The fourth and fifth grade classrooms are the oldest cohort in our Giddens School community, and as such they take on a leadership role in the school. They set an example for younger students, in their intellectual pursuits as well as in social interactions. They regularly apply diverse perspectives, knowledge, and skills to a variety of contexts, demonstrating understanding while developing new ways of thinking. Students are encouraged to explore their personal passions as they develop grade level appropriate skills. Fourth and fifth graders often work in peer groups, tackle multi-step projects, and share their learning with the community. This helps them to be prepared for success in middle school and beyond.
Fourth and fifth grade readers decode grade level text fluently and accurately, to deepen their literal and inferential comprehension of reading material, and to develop an enjoyment of literature and nonfiction writing. Some of the key component skills that support these goals include supporting opinions with evidence, engaging with increasingly complex text, understanding differences in genres, and identifying and analyzing stylistic elements. High quality instruction centers on the strategies of summarizing, visualizing, connecting, inferring, predicting, synthesizing, analyzing, evaluating, and discussing. Interactive read-aloud, book clubs, and partnerships offer students opportunities to engage in rich conversations with their peers about a shared text. Students regularly share feelings, observations, questions and impressions of the texts as they read.
Fourth and fifth grade authors craft texts in many genres, including personal narrative, persuasive essay, realistic fiction, informational report, and poetry. They have flexibility and stamina for writing as they grow in their mastery of organization, production, depth of thinking, and mechanics. Knowledge of writing mechanics is included as part of a balanced writing program, with instruction in syllable word patterns, homophones, contractions, possessives, plurals, affixes and Greek and Latin roots. In addition, students learn about sentence structure, paragraph structure, capitalization, punctuation, and parts of speech. These authors make intentional, and increasingly sophisticated, stylistic decisions, revising and editing their work with purpose. They also develop skills in providing thoughtful, relevant feedback to peers. As they culminate their Giddens School experience, the students are able to confidently and competently express ideas, opinions, and information through written communication.
Fourth and fifth grade mathematics fosters the development of visual and conceptual models of numbers and operations. The concrete manipulation of objects leads to written mathematics and the use of algorithms, helping students develop a thorough understanding of mathematical reasoning as well as greater computational fluency. Through the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum, students engage in a daily lesson, which may consist of group activities, written work, and games, as well as Number Corner, a set of activities that incorporates a calendar pattern, a number line, data collection, problem solving, and computational fluency activities. This curriculum is supplemented with a wide array of hands-on enrichment and remediation activities to provide a comprehensive math experience, allowing students to grow in their breadth of standards based mathematical knowledge, computational skill, and problem solving ability.
Fourth and fifth grade scientists apply their knowledge of the scientific method independently and with increasing complexity. They are able to design, implement, and reflect on experiments that deepen their understanding of the world around them. They explore topics designed to meet grade level standards in earth science, physical science, life science, and engineering while building the habits of mind that will support future scientific learning. Through SPARK projects, units of study that give teachers and children opportunities to think more deeply about a scientific concept, and its connection to justice in the world, the fourth and fifth graders are able to use their scientific knowledge to better the world around them. An example of an experiential project at this age level might be a study of landforms in the United States and how these geographic formations have influenced the economies of various areas.
In Fourth and fifth grade social studies concepts from civics, economics, history, and geography are interwoven to support a student’s developing understanding of the complex systems that influence everyday life. With developmental maturity, fourth and fifth graders have developed the skills necessary to consider multiple perspectives to a variety of situations, allowing their understanding of and connection to historical events to flourish. They also learn more about how to connect those events to current contexts and consider how they might influence future events along a specific trajectory. SPARK projects allow students to engage deeply with a social studies concept, and its connection to justice in the world, in a developmentally appropriate way. In a fourth and fifth classroom, this might be studying the experience of Washington State’s native tribes over the past 500 years and predicting a plan for what life could look like for them in the next 50 years.
Fourth and fifth athletes have fun exploring teamwork strategies in a variety of sports and activities. Through a range of team games and small group challenges, the students continue to learn how to work together and solve problems to achieve their goals. These are skills that are stressed throughout the year to help the fourth and fifth students be successful in sports, the classroom, and life. Along with team-oriented activities, the students enjoy developing strategies and plays in basketball and hockey, while also participating in various track and field events. The fourth and fifth athletes also participated in a Bubble Gum Bulldog March Madness tournament. Students also work with partners to maneuver our Omnikin ball around the Big Room.
The Spanish program at Giddens School supports children in building their understanding of World Languages and the Spanish speaking countries. By providing Spanish instruction in preschool – 5th grade, we are instilling in students an awareness of the varied ways in which the world communicates and solidifying pathways of language development that support future language learning. Exposure to Spanish vocabulary and language conventions is balanced with cultural explorations throughout the program. After graduation, many Giddens School students go on to place into higher levels of Spanish instruction in their middle schools, building on the solid foundation of instruction provided during Spanish class at Giddens.
The 4/5s use their Library and Media time to make strong connections to their classroom work and the world around them. Students start the year learning word processing to presentation tools using Prezi. The 4/5s put many of their developing research skills to use to find (and cite!) new sources for their presentations. At the end of this process, each student will give their presentation to the class and conduct a brief Q&A session.
Students also focus on digital citizenship; the idea that all interactions and content posted on the internet can be permanent and that it is an individual’s duty to be a good digital citizen. The students play games and watch videos about online trolls and bullying, fraudulent websites and pop-ups, and safety and identity.
Students also lead a used book fair for which the 4/5s nominate and vote on a charity (Roots Young Adult Shelter was the winner in 2016), make posters, sort book donations, and work the cash register during the fair itself.