Your child and technology: what your fourth grader needs to know

Fourth graders use the Internet, educational software, and other tech tools to build on core learning.

By GreatSchools Staff

How technology enhances learning

Technology in the fourth grade classroom can introduce a rich, entertaining range of learning opportunities that engage young minds and get them excited about all aspects of the curriculum. Your child will use technological tools to enhance her understanding of language arts, science, social studies, math, and art. According to the Common Core Standards Initiative that the majority of states adopted in 2010-2011, fourth graders should master basic tech skills that are needed to complement learning in core subjects like reading, writing, science, and math. (Many teachers also follow the National Educational Technology Standards for Students.)

In fourth grade, your child will be building on essential reading skills, learning to the mechanics of essay writing, and exploring new concepts in math and science. While using technology is no substitute for mastering the multiplication tables or conducting research for a science project, it's an important tool to supplement classroom instruction. Even more important, technological literacy is essential for your child's future.

Tech skills your child should have by the end of fourth grade

Should haves:

Nice to haves:

  • Photo editing skills
  • Familiarity with Powerpoint or other presentation software
  • Familiarity with Excel or other programs to organize data and create graphs

Language arts with a tech twist

Once exclusively the realm of paper and ink, language arts gets an enormous boost from technology. Children in the fourth grade will learn how to write short opinion essays and informational reports, so doing research on the Internet, understanding how to evaluate sources, and learning about plagiarism are essential skills. Audio books and audio-enhanced text books allow fourth graders to immerse themselves in a culture of storytelling, fit more books into their busy lives, allow books to compete with other media for entertainment value, and get hooked on reading as a lifelong pleasure. Using a tablet or a computer, students can easily look up unfamiliar words to master new vocabulary and practice pronunciation. And digital book creation, video editing, and animation tools enable students to become authors of their own stories. A word processor — with grammar correction — can improve students' grammar and spelling as they write, by noting mistakes as they happen and offering corrections.


Math + technology = more learning

Technology helps kids master math concepts with games and apps that illustrate more complex multiplication and division, as well as fractions and geometric concepts. A host of educational apps ask children to touch and manipulate math concepts on the screen. Math-based computer games transform rote drills into games that take advantage of gaming fever to drill facts into memory. Online animations and multimedia lessons can turn a math lesson into entertainment that teaches as it enthralls; they also allow students to review a lesson whenever they wish. And the Internet brings concepts and teachers — fantastic teachers like Salmon Kahn of Khan Academy (which offers hundreds of video classes on math, science, and other subjects) — into the classroom to inspire young minds.


Spicing up science

In an Internet-connected classroom, science is as close as the whiteboard, monitor, tablet, or computer screen. In fourth grade, children can watch close-up footage or animation of the human body, dinosaurs, space, or cells. They can play with animated versions of the elements in the periodic table or simulations of tornados or the night sky. Websites like Khan Academy, Brainpop, DiscoveryEducation, and The Jason Project allow kids to access multimedia lessons and animations that transform science instruction into entertainment. And to help young students imagine themselves as scientists, the teacher can invite working scientists — virtually — into the classroom and let students ask researchers questions themselves. What’s more, students can even get an online lesson in computer science at Codecademy, where they'll learn the basics of computer coding. (Check out this story about why this is a good idea for your fourth grader’s future.)