Walking into 4th grade, visitors are always taken by students’ engagement in living history. From the challenges of the Plymouth Pilgrims through the struggles of the American Revolution, the students learn about American history by acting as real people from the past. They dress up as seventeenth-century Englishmen and travel across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower before hosting the first Thanksgiving dinner. They examine the skills and details of eighteenth-century colonial trades while considering the effects of these professions on society as a whole. They organize the town’s economy by debating taxation and they consider the stormy challenges of independence from Great Britain. The children return to the time period, learn about the positives and negatives of events of the past, and consider their effects on the world today.
Writing forms the backbone of the fourth-grade curriculum and is interconnected with all subjects. Students improve their writing skills while expressing themselves in all subjects and in a variety of formats. They write a personal narrative about an experience with a special person in their lives. They journal multiple entries, highlighting the often unbearable experiences of a passenger on the sixty-six day Mayflower voyage. They learn about the persuasive writing form before crafting an essay about such issues as global warming, gender equality, or “Why my mom’s the greatest.” The students are shown how authors write in the real world. They use a variety of media such as Google Docs and Google Slides. The students discuss their writing ideas with peers, prepare a prewriting planner, and learn how to review and edit multiple drafts. All work is published for others to read. The writing curriculum is also enhanced by closely linked grammar and vocabulary programs.
Students read a variety of texts throughout the year while learning about literary elements across different genres. The children’s literary experience is supported by two passionate, well-read teachers. The aim is for students to be enthusiastic about their reading and be self-motivating at home. They learn how to summarize texts and consider the relationships between protagonists and antagonists.
As is the case in all lower school math classes, the fourth grade math experience is committed to helping all students engage with mathematical ideas to develop deeper understanding and appreciation for math and its importance. We meet students at their readiness level through pretesting and, in some cases, acceleration. In all the mathematical topics we teach, problem-solving and collaborative work are key, reflecting the way that adult mathematicians work. Problem solving includes investigation of mathematical concepts through open-ended activities that may include visual components, objects to manipulate, or puzzles to solve. Math class requires students to construct evidence to support their conclusions, including written, verbal, and visual arguments. We use the Everyday Math curriculum as an organizing element in our teaching, but we incorporate teaching from many other sources. Like all Quest students, the fourth grade students benefit from the opportunity of being placed in ability groups that are above grade level.
4th grade is an active and engaging year for Quest students who take on more responsibility for their own learning. They are challenged by an increasing amount of independence, carefully guided and supported by the teachers. A combination of scholarly academics, team activities, and hands-on experiences make for a happy, motivated—and above all—valued group of children.
Visit the Lower School Science page for information about our lab-based science experience.