Welcome to First Grade!
Here is an overview of our learning for the year.
Our reading comprehension curriculum is based on read-alouds that include both fiction and nonfiction texts. When reading fiction, students will learn to use a variety of strategies to enhance their comprehension. After reading, for instance, they will retell the stories with accuracy and detail. Doing so will ensure that they understand and remember important information.
Then, they will use the retelling to help them analyze the text. They will focus on how characters act and change within the story. They will also use the retelling to identify the story’s problem and solution, and then infer the lessons from the story. Students will be challenged to make connections from these lessons across texts and to their own lives.
When reading nonfiction, students will first learn about a variety of nonfiction text features that writers use to communicate information to the readers. These features include photographs, detailed drawings, diagrams, captions, close-ups, cutaways, insets, and maps.
Students will learn to apply reading comprehension strategies to nonfiction text. These strategies include identifying the main ideas and details and summarizing this information using a few words and quick sketches.
To help understand and remember this information, students will then analyze their notes by sorting it into categories. They may also compare and contrast information from different texts on the same topic. Finally, they will use what they have learned to answer questions or to make connections to their own lives.
Whether reading fiction or nonfiction, students will also learn to effectively communicate their thinking about the texts. They will learn to use evidence from the texts to justify their thinking. They will also learn to listen to others and elaborate on others’ ideas. At times, they will also respectfully disagree and use evidence from the text to explain why.
First grade students engage in daily instruction and practice in the phonics skills necessary to read and write new words. Instruction each week usually targets a vowel sound. During the first semester, the focus in on short vowel sounds; during the second semester, the focus in on long vowel sounds. Students learn to identify common spelling patterns for these sounds and to decode and encode words using them.
First grade readers have regular opportunities to work with their teacher in small groups. These groups are flexible, and change based on student interest and instructional focus. During these small group sessions, students read appropriately challenging fiction and nonfiction texts. With guidance from their teacher, students apply comprehension strategies and phonics skills to their own reading of text.
When not working with their teacher, students enjoy a variety of literacy activities. Primarily, they read books they have chosen from the classroom library. They may also engage in phonics practice, writing activities, or partner reading.
Our math curriculum focuses on problem-solving. Young mathematicians will learn to solve different types of problems of increasing complexity. To do so, they will learn to analyze the problems and use situation equations to represent them. Then, they will use a variety of math tools and strategies to solve them. Early in the year, these problems will be based on addition and subtraction through 20. Later in the year, students will extend their learning to include addition with 2-digit numbers.
Further, students will also learn to justify their reasoning and explain their solution processes when solving problems. They will also listen to their classmates’ explanations and ask questions as needed. Based on the explanations presented, students might then offer alternate solutions or suggest points at which errors were made.
To help students develop these mathematical practices, first grade teachers use the first weeks of school to foster “math talk communities” in their classrooms. Such communities are safe and supportive environments in which students can comfortably share their thinking and learn to offer and receive help from teachers and peers.
Throughout the year, students will learn and practice strategies that will help them develop computational fluency with addition and subtraction through 20. Playing math games is one method for helping students develop fluency.
First grade writers will explore personal narratives, information writing, and persuasive writing. For each type of writing, they will learn to write topic sentences, facts or events related to the topic, and then to add details. Later in the year, they will also learn to craft leads that hook the reader’s attention and conclusions that provide a satisfying ending for the reader.
Students will use the writing process to help develop effective pieces. They will first plan and draft initial versions. As the year progresses, they will also learn to share their first drafts with partners; these partners will ask questions and make suggestions to help them improve their drafts. Students will also begin to edit their writing, focusing on using appropriate capitalization and punctuation. Finally, they will publish their work—events often accompanied by classroom celebrations.
Our science curriculum uses hands-on investigations that enable students to use the scientific method. During the Balance and Motion unit, students will observe and compare how objects balance, spin, and roll. During the Insects and Plants unit, students will observe, compare, and contrast the growth processes of living things.
As part of our Social Studies curriculum, students learn about a variety of topics through hands-on experiences. During our Life Around the World unit, students will learn about daily life and traditions in various countries. They will create presentations based on their learning to share with their first grade classmates. During our Marketplace unit, students will explore basic financial concepts by making and selling products at a first grade market. During our Life Long Ago unit, students will learn American history through nonfiction texts and by building a model town that represents different periods of history. They will also learn about mapping as they draw maps of the model town.