First grade is a time for exploration and development. The curriculum is in line with California Common Core State Standards and provides opportunities for our students to manipulate, discuss, question, and challenge their ideas and what they are learning. We allow for cognitive growth by spiraling content for our students while allowing them to have individual and small group learning. By incorporating technology into the classroom Holy Spirit is able to have individual lessons tailored to each students’ learning ability to deliver a very dynamic and student centered classroom environment.
Our textbook allows students to explore God in their own personal lives. We make connections to every day life and how Jesus is represented in our actions. Our textbook celebrates all of the liturgical seasons and offers a variety of spiritual, prayerful, and reflective experiences. It allows the students to make spiritual connections with God, Jesus, and His Family. There is a strong foundation in scripture and bible study as well.
Reading and Writing
Our reading curriculum focuses on small group instruction, where the students are involved with their stories and practice valuable skills such as predictions, main idea, compare and contrast, retelling, and inference. We incorporate literature daily into our read aloud sessions where illustrations help students understand text response and active listening. Every child has daily reading time and starting in September we begin our Accelerated Reading program where leveled books are sent home weekly with each child to build at home reading, testing skills, and comprehension. The students are required to take a minimum of 10 AR tests per trimester. Simple book reports begin the second trimester as well as literature circles. In our literature circle instruction, students focus on a book in small groups to practice fluency, comprehension, and literature study. We also utilize Reading A-Z and RAZ Kids where the students can self pace and practice their reading skills. These are monitored and administered on the iPads.
Spelling is given weekly starting the second week of school. The spelling units are in conjunction with our reading series so they are able to follow the phonics they are reading in the classroom. The students are given a pre-test as a base line for learning and a final test on Friday where the students are expected to have learned to spell all words correctly. A child’s spelling evolves in a fairly predictable pattern and you will see great progress as the year goes on.
Writing is expected as soon as school starts. We begin with easy response to literature prompts, journal writing, and daily oral language practice. We will begin report writing, stories, and opinion pieces in October and this will continue to progress in to longer writing pieces as the year progresses. We follow the Step Up To Writing program to focus students on the writing process. We utilize writing centers, small group instruction, and teacher writing workshops in small groups to allow for individualized instruction.
Handwriting is also taught daily. The formation of the letters is reviewed during spelling and phonic lessons as well.
With the adoption of our new model the Saint Katherine Drexel Initiative our math curriculum will focus on small group instruction, individualized student centered learning, and immediate teacher feedback and support. We incorporate the CA Common Core Standards to design lessons that challenge learning as well as develop “hands on” experiences to investigate the patterns in mathematics. Students will make many discoveries using tiles, blocks, counters, unifix cubes, etc. They will work with patterning, sorting and classifying, probability, geometry, problem solving, measuring, time, money, and graphing. We also focus on base ten understanding and addition and subtraction to 20.
Beyond the daily Math class, math skills and concepts are integrated throughout the school day. Our work with the calendar investigates number, order, patterns, and place value. We count, estimate, graph and predict outcomes in a variety of classroom situations. In February, we will celebrate our 100th day of school!
A specialized teacher teaches the science curriculum twice a week for an hour. The students use a textbook as well as a science notebook to document experiments, practice vocabulary, and practice material they are taught. They explore Life science, Earth science, and Physical science. In first grade they are taught the three forms of matter, how matter can change, 5 senses, magnetic properties, landforms, biomes, ocean habitat, forest habitat, and dessert habitat. Experiments are done weekly and students are expected to meet the learning outcomes.