Parents and Guardians

This guide provides an overview of what your child will be learning in fourth grade. It is based on the Common Core Standards, the Massachusetts Frameworks, and the curricular approaches which have been adopted by the Somerville Public Schools. The detailed Massachusetts Frameworks are available at:

Academic standards are important. They ensure that all students, no matter where they start, are prepared for success in the next grade level, college, and their careers. By defining standards clearly, we aim to help families and teachers work together to ensure that students succeed. There are some students who will need additional support to meet a standard. Other students will need more complex work to go beyond the standard. Teachers craft their day-to-day classroom instruction based on the standards, individual student needs, and the unique characters of their schools and community.

How can I support my child's learning at home?

  • Talk to your child about what they are learning in school
  • Contact your child's teacher with any questions or concerns and attend Parent Teacher Conferences
  • Check your child's folder and/or agenda book every night
  • Provide a space and a consistent time for your child to complete their homework

English Language Arts

Reading - During the year, students in the fourth grade will be working on:

  • Reading deeply into a text to learn about a character through a character's thoughts, words, or actions
  • Using specific evidence from a text to develop inferences, opinions, and theories about actions
  • Using multiple strategies, specifically predicting, making connections, visualizing and asking questions, to carefully read and comprehend a fiction text or poetry
  • Figuring out the main idea by noticing what key details have in common
  • Summarizing a chunk of text or the entire text
  • Figuring out how the text is structured (chronological, cause and effect, question and answer)
  • Collecting, organizing, and integrating information from multiple texts
  • Interpreting what they've learned from multiple texts and presenting/explaining their learning to their peers
  • Noticing how poets use unique language and play with language to enrich the meaning of the poem (for example, by using similes, metaphors, repetition)
  • Figuring out why the author wrote the poem or what message s/he wants to communicate to readers
  • Figuring out the theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text
  • Comparing books with similar themes by using specific details and quoting accurately from the text
  • Engaging in discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) on topics and texts, building on others' ideas, expressing their own ideas clearly, and using evidence to support claims

Writing - Somerville's writing program emphasizes giving students many opportunities to write each day across subject areas. As they write during the year, students in the fourth grade will be working on:

  • Organizing ideas on a topic into five connected paragraphs
  • Using linking words and phrases to connect ideas with correct punctuation (for instance, in order to, in addition)
  • Using effective leads (beginnings) to pull in the reader and endings to tie together my writing
  • Using more effective details (showing instead of telling)
  • Choosing adverbs and precise words including specialized vocabulary to communicate ideas
  • Using figurative language (simile) to make comparisons (for example, the diamonds were as bright as the sun)
  • Using details and evidence that are relevant to the topic
  • Writing a variety of sentence beginnings with correct punctuation using adverbs and prepositional phrases
  • Correctly spelling grade level words using resources if needed
  • Choosing and using punctuation for effect
  • Correctly using homonyms (their/there/they're, it's, its)

Over the course of the year, students will complete three types of writing: narrative (story), informative, and opinion. Examples of these in fourth grade could include: writing a travel brochure to convince others to come to a place, explaining how the water cycle affects climate, or writing a personal story about a special moment.

How can I support my child's literacy learning at home?

  • Encourage your child to read daily and discuss the texts he/she is reading
  • When your child shares an opinion or thought about a book, ask them why? and have them use evidence from the book
  • Encourage your child to write by keeping a diary, or sending a thank you note or a letter to a family member or friend


Adapted from PTA Common Core Guide and Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Critical Areas. Please see the Massachusetts Frameworks for more detailed standards and skills. During the year, students in the fourth grade will be working on:

  • Rounding whole numbers to any place
  • Recognizing lines of symmetry, perpendicular lines, parallel lines
  • Adding and subtracting whole numbers quickly and accurately
  • Multiplying and dividing multi-digit numbers in simple cases (e.g., multiplying 1,638 x 7 or 24 x 17, and dividing 6,996 by 6)
  • Knowing multiplication facts and related division facts through 12 x 12
  • Understanding and applying equivalent fractions (e.g., recognizing that 1/4 is less than 3/8 because 2/8 is less than 3/8)
  • Solving word problems that involve the addition and subtraction of fractions
  • Multiplying a fraction by a whole number (e.g., ½ x 5)
  • Understanding how fractions and decimals are related (e.g., .38 = 38/100)
  • Solving real world problems that involve area and perimeter
  • Solving multistep word problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division that involve time, distance, money, weights, and volume
  • Measuring angles and finding unknown angles in a diagram
  • Recognizing lines of symmetry, perpendicular lines, parallel lines

 How can I support my child's math learning?

