4/5 Curriculum – Year B

In order to accommodate our multi-age classrooms, the curriculum at Aurora rotates over a two year span. What follows is a look at the curriculum for 2015-2016 (Year B). Click here for an overview of Year A.

Social Studies

The theme of this year is “What is civilization?” and the focus is on the landscape and human history of North America. During this year, the 4/5s explore topics including:

  • The geography of North America and how it affects human and human populations;
  • Native American tribes of North America before the arrival of Europeans;
  • The arrival in North America of European explorers and exploiters;
  • The arrival in North America of enslaved Africans;
  • The cultural encounters between North American Indians, Europeans, and Africans and their legacies;
  • The English, French, Dutch, Spanish, and Russian colonization of North America;
  • Early collisions between European colonies as well as the original 13 English colonies; and
  • The Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. During the year, students also memorize the capitals and locations of all 50 US states as well as the Preamble to the US Constitution.

Possible field trips:

  • Museum of the African Diaspora
  • de Young Museum’s American painting collection
  • Walker Creek Ranch overnight



This year, the 4/5s:

  • Practice extracting information from nonfiction texts, including using quotations, making inferences, and paraphrasing;
  • Examine the ways historical fiction can offer insights into historical periods and events;
  • Compare and contrast the way authors use characters, settings, voice, vocabulary, and tone;
  • Consider how visual elements contribute to a reader’s impressions and understandings;
  • Support their opinions about books and other media;
  • Experiment with reading different genres;
  • Learn about such structures as chronology, comparison, and cause and effect; and
  • Read and reflect on Morning Girl by Michael Dorris, New Found Lady by Allan Wolf, and various in-class read alouds.

This year in Word Study, the 4/5s:

  • Build vocabularies, practice reading comprehension, and learn to answer questions in complete sentences making inferences from reading using lessons in Wordly Wise workbooks (levels 4 and 5);
  • Practice cursive both in Handwriting without Tears (levels 4 and 5) and in writing assignments;
  • Focus on general academic, domain-specific, and personally interesting vocabulary words;
  • Have mini-lessons on specific spelling rules and utilize weekly spelling lists;
  • Practice using dictionaries, glossaries, and thesauruses;
  • Have mini-lessons and practice with such topics as antonyms, synonyms, homophones, parts of speech, Greek and Latin roots and suffixes, verb tense, and writing conventions.


This year, the 4/5s continue practicing the writing process by collecting ideas, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing their work. They also:

  • Write increasingly focused narratives using dialogue and detailed descriptions;
  • Learn to use increasingly varied and complex sentence structures while focusing on such devices as transitional phrases, punctuation, and adverbs;
  • Practice writing expository paragraphs;
  • Mini-lessons on elements of fiction writing, in coordination with reading and culminating in a fiction-writing writing project;
  • Experiment with dialogue and poetry; and
  • Practice supporting their opinions and conclusions by citing facts and using information extracted from sources.

In addition, we will use curriculum resources from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project to explore realistic fiction, expository essays, and persuasive writing.

The 4/5s do a number of writing projects to practice their skills and build their knowledge through investigations and research as part of their work in social studies and science.


Math in the 4/5s is taught by grade level using the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum.

    5th Grade

  • Multi-Digit Multiplication and Division
  • Geometry and Measurement
  • Multiplication and Division
  • Probability and Data Analysis
  • Fractions, Decimals and Percentages
  • Algebraic Thinking

    4th Grade

  • Multiplication and Division
  • Place Value and Multiplying Multi-Digit Numbers
  • Fractions and Dividing Multi-Digit Numbers
  • Geometry and Measurement
  • Probability and Data Analysis
  • Working with Decimals
  • Basic Algebra


This year, the 4/5s will:

  • Expand their knowledge of the solar system and the universe;
  • Explore magnetism;
  • Learn about the human body and some of its systems; and
  • Examine the effect human beings have on nature.

As a complement to the human body unit, the 4/5s have a puberty education unit, an in-depth discussion of gender, and a presentation by a panel of LGBTQ adults.

Possible field trips:

  • Richmond Transfer Station
  • NASA’s Ames Research Center
  • Chabot Space & Science Center

Social-Emotional Learning

In the 4/5s, students focus on their own role as part of a community using the Responsive Classroom core principles of CARES: Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control. They also spend time thinking about their own thinking and building their learning toolkit using Harvard University’s Project Zero’s Habits of Mind as well as Dr. Sandra Kaplan’s Habits of a Scholar.