Language Arts and Reading
The primary goal of the 4th Grade reading program is to enable students to become better skilled and more independent readers through the use of a wide assortment of literature. These books provide the foundation for discussions relating to various parts of the program as their themes center on issues relating to social justice and/or California history. In addition, students use a variety of different materials as they learn to read for three different levels of comprehension: literal, inferential, and evaluative. Listening, speaking, and silent reading skills are also emphasized to enable students to further expand their reading capabilities.
4th Grade students learn the "power of language," be it written or spoken, as an important communication tool. The students are guided through three major research reports during the year and, as they develop their understanding of the process and their skills improve, their level of independence grows. Students are also provided various opportunities to give oral presentations that allow them to practice their public speaking skills and tap into their creative nature. Keyboarding skills are practiced and refined as students type their reports.
Vocabulary development, grammar, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, outlining, parts of speech, and sentence structure continue to be emphasized throughout the year. In addition, the students receive the Brentwood School Study Guide, Writing Guide, and Assignment Book to aid them in the development of their study and organizational skills.
California history is one major focus of the 4th Grade social studies program. Students learn how the landscape of California has provided varying resources to people throughout history. They also learn to develop an appreciation for the various cultural influences that shaped California's past and present. The students learn about the Spanish explorers, missions, and gold rush days. The 4th Grade students culminate their study of the state with an overnight trip where they re-enact assorted historical activities including the making of adobe bricks and panning for gold.
In addition to the study of California, 4th Grade students learn about people who have "made a difference" and how their own actions can do the same. Their study of people of distinction begins with the Nobel Peace Prize creator, Alfred Nobel, and his contributions. Students then write a report and create a "prize" for one of their classmates, honoring them for a special talent or action. Finally, the students learn about the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. and study his "I Have a Dream" speech. In addition to a report on a person of significance, the students develop and present their own dream speeches to their classmates. It is from these ideas that the students and the service learning coordinator work together to make some of the "dreams come true."
Throughout the year the students learn to give of themselves, as they study others who have done the same. Whether it be through organizing the school's holiday toy drive or providing the elderly with a celebration on Valentine's Day, the students learn that they, too, can "make a difference."
The year begins with a review of the four basic mathematical functions - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division - with an emphasis on speed and accuracy. Weekly math problem solvers, along with the use of individual, large, and small group activities and assignments, provide students with additional practice in problem solving, probability, estimation, and logical thinking. In addition, the students cover place value, number sentences and operations, long division, complex multiplication, fractions, percents, geometry, spatial relations, measurements, decimals, graphing, and estimation. Algebra is taught using the "Hand-on Equations" program, which enables students to manipulate items on a balance as they learn to work through simple algebraic equations. The students also learn to create a budget and manage their finances through a checkbook math program.