English Language Arts (ELA) Curriculum – Grade 4

The Language Arts–reading literature and informational texts, writing, speaking, listening and language–are a major part of students’ elementary school program. The goal of Guilderland’s Language Arts program is to develop literate students in the 21st century. 

Students read and write every day for various purposes and receive frequent written and oral feedback from their teachers and peers. Instruction occurs individually, in small groups and whole class settings. 

Students are expected to read and understand more complex material and write and speak with more sophistication as they progress through the grades. Students will read and respond to texts from a diverse range of authors, genres, cultures and perspectives. Attention to Language Arts skills and strategies is integrated into student learning throughout the day.


The purpose of reading is to make meaning from written material. It is a highly complex act of communication requiring active involvement.

The overall objective of reading instruction is to develop motivated readers who process written language efficiently and derive meaning from what they read. 

In Grade Four, reading instruction builds upon previous learning and adds focus on the following skills while processing increasingly complex texts:

  • Reading literature and informational texts 
  • Building reading stamina
  • Understanding perspectives different from their own, including settings, characters, and issues
  • Determining theme, central message and key ideas using text evidence 
  • Identifying variations in structure within narrative and informational texts
  • Effectively engaging in a range of collaborative discussions (for example, in partnerships, book clubs, whole group) to construct new understandings.
  • Comparing and contrasting points of view from which different stories are narrated
  • Reading with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension
  • Determining the meaning of new words and phrases, adding to their ever expanding vocabularies

Progress in reading is assessed formally and informally throughout the year.  In addition, students will take the New York State ELA Assessment. 


The goal of Guilderland’s writing program is to develop students who can write competently and with confidence. Guilderland recognizes that writing is a complex process, and its writing program addresses the following student learning objectives:  

  • Students have choice of topic, genre, structure and audience for their writing
  • Students efficiently use writer’s notebooks as a tool for gathering ideas for writing
  • Students have frequent opportunities to write and receive a great deal of appropriate instruction and feedback
  • Students realize that their lives, ideas and interests are worth writing about
  • Students know that audience and purpose will influence decisions they make about their writing
  • Students recognize the qualities of good writing and know how to evaluate their own work
  • Students increase writing stamina

In Grade Four, writing instruction builds upon previous learning and adds focus on:

  • The writing process (with an emphasis on organization, purpose, audience, and craft) 
  • Informational writing using research and various text structures
  • Opinion writing
  • Narrative writing
  • Responding to literature
  • Producing and publishing using technology (including the internet) with some support

Students are expected to produce a variety of writing pieces throughout the year. They will complete their work with attention to the qualities of good writing, correct spelling and mechanics. 

Progress in writing is assessed through individual conferencing, writing rubrics and review of the students’ writing portfolios. 


The expectation of all written work is that it should be legible, appropriately spaced, and organized in terms of line and space on the paper.

Spelling and Word Study

In Grade Four, students are expected to read and spell most high-frequency words correctly and use basic word study principles to help them read and spell multisyllabic words.  They will use resources such as a dictionary, thesaurus and/or technology.

Students will engage in a word study approach that includes the development of phonics, spelling, word recognition and vocabulary.

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