Fourth grade instructional programs in Palo Alto schools are committed to helping each child meet the academic and intellectual competencies expected at this grade level and become an active, engaged learner in a classroom setting. The following summary of the instructional program provides an overview of the fourth grade year. The fourth grade program builds on the skills and knowledge children have learned in preceding years. It encourages critical thinking, creativity and respect for self and others. The manner of instruction – motivation, grouping, pacing, reinforcing and reteaching – is determined by each teacher as he or she works to meet individual student needs. Expectations are, of course, modified or expanded to meet a child’s needs and abilities.

Curriculum standards are what all grade-level students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a school year. Key standards of fourth grade education are highlighted below. All K-5 teachers will continue efforts to fully implement the California Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by making strategic instructional shifts in both English Language Arts and Mathematics. Instruction will be adjusted to best meet the needs of all students.

In fourth grade, each student will . . .

Language Arts

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language Arts

As part of the shift to the Common Core State Standards, students will be working toward College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards (CCR) in language arts. These anchor standards describe the skills of graduating twelfth grade students, and are all included in the specific kindergarten through fifth grade standards at the appropriate developmental level for each grade. There are ten standards for reading, ten for writing, six in the area of listening and speaking, and six in language. These standards include reading closely for deeper meaning, analyzing details, interpreting and using evidence, integrating and evaluating content from various multimedia sources, writing routinely over extended time frames for different purposes using different forms of technology (including the internet), and more.  For a list of the specific 32 kindergarten through 12th grade language arts College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards.


  • reads and comprehends narrative and expository texts independently
  • reads narrative and expository text aloud fluently and accurately
  • uses context to predict the meaning of unknown words and phrases
  • refers to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicity and when drawing inferences from the text
  • compares and contrasts texts in terms of themes explored and text structures used
  • integrates information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably

Writing/Word Work

  • applies spelling knowledge to written work
  • applies grammar rules to written work
  • edits own work for conventions: uses correct capitalization and punctuation
  • writes independently with fluency (original ideas, thoughtful word choice, leads, and conclusions)
  • writes narratives using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences
  • writes informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly
  • writes opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons
  • revises own work for content


  • actively listens to speaker
  • follows agreed-upon rules for discussion
  • follows complex directions and instructions
  • makes relevant comments and questions during discussion
  • supports spoken ideas with evidence and examples in classroom discussions, oral presentations

The major shifts in mathematics education for all grade levels are the Standards for Mathematical Practice.  These standards are the same for kindergarten through 12th grade students.  The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe varieties of expertise that mathematics educators at all levels should focus on in developing their students. These practices rest on important “processes and proficiencies” with longstanding importance in mathematics education.  The 8 Math Practice Standards emphasize the importance of students’ ability to explain and apply mathematical concepts to solve a range of complex problems. The 8 Math Practice Standards also emphasize how to precisely construct viable arguments to support their own reasoning, and critique the reasoning of others.

Math Practice Standards

  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

For more information about the Common Core Math Practice standards visit

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

  • finds all the factor pairs for a whole number in the range of 1-100
  • generates a number or shape pattern that follows a given title

Numbers and Operations in Base Ten

  • memorizes to automaticity addition and subtraction facts to 20
  • memorizes to automaticity multiplication facts to 12 x 12
  • memorizes to automaticity division facts up to 144 ÷ 12
  • demonstrates an understanding of, and the ability to use, standard algorithms for multiplication of a two-digit number by a two-digit number
  • demonstrates an understanding of, and the ability to use, standard algorithms for division of multi-digit by one-digit numbers with and without remainders
  • reads, writes, rounds, orders, and compares whole numbers through the millions and decimals to hundredths place
  • solves multi-step word problems involving all four operations

Number and Operations–Fractions

  • reads, writes, rounds, orders, and compares decimals to hundredths place
  • reads, writes, rounds, orders, and compares fractions
  • writes tenths and hundredths in decimal and fraction notations
  • understands addition and subtraction of fractions
  • adds and subtracts fractions and mixed numbers with like denominators

Measurement and Data

  • applies the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles
  • knows relative sizes of measurement units within one system
  • makes a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit
  • understands concepts of angles and can measure them accurately


