Welcome to AAS Grade 4!


Learning at AAS

Welcome to the Anglo-American School of Moscow’s Grade 4 Team Blog. Here you will find what’s happening in Grade 4 classrooms, student work and much more. Please check back often and feel free to leave us a message with your ideas, links and good thoughts.

Senses Awakened

Fourth grade has been enjoying a variety of activities on offer during our Senses Awakened sessions, taking place on Thursdays and Fridays.  We started out with activities in our own classrooms at various energy levels.  Some of the activities on offer were art journaling, “Zendoodles”, coordination capers, yoga, dancing, and several other choices.

Our next step in the gradual release of responsibility model will be students selecting their own activities in other classrooms. Activities will be given an energy level rating of 1, 2, or 3 with 3 being most active.  If a student has the wiggles, they may want to choose a level 3 Senses Awakened with a lot of movement.  If they just need to relax and focus, they can choose a level 1 activity.  And a level 2 will be somewhere in the middle.

After the October break, students will get the chance to select the activity that best meets their needs.  Students really seem to be enjoying Senses Awakened as we focus and get ready for learning for the day.

Into the Woods and our second unit of inquiry

Central Idea:
Biodiversity depends on maintaining the interdependent balance of organisms within systems.

Lines of Inquiry:
What lines of inquiry will define the scope of the inquiry into the central idea?
– physical and behavioral adaptations of plants and animals
– events that affect the balance of an ecosystem
– consequences of imbalance within an ecosystem

Next week,  students will be exploring and making real-life connections to the study of ecology. The walks will revolve around, food webs, the cycles of life, and the impact of humans on ecosystems. This is a science rich and engaging unit. Just be sure to bring your boots and rain-jacket.

The Math Practices in Unit 1

This week your child received (will receive) the results of the first mid-module assessment in Math. You will note that in addition to assessing the responses on the written test, your child received feedback on a rubric that included both concepts and math practices.  The math practices are the “habits of mind” that students need to develop when they employ math strategies, talk about math and solve problems.

The Common Core describes eight math practices that students need to develop to be effective problem solvers and ready for 21st century jobs. These eight practice standards span grades K-12. Students’ abilities in these math practices develop as opportunities are provided. Throughout the year, students will receive regular feedback on their growth, and, as they become more familiar with these practices, will also self-assess their own progress.

In this first unit, we are focusing on five of the math practices.  Read below to see how each may be developed and shown within this unit.

MP.1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Students use the place value chart to draw diagrams of the relationship between a digit’s value and what it would be one place to its right, for instance, by representing 3 thousands as 30 hundreds. Students also use the place value chart to compare large numbers.

MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Students make sense of quantities and their relationships as they use both special strategies and the standard addition algorithm to add and subtract multi-digit numbers. Students decontextualize when they represent problems symbolically and contextualize when they consider the value of the units used and understand the meaning of the quantities as they compute.

MP.3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. Students construct arguments as they use the place value chart and model single- and multi-step problems. Students also use a standard algorithm as a general strategy to add and subtract multi-digit numbers when a special strategy is not suitable.

MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. Students decide on the appropriateness of using special strategies or a standard algorithm when adding and subtracting multi-digit numbers.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-8-35-26-pmMP.6 Attend to precision. Students use the place value chart to represent digits and their values as they compose and decompose base ten units.

These five, as well as the other three practice standards, will be addressed again during other units.  It is important to understand that students will develop these over time.


Reading as a Social Act

You may not have known it but last Monday, teachers were quietly swept away from their classrooms and took a few hours to work with the preeminent Kathy Short, creator of the reading practice known now as literature circles. The main takeaways from that afternoon reaffirmed our position on reading. First, reading is a social act, where big ideas and understandings are discussed, and clarified. Learning and reading requires a balanced approach: learning literacy, learning about literacy and learning through literacy (see below diagram).

In grade four, possibly one of the biggest developments is that student move from recalling the events in a book toward interpreting events and the author’s message; supporting their position with evidence from the book.

“How can I help?” asks the active parent. There are several strategies that we hope you will use at home; but at the heart of it is good modelling of reading and enjoyment of a shared book. Sharing books that you were inspired by when you were a child is great engagement; or finding a book like Harry Potter or Charlotte’s Web, that you both can read and discuss will give your child a great chance to connect to the book and yourself as a reader.

Systems and Systems of Systems

Unit One: How We Organize Ourselves


Central Idea: People create systems to support human endeavor and enterprise.

Key Concepts: Function, Causation and Connection

An inquiry into:

  • What a system is
  • The purpose and function of systems
  • How systems connect with each other
  • The Design of Systems


In this 5 week unit, students begin the year by inquiring into how human-made systems help to organize our own lives, globally, within our community, and within our own lives. Global examples include the International Space Station, the scientific method, and the base-ten system. Community systems may include transportation, or scheduling. Personal systems may be as simple as daily routines.


Students will be assessed in the following areas:
Transdisciplinary Skills: Thinking skills:Comprehension, Analysis, Evaluation; Social Skills:cooperating, group decision making, adapting a variety of group roles (within a system)

Mathematical Mindset and Unit 1

In these first weeks of the term, grade 4 students have been exploring mathematical mindset. We have watched a series of videos produced by Stanford University, which have focused on debunking common myths about math and developing a growth mindset in this subject.  Here is a short video for you that highlights some of the key messages of this course.  Ask your child to reflect on these lessons with you. (Note: You may need to open this post in your web browser to see the video.)

Students have also been learning the expectations of class routines and engaging in Math.

In our first Math unit, students are focused on reviewing and developing their number sense and using place value to support their work with operations.  The following links outline the big ideas and math models of this first unit and give you additional problems to try with your child.

Unit 1 Overview

We hope these will be useful to those who wish to develop deep math understanding with their child. Let us know if you have any questions.