What have we been learning about in Year 4

Unit of Inquiry

Our current unit of inquiry, Sharing the Planet, sees the Year 4 students inquiring into the central idea: Living things are connected to the places they live. As part of this inquiry, students have inquired into environments and their features, the interconnectedness of living things and the places they live, human impacts on the environment and solutions and actions that can help conserve and restore environments.

To connect with this inquiry, students have worked with Year 3 students to use scientific methods to assess the biodiversity of our campus. They looked at different areas of our school and scored the habitat according to the different environmental features they could notice. They then compared this to how much biodiversity (in the form of minibeasts) they could then observe in the space. Students were amazed to notice the difference in biodiversity between complex environments, such as our frog bog area and the oval. Through this process, students developed their research skills: the ability to gather and record data and interpret it.

As part of our unit of inquiry, we have also explored the connection between First Nations people and the environment. Reconciliation Week also happened to fall during this time, enabling us to connect with several experts and Indigenous people who could share their experiences and wisdom with us. We are incredibly grateful for the privilege of listening to their stories and learn from them.


Our current language unit centres around the idea that authors make choices to engage, excite and move their audience. As part of this inquiry, students have been engaging in student-led book clubs, taking on different roles each session, running their own meetings, formulating questions, and having rigorous discussions. A student-led book club not only enables students to develop their understanding of literature, but to develop collaborative skills, self-management skills and a sense of agency. They decide what to read, how much to read and hold each other accountable to be principled group members.

Alongside this, our students have been encouraged to explore narratives linked with our inquiry unit. They have been challenged to write narratives in which the character and the setting are intimately linked, helping deepen their understanding of the concepts of interdependence and causation. Check out this snippet from Asha's amazing story, in which we find our main character (a koala), observing something interesting from above.

"These tall, slender like children had a box with a honeycomb pattern on the side. They opened the box and they pulled a little stick and stroked it across the box. A flame rose out of thin air. They put the lit stick on the tree…"

This descriptive passage shows us the link between character and environment, and we can clearly see how the problem is evolving. We are also Asha taking on the perspective of another creature, inhabiting their voice and using descriptive language to imagine what it might be like to see novel things from a koala's perspective. Our class is filled with magnificent writers – please come and have a look at your child's narrative sometime, or ask them about how they are creating a vivid character and setting.


How would you solve the following equation 36 + 89 =? If like many adults, your mind goes straight for the vertical addition algorithm, you are not alone! But our fabulous students have spent years honing their mental addition strategies and can approach it from many different angles with many different strategies. One student added 30 and 80, then 6 and 9. Another rounded 89 to 90, then took one away at the end. Another gave one from the 36 to the 89, then added 35 and 90. Each of these strategies shows a different but deep understanding of our place value system and how numbers can be partitioned and regrouped to solve problems. We engage in number talks, where students share these strategies with each other, helping their peers develop fluency and reasoning skills.

This term, our students have been learning more formal ways of adding numbers, such as the algorithm, but have done so using the lens: What is the most efficient strategy for this problem? How could you check it? Does it match your estimation? With this grounding, students are developing remarkable accuracy, their reasoning skills and a really deep understanding of how our number system works, when different strategies are appropriate, and the mathematics that underpins them. Please encourage your children to continue to use their amazing mental strategies alongside these more formal methods, as both are vital in their growth as mathematicians.

Year 4 Teacher