What will my child be learning in first grade?
Your child's curriculum consists of the Common Core Learning Standards, which were adopted by New York State a few years ago. We use a variety of series and programs to make sure that we are meeting the the standards for your first grade child. Below you will find a brief summary of the different content areas that we will be studying.
Math- Our district recently purchased the Common Core aligned math series, Expressions. While many of the things that your child will be learning are things that we learned when young, the series offers a variety of different methods to go about determining the answer. Some of these methods are completely new and can therefore be a bit confusing if you haven't had experience with them. Please check my "Math Mania" link for short videos that explain some of the unique strategies that we teach the students. New videos will be added throughout the year. In addition to the math short videos, the series comes with "Letters to the Parents" with each new unit. Please keep an eye out in your child's binder for these sheets to learn about the new strategies we are using.
Our math lessons usually entail a brief review of the previous day's lesson, a introductory lesson, guided practice, and a practice worksheet. If there is any extra time, the students can utilize the math tubs that have review games and activities in them.
ELA- Our ELA curriculum focuses on a balanced literacy approach. This includes guided reading, shared reading, independent reading, word study, and read alouds. In our room, we use the Daily 5 model in order to effectively utilize our time to meet in small groups with our students. To learn more about the Daily 5 model, please visit the "ABCs of Room 111" link on my website. We also use a variety of resources to provide the children with quality literature to meet the expectations of the CCLS English and Language Arts requirements. Throughout the day your child will be immersed with opportunities to strengthen their ELA skills.
The word study component of our balanced literacy approach will be focused on the implementation of the Words Their Way program. This will take the place of the weekly spelling lists that first grade students have had in the past. Instead, students will be assessed at the beginning of the year to see which developmental spelling stage they currently fall in. Then, using the data gathered from the assessment, groups will be formed of like level students. Students in each group will be given a word sort every two weeks to focus on. The sort contains words that fall within a particular phonetic pattern. Children will have numerous opportunities over the two weeks to sort and learn the spelling pattern and words (both at home and at school). Then, at the end of the two weeks they will have a spelling test based on the word sort. To learn more about the Words Their Way program, please visit the Words Their Way website
Part of our ELA curriculum will also involve your child learning and mastering sight word vocabulary. Sight words are especially important as they are words that are found frequently in texts yet also (in most cases) words that don't always follow regular phonetic rules, thus making them difficult words to sound out or decode. By mastering their sight words, your child will become a stronger reader. This year our district has decided to use the Dolch Sight Word lists. Kindergarten students will learn the pre-primer list, first grade students will focus on the primer and the first grade lists, and second grade students will work on mastering the second grade list. We will be assessing your child's sight word knowledge at the beginning of the year and then using that data to select five words each week for them to work on mastering at home and at school. Each Friday your child will be quizzed on their five words. Once they master the words, they will be given new words to focus on.
Science- Our district uses BOCES science kits. Our science kits are as follows: Phases & Patterns, Living Organisms, Sound, and Watt's So Bright. These are expository units, which means they will not have tests persay, but some of them include STEM creating challenges that showcase their learning. Each kit last for a couple of months.
Social Studies- Aside from studying upcoming holidays in the classroom, your child's social studies curriculum is intertwined within our ELA lessons. Therefore, the children will not have a separate social studies block scheduled into the day, instead it will be covered during our ELA blocks. Our thematic studies throughout the year will cover topics that are aligned with the first grade social studies themes.
Writing- Our district currently follows the Lucy Caulkins Units of Study Writing Workshop model. Therefore, throughout the year your child will be learning to work at their own pace, on the following types of text: narrative (small moment stories), non-fiction texts (writing about things they know about), and opinion writing (persuasive writing). As we work on each unit, your child will keep their work in their writing folder. At the end of the unit, they will empty their folder and bring home any "published" pieces as well as any pieces that they may have been still working on. This type of writing workshop approach focuses on independent work while the teacher walks around and conferences either independently or with small groups. Mini lessons are conducted throughout the unit to encourage the children to take chances in their writing. Rubrics are shared with the students and used throughout the unit to measure each child's ability to apply taught writing skills to their pieces.