The First Grade Experience
Embracing the wonder of this developmental stage.
The heart of reading instruction in first grade continues to cultivate a love of reading by building on the strong multisensory phonetic foundation of the kindergarten experience. The literature component includes all types of fiction and nonfiction books selected individually for each child based on current reading levels and interest. Students read a variety of texts to build fluency and comprehension. Through reading strategies, they apply phonics to decode words and read for content meaning. Multisensory phonics instruction continues to deepen our students’ understanding of the written and spoken word. Because each first grader is a developing author who loves to tell a story, there is a strong emphasis on experimenting with a variety of writing styles and topics. Students learn to write personal narrative stories, informational, fiction, persuasive, and opinion pieces. Infused into the writing process is the study of basic grammar. Punctuation, capitalization, parts of speech, word usage, and basic sentence structure are introduced at the first grade level. Each first grader grows in their communication skills, learning to understand and express ideas with a variety of audiences, media, and formats.
Our first graders’ strong foundation of number sense allows them to apply their knowledge to the complex thinking needed to explore place value. A major focal point of the first grade mathematics curriculum is providing opportunities for students to build fluency with addition and subtraction strategies alongside the concepts of money, time, measurement and geometry. We also start to build skills for fraction readiness with the concept of “fair shares”. Students wrestle with real number problems to build perseverance, learn to ask the right questions, reason if their answer makes sense and present their mathematical finding using proofs. They learn to collect data, create and interpret graphs, and read and write with authentic math vocabulary. The use of technology and manipulatives provides a context and purpose for reasoning with numbers. Students’ natural problem solving instincts are encouraged and developed by linking mathematics to their daily environment through many diverse mathematical situations.
Science and Engineering
Our young scientists dig in the dirt and conduct experiments. Scientific discoveries are often made outdoors or in the lab. The first grade science curriculum continues the work of identifying patterns in our natural world and challenges students to become innovators by identifying a change they want to make in the world or a problem they want to solve. Exploring light, sound, space, plants, animals, and adaptations, first graders begin to analyze and interpret collected data and then construct explanations and design solutions. As scientists, they continue to work through the stages of the scientific method, making connections, recording observations, making predictions, analyzing data. Students report results to their class or an outside audience, laying the groundwork for deeper work in the later grades.
Students’ sense of self is deepened by further exploration of their own interests, strengths, and family. Students gain a wider perspective on who they are as a member of several communities: family, school, city, and nation. They explore citizenship, maps, famous Americans, and the beginnings of economics through an integrated approach. Students are given more responsibilities in our school community and opportunities for service in our local community. We also introduce the concept of being a global citizen through the use of Google Maps, virtual exploration, community visitors, and field trips.
First grade students also participate in Science Lab, Maker Design and Engineering, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Spanish, Media, and Christian Education, as part of their 5-week Connector rotation. They also participate in Physical Education and recess daily.
Expeditionary Learning Experiences
World of Coke
Center for Puppetry Arts
Atlanta Botanical Gardens