Middle School (Second–Fourth Grade)

Fourth Grade (9/10s)

At Bank Street, our teachers rely on their deep knowledge of child development to design learning experiences for children ages 9 and 10 that build on their strengths and interests, encouraging them to draw meaningful connections to their studies that help them flourish academically, socially, and emotionally.

Where are 9- and 10-year-olds developmentally?

Below are a few examples of documented behaviors and capacities of 9- and 10-year-olds that inspire the foundation for our fourth grade program, in which students build increased independence and responsibility as they become advocates for important issues and welcome opportunities for self-directed learning. Our teachers recognize that each child develops in their own way and at their own pace, and understand how to individualize learning to leverage the strengths and experiences of each student.

  • Behaviors and Capacities of 9- and 10-Year-Olds


    9- and 10-year-olds often…

    • Are eager to learn and might be able to concentrate for long periods of time
    • Are able to listen well and appreciate other perspectives
    • Take pride in school work and may pay more attention to structure, direction, organization, spelling, dictation, and penmanship simultaneously


    9- and 10-year-olds often…

    • Need outdoor time for jumping, running, and other big coordinated movements as large muscles are developing quickly
    • Are ready to use more precise tools such as compasses, protractors, rulers, and templates


    9- and 10-year-olds often…

    • Feel generally at ease with families, peers, and teachers; may become irritable but can also be quick to forgive
    • Become more cooperative and flexible in group activities and games
    • Become more sensitive to and better at mediation, problem-solving, and issues surrounding fairness when interacting with friends

    Note: The patterns above are research-based and draw on the experience of Bank Street teachers and those that were documented for each age by Chip Wood in Yardsticks (Wood, Chip. Yardsticks: Child and Adolescent Development Ages 4 – 14. Center for Responsive Schools, Inc.; 4th edition, January 2, 2018)

How does our fourth grade (9/10s) program support your child’s development?

  • Program Overview

    Four 9/10s students smiling at the cameraProgram Overview:

    The fourth grade (9/10s) program focuses on developing a community of learners who are well-prepared for the challenges of Upper School. This year begins with an emphasis on building community as teachers and students establish routines, goals, and plans for learning as they continue through elementary school.

    In the 9/10s, students build increased independence, responsibility, and advocacy. They have greater opportunities for academic choice and self-directed learning. They are encouraged to reflect on their own choices in the classroom and in the community. And as Middle School leaders and role models, 9/10s begin meeting regularly with their 4/5s “buddies.”

    The core social studies curriculum in the 9/10s year explores the relationship between people and the environment through an interdisciplinary lens. The year begins with a study of food systems. Students learn about food insecurity and explore world biomes and environmental advocacy efforts to protect habitats and natural resources.

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  • Literacy, Library & Language


    9/10s student reading by window

    The Language Arts curriculum focuses on building a community of readers. Teachers and children offer input to build a classroom library. Novels, poetry, picture books, and informational texts are read aloud. Students choose books for independent reading, and a core focus of students’ library use is on nurturing a love of reading for reading’s sake. Student-led book groups in the spring build on the reading comprehension students have developed in the fall to focus on strategies for rich conversations about literature.

    Writing workshop begins by teaching students to use the writing notebook and provides them with tools for revising their work before publishing. Students share their work with each other and their teachers to receive feedback. Students master strategies for improving content and learn the mechanics of writing, such as spelling and grammar, as they explore different styles of writing and publish their work.


    Library work helps students build their information-finding skills to become increasingly independent library users. Students also have an opportunity to hone their critical reading skills by evaluating picture books for the Irma S. and James H. Black Book Award, which is presented by Bank Street’s Center for Children’s Literature. For this annual award, children in the 8/9s and 9/10s select four finalists after evaluating 16 current picture books, guided by the librarian and their classroom teachers. The 6/7s and the 7/8s read the four finalists and vote, along with students from hundreds of schools around the world, on the winning book.


    In the Spanish program in the 9/10s, students become actively involved in their language learning process through theme-based units that focus on culture, content, and context. Thematic units offer connections to the core curriculum, with a focus on climate and food.

  • Math, Science & Technology


    Two middle school students do math with cubes

    In mathematics, students begin the year reviewing and expanding on their understanding of multiplication and division. Explorations include:

    • Writing story problems and using array models to represent multiplication and division situations.
    • Collecting and analyzing data in graphs, and practicing how to make a rational argument supported by data.
    • Broadening their understanding of addition, subtraction, and place value using large numbers, writing story problems, and practicing efficient strategies.
    • Studying 2D and 3D geometry, fractions, and decimals.


    Science in the 9/10s year starts with an exploration of who scientists are and what they do, and begins with an investigation of ecosystems. Students observe the relationship between organisms and simulate the effects of pollutants on the environment. Students enhance their investigation skills by exploring measurement and refining their skills of measuring in inches, centimeters, and millimeters. In the spring, students explore different forms of energy—light and sound—and experiment with magnets and electricity, exploring circuits and learning how to use electricity to construct an electromagnet.

    The spring Human Growth and Development for 9/10s reviews the changes bodies go through during puberty.


    The Middle School technology program is developing quickly. The 9/10s classrooms use a range of technology for instruction, documentation, and collaboration.

  • Art, Shop & Drama

    Art, Shop & Drama:

    Child drawing on wood

    The integration of art into social studies, language, math, and science helps children make personal connections to their studies and continues to deepen their learning. The 9/10s curriculum includes:

    • Art in the 9/10s begins with an introduction to symmetry and design in painting and continues with painting from observation and painting to tell a story. A clay project of a figure supports children’s growing desire for realism.
    • In shop, students engage in projects that allow them to explore the nature of a “self-portrait” and express their sense of their inner self. Shop projects also present technical issues that offer students opportunities for creative problem-solving and skill building.
    • Students spend the year making fictional films. Students storyboard and work in groups to direct, shoot, and act in their own original movies. They learn rudimentary editing techniques using iMovie and explore sound and special effects techniques. Theater games, group pantomime, and improvisation sessions interspersed into the film units.
  • Music


    Middle School student singing in audience

    The music curriculum in the 9/10s focuses on these interconnected elements:

    • Singing continues to be the foundation of the music curriculum and all students participate in weekly chorus rehearsals.
    • Music literacy and instrument playing build on the recorder playing and reading skills acquired in the 8/9s. Students gain more fluency in reading and ensemble playing and explore instruments such as xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiel, as well as percussive instruments and hand chimes.
    • Movement/folk dances help students discover the connections between patterns in music and physical movement, while learning the art of collaboration, self-regulation, and listening.
    • In music appreciation, students learn about jazz, including its history, styles, and notable musicians.
  • Physical Education

    Physical Education:

    9/10s child shoots basketball

    For 45 minutes, three times a week, students meet in the gym and on the rooftop play area and learn to develop their strength and endurance through age-appropriate activities that provide the basis for a lifelong appreciation of movement, play, and fitness. The emphasis of physical education classes in the 9/10s is to develop social skills and appropriate team play. Students are introduced to skills and equipment and participate in a variety of team sports, including lead-up games in team handball, football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and softball. Students participate in stretching, aerobic, and upper-body strength exercises to increase fitness and prepare for fitness exams. Students also play competitive games and recreational tag games for a balanced approach to group play.


Social Justice and Advocacy

In the 9/10s year, the Racial Justice and Advocacy curriculum focuses on community conversations about issues such as classroom fairness and peaceful conflict resolution and incorporates activities within the Social Studies and Human Growth and Development units.
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