Grade 4 Overview
The three most important areas of focus for fourth grade are multi-digit multiplication and division, understanding fractions, and geometry.
Fourth graders will develop understanding of and fluency with multi-digit multiplication and division. Eventually, they should be comfortable with methods for multiplication and division that work quickly and accurately. This includes the usual procedures, as well as some which could be faster and more efficient in some cases or more understandable to the students. For example, 35 x 12 = 35 x 2 x 6 = 70 x 6 = 420. This not only helps when a calculator or pencil-and-paper are not available, but also helps to prepare students for algebra. To understand these processes, students will use pictures, arrays, and other methods to explain why they work.
Working with fractions is another key element of Grade 4 math. Students will use pictures to understand why fractions have many names for the same number (for example 1/2 is the same as 2/4 is the same as 3/6 and so on). Fraction multiplication promotes more advanced reasoning about multiplication and provides a basic understanding of what fractions are and how they work (for example, 1/2 = 1/2 x 1 = 1/2 x 2/2 = 2/4).
In Grade 4 students become proficient in using the traditional United States algorithm for addition and subtraction. This is the method of stacking numbers and “carrying” or “borrowing” that many parents today learned in school. The algorithm is another tool for computation, that at times is helpful and at other times is not necessary.
In geometry, fourth graders draw, identify, and measure lines and angles. The study of angles begins with the understanding that an angle is formed when two rays come out of the center of a circle, that the angles are a fraction of the circle, and are additive in their measurement. Additionally, shapes are defined by the presence of parallel or perpendicular lines, and lines of symmetry are discovered and drawn.