What a wonderful year fourth grade is. The foundation for many life skills can be introduced in fourth grade as students take on more responsibility for their own learning and behavior. They began to look at time management skills and how to complete assignments in a way that works to their advantage. At this age, students bring a sense of wonder and excitement to their study of the world.
As fourth graders, our students are experimenting with ways to handle the new responsibilities and freedoms of being an older child. They are also learning about and fine tuning their interactions with their peers, the school, and the larger society. Our classroom strives to provide a forum and directions for these explorations that will help them develop into mature, socially responsible, teenagers. We do this through classroom discussions, learning about other people and cultures, and through community service.
Students use their reading skills to access information about the whole world. We no longer concentrate on learning to read – we are reading to learn. We spend a lot of time finding and understanding information in books, magazines, and on the internet. We also spend time learning to organize that data and expressing it in writing. Students in fourth grade write a great deal of fiction as well as non-fiction.
Our yearlong expedition in fourth grade looks at North Carolina as a part of the larger world. Students explore topics concerning the state’s history from hundreds of years before its beginning and continuing into the future. Throughout the year, the expedition focuses on the Cherokee and European culture in Western North Carolina by having many community speakers and by visiting cultural landmarks. Students gain knowledge of the people, beliefs, technology, government, and geography of North Carolina and how those things shaped the way we live today. This leads to a better understanding of the diversity and the heritage of our state.
We end the year with an overnight camping trip that allows student to show how independent and competent they are. The students cook, set up tents and manage their own equipment and food. They also continue to learn about North Carolina history and environment.