  • classifies 2-D figures based on presence or absence of parallel or perpendicular line
  • draws perpendicular and parallel lines and identify them in two-dimensional figures
  • draws points, lines, rays, and angles and identify them in two-dimensional figures
  • recognizes a line of symmetry for a 2-D figure

Problem Solving and Mathematical Reasoning

  • analyzes problems to make decisions about how to approach and solve them
  • evaluates the reasonableness of a solution in the context of the original situation
  • explains and justifies solutions using correct mathematical vocabulary
  • uses estimation to verify and evaluate the reasonableness of results

In Science, PAUSD uses the Full Option Science System (FOSS) program K-5. The program features a life, earth, and physical science hands-on unit at each grade level.  Teachers strive to integrate reading, writing, and math within Science. By focusing on informational writing and non-fiction text Science aligns more closely with reading and writing.  California has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and PAUSD is currently exploring these new standards and how they will influence teaching and learning.



Life Science

Earth Science

Physical Science


Animals 2 x 2


Wood and Paper


Plants and Animals

Air and Weather

Solids and Liquids


Insects and Plants

Pebbles, Sand and Silt

Balance and Motion


Structures of Life/Baylands

Sun, Moon and Stars

Matter and Energy



Solid Earth

Magnetism and Electricity


Living Systems

Water Planets

Mixtures and Solutions


Scientific Process Skills

  • Differentiate observation from inference (interpretation) and knows scientists’ explanations come partly from what they observe and partly from how they interpret their observations
  • Formulate and justify predictions based on cause-and-effect relationships
  • Conduct multiple trials to test a prediction and draw conclusions about the relationships between predictions and results
  • Construct and interpret graphs from measurements
  • Follow a set of written instructions for a scientific investigation

Physical, Life, and Earth, Science standards encountered through participation in units of study: Magnetism and Electricity, Environments, and Solid Earth

  • Understand that electricity and magnetism are related effects that have many useful applications in everyday life
  • How to design and build simple series and parallel circuits by using components such as wire, batteries, and bulbs
  • Electric currents produce magnetic fields and know how to build a simple electromagnet
  • All organisms need energy and matter to live and grow
  • Living organisms depend on one another and on their environment for survival
  • Ecosystems can be characterized by their living and nonliving components
  • The properties of rocks and minerals reflect the processes that formed them
  • How to identify common rock-forming minerals (including quartz, calcite, feldspar, mica, and hornblende) and ore minerals by using a table of diagnostic properties
  • Waves, wind, water, and ice shape and reshape Earth’s land surface

Palo Alto Unified School District adopted Social Studies Alive! by Teachers Curriculum Institute. This program is aligned with the California History Social Science Frameworks and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

This program truly engages students in learning. Student will be an active participant instead of a passive observer by experiencing history through imaginative teaching practices that include dramatic role playing, creative simulations, dynamic group projects, and writing from a historical perspective. Student’s program contains exciting lesson games, audio tools, and drawing activities, as well as an Interactive Student Notebook.

Social Studies Alive! California’s Promise presents five regions of the United States through the lens of four social sciences — economics, geography, political science, and history.

Visual and Performing Arts

Visual Arts

  • Describe how negative shapes/forms and positive space/forms are used in a chosen work of art
  • Use shading (value) to transform a two-D shape into what appears to be a three-D form
  • Use accurate proportions to create an expressive portrait or figure drawing or painting
  • Identify and discuss the content of works of art in the past and present, focusing on the different cultures that have contributed to California’s history and art heritage
  • Identify and describe how various cultures define and value art differently

Music and the Performing Arts

  • Read, notate, listen to and describe music
  • Sing songs with accuracy and use instruments to play rhythmic and melodic ostinatos
  • Sing and play songs from diverse cultures
  • Make judgments about the quality of a musical performance
  • Describe how music communicates ideas and moods
  • Identify the elements of form, pattern and rhythm in other art forms
  • Identify how music is created


Physical Education
  • Demonstrate skill in games leading to team activities
  • Participate in rhythm activities:  folk dances, jump rope
  • Participate in group games, relays
  • Demonstrate good health practices (e.g., nutrition, exercise, rest, health care)
Library Media Program


  • Information Literacy: Students learn to find, evaluate and use information in meaningful and responsible ways
  • Library and Information Usage: Students learn to practice ethical and responsible behavior
  • Literature Appreciation: Students learn to choose, enjoy and respond to a wide variety of literature