multiple opportunities to transfer and apply learned skills. 
(Word Study Brochure)


Handwriting:  Issues with legibility are addressed on an as needed basis using differentiated instruction whole class, small group or one-on-one. Resources from the Zaner Bloser Handwriting program are available for this purpose.
Math in Focus is a K-8 comprehensive mathematics program published by Marshall Cavendish.  Math in Focus provides rich and engaging resources based on 20 years of Singaporean success as a world leader in mathematics education. The framework presented in Math in Focus follows the same framework developed by the Singapore Ministry of Education.  The instructional approaches emphasize real-world, hands on experiences through a concrete-pictorial-abstract learning progression.


For more information about Math in Focus, please click here.



4th grade Mathematics will be guided by the following course objectives:

  • Generalize understanding of place value to 1,000,000, understanding the relative sizes of numbers in each place.
  • Apply their understanding of models for multiplication (equal-sized groups, arrays, area models), place value, and properties of operations, in particular the distributive property.
  • Develop, discuss, and use efficient, accurate, and generalizable methods to compute products of multi-digit whole numbers.
  • Select and accurately apply appropriate methods to estimate or mentally calculate products.
  • Develop fluency with efficient procedures for multiplying whole numbers.
  • Understand and explain why the procedures work based on place value and properties of operations and use them to solve problems.
  • Apply understanding of models for division, place value, properties of operations, and the relationship of division to multiplication as they develop, discuss, and use efficient, accurate, and generalizable procedures to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends.
  • Select and accurately apply appropriate methods to estimate and mentally calculate quotients, and interpret remainders based upon the context.
  • Develop an understanding of fraction equivalence and operations with fractions.
  • Recognize that two different fractions can be equal (e.g., 15/9 = 5/3)
  • Develop methods for generating and recognizing equivalent fractions.
  • Extend previous understandings about how fractions are built from unit fractions, composing fractions from unit fractions, decomposing fractions into unit fractions, and using the meaning of fractions and the meaning of multiplication to multiply a fraction by a whole number.
  • Describe, analyze, compare, and classify two-dimensional shapes.
  • Understand properties of two-dimensional objects and the use of them to solve problems involving symmetry
For more information about the 4th Grade curriculum, please click here.

General Overview

RTSD uses Science and Technology Concepts (STC) program modules developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center, a division of the Smithsonian Institution.  The STC Program is a set of inquiry-based science curriculum kits that cover life, earth, and physical sciences.

Young children are naturally interested in everything they see around them. During the elementary years, students are encouraged to observe, note properties, and develop explanations. As children become more familiar with their world they can be guided to observe changes and make predictions. Each year, students will use three hands-on modules that provide for opportunities to develop abilities of doing and understanding science. The students will focus on a four stage learning cycle:

                 focus on what they know about a topic and what they want to learn

                 explore a scientific concept (this is usually done in groups of four)

                 reflect on their findings and record the information in science notebooks

                 apply their new learning to real-life situations and other areas of the curriculum


Fourth grade students will be using three science modules which focus on three content areas of science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, and Life Science.  Descriptions of the modules are below and are excerpted from

Animal Studies

By caring for and observing animals during the Animal Studies unit, students are able to focus on animal behavior, comparing and contrasting the needs, behaviors, and anatomical structures of each organism. Each student creates and maintains a personal observation log in which he or she records notes about each animal throughout the unit. Students apply what they learn about body structure, habitat, survival needs, and behavior to a fourth animal—the human—identifying ways that humans are similar to and different from other animals. Students practice observing and recording data in their logs as well as in Venn diagrams, class webs, tables, and drawings. Students conduct a research-based inquiry that moves students away from general observations and asks them to apply their scientific process skills as they gather and synthesize information about their animals’ behavior.

Land and Water

Using a stream table, students explore different interactions between land and water, such as how runoff causes stream formation; how groundwater forms; how soil is eroded, transported, and deposited; and how water shapes land. The unit Land and Water invites students to manipulate their model, create hills, build dams, and grow vegetation to observe how these things affect land and water interactions. Students come to understand how water shapes the land and how, in turn, the land directs the flow of water. Connections between the stream tables and the real world are made as students apply the concepts they have learned to photographs of land and water on earth. Finally, students have the opportunity to plan and create a landscape in their stream tables. Students use the concepts from the unit to predict the flow of water and how the landscape they create will alter the direction and flow of the water or how the shape of the land may change. Students design and conduct experiments and test their predictions.

Electric Circuits

In Electric Circuits, students investigate electricity by wiring a circuit to light a bulb. They come to understand that a circuit must form a complete circle through which electric current can pass in order to light the bulb. Students use this knowledge to explore other electrical concepts, such as what conductors and insulators are and how they work and how diodes affect the flow of electricity. Students also learn about the symbolic language of electricity and use it to read and draw diagrams for wiring circuits and constructing a flashlight. Students apply what they learn about electricity and electrical safety to a final activity in which they design and implement a wiring plan for a cardboard house. These activities cultivate students’ abilities to analyze problems, think critically, and develop solutions.

Social Studies

This Social Studies course will give students a firm grasp of the world around them; the understanding of how social scientist study our world;  the patterns of human development in the United States, the interactions of people and places that helped shaped the United States and specifically Pennsylvania; the understanding of the importance of the regions of the United States with a focus on the Northeast Region; the understanding of how the branches of the government work and that good citizens make informed decision to improve their community, state, country and world.  

