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4th Grade Team Page

Students in VT State Capital listening to a representative
Fourth grade students visit the Vermont State House.


English Language Arts

The English Language Arts program at Marion Cross School seeks to create a community of learners immersed in reading, writing, speaking and listening throughout the curriculum. Through engagement with a variety of developmentally appropriate literature, students develop fluency, exercise analytical skills, build vocabulary, practice comprehension strategies, and make meaning. Across grade levels, ongoing writing instruction and practice provides opportunities for students to develop confidence and skills as they generate ideas, draft, revise, and edit original works in a wide range of genres. Discussion-based classrooms, project based learning, and presentation opportunities, within and beyond the classroom, encourage students to develop and hone communication skills, promoting active participation in the school community and larger society.

The Fourth Grade English/Language Arts program takes a balanced approach to the teaching of literacy. In this way reading and writing skills are taught intentionally and in combination and across the curriculum to support student learning comprehensively. Students read and write fiction and non-fiction that encompasses and enhances all the content areas. Instruction occurs in whole class, small group, and independent settings. Reading instruction includes fluency practice, vocabulary development, and specific comprehension strategies. Writing instruction includes a focus on rhetorical effectiveness as well as grammar, spelling, usage and mechanics skill practice. Across a variety of genres, students solidify their understanding of both narrative and expository structure, and are introduced to multi-paragraph essays. In both single paragraphs and longer essays, students work to develop a thesis and to support that thesis with evidence, working towards writing with greater detail and elaboration. And through the cyclical writing/revision/publication process, students develop the habits and mindset of “real world” writers.


Numbers and Numeration

  • Define and use: +, -, x, / , =, <, >
  • Introduce sum, difference, product, quotient, fraction
  • Read and write numbers to 1,000,000
  • Know place value to 1,000,000
  • Compare place values and decide the relation symbol (<,>,=) between numerals
  • Round to nearest 10, 100, 1000
  • Use expanded notation to show regrouping of tens, hundreds, etc.
  • Understand the inverse relationship of addition and subtraction, multiplication and division
  • Recognize odd, even and prime numbers

Computation and Estimation

  • Know addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts (up to 10's)
  • Add and subtract with regrouping
  • Subtract with regrouping with zeros
  • Multiply with regrouping, 2-digit by 2-digit numbers
  • Divide 4-digit numbers by 2-digit numbers, with remainders
  • Use the commutative, associative, distributive and identity properties
  • Write, order, add, and subtract fractions with like and unlike denominators
  • Find the least common factor and the least common multiple of numbers
  • Find a common denominator of fractions
  • Add money and decimals up to the thousandths
  • Use strategies for mental math


  • Use standard and metric measurement for length, mass and temperature
  • Apply knowledge of seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, months and years in solving problems
  • Understand coin values, make change and solve money problems
  • Calculate area, perimeter, and volume


  • Review point, line, line segment, ray, angle, parallel, perpendicular, circle, square, rectangle, triangle
  • Classify angles
  • Identify and construct polygons
  • Identify three-dimensional shapes
  • Explore congruency and symmetry of shapes
  • Use protractor and compass

Data Collection and Analysis

  • Collect, organize, represent, and interpret data using lists, tables, bar graphs and line graphs
  • Interpret data using the mean, median, mode and range
  • Predict, perform, and record simple probability experiments

Problem Solving, Reasoning and Communication

  • Translate word problems into number sentences
  • Learn to recognize key words and phrases
  • Write word problems
  • Estimate answers
  • Understand and apply appropriate strategies to solving problems

Patterns, Functions and Algebra

  • Identify, describe and extend patterns
  • Classify and sort objects using attributes
  • Identify and graph points in the coordinate plane
  • Use order of operations to solve equations


Process Skills

  • Reinforce all of the K-3 skills plus:
  • Investigating, classifying (time, space, patterns, common characteristics), collecting and organizing (information and materials), recognizing patterns, predicting, formulating questions


Life Science: Wetlands

The goal of this exploration is to understand the importance of wetlands in our environment, with a specific focus on wetlands in our local community.

In the fall, we study beavers and beaver ponds. We focus on beavers as “eco-engineers”, incredible animals that create habitats not only for themselves, but for other animals that rely on them. We investigate the beaver’s unique body and the structures that allow it to build and to survive in the water year round.Students travel to an active beaver pond to discover and explore evidence of beaver activity. As part of this study, students also dissect cattails, a key component of many local beaver habitats.Again, students explore the internal and external structures of the cattail to better understand how it thrives in the pond environment.

