Calais Elementary School

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4th - Literacy

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4th - Literacy

I.    Literacy Goals and Expected Outcomes


Fourth Graders experience reading through literature. Students are grouped based on assessments such as the Fountas & Pinnell reading assessment, fluency testing, and NECAP scores. Instruction is differentiated according to individual needs. Over 10 instructional hours per week are spent on literacy and language arts.

Our literacy block times starts with a literacy plan check-in. Students and teacher discuss what the time will look like and what activities are to be worked on that day. Mini-lessons are delivered several times per week. Many of these lessons are on the teaching and learning of reading strategies. We read every day in 4th grade. Some students read totally independently, some read in small guided reading groups, and some work in small focused groups with more specific instruction. All students respond to literature in reading logs (one for in-school and one for at-home). All students participate in literature discussion groups.This gives everyone a chance to ask questions, share favorite parts, discuss new words, and listen to what other 4th graders think about the text. Students are expected to read at home each evening for at least 20 minutes and to read at least 25 books in one school year. Read aloud is another important part of literacy. Listening to well-written books is such an excellent way to learn about new authors and to extend knowledge connected to our themes. Many of the 4th graders reading choices are connected to and integrated with social studies.


Possible Themes:

§       Vermont – study of history, geography & government.

Book choices: Green Mountain Hero, As Long as There are Mountains, The Bones on Black Spruce Mountain, Nature’s Children (non-fiction)

§       Immigration- where our ancestors came from, why, who came to

Vermont, Ellis Island

Book choices: The Orphan of Ellis Island, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, Seedfolks, Hello! My Name is Scrambled Eggs, New Kids on the Block, Esperanza Rising, Journey to America, Immigrant Kids and more

Author studies- an author is chosed to study and several books are then read and discussed for author’s style. Some of these authors are Karen Hesse, Roald Dahl and Jerry Spinelli.

§       Poetry – every year students become immersed in reading and writing

poetry. A book of poems is created and shared. Reading and discussing a poem every day is another often used way to all students to get excited about this beautiful way to express thoughts.



Fourth graders’ writing program is one delivered with a s strong reading-writing connection. Through the tool of a ‘painted essay’ model, students learn to write responses to literature and reports. Explicit teaching, modeling, looking at benchmark writing pieces and lots of practice are the hallmarks of this program. Students learn to make connection to their writing, to plan their responses through the use of graphic organiaers, and to assess their own work. Students learn how to take notes for reports using the essay form and they also learn how to present this information through PowerPoint presentations. Narrative writing is taught through our reading as we keep charts of story elements and story maps. Students also learn how to write a procedure piece. Students become part of a writing group as they share writing pieces and help each other to revise their stories or responses. All students become familiar with the Vermont rubrics for assessing their pieces. All students keep portfolios of certain pieces of writing and all students written every day in some way. Writing pieces are scored using the state of Vermont’s rubrics for responses to literature, reports, narratives and procedure pieces.


                                    Spelling and Vocabulary

Students are given two spelling assessments each fall to determine their spelling level. One of these is an assessment aligned with the spelling program, Scholastic Spelling, and one is the Developmental Spelling assessment. Spelling is then differentiated as needed. Students are introduced to new words every week and have a min lesson around the rule or spelling concept introduced. Every spelling lesson begins with 2 sentences put on the board with mistakes. Students write them and we correct them together and have discussions about English language conventions. Also, all 4th grade students work in the Wordly Wise vocabulary program. Students are placed according to reading level. The program teaches new words and multiple meanings of words. The weekly words are used in a non-fiction narrative with comprehension questions as well. Fourth grades students also use the test to make margin notes or note key words. Weekly spelling tests are given. Comprehension questions are scored.