Lower School

Fourth Grade

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Fourth Grade Overview

We have two homeroom sections in fourth grade — each section of 22-23 students has a lead teacher and an associate teacher. Fourth grade is an important year in a student's academic and social-emotional development, and attending an all-girls school can provide a unique learning environment that fosters growth and empowerment. Fourth graders are the leaders of the Lower School and often help run weekly assemblies and special events.

Through projects and discussions, the students explore the science behind growth mindset, mindfulness, and kindness. They continue to develop their conflict-resolution skills and coping mechanisms as they become leaders in their learning.

Fourth Grade Academic Snapshots

List of 3 items.

  • Language Arts

     In fourth grade, students learn to become ‘leaders of their learning,’  finding their voices and confidence as readers and writers. We utilize Reader's and Writer’s Workshop models, which help students develop strong reading and writing skills through the use of mini-lessons, read-alouds, conferencing, independent reading/writing, and literature responses. Students focus on becoming active readers who engage deeply and analyze their texts. Students learn to also derive information and meaning from nonfiction texts, where they annotate, organize, and decipher what is the most important information to hold onto. 
    In writing, students experience an array of projects including personal narratives, essays, and poetry. Throughout the year students develop their unique writer’s voice, which comes through in their longer written work. They also practice shorter writing assignments where they analyze inspirational quotes or submit journal entries that use evidence to prove their thinking. We also focus on formal grammar lessons, word study, and phonics lessons, and promote the idea of using one’s resources (ex: dictionary, thesaurus, and building our typing skills). All year, students are continuing to build their editing skills and work through the writing process -- brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing their work. 
  • Math

    The year in fourth grade starts with Jo Boaler’s "Week of Inspirational Math" in order to activate our growth mindsets. We continue to engage our mindsets and celebrate mistakes as opportunities for learning throughout the year. Fourth graders take a deep dive into whole number operations, generating, representing, and analyzing data, exploring 2 and 3-dimensional geometry, and extend understanding of measurement to include fractions and decimals. 
    Many of these investigations provide students with cross-curricular experiences. For example, our Project Based Learning Unit titled, “Game On!” is a collaboration with the Makery where students research, prototype, and develop educational games for the community. Our emphasis on students engaging with math in the real world inspires projects such as a Change Maker Data Unit.

    Fourth-grade math program goals:
    • Support students to make sense of mathematics and learn that they can be mathematical thinkers.
    • Focus on computational fluency with whole numbers.
    • Emphasize reasoning about mathematical ideas.
    • Engage the range of learners in understanding mathematics.
    • Foster a growth mindset.
    • Prepare students to transition to the Upper School mathematics program.
  • Social Studies

    Social Studies in fourth grade sets the stage for critical thinking, strategic planning, and an understanding of diverse experiences and perspectives within history and our current world. We use the guiding question: “How has Power Influenced the Rights of People in California?” to explore our state’s history. This includes topics such as:
    • Geography: CA Regions
    • Native American Life 
    • European Explorers
    • California Missions & Ranchos
    • Gold Rush & Immigration to CA
    • Transcontinental Railroad
    • California Statehood and State Government
    Throughout this curricular content, fourth graders are practicing how to be historians and researchers. They learn to summarize and synthesize nonfiction text, decode and annotate primary sources, and analyze historical events. We emphasize working in groups so that students can practice collaboration and flexible thinking. Each unit is project-based and students use writing, oral presentations, and creative, hands-on activities to demonstrate their learning. 
    In addition to studying California history, fourth graders have a bi-weekly Social Studies Lab, a block period where they dive deeper into social concepts including current events, community care, food literacy, and social-emotional learning. Each year, fourth graders engage in student-driven activities and projects both in and out of the classroom to support their learning and involvement as conscientious community members and global citizens.

Specialist Programs

List of 7 items.

  • Art

    Fourth-grade students learn about landscape painting in conjunction with their social studies unit on the California Regions. They continue to explore personal identity, symbolism, and narrative through art and construct a multi-layered, mixed-media art project that expresses personal identity and various social-emotional topics. Students also explore painting and drawing landscapes in various styles including abstract, surrealism, realism, and impressionism.
    Students participate in “gallery walks” at the end of each unit where they learn to articulate the meaning behind their art, and give constructive feedback to one another. They continue working in their personal sketchbook, where they “free-draw", and do sketching exercises to build skills and an understanding of artistic concepts
  • Library