In the spring, we study vernal pools and bogs, exploring the unique traits of each type of wetland. Traveling to local vernal pools, students learn about the creatures that depend on vernal pools as a breeding ground and as a nursery for their young. In studying bogs, we discuss the unusual features of bogs and the adaptations that plants must make to survive there.We visit the Cricenti Bog in New London, NH, to feel a quaking bog and to explore the bog plants.

Physical Science:

Energy: Students explore potential and kinetic energy, conducting a series of experiments involving marble roller coasters, cars and ramps, and bouncing balls. They discuss the conservation of energy and how energy can be converted from one form to another.They experiment with collisions, attempting to explain the energy transfer that takes place in different types of collisions.

Electricity: Using both bulbs and motors, students explore the basics of electricity. They discover how to create complete circuits and then apply this knowledge to make predictions and answer questions about unknown circuits. Further experiments allow them to learn about conductors and insulators, as well as switches.

Simple Machines: Students study 6 simple machines: wedge, lever, screw, pulley, inclined plane, wheel and axle. They learn through experimentation how these machines change the amount or direction of a force and, in doing so, make our lives easier.

Our study of energy culminates with a design challenge in which students are encouraged to mimic Rube Goldberg and create a “machine” that does a simple task using many steps. In their Rube Goldberg machines, students identify different simple machines and challenge themselves to incorporate steps where energy is converted from one form to another.

Social Studies

Vermont History & Culture

  • History
  • Government
  • Geography

World History & Culture

  • Asia (Japan), Ancient Egypt
  • Cultural Universals
  • History
  • Geography


  • Learn place names in conjunction with studies, e.g., Green Mountains
  • Learn geographic terms in conjunction with studies, e.g., Monadnock
  • Read maps to gain information
  • Make maps to display information
  • Use scale, symbols & grid (number/letter system)

Social Skills

Civic and Social Responsibility

  • Be prepared for class
  • Be of service to home and school


  • Give compliments
  • Express appreciation

Personal Development

  • Accept differences in others
  • Recognize own strengths
  • Recognize strengths of others


Fourth graders, like all students at the Marion Cross School, begin the year by working on an all-school collaborative art project that celebrates our time together as a school community. Many of the activities that they work on throughout the rest of the year relate to topics within the fourth grade curriculum. Among the projects are: clay figures (lanterns from Vt. history, animal figures from their China study, Egyptian tomb figures), Kente cloth, African masks, Ukrainian Eggs, sumi-e painting, paper lanterns and fans, LEEEP habitat artbooks (ponds), “stained glass” windows, printmaking, apple drawings, and ArtStart.


Fourth graders continue to experience an increase the amount of reading we do, both formally and informally. “Free Voluntary Reading” allows students to choose books from our classroom library to read on a bi-weekly basis throughout the year, and students are also allowed to “check out” books and magazines to explore more at home. Our library contains a wide variety of books including picture dictionaries, popular comic books (of both American and French origin), magazines of various levels, and short novice-level readers. We continue to strive to use French as our main language of communication during class discussions; students have exposure to everyday expressions and interjections that allow them to express themselves in French and “circumlocute” when they do not know the exact words to relay their thoughts and ideas.


The school counselor, Katie Cormier, visits each Fourth Grade classroom bi-weekly. During classroom lessons, she works to help students learn about themselves as well as how to develop positive relationships with others. The classes focus on self-esteem, diversity, mindfulness, communication skills, social skills, kindness and being an upstander (anti-bullying). Students use class discussions, role-playing, stories and writing to express themselves and practice their skills. In addition to the social emotional lessons, our amazing local resource, WISE, comes to conduct We Care Elementary lessons, which focus on different topics related to healthy relationships. Mr. Minelli, MCS’s technology teacher, also comes in to co-teach for two lessons with Katie on internet safety based on common sense media’s digital citizenship program.

Information Technology

Best practices in education show that technology is best incorporated into a student’s education as an embedded “tool” used to support learning in the major curricular fields. This means that tech isn’t something just to “do” for students; rather it is used where appropriate to help students succeed in their other subject areas.

