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During 4th Grade, students not only strengthen their skills in reading, writing and mathematics, but also learn to use their skills across the curriculum as independent learners. Over the course of the year, students complete long term projects which prepare them for the work of Middle School. Each year, students analyze a Jewish Studies theme and create and perform the culminating musical “Midrash Hour.”
As part of a opening study of color theory, students create a color wheel using primary colors which serves as a reference point throughout the year. Students undertake an in-depth artist study that addresses core skills. In past years, students have created drawings with scissors like Henri Matisse and Cubist relief sculptures like Pablo Picasso. The unit typically culminates with a trip to one of the city’s many art museums. Another project integrates with a nonfiction writing unit on animals. In art class, students draw the animals they have researched and paint acrylic on canvas landscape paintings of the animals in their natural environments. Students also create at least one three-dimensional projects. Recent projects have included variations of 30" by 20" papier mache sculptures. Students have created human figures, Alphabet letters, and numbers. The sculptures are painted with bright color acrylics and designed with characters inspired by 1980s artist Keith Haring. The year ends with an integrated math project in which the students study symmetry and create a circular, symmetrical hoop painting.
Students expand their knowledge of Hebrew through increasingly complex language tasks. Through core texts such as Chaverim B'Ivrit, students explore the composition of text and its relationship to oral language. Students also continue to peruse Jewish texts including excerpts from siddurim and Tanach as well as texts related to Shabbat and the Jewish holidays. The similarities between Biblical and modern Hebrew are explored and students deepen their sense of pride in Hebrew and their Jewish heritage.
The theme of the year, Covenant, allows students to contemplate humanity’s relationship with God. As students’ abstract-thinking skills continue to develop, the focus of Jewish Studies begins to shift to exploring the reasons behind belief and practice in addition to learning content. Students examine prayers in close detail and deliver d’vrei t’fillot to their peers and parents at the weekly Kabbalat Shabbat service. Fourth graders also begin to take an increasingly active role in the service itself and often lead the prayers. Students hone the skill of locating a specific Torah portion, chapter and verse. They also stretch their critical thinking skills in the context of Reform Judaism’s emphasis on informed choice in interpreting text ranging from the last three books of the Torah to Prophets and Writing. They begin to study and to write their own midrashim and often draw on their knowledge of Hebrew to help them interpret the text.
The reading program incorporates multiple aspects including guided, shared and independent reading. Reading groups focus on a variety of genres and expose students to skills necessary to be critical readers. In addition to their in-school reading, students complete regular homework assignments. Several times a year, students complete Literature Connection projects; these projects are scaffolded to be completed increasingly independently as students learn time management skills. Students continue to read independently as they become increasingly able to select reading materials appropriate to their interests, accessible to their personal reading abilities, and encompassing a variety of genres.
Using Writer’s Workshop, students create many process pieces and several published pieces each year. Students continually mine reading content for models of good writing structure, style and content. As the year progresses, they write increasingly sophisticated pieces and apply the rules of spelling, grammar, usage, syntax and punctuation. Goals for the year include constructing strong paragraphs with topic sentences and supporting details, incorporating literary devices, writing succinct summaries, revising and editing, and presenting published work. Particular grammar and punctuation concepts include a review of previous topics; mastery of parts of speech, simple verb tenses, plurals, main and auxiliary verbs, end punctuation; and further practice with commas, quotation marks, titles and contractions. Students continue to practice cursive handwriting and also word process final drafts.
Students learn spelling and vocabulary words explicitly and implicitly. Weekly assigned words review spelling patterns and create class lists of common vocabulary. In addition, spelling and vocabulary are personalized. Students generate lists of personal spelling and vocabulary words from their own writing and independent reading. Vocabulary also makes up an integral part of guided reading mini-lessons.
Students learn information fluency skills including practice locating materials, participating in book talks and discussions, seeking information to satisfy personal interests, finding appropriate books for independent reading, and learning to identify relevant facts presented in different forms. Students also learn media literacy and expand on their understanding of good digital citizenship.
Students develop an increasingly sophisticated number sense. Students are familiar with properties including the commutative, associative, and distributive properties and know that multiplication and division, and addition and subtraction are inverse functions. Students learn benchmark fractions, decimals, and measurement units as well as how to use them to compute efficiently. Students can convert fluently within a measurement system and are able to mark elapsed time. Students develop their mental math, estimation, and rounding strategies and choose appropriately from these in addition to using paper, pencils, and calculators. Students are able to use algebraic reasoning to express math relationships and to predict how one variable affects another. Students use visualization of geometric shapes, modeling, and spatial reasoning to solve problems. After generating questions, students develop a plan for collecting and interpreting data; they use a developing understanding of mean, median, mode, and range to analyze their results. Even as students learn specific math vocabulary such as “likely, unlikely, certain, equally likely, and impossible” to describe concepts (probability), they also relate these concepts to their daily lives.
The music curriculum continues to build on competence developed in previous grades. Added elements include exploration of classical music culminating with a trip to one of the city’s preeminent musical venues. Students also explore popular music of the 20th century and research a chosen recorded piece, examining its evolution to finished product. Students play an active role in songs composed for the Midrash Hour as part of the integrated curriculum with Jewish Studies. Some students elect to participate in elementary choir, private study of all strings, winds and percussion, ensembles.
The program reviews and builds upon skills learned in previous grades. Specific goals include more advanced introductory activities involving positions, strategies and a higher degree of skill levels for basketball, softball and other sports. Students also begin learning the rules of and practice playing football, handball, volleyball, softball and track and field. The program also provides opportunities for leadership as students continue fitness activities.
Students continue to encounter new information through the inquiry process. The class uses a variety of tools, technological resources, and hands-on experimentation as students explore topics such as measurement with lab tools, states of matter, food chains, and our solar system. Highlights of the year include the dissection of owl pellets and a visit from live birds from the Tenafly Nature Center’s raptor program.
In 4th Grade, students survey four regions of the United States: the Northeast, South, Midwest and West. They learn how to read a variety of maps, recognizing elevation, population and longitude and latitude. While studying the individual regions, students learn about moments in history specific to that region including the Colonial Northeast, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War and Westward Expansion. Teachers base their curriculum on textbooks and a rich array of technological resources. Students learn strategies for reading nonfiction text and also experience history hands-on through primary source texts and images. They also routinely engage in simulations and projects designed to bring history alive.
Located in New York City, Rodeph Sholom School is a coeducational nursery through eighth grade Reform Jewish independent school.
10 West 84th Street and 168 West 79th Street · New York, NY 10024