What Do Students Learn in Grade 4 Language Arts?

Language arts in the fourth grade has as its goal the desire to keep children reading. In some schools, the curriculum is centered on American literature. Other schools have chosen to allow the children to make more choices from the widest variety of literature possible and the least amount of limitations. Fourth graders are able to read and write competently and are accomplished speakers.

Fourth grade students read fluently and with accuracy. They have acquired further knowledge of word origins, learning Greek and Latin roots, suffixes and prefixes. They use these roots to determine the meaning of unknown words and passages and deconstruct and decode complex words. They recognize synonyms, antonyms and idioms and use them to determine meaning also. At this stage of their reading development, students are expected to read one-half million words per year; this figure does not include the reading they do for school. This outside reading is considered to have a strong representation of grade-level-appropriate text and as such, students are expected to use appropriate methodologies when reading. However, reading for pleasure does not require the same strategies as reading a textbook or finding material in an encyclopedia. As has been true throughout the learning process, students are expected to be able to make predictions on what is presented in the text by reading the chapter titles, indices, by looking at the charts, diagrams and illustrations and by interpreting the text already read. As far back as kindergarten, students have been training themselves to make predictions about a text from its cover and the information presented within. Fourth grade readers are expected to be able to read multiple -step instructions in a basic technical manual. They should be able to read aloud using inflection and intonation to impart meaning and expression into the passages being read.

The students should be able to identify the plot, setting and characters of a text and be able to determine why a character makes certain choices. They should recognize the universality of some literary tales and be able to recognize the character of one culture in the texts of another. Upon further consideration, the fourth graders may be able to describe why a character would appear in the literature of two seemingly different and isolated cultures. The students recognize similes and metaphors and can explain the difference. They recognize the signifiers of each and also can define other examples of figurative language such as personification and hyperbole.

Fourth grade writers will select a topic, focus on some aspect within that topic and structure a multi-paragraph paper with a specific point of view. They will use specified format requirements, using an introductory paragraph supported by further details and basic facts and explanations. The students are also familiar with the accepted conventions for writing an informational paper, those of chronological order, asking and answering a question or cause and effect. If the student is writing the paper by hand and not on a computer, it will be written in cursive handwriting.

As this is an informational paper, all quotes and paraphrased information will be cited appropriately. Various reference texts will be used and also cited accordingly. The students learn the organization of almanacs, periodicals and newspapers and how to utilize the information from them. Fourth graders should also be comfortable using a computer and should be familiar with the terminology and components. Editing is done by cutting and pasting.

Students will also be able to write first person narrative and make it interesting and accessible, using descriptive phrasing and sensory detail to bring the story to life. In writing responses to literature, the fourth graders will draw on previously read works and the current text to support their conclusions.

These students have a strong grasp of the English language and write and speak using proper grammar and punctuation. They know the rules of style and use them accordingly. Fourth graders use this knowledge to speak properly and make oral presentations that are both organized and interesting.