    To develop competence, curiosity, and confidence, students used the online catalog to manage their own borrowing and to identify, find, and evaluate books for their reading. They explore both the Upper School fiction and nonfiction collection to advance their understanding of how a library is organized and how to access materials.
    Students analyze and express personal preferences for certain books by voting on their favorite book nominated for the California Young Reader Medal. They participate in an author study of Jacqueline Woodson, wherein they analyze text, identify story elements, learn about character traits, and compare and contrast the author’s works. Fourth graders learn how to write about the author to go with "small-moment" stories written in English class. Their big project for the year is researching a changemaker and creating a commemorative stamp and script about the person’s life. 
  • Makery

    The Makery curriculum for fourth graders emphasizes two related goals: 1) learning to use a variety of media, materials, and tools; and 2) learning the skills needed to make, share, find, solve, protect, and learn. Content and learning goals for different projects often come from core and special classes. As they make, the students practice the skills of attention, perseverance, problem-solving, and project management.
  • Music

    What musical traditions are important to me? How will I take leadership? How do I play this recorder (fingers, notes, responsibility, and practicing)? How can I strengthen and extend my vocal range? Oh yes, shifting chord changes and diatonic scales!
    In the final year of Lower School (LS) Music, fourth graders focus on musical leadership as they take on leading the weekly assemblies and become singing role models for the younger grades. The fourth-graders help choose the songs for the Lower School Holiday Sing-Along and lead during the concert as either narrators or accompanists. 
    A strong focus in fourth grade is on playing the recorder. The girls receive a soprano recorder of their own that they bring home to practice after successfully playing their first five songs. Using the instrumental techniques of recorder to strengthen their notation and improvisation skills, the girls solidify and extend their musical learning, setting a foundation for future participation and growth in Upper School Music and beyond. 
    Students often contribute individual musical talents to the fourth-grade play in the fall, in addition to learning songs and dance choreography with the whole ensemble. In the spring, a spring concert showcases their recorder learning, and is often integrated with social studies curriculum or a cultural focus; for instance, the music of Colombia and the Andes (We Don’t Talk About Bruno!), or the music of the tall ships during the Golden Era of Sail in the 1800s. 

    Integrated themes and projects may include:
    Native cultures of California, “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” Sea Chanteys, Songs of the Gold Rush, SEL (Social-Emotional Learning), and other school-wide projects that vary from year to year.
  • Physical Education

    Fourth graders meet daily with the goal of preparing a solid movement foundation for students’ transition to Upper School Physical Education. Our movement and skill development focus includes cooperative games, conflict resolution games, and social-emotional learning (SEL) games as well.
    Students continue to practice different exercises to help increase muscular, aerobic, and core strength such as calisthenics, laps, stretches, and planks. Students learn and practice flag football, basketball, badminton, and hockey skills. Many of these skills will transfer to their experience in Upper School P.E. and team sports.
  • Science

    Fourth grade scientists focus on water for most of the year: buoyancy, ocean habitats, and human water use and conservation. They use the skills they have developed through Lower School to tackle both hands-on and abstract topics.
    To give a glimpse into the science room, here is an example unit from fourth grade:
    Fourth graders dive deep into a shallow ecosystem where animals struggle for survival almost right next door: the intertidal zone. After learning as a group about what makes this habitat so challenging, each student is randomly assigned an animal that lives in the tide pools. Using books and the internet, they become experts in their animal’s adaptations, life cycle, and behaviors. As they research, the classroom is often punctuated with exclamations of “Whoa, listen to THIS!” To share their knowledge, the students then create museum exhibits, analyzing photos of real museums and zoos to design exhibits that will educate and entertain a wide variety of audiences. On our field trip to the tide pools, the fourth graders often manage to teach the docents something new about “my animal”!
    Science time is also spent preparing for the Outdoor Ed trip to learn about the natural history and ecosystem of the Sierra foothills.
  • Theater

    Lower School Theatre Arts present a stage for students to see and explore the world, explore it, and express themselves. Students develop presence, power, energy, observation, imagination, and artistic expression through the performing arts. 
    The fourth-grade play is a true ensemble project with students involved in every aspect of the show, including building the sets and costume pieces and handling set changes during the performance. Students add song suggestions which become the basis for scenes in the play, and a plethora of dance moves created by the fourth graders are used in the choreography. Students have the opportunity to present their ideas for consideration, and act as creative partners in each step of the process, from playwriting to memorizing lines, setting up their own scenes, and of course, acting.

Fourth Grade Faculty

List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Tammi Abad

    Tammi Abad 

    Fourth Grade Teacher & Teaching Institute Coordinator
    (415) 751-0187 ext. 327
  • Photo of Elizabeth Charnas

    Elizabeth Charnas 

    Fourth Grade Co-Teacher
    415-751-0187, ext. 306
  • Photo of Simone Wolk

    Simone Wolk 

    Fourth-Grade Teacher
    415-751-0187, ext. 360
  • Photo of Devon  Linn

    Devon  Linn 

    Associate Teacher
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.
Burke's admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.