RCPS Math Curriculum - Grade 4

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Fourth Grade Math Teaching Strategies

4th Grade Essential Diet for Math


Develop readiness for learning/mental math activity: (5 min. 2 or 3 times a week)

Review- check homework together, answer questions and work out problems missed by many (10 min.)

State 1 objective per lesson each day

Introduce new material (25-35 min.):

  • Demonstration/modeling
  • Hands on/manipulatives
  • Partner math/group work (cooperative learning

Independent practice of several (3-5) problems

Check by oral response, teacher observation, partner check, etc. (5-10 min.)

Summation by either teacher or student (1-2 min.)

Homework-(except Friday*) (5-10 min.)

Suggestions: Assign quality (or a variety of) problems rather than a large quantity. Also, allow a few minutes for students to begin the assignment to ensure understanding of the new concept.

*Fridays are used for reinforcement, review of weekly or cumulative material, not to introduce a new concept. Friday activities may include math relays, timed tests, quizzes, games, etc.




Students are divided into 2 -5 teams (at least 4 members per team). Each member takes a turn representing his/her team at the board. The teacher gives a problem orally and one member of each team works the problem on the board simultaneously. The first person to finish with the correct answer wins a point for their team.

The second team member goes to the board and the game continues.


These are used for one basic operation per test (addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division). Provide

3-5 minutes per test, depending on the number of problems (25-50) and how long the students have been working with that operation. Decrease the amount of time as the skill level improves.


The importance of using and teaching the appropriate vocabulary cannot be overemphasized. Keeping a math notebook is one way to handle this. The students use the notebook to work their homework and to "take notes". The vocabulary words can be marked with tabs or with the sticky dots on the edge of the page and turned back. Teacher use and student use of the vocabulary on a consistent basis is a must.





Using Teaching Tool Sheet #12 (Silver Burdett Ginn basal series) have your students work in two groups. The low group works with teacher direction and has two numbers already placed into the chart(s) to work with for correct place/position. The last three numbers can be given orally as a check for understanding. The high group is given numbers to input correctly into chart(s) on their own which can be written on the board or place on a separate handout. Put both groups together for the difference in the value of a number.

This activity can then lead into expanded numbers quite easily as they can than relate place value to what they've previously done. The number charts also can be used for comparison of numbers, especially by the low students.

The Cornerstone Software lesson that goes along with place value also includes decimals so you may wish to do this later. The Teaching Tool Sheet #13 can be used then.


Children find place value difficult when hit first thing in the fall after a long summer break. Some teachers like to begin with Chapter 2 (addition and subtraction) to give students review and success!




Instead of the BOSS system for teaching rounding try a rounding mountain. Make a poster size "rounding mountain." The mountain is a zigzag line down the paper. On the bottom of the mountain, skip count by the place value you are rounding to. If you are rounding to the tens place your numbers along the bottom should be 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100. On the top of each peak should be 5, 15, 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, 85, and 95. Then teach children to use it like they would any number line. Finally, give the children a number to round such as 63. Find 63 on the number line. If you were climbing a mountain and fell at 63 would you roll back to 60 or up and over to 70.




Using Teaching Tool Sheet #8 (prepared input/output tables), you can use these to get facts practiced and also the algebra component introduced. Usually I want to put in my own numbers for at least 1/2 of this page. First give the rule, sometimes give the input, and in others give the output. After the students get the concept, you can then give a variety of inputs/outputs so they need to work front to back and then vice versa. By the time you have done 6-8 examples, the students can then do some of their own and exchange with another student to complete. Make this activity a game, as a mystery to solve!

Extend the activity to include number sentences with a missing factor or product (ex. 3 x N=9, N x 3=9, 3 x 3=9) (pre-algebra)


Math is relational; you build on prior knowledge.

Have students see that when numbers increase, you add or multiply; when they decrease you subtract or divide.

When teaching multiplication find an assortment of plastic animals, bugs, spiders etc. Then use the animals on your overhead and create multiplication problems. For example 8 x 4 = ? If I have 4 spiders and they each have 8 legs how many legs do I have?



Fact Houses are a neat way to get the children to know and review multiplication facts. Using a house outline drawn on colored paper with tabs added below to hide the answers, the children make their own study aid for difficult facts. If they work in partners with different colored paper, one exchanges his tabs for his partner's so the tabs stand out on the house. The roof is labeled with the House (the House of 7's, for example), and the room shows tabs with the facts (7x1, 7x2, etc.) with the correct answer written beneath. With a room full of students you will have a variety of houses for exchange or sharing!


Suggest progression of Chapters 3,5,6, and 8 for instruction with multiplication and division working together.





