Step into the world of 4Mo—grade 4 Molybdenum* that is. Bold and brave, as they call themselves in their self-created class song, Ms. Peck’s class is ready to tackle anything. We tagged along with Grace ’26 for a typical Wednesday and learned grade 4 at BASIS Independent McLean is awesome.
Though school doesn’t officially start until 8 AM, students need to drop off their backpack, lunch, and anything they don’t need for their first class in their locker. That’s where we meet the grade 4 Learning Expert Teacher (LET) Ms. Peck and Grace and learn Molybdenum, the element assigned to this class, is a strong metal. From there, the class goes to Community Meeting.
It’s the first of the month, so there’s Community Meeting with grades 1–4. Any other day, this time at the beginning of the day is for Class Meeting, where Ms. Peck leads discussions on the character focus of the month and helps builds class culture.
“Our goal with Community Meeting is to make our community better by showing your community values in your actions,” says Dean of Student Affairs for PreK–4 Ms. Crable, who leads Community Meeting. “November’s character focus is empathy. We asked ourselves ‘What does it mean to put yourself in someone else’s shoes?’” Ms. Crable challenged students to be more careful of other people’s feelings this month.
Math & Science
The first class of the day is Math & Science with Subject Expert Teachers (SETs) Ms. Baljee and Ms. McCullough! After writing about their upcoming test in our CJs, the class creates edible plant and animal cells. They use green jellybeans to represent chloroplast, Twizzlers to represent plasma membrane, and a marshmallow for a nucleus. Fun, delicious, and educational!
The entire 80 minutes today was science, but that’s the exception for special projects. Typically, the period is split 40 minutes for math and 40 minutes for science.
Time to get out some energy with the first of three 10 minute recesses! It’s still a pleasant fall temperature, so everyone is outside on the playground having fun.
Next is Humanities, which combines English and Geography. With the new month, Ms. Peck assigns new color groups, which identifies who the students sit with for the rest of the month. Everyone in the class is friends, so Grace didn’t care who was in her group, but the room was still filled with excitement about what the assignments would be.
As the Learning Expert Teacher (LET), Ms. Peck not only has a knowledge base of pedagogical techniques, but she moves from class to class with the students. In each class, there is also a Subject Expert Teacher (SET), who guides the subject matter being taught. The two teachers work together to provide students with flexible, individualized support and detailed subject knowledge. “That’s the bonus of having two teachers. There is always someone to answer your question,” says Grace.
After writing in their CJs, the class reviewed the homework on commas and the difference between primary and secondary sources. The class has been learning about Greek myths, especially Daedalus and Icarus, and used a passage from the myth to review in-text citations. SET Ms. Ataku is proud how well all the students are doing at this college-level technique. For geography, they learned about different landforms—oceans, rivers, gulfs, plains, valley, etc. There was no shortage of hands in the air to share examples of the different landforms they’ve been taught, such as the Rocky Mountains.
Mandarin is a quick 25 minutes every day. First, as in every class, students write in their CJ (Communications Journal). All grades and all classes use the CJ to improve organization and communication.
“The CJ is really helpful. If you forget the homework or what you did that day, just look at your CJ,” says Grace. “If your parents want to know what you did that day, your natural reaction is ‘nothing,’ so they can look at the CJ and see.”
SET Ms. Tozzi continues the class by leading a teacher-student exchange traditional in Chinese classrooms. The class is learning about family and practiced asking and answering “how many people are in your family?” In addition to working on pronunciation, this helps us practice numbers.
"Because our classes are 80 minutes, just one recess wouldn’t be enough, so we have three!” says Anna ’26, excited for the second chance to stretch her legs. Recess #2 is followed by lunch. Everyone gets to pick where they sit at lunch in the Great Hall. Grace and the five other girls we sit with are eager to share more about BASIS Independent McLean.
“This school is really good,” says Grace. “It’s fun because it’s school.” That comment gets a chorus of “Yes, school is fun!” and “I really like it” from around the table.
“I love the school,” says Ela '26, a founding student along with Grace and a majority of the class. “I realized there were really cool subjects here like Engineering and Mandarin. I thought the school would be more interesting than my other school,” says Ela. BASIS Independent McLean hasn’t disappointed her.
“NOOOOOOO,” multiple students lament as they line up for P.E. Physical Education usually isn’t as dreaded as it is today, but the 4th graders know what’s coming. After their CJ entry, we run the PACER test, a fitness test that involves running back and forth. Everyone was very supportive of their classmates while running. In the end, it wasn’t as bad as we’d feared, but everyone looks forward to getting back to basketball tomorrow.
After a final recess prepares the students for their afternoon classes, it’s time for READ. As the name implies, READ is usually a time when the class would relax and read a leisure book. Occasionally, like today, they do projects based on books or stories. Right now, they’re creating their own version of Henri Matisse’s “Icarus,” based on the myth they’ve been studying in Humanities and Connections class. The class is practicing procedural reading and following directions while working on this craft.
Wednesdays end with Visual Arts with Ms. Mauri. The class is learning about the elements of art. After reviewing color, they start a unit on value and create value scales.
“I came to BASIS because it looked interesting. It has all these subjects that not all schools have,” says Ginevra ’26.
Visual Arts is only once a week. Other days end with Music, Performing Arts, Engineering, or Connections. Connections and Engineering are BASIS Curriculum staples. The students kept asking us to come back for Engineering the next day because it was so fun. In Engineering, students develop problem solving, logic, and relationship skills through real world engineering projects. We were sad to miss it! Led by the LET, Connections helps students build critical thinking skills, while enriching and connecting lessons from other classes. Currently in grade 4 Connections, the class is creating their own city with laws and culture.
After a final trip to the lockers, 4Mo students go their separate ways—to pick up, to Late Bird (our afterschool program), or to a club. BASIS Independent McLean has more than 50 clubs, and Grace is a member of the Harry Potter Club, which meets today. Clubs allows students to get to know students in other grades and dive into a topic or subject they love.
It was a great day! We learned so much from shadowing Grace and had fun in the process. Before saying goodbye, we asked Grace about the school only being two years old. Grace loves that BASIS Independent McLean is a new school. “Everyone can learn together, make mistakes together, and create the community together,” she says. We couldn’t agree more!
We’re grateful for the 4th graders for making us feel like part of the class, but it’s not surprising because that’s what they do for everyone! We learned a lot and it’s clear 4Mo loves their teachers and classes.
Join us at Open House on December 2 at 10 AM to learn more about our primary program, meet members of our community, and hear directly from students. Does your student want to experience a day as a Red-Tailed Hawk? All students who’ve submitted an application may shadow a current student for a day. BASIS Independent McLean is a preschool-12th grade private school located in Tysons.
*At BASIS Independent McLean, all grade and class sections are named after an element on the periodic table.