Major Units of Study:

Unit I: Social Scientist
Unit II: Peopling of the United States
Unit III:  Geography
Unit IV: Regions of the United States
Unit V: Pennsylvania


Social Studies Alive! Regions of our Country
Pennsylvania: Our Home

Fourth grade art students attend art class once in every 5-day cycle for 50 minutes.  Art classes introduce the vocabulary that is intrinsic to producing and talking about art.  The elements of art are imbedded in lessons that demonstrate how to use a variety of media,techniques, processes, tools and materials to create art.  Major understandings include: artists make thoughtful choices when creating works of art and often repeat a task many times to learn a new skill; visual art is created for a variety of purposes; art can communicate ideas, express emotions and relate experiences; visual art is displayed; and art elicits a response from the viewer.

Major Topics:

  • Students will continue to demonstrate their understanding of how to create art work using the elements art: line, shape, color and texture, with a variety of materials and tools.
  • Students will continue to demonstrate their use of basic visual art vocabulary when talking about art.
  • Students will continue to demonstrate their understanding that visual art is exhibited.
  • Students will continue to demonstrate their understanding that art is part of everyday life.

Units of Study:

  • Keith Haring
  • Clay Coiled Pot
  • Introduction to making shapes in weaving
  • Expansion of painting techniques
Keith Haring: I Wish I Didn't Have to Sleep (Adventures in Art (Prestel) by Keith Haring, Desiree La Valette and Gerdt Fehrle
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill and Bryan Collier
Health & Physical Education


The goal of 4th grade physical education is for children to moveefficiently and to achieve success and satisfaction in movementexperiences.  Students engage in moresport-related skills and activities.  Thesport program is based on meeting the needs and interests of the elementaryschool children and is geared toward their development.  Inherent in our sport activities are manyphysical, educational, personal, and social values.  The program stimulates skeletal growth,improves muscle strength and coordination, increases flexibility, promotescardiovascular and respiratory fitness, introduces new skills, teaches theenjoyment of a variety of sports and reinforces the concepts of goodsportsmanship and teamwork.  Students continueto expand their understanding of fitness concepts and healthy lifestyles  through games, dance, movement challenges, teambuilding/cooperative activities, and fitness testing.  

All students in first through fourth grade take part in wellness classes which consists of eight units taught throughout the school year to help educate students on living a healthy and safe lifestyle.  Throughout the students’ educational journey, the information taught becomes progressively more challenging but remains developmentally appropriate:

  • The safety unit focuses on safety while riding the bus or other means of transportation, participating in sporting or exercise activities, and in the home or school.
  • The emergency unit prepares the students to act appropriately in an emergency situation by learning the correct numbers to call and the information that is needed to aid in an emergency.
  • In the first aid unit, the students learn basic first aid procedures for minor injuries, including cuts, burns, nosebleeds and joint injuries.
  • During the hygiene unit, the students learn the basics of grooming and maintaining good health through procedures such as hand washing, brushing teeth and wearing clean clothes.
  • Stress reduction is the focus during the relaxation unit where students practice progressive muscle relaxation, mental imagery and yoga to deal with life stressors.
  • The circulatory system, the skeletal system, the nervous system, the muscular system and the respiratory system are the focus of the body systems unit.  The students learn the major organs of each system and ultimately how the systems work together.
  • The drug prevention unit allows the students to discover the care that must be taken when using a medicine and the definition of the word drug.  The dangers of smoking are the focus of this unit.
  • Making good choices when it comes to meals and snacks is the main point in the nutrition unit.  Students are introduced to foods that should only be consumed occasionally and those foods which can be eaten daily.  

Elementary students receive instruction in Library once in every 5-day cycle for 50 minutes, with the exception of Kindergarten classes which are 30 minutes in length. The library curriculum is closely aligned with the English Language Arts Pennsylvania Core Standards and the American Association of School Librarians.

Students in library learn to:

1. Ask questions to find knowledge

2. Work with others to create new knowledge

3. Work as a cooperative library citizen

4. Read widely and make personal connections

Life of a Reader
  • Selecting and Evaluating Informational and Literary Text
  • Preparing and Publishing Multimedia Presentations
  • Responsible Library Citizenship
  • Research
  • Digital Citizenship


Elementary students experience music by singing, playing,moving and improvising. The skills of matching pitch, steady beat and rhythmic notation are taught and assessed regularly throughout all grade levels.Children explore the musical elements: melody, harmony, rhythm, form and timbre, as well as expressive elements through a varied repertoire of music from diverse cultures and genres. Students regularly have the opportunity to perform music using Orff instruments and multicultural instruments. There are frequent opportunities to connect music to cultural and historical events as well as other subject areas through class discussion. All students participate in a grade-level chorus concert in the spring. Chorus instruction is imbedded within the general music classroom instruction during the spring semester.Students typically learn and perform a wide variety of musical styles such as Spirituals, multicultural and folk music, and novelty pieces, often incorporating movement and instruments as well.

Silver Burdett’s Making Music, Grade 4. 2002 edition.
Beginning strings students meet for a small group lesson once every cycle during the Intervention/Enrichment period for 25 minutes.  Full orchestra rehearsals before school are held once per week, beginning in March. Students participate in at least one concert in the Spring. Major topics of study include posture, bow grip, note reading, rhythm, dynamics,tempo, tone production, intonation, balance, blend, and articulation.