Parent Guide to the Curriculum: Fourth Grade

Language & Literacy

Highlights of what your child will learn in fourth grade include:

  • Describing the basic elements of stories, such as characters, plot events and settings by drawing on specific details in the text.
  • Identifying key features of a text, including understanding the main and supporting ideas; being able to compare and contrast; and explaining how the author uses facts, details, and evidence to support a claim.
  • Developing the ability to respond to text in writing, and stating a claim and supporting it with details.
  • Referring to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • Determining the main idea of a text and explaining how it is supported by key details; summarizing the text.
  • Explaining the events, procedure, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in a text.
  • Determining the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a fourth-grade topic or subject area.
  • Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts and supporting their point of view with reasons and information.
  • Writing information or explanatory text to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
  • Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to the task and purpose.

Characteristics of books for proficient fourth-grade readers

  • Informational texts, more complex fantasy, realistic fiction, traditional literature, biography, memoir, autobiography, mysteries, genre combinations
  • Chapter books, series books, graphic texts, diaries and logs
  • Variety of underlying structures (description, comparison/contrast, sequence, problem/solution, cause/effect) and formats (question/answer, paragraphs, boxes, legends)
  • Narratives with complex plots, multiple storylines, and multiple characters to understand
  • Topics go well beyond readers’ personal experiences and content knowledge
  • Content requiring reader to take on diverse perspectives, understand cultural diversity
  • Complex ideas with deeper meanings applicable to important human problems and social issues; more challenging themes
  • Use of descriptive and figurative language important to understanding plot, setting, and characters; long strings of dialogue

Characteristics of proficient fourth-grade readers

  • Read and understand a full range of genres
  • Read both chapter books and shorter information texts, mysteries, series books, books with sequels, short stories, diaries, logs
  • Can understand more elaborate plots with multiple complex characters who develop and change over time
  • Understand perspectives different from their own as well as settings and people
  • Can process longer complex sentences
  • Most reading is silent; fluency and phrasing in oral reading are well established
  • Can read and understand descriptive words, complex content-specific words, and technical words that require using a variety of readers’ tools to determine
  • Can take apart multi-syllable words and use a full range of word-solving skills


Highlights of what your child will learn in fourth grade include:

  • Reinforcing their knowledge of place value, adding an understanding of multi-digit whole numbers.
  • Applying their skills to solve multi-step word problems.
  • Using addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division to solve problems.
  • Comparing decimals and fractions.
  • Using measurements to solve word problems.
  • Drawing, identifying and classifying lines and angles by property.
  • Gaining familiarity with factors and multiples.
  • Generating and analyzing patterns of numbers.
  • Using their understanding of place value and the properties of operation to perform multi-digit arithmetic.
  • Extending their understanding of fraction equivalence and ordering.
  • Building fractions from unit fractions by applying and extending their previous understanding of operations on whole numbers.
  • Understanding decimal notations for fractions and comparing decimals to fractions
  • Solving problems involving measurements and conversions of measurements from a larger to a smaller unit.
  • Representing and interpreting data.


The goal of the fourth-grade science program is to develop in the students an inquiring attitude and an enjoyment of things scientific. In fourth grade, students learn about the roles of living things, Earth’s land, magnetism, electricity, energy, work, and machines.

Science Topics

  • Roles of living things
  • Earth’s land
  • Magnetism and electricity
  • Energy, work and machines

Social Studies

In fourth grade, students learn about the political and historical development of New York state, as well as geography by learning how to use maps and globes. In addition to studying history, students also discuss current events.

Library/Media Program

The media center supports the grade-level skills in the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum. Media center staff teach these skills in collaboration with classroom teachers on a variety of projects, particularly in the subject areas of social studies, English Language Arts and science.

In fourth grade, children learn to:

  • Generate a list of key words for a research–based project with guidance.
  • Use selected search engines to find appropriate information.
  • Use preselected primary sources to gather information.
  • Use preselected web resources to locate information.
  • Select and use multiple appropriate print, non-print, electronic and human sources (e.g., almanacs, indexes, specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias, and databases) to answer questions.
  • Distinguish between fact and opinion.
  • Use various note-taking strategies (e.g., highlighting, graphic organizers).
  • Paraphrase and summarize information that answers research questions.
  • Identify and use the organizational structures of a nonfiction book (bibliography and appendix) to locate information.
  • Identify facts and details that support main ideas.
  • Use common organizational patterns (chronological order, main idea with supporting details) to organize information.
  • Draw a conclusion about the main idea.
  • Draft a presentation.
  • Use software (e.g., word processing, graphic organizing) to record and organize information.
  • Identify and evaluate the important features for a good product.
  • Assess and revise their own work with guidance.
  • Seek information about personal interests by using the library catalog to find materials to read.
  • Select appropriate print and electronic materials on an individual level.
  • Understand the basic concept of plagiarism as copying the work of others.
  • Cite all sources used according to a model provided by the teacher.


Academic Intervention Services (AIS) are offered in reading and math for students who need extra instruction and support. Students who are eligible for AIS services score below benchmarks according to multiple assessment tools, including:

  • New York State English Language Arts or math assessments;
  • Fountas and Pinnell running records;
  • DIBELS Next and DIBELS Math; and
  • iReady assessments.

Students may receive AIS services during the intermediate school’s Sunrise program; “pull-out” support, in which the student leaves the classroom during the day to work one-on-one or in groups with an AIS teacher; or “push-in” support, in which an AIS teacher goes into the student’s classroom to work with them. Students who do not receive direct AIS services may still receive “monitor” services, which means the child is given support and monitored closely by their classroom teacher.

AIS reading support focuses on improving student skills in decoding, comprehension and fluency. Possible interventions include:

  • System 44, a technology-based program that focuses on phonics;
  • small-group reading instruction that focuses on comprehension;
  • small-group reading instruction that focuses on phonics; and
  • individualized reading instruction that focuses on phonics.

AIS math support focuses on improving student skills in computation (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), as well as solving word problems.


Intermediate school students attend two 45-minute sessions of art per week. During this time, students are challenged to explore the elements and principles of art as they create using a wide range of materials (traditional and technological). The BPIS art room is a place where interdisciplinary standards converge as math and ELA concepts are infused throughout different projects.


In computers class, fourth-graders build upon the foundation skills learned in previous years. Students continue to practice their keyboarding skills to increase their speed and accuracy.  They also discuss digital citizenship topics, such as how to effectively search the Internet and how to be safe when online. Students also participate in a project with students from other countries.


Fourth-graders continue to learn to play the recorder, a wind instrument they began learning about in third grade. The curriculum emphasizes American, Native American and multicultural folk songs with connections to history and classroom curriculum. Students have opportunities for creating and composing, while developing an understanding of and appreciation for many genres of music. Students will prepare for and perform in one concert.

Physical Education

During two 45-minute PE sessions each week, fourth-graders engage in a variety of activities. These activities are designed to not only to improve their gross and fine motor skills, but to help them learn to appreciate and value the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle. By the time they leave the intermediate school, students will able to:

  • Demonstrate manipulative (throwing, catching, striking, etc.), non-manipulative (stretching, twisting, bending, extending, etc.), and locomotor skills (skipping, galloping, etc.).
  • Demonstrate spatial awareness (self-space vs. general space) during activity through various pathways (curved, zig-zag, straight).
  • Demonstrate responsible personal and social behavior while engaged in physical activity.
  • Identify opportunities for extracurricular activities through local organizations, such as the YMCA and the Broadalbin and Perth youth commissions.