Fourth grade is a transition year for many students. Fourth graders are expected to read to learn instead of learning to read. They have mastered basic math facts and concepts and now must weave together these skills to solve increasingly sophisticated math problems. Fourth grade students' abilities to read and comprehend non-fiction texts are put to the test as the content areas increase in difficulty. In addition, projects become more complex and expectations rise for cooperative learning.
It is important for K-3 teachers to understand what is expected of fourth grade students in order to help them prepare for this crucial year. Ask your administrator to help you set up collaborative time with your fourth grade colleagues for up-to-date, key input. You can be an effective ally by passing along highly prepared students!
The following are some basic expectations for fourth grade students that can help you as you plan:
- The ability to read and comprehend both fiction and non-fiction texts. While teachers hope that all students are at grade level by the time they enter fourth grade, this might not always be the case. Regardless of reading level, students can learn comprehension strategies to be able to better navigate both fiction and non-fiction texts.
- Mastery of math facts and the basic ability to work with large whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Students spent their primary grades focused on basic math facts, skills, and concepts. In fourth grade, as academic expectations become more difficult and skills more sophisticated, students must be able to integrate these previously learned concepts to solve math problems. Fourth grade students should also understand and be able to work with the basic concepts of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals.
- Understanding of how science, social studies, and health concepts connect to prior knowledge. The real power behind content area learning is for students to understand the connections to their own life experiences and prior understandings. For example, students should be able to connect historical events learned in Social Studies to their own community.
- Responsibility for independent classroom work. Fourth grade students may be faced with more traditional instructional methods which often require a higher level of independence. Teachers often require students to complete larger assignments independently with an ability to attend to a specific task for a longer period of time.
- Completion of larger, more complex projects. More complex book reports, research projects, and class presentations are common in fourth grade. Whether they are completed in class or at home, students should be able to work independently on these large projects.
Referencing your state's academic standards for fourth grade is an excellent way to understand exactly what is expected. Additionally, the Common Core Standards is another resource for understanding the academic expectations in fourth grade.
Help prepare your students for the rigors of fourth grade by reviewing this quick guide on Cooperative Learning with Social Cohesion, and give it a try in your classroom, today!