In fourth grade, reading, writing, and social studies are integrated under the subject title of humanities. As readers, students continue to develop multiple comprehension strategies to make sense of texts. Using appropriately complex content, students make connections, visualize, wonder, and question, use text features, make inferences, determine important ideas, analyze text structures, summarize, and synthesize. Students explore and practice these strategies through shared reading experiences and individualized daily reading.
Writing is integrated within the literacy and social studies units and focuses on both narrative and expository/informational writing. When writing narratives, students practice creating well-structured storylines and incorporating strong leads and conclusions, descriptive language, and dialogue. Additionally, shared narrative and nonfiction reading experiences provide common texts to practice composing formal paragraphs and lessons on how to incorporate appropriate textual evidence and transitions. During expository writing work, students focus on specific topics and are introduced to a variety of research and note-taking strategies. As students gather facts and details from multiple sources, they synthesize their information, establish claims, and draw conclusions. Students work to structure clear and organized essays as they move through each part of the writing process: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
The social studies curriculum focuses on the geography and people of Washington State throughout its history with a specific focus on impact. This central theme encompasses the impact that different groups have had on the history of Washington, varying cultural beliefs about the impact humans should have on the environment, governmental structures and what impact citizens can have, and what impact students want to have on the world. To begin the year, students use primary and secondary sources to learn about the traditions and experiences of early Northwest Coastal People. As settlers begin to move west, the students study the impact of Westward Expansion on Washington's land and Indigenous people. Throughout this work, students are exposed to a variety of historical perspectives and acknowledge the ongoing cultural contributions of the Northwest Native People throughout Washington State. Next, students learn about Washington’s state government, including how it is organized and the basics of how it operates. Finally, students embark on a lower school capstone project that has them reflect on what impact they want to have on the world and then design a project focused on that topic. More than a research project, these passion projects lead students to not only think deeply about their place in the world but to put a plan into action to have a positive impact.