By Grade Four, students possess the solid academic skills needed to participate in more independent projects. Fourth grade students have developed into individuals who are better able to objectify their studies. For example, when studying Norse mythology, fourth graders use their new skills with fractions to create mathematically precise drawings of intricate geometric plaits and knots.
Noreen Crowley was born in New York City and raised in the surrounding area. She earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies (summa cum laude) from St. John's University in Queens, NY Shortly after discovering Waldorf education in 1996 at the Waldorf School of Garden City, she relocated to Florida and taught math and science at a charter school. As the school expanded, Noreen envisioned and created a middle school program. However, her heart was still with Waldorf education. Hence, she pursued and received her Waldorf teaching certificate from Antioch New England Graduate School. After teaching at a developing Waldorf school in Florida, Noreen and her family relocated to Decatur to join a more established school community. Having just graduated from Academe of the Oaks, her son is a thriving freshman at Oglethorpe University, while her daughter is attending a master's program at Columbia University. Noreen enjoys the close proximity to the mountains and the opportunity for hiking and camping in Georgia.
Grade Four Pedagogical Overview
In Grade Four, the transition from early childhood is complete. The children emerge with greater awareness, expressed in new confidence and great vigor. They want to experience the world from an individual standpoint, to find their particular place in the world. They develop a sense of where they are in relation to their environment, in both a social and geographical sense.
The fourth grade student is eager to learn more about their world, and they embrace new challenges with curiosity and enthusiasm. During the fourth grade year, students are challenged to extend themselves in every aspect of their work. Their growing interest in concrete knowledge is met through natural science, in a study of the animal kingdom in relation to the human being. The children also take up a thorough study of their surroundings in a Local Geography block, in which mapmaking skills are developed. Norse stories, meanwhile, present the children with images of diverse, strong-willed personalities all contributing to the social whole. Throughout this year, students are encouraged to take greater responsibility for their own learning. They complete several independent projects, and give their first formal presentations to the class.