Fourth Grade

Michelle Whaley

Welcome to St. John’s Episcopal Day School!

My name is Michelle Whaley and I will be teaching Social Studies 4-6th grades. I am anticipating a wonderful learning experience filled with exciting and challenging projects I have set goals and high expectations for my students and I look forward to a challenging and exciting year 2014-1015.

Mrs. Whaley

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Curriculum for Grade 4

Curriculum for Grade 4

Language Arts

Language Arts encompasses grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing. Students will learn the classification of sentences using all 8 parts of speech, which will allow them to write more effectively. In Grade 4, students will learn to write expository, narrative, descriptive, and persuasive paragraphs. They will also learn the art of writing poems. Students will also write and perform plays/skits and speeches. Additionally, students will learn dictionary skills, spelling and vocabulary, and continue to work on their cursive handwriting.

Fourth Grade students will apply reading skills such as main idea, context clues, drawing conclusions, sequence, comprehension, reference skills, supporting details, and vocabulary. The students will identify different types of genres through reading various stories from their reading text books and assigned novels. Additionally, students will read and comprehend various types of poetry, as well as write Haikus, Limericks, Acrostic, Cinquain, and Diamante poems. Students will enter their poetry into an annual poetry contest to be published in Creative Communication Poetry. Greek Mythology, Biographies, Tall Tales, and Plays will also be read. The students will be asked to identify metaphors, similes, idioms, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and hyperboles from their readings. Projects will be assigned to go along with novels read in class. These projects will include illustrations, book jackets, book reports, and brochures. The Accelerated Reader Program (AR) is a part of every student’s grade. Sixteen points are required each nine weeks.

The main focus in all reading classes will be to enjoy reading, allow these stories to take them to new places and experience different adventures. These stories and novels will also allow students to use their creativity in reading, projects, and writings.

Social Studies

Fourth grade Social Studies revolves around the great state of Texas. Students will learn about the geography and its people. They will also learn about early Texas settlements, the Texas Revolution, the Republic of Texas, and how it became a state. We will learn about the Civil War and the new Texas government.

Students will expand their knowledge of historical figures and events through interactive activities to include reenactments, skits, and presentations. They will analyze historical events through multiple points of view, debates, and research of the Battle of the Alamo. Through the application of real-world connections, students will comprehend concepts of government and economics. The use of various geographic tools will reinforce the understanding of U.S. geography, the states and their capitols. Students will also strengthen their writing skills and comprehension of history through book reports. Additionally, students will use iPad technology in the classroom for research and visual comprehension.

Students will participate in our Living Wax Museum.


Students in Fourth Grade study Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth Science. In the fall, an appreciation of our native plants begins the Fourth Grade Life Science unit. Learning to be observant and to identify monocots, dicots, angiosperms, gymnosperms, and plant adaptations prepares fourth graders for their individual reports on one of our native plants. A field trip to the Valley Nature Center allows them to view their plant in a natural setting.

From a local setting to world ecosystems is quite a jump for fourth grade. Our next focus is on tropical rain forests. Students transform the classroom into the Amazon rain forest with buttressing trees to the ceiling which are connected with vines and animals. Sounds from the Rain Forest enhance the setting. This is a group and individual project.

Dissecting owl pellets is next. Students identify all of the bones and from which animal they came. A skeleton, from the bones found in the pellet, is put together at the end of this project.

Moving into our unit on Physical Science, students cover density, solubility, buoyancy, and volume of matter. Light, sound, and solar energy are also studied. Solar ovens are built and each student cooks some sort of food item.

Earth Science begins with a study of the earth’s plates, earthquakes, and volcanoes. Each student is assigned a volcano to research, report on, and build. All of these volcanoes are lined up outside and the “Ring of Fire” is enjoyed by the entire school. Oceanography is next with emphasis on our local beach. A field trip to South Padre Island is the culminating adventure.

The Fourth Grade year ends with a return to Life Science, focusing on the digestive and circulatory systems of the human body. Every student dissects a frog as part of this unit.

The Fourth Grade is responsible for all of the recycling done at the school and church. Each week the students collect recyclables from every classroom and office. A field trip to the McAllen Recycling Plant teaches them the importance of this project and how it helps the school, city, and world.