Instead of simple spending part of one 6 week period on Measurement, integrate a measurement activity into your lesson plans 2 or 3 times a month. This allows students more practice with measurement so that when it comes time to teach the chapter in the math book you will not be pulling out your hair. AIMS has some great activities that are not time consuming or complex.




Long division is very difficult for the lower math students. mnemonic devices are helpful. The long division process follows a repeating pattern that can be remembered through the use of the following verse:





The D in Dad represents the operation divide

The M in Mom represents the operation multiply

The S in Sister represents the operation subtract

The B in Brother means bring down the next number


Variation: Dad (divide)

Mom (multiply)

Sister (subtract)

Cousin (compare number with divisor)

Brother (bring down)


Students write the D at the top of their paper and refer to it as needed.




Remind students that each number in the dividend must be "covered up" by a number in the quotient. (Three numbers in the dividend means three numbers in the quotient). The exception is when the divisor is larger than the first number in the dividend (example 321 divided by 4). In that case, have students place an X over the 3 to hold the place and indicate that it is not divisible.

For the student who has trouble with lining up his /her numbers and keeping them straight in the long division process, the grid paper (Teaching Tools #4: Centimeter grid or #3: 1/4 inch grid) can be used. This encourages the student to be neater in working the problems.




ACTIVITY #1-Fraction Strips

Make copies of Teaching Tool #21: Fraction Pieces for lower math students. Have students color each strip a different color and then cut out the individual fraction portions. These can then be stored in a zip lock bag for Equivalent Fraction activity (see below).

Make copies of Teaching Tool #20:Fraction Strips for higher math students. Have students label blank strips, color, and cut out individual portions. Store in a zip lock bag for use in the Equivalent Fraction activity (see below).


ACTIVITY #2-Equivalent Fractions

The lower math students would use their fraction strips to find as many equivalent fractions as possible for the following: 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/6. These should be glued on construction paper and labeled (1/2 = 4/8) above or below the fraction strips.

The higher students use their fraction strips to find as many equivalent fractions as possible.

1/2 = 2/4 = 3/6 = 4/8 = 5/10 = 6/12.

These should be glued on construction paper and labeled. Encourage students to find more than pairs. They should make the connection that 1/2 has many equivalencies.



When finding a common denominator (example: for the problem 1/3 + 1/4) students make a small sideways T:

3 3, 6, 9, 12

4 4, 8, 12

Write the first denominator (3) on top and the other (4) below the line. Then skip count with those two numbers until you find a matching number :3, 6,9,12 and 4, 8, 12. Students circle the 12s and use that as the common denominator.

Encourage students to simplify/reduce fractions by dividing out using the following:

a. first try using the numerator itself (4/12 can be simplified by dividing both numerator and denominator by 4)

b. then try dividing by 2, 3, or 5


To help students remember the denominator is underneath in a fraction, explain that the word denominator begins with a "d", which stands for "down under".




Using geoboards (usually accessible from earlier grade level teachers!), have the students show one type of polygon several times with the rubber bands, overlapping is suggested. Next, using Teaching Tool Sheet #7, the student draws (using the top half of the sheet only) what is shown on the geoboard using colored pencils.

Secondly, one example of each common plane figure can be shown on the geoboard (triangle, rectangle, pentagon, square, hexagon, and octagon). Again, using the Teaching Tool Sheet #7 (bottom half), draw what was shown on the geoboard.

Extend this activity by using graph paper to show different designs (draw an animal using only triangles) or with polygons having specific measurements (ex. A square with 4 cm. sides). Teaching Tool Sheets #3 or 4 can be used.



Children are usually introduced to space figures after plane figures and need to see the difference with these 3-D figures. Teaching Tool Sheets #29-#34 can be used for a hands-on activity. Copy enough sheets for each child to have their own sheet/figure and have a variety available. They will color and cut out the figure, but before gluing it together they can label each side (with a partner) using a descriptor for that particular figure. (Ex. On the square pyramid the descriptors may be: 1) a square base 2) 4 triangular sides, 3) 5 faces 4) right angles are shown on the base 5) acute angles are shown on the sides.


Children usually enjoy geometry! It is good to have these lessons in the spring right before SOL testing as quite a few questions seem to be from this category.

Point out to the students that the word perimeter includes the word "rim". The "t" in the word represents a plus/addition sign. Thinking about "rim +" reminds the students to add the measurements of the rim to find the perimeter.




Problem Solving - All review 4th grade strategies needed for 5th SOL test questions.

Practice, Reteach, and Extend pages are pictured on Teacher's Manual lesson page and in folder.