  • Point out examples of using math in everyday life such as using fractions while measuring ingredients for a recipe, estimating the cost of items at a store, or figuring out a tip at a restaurant
  • Practice newly acquired skills with your child at home to help build confidence (for example, math facts, addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division)

Social Studies

During the year, students in the fourth grade will be learning to:

  • Identify and use latitude and longitude
  • Use maps including scales of miles and legends
  • Identify the countries of North America
  • Identify and describe the regions of the United States including climate, physical features, and natural resources
  • Identify states, capitals, and major cities
  • Identify and describe the physical and political features of Canada and Mexico

Science, Technology, and Engineering

During the year, students in the fourth grade will be learning:

  • That the speed of an object is related to the energy of the object
  • That energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents
  • How energy changes when objects collide
  • How a device can convert kinetic energy to electrical energy or uses stored energy to cause motion or produce light or sound
  • That waves are regular patterns of motion along which energy travels and can cause objects to move
  • That there are multiple ways to transfer information through encoding, sending, receiving, and decoding a pattern
  • How rocks, soils, and sediments are broken into smaller pieces through mechanical weathering and moved around through erosion
  • To analyze maps of Earth’s mountain ranges, deep ocean trenches, volcanoes, and earthquake epicenters to describe patterns of these features
  • That energy and fuels humans use are derived from natural resources
  • That some energy and fuel sources are renewable and some are not



The elementary years are an important time to nurture social-emotional competence and develop foundational learning skills. The Somerville Public Schools uses the Second Step curriculum, an evidence-based program that includes everything schools need to integrate social-emotional learning into their classrooms and school-wide. The curriculum is designed to promote school success, self-regulation, and a sense of safety and support.

Classroom teachers are responsible for implementing Second Step. Schools guidance counselors and other support personnel assist teachers and students to work toward attaining curriculum goals. Staff at your child's school can give you more detailed information about the sequence of skills taught and how social/emotional skills are taught.

Grade 4 Lessons:


Empathy and Skills for Learning

1. Empathy and Respect
2. Listening with Attention
3. Being Assertive
4. Respecting Similarities and Differences
5. Understanding Complex Feelings
6. Understanding Different Perspectives
7. Conversation and Compliments
8. Joining In
9. Showing Compassion


Emotion Management

10. Introducing Emotion Management
11. Managing Strong Feelings
12. Calming Down Anger
13. Managing Anxiety
14. Avoiding Jumping to Conclusions
15. Handling Put-Downs



Problem Solving

16. Solving Problems, Part 1
17. Solving Problems, Part 2
18. Making a Plan
19. Solving Playground Problems
20. Taking Responsibility for Your Actions
21. Dealing with Peer Pressure
22. Reviewing Second Step Skills


Specialists: The Somerville Public Schools provides each student with 40 minutes per week of instruction in General Music, Library/Media, Art, and Physical Education. The specialists at each school are available to give you more detailed information about specific skills that are addressed.

Assessment: We believe that there is more than one way to accurately assess student learning. These include not only standardized measures such as DIBELS (Grades K-3), MCAS (Grades 3-10), and STAR (Grades 2-8), but also more informal assessments including common end of unit assessments, reading/writing conferences, classroom participation, classroom projects, and writing assignments.

Math and ELA Year At A Glance for Fourth Grade:

Please note that this calendar is only an approximate guide. Some units might take more or less time depending on the needs of the students and other initiatives happening at individual schools.

Approximate Time Frame ELA Units of Study (Based on Balanced Literacy Curriculum) Math Units of Study (Based on the Investigations Curriculum)
Early September Launching Readers Workshop
Place Value: Up to 1,000,000
Addition Standard Algorithm
Late September Narrative
Factors / Multiples
Prime / Composite
Addition / Subtraction Number Stories
October Narrative Strategies for Multi-digit Multiplication
November Nonfiction
Strategies for Multi-digit Division
December Nonfiction
Comparing Fractions
Recognizing / Generating Equivalent Fractions
January Poetry 
Addition / Subtraction of Fractions and Mixed Numbers
Story Problems Involving Fractions
February Poetry 
Area / Perimeter Story Problems
Geometry: Understanding and Describing Angles


March On-Demand Reading
Geometry: Creating, and Measuring Angles
Measurement: Conversion


Nonfiction #2
Decimal / Fraction Equivalence


Nonfiction #2 Measurement / Statistics
June Narrative - Theme
Fractions: Compare, Order, and Add
Decimals: Compare and Order





















updated 07/2018