Grade 4: A year of many firsts

At B.D. Somani, Grade 4 is a pivotal year in many ways. On the Primary school calendar, Grade 4 has some of the most important dates. The excitement among Grade 4 students is obvious from the beginning of the school year forward, from their first on-campus sleepover through their first off-campus trip and StuCo (Student Council) elections.
Our students’ capacity for abstract thought grows in Grade 4. They become more accountable and begin to have a more expansive sense of who they are. They also become more conscious of their position in the larger community, both inside and outside of the school.
The sleepover may be some of our Grade 4 pupils’ first overnight stay away from their parents, but excitement outweighs any anxiety. They attend class on the day of the sleepover and return in the early evening, eager to have a terrific time. Our teachers prepare a number of games and activities to keep them occupied until dinnertime. After dinner, they have time for unstructured play and reading before retiring for the evening.
The sleepover for Grade 4 prepares the students for the longer “Learning Without Walls” excursion to the Magic Bus Learning Center in Karjat. In addition to improving their athletic capabilities and environmental awareness, kids can learn life skills on this three-day excursion.
The excursion pushes their physical and mental limits and inspires teamwork and problem solving. Through basic actions like keeping their bags organised and washing their dishes after every meal, the vacation also teaches them to be responsible toward oneself and thoughtful of those around them.
Students in Grade 4 have the chance to participate in school government. Students from grades 4 and 5 vote to elect a new Student Council to represent our Primary School each year. This is the first time our Grade 4 students encounter elections and get a taste of what it means to vote. They go over specific job descriptions in class with the assistance of their teachers, along with the qualities that are required to be successful in these professions.
Before considering whether to run for office, they compare themselves to these profiles. To persuade other fourth graders to cast their votes for them, they prepare “campaign speeches”. They hone their presentations in class and get input on how to make them better from their classmates. The entire activity is a great approach for children to learn their place in a bigger civic community and their own self-awareness.
Our Grade 4 curriculum places a strong emphasis on the humanities. In Grade 4, students study Mumbai as a case study and learn about its people, geography, history, and culture. They uncover a Mumbai they were unaware of using the B.D. Somani toolkit of inquiry, investigation, and collaboration.
Discussions naturally spawn questions and inquiry, which are then followed by field trips that provide a fully immersive educational experience. Many of the preconceived beliefs that students had before leaving for these tours are frequently proven false. This prompts investigation into other urban communities as well as the many motives for emigration to Mumbai. In the post-pandemic classroom, migration of labourers within India has emerged as a topic that generates considerable interest among students. By using Mumbai as an example of concept-based inquiry, they are encouraged to learn about other cities and communities across the globe in comparison.
Through an investigation of their own context as members of the Grade 4 community and the greater school community, students are introduced to the concept of community. They discover how similar cultures, philosophies, and experiences can cause communities to converge.
Aspects of literacy, science, and even math are blended with our main study of Mumbai. In many instances, experts from different fields are invited to speak with students and share their perspectives.
Students utilise the globe to comprehend the shifts in time zones. They acquired timeline-keeping skills through gardening. They each create a timeline of their first nine years of life, which is useful as they study historical civilizations in Grade 5. Students are also introduced to the concept of maps and mapping spaces, and their discussions often cover tools like Google Maps and Google Earth, which they are already familiar with.
For our Grade 4 teachers, experiencing Mumbai from the viewpoint of our pupils frequently surprises them and reveals mysteries about the city that even they were unaware of. For both students and teachers, learning in Grade 4 is a year filled with many firsts.
Once students returned to physical classrooms after two years of online learning, they were extremely enthusiastic about meeting their peers and learning together. Their concentration levels improved and so did their capacity for creativity and innovation. At the same time, in the initial days, they took some time to develop an awareness of where they were and what behaviours were appropriate within the classroom. Being fast learners, their sense of discipline quickly evolved.
In class discussions, Grade 4 students often bring up their knowledge and information from the world outside the classroom, and use them to explore topics studied in class. They also become more comfortable with abstract thinking. For example, for Science investigations they discuss the concept of Energy and are able to understand how energy is available all around us. In Number Talk, they are keen to understand how problems can be solved in different ways.
Grade 4 students also become more comfortable with digital tools – they make presentations with easy to use software like Canva, and some even create videos instead of making PPTs.
Grade 4 acts as a gateway for the more sophisticated curriculum of Grade 5 and beyond. Students are guided in a slow but steady manner so that they can ease into the next level of academic growth, as always with their curiosity at the center.
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