In the Fourth Grade students continually review and use the concepts of place value, comparing, ordering and rounding numbers, number operations, money, and time. Students then move on to more complex multiplication and division concepts. Additionally, more complex applications of data collection, graphing, and probability are covered as are measurement, fractions, and decimals. Students will learn some basic algebra and geometry concepts and will use Challenge Sheets to guide them in independent practice of skills learned. Problem solving skills are reinforced daily.

Physical Education

Students in Grade 4 attend Physical Education classes at least twice each week. Students acquire the knowledge and skills for movement that provide the foundation for enjoyment, continued social development through physical activity, access to a physically-active lifestyle, and the relationship between physical activity and health.

Physical skills are developed through fun activities that include cooperative games, playground games, jump rope, track and field, bowling, rhythmic awareness, fitness concepts and team sports such as soccer, basketball, kickball, handball, volleyball, and more. Activities focus on constant participation and inclusion as opposed to elimination and having students sit out.

Students are exposed cognitively to health and fitness concepts, nutrition, the skeletal and muscular systems, and anatomy of the heart. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in annual events such as Jump Rope for Heart in the fall, Field Day in the spring, and The Mileage Club throughout the year.

The main focus in Physical Education is having fun while learning physical skills that will allow students to enjoy physical activity throughout their lives.


The Fourth Grade begins the school year by learning new songs for Chapel. During the fall they will also do holiday songs pertaining to Halloween and Thanksgiving. By mid-October they are preparing to audition for parts in the upcoming Christmas musical in December. This is the first year that Fourth Grade students are able to audition for an acting part in the musical. We will go over theatrical rules and what is expected of them for the audition. Fourth Graders are also eligible to audition to do some of the introductions and closings of the musical and for singing solos. Performance etiquette and behavior is introduced to all new students and reviewed for returning students.

Upon returning from Christmas vacation we work in our music textbooks and begin sight singing. In the spring students begin thinking about what they will do for the upcoming Talent/Lip Sync show.


The Fourth Grade attends Computer classes each week. Students will continue working on and perfecting their keyboarding skills. The mastery of more complex aspects of Microsoft Office Applications, Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher will be a focus. The use of these applications in conjunction with core classroom assignments will be a priority. Students will use all of their computer skills as we coordinate computer instruction with the expectations and assignments of the classroom teachers in the core academic areas.


Third through sixth grade students attend classes the entire year.

Students acquire knowledge of various artistic techniques—color, texture, form, etc. through many hands on activities. We work with pastels, modeling materials, paints (acrylics and watercolors), paper weaving, and many other materials. Our Art program is constantly evolving depending on what inspires us at the moment.

Since our border heritage is so very influential to the Rio Grande Valley, our Art program is infused with an emphasis of these culturally rich traditions, customs, and vibrant colors. We do an in depth unit on Dia de los Muertos in which 1st-6th grades participate in this unique celebration of life. Through books, vocabulary, hands on activities such as art, altar building, & sugar skull making all grades contribute to a magnificent exhibition that highlights all the work that goes into celebrating this very special and often misunderstood holiday.

We have been invited to display artwork at the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg, TX and created a community altar representing our school families at the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen. The upper grades participate in many events throughout our community and we are proud to have our works displayed in many different venues.

The upper grades, 3rd-6th, also participate in State and National art competitions.

St. John’s has had many student pieces selected, published, and/or displayed in various contests.


The Rosetta Stone Program is self-paced allowing students to learn and master the Spanish language at their level. It provides feedback on their mastery, allowing students to repeat units until they truly understand the content. Students can use the program at home, as well as at school. While the early lessons are speaking and listening, as the students become more proficient, they will also learn to write in Spanish. We believe the Rosetta Stone Program fits our unique needs at St. John’s for a comprehensive program that allows our students to learn and master Spanish.

Sacred Studies

Sacred Studies is a class for students in grades 3-5 that examine the stories of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and the life and teachings of Jesus. Through Sacred Studies classes, children study the ways personal and community values develop and what it means to be individuals of integrity.  In Grade Four students study the New Testament. Each Fourth Grade student meets for Sacred Studies one day a week for one semester.

Class Gallery

Class Gallery

Photos coming soon.

Fourth Grade Teachers

Fourth Grade Teachers

Lauren Holland

Lauren Holland

Language Arts

Michelle Whaley

Michelle Whaley

Social Studies

Maria Pena

Maria Peña


Shahin Zaraienh

Shahin Zaraienh


Sally Tankersley

Sally Tankersley