Accordingly, 4th grade students use word processing skills (using the programs, MS Word and Google Docs) to write, edit, format, save and publish a variety of written assignments. They learn basic word processing formatting skills such as double spacing, alignment, and tabbing, bulleted lists, Inspector Properties. These skills are facilitated through our Google accounts and students log onto hanovernorwichschools.org accounts and access Google Drive for creating and storing their documents. All students also learn the basics of keyboarding through using the ISTE Typing Program.

MCS uses the assessment software, Track My Progress, and 4th grade students are testing 4 times per year in Math and ELA using a computer adaptive test that can help teachers and parents understand the student’s strengths in various areas of these subjects. 4th grade students also are using Symphony Math to help improve their math concepts and understanding and are also given subscriptions to iXL mathematics to improve their math skills. These programs can be used both at school and at home to improve math skills.

Along with Katie Cormier, our school counselor, we also teach a select group of lessons with 4th grade students about the topic of safe computer use. These include such areas as computer safety, privacy, and the prevention of Cyberbullying. The lessons come from the highly regarded I.S. site, Common Sense Media.

4th grade students learn the basics of computer graphing using the Microsoft Office program, Excel. This included adding data to worksheets and then graphing using Bar, Pie, Line, and other graph types. Finally, MCS is strongly committed to the Hour of Code and in school and at home, students work through a 20 hr. class on beginner computer programming.

Library Skills

The main objectives of the library program in 4th Grade are to:

  • learn how to navigate a variety of websites on the topic of Vermont
  • learn how to find the necessary information from a website that is being sought
  • learn how to find the address of businesses on their website
  • learn how to use Google maps to plot and rearrange points
  • learn how to save a Google map in their Drive account
  • create a correct Works Cited (bibliography) document used in research
  • learn about the differences in a variety of biography formats - narrative, complete or partial, photographic, autobiography
  • create an online ‘poster’ with information and photographs of the person they are studying in conjunction with their classroom Biography unit
  • learn how to navigate the subscription online databases at MCS
  • learn how to save an image and cite it
  • participate in one, both or none of the optional reading promotion programs - Battle of the Books, an MCS eventor the Dorothy Canfield Fisher (DCF) program for the state of Vermont
  • listen to book talks given by the librarian as well as fellow classmates


The Marion Cross community sings. We sing silly songs and mundane songs, great classics and new “pop” songs with surprisingly profound meanings, songs written by the students and songs in other languages from across the world, and just about everything in between.

MCS students learn all about music in other ways, too. They listen to it, talk about it, write about it, move to it, and dance to it. They learn it “by ear,” they read it on the staff, and they write a fair bit of it on their own, too. They learn to play instruments in the school’s chamber orchestra, band, and electives.

Music in Fourth Grade

Fourth graders refine the music skills they developed in third grade. They apply these skills to the learning of polyphonic music, or music with more than one melody at a time. They sing dozens of rounds and partner songs, as well as the Vermont State Song and songs from the days of Vermont’s textile mills.


Fourth graders participate in the Grade 3-4 chorus, putting on a concert in April with me and our wonderful accompanist, Victoria Dobrushina. In chorus they learn to be a contributing member of a large ensemble and to sing more sophisticated music with expression. The fourth graders in chorus work diligently to learn to sing in harmony, often in two parts but sometimes in three or four.


Fourth graders get to compose a Fiddle Tune. They decide whether to write a jig or a reel, and then come up with a catchy rhythm and melody. They get to hear their work played by a professional fiddler in a public performance, too!

Recorder Program

Fourth graders continue their study of the recorder, learning songs that use the entire first octave of the recorder (sometimes more). This experience prepares them to play a band instrument in fifth grade.


The main objective of the physical education program for grade four is to encourage all children to enjoy and participate in physical activities. Fourth graders continue to build on skills learned in the primary grades and begin to work more on game-related skills and rules of basketball, soccer, kickball, volleyball, tennis, baseball/softball, badminton, frisbee, lacrosse and track and field activities. They continue to work on social skills (sportsmanship, respecting others, recognizing other’s skills, sharing their skills, working cooperatively), and knowing and following safety rules (stopping on the whistle, proper dress, working in own space, safe use of equipment). Wellness and fitness information and activities promote and teach healthy lifestyles. Snowshoeing and orienteering are introduced in conjunction with classroom work involving the LEEEP program. Games using locomotor and non-locomotor skills and manipulatives also make up a good part of the third and fourth grade curriculum.