First grade is dedicated to grade is dedicated to building reading skills. Our 1st graders go from having beginner reading and writing skills to becoming readers and writers. Our 1st grade classroom is a very positive place that encourages reading and writing at school and at home. Throughout 1st grade, C-STEM curriculum encourages cooperative and problem solving strategies with 21st Century learning. It allows first graders to use their natural curiosity to learn more about their world while become more independent thinkers and learners. C-STEM curriculum is integrated throughout all subject areas. This curriculum lends itself to engaging and exciting learning experiences.
Faith Formation is incorporated into all subject areas throughout the day, as well as being taught as a curriculum focus. Students gain an understanding of their faith through the study of their text, Alive in Christ, by participating in weekly all-school Masses, monthly Rosaries, and by daily prayer. Our new faith series has a strong focus on Bible stories, the lives of holy people, and the practicing of social justice. Learning through service and to others is an important part of the first-grade curriculum. In first grade, we follow three big rules; Be kind, Be safe, Be neat. All other rules fall under these three categories. This philosophy guides us in our daily interactions with classmates, our families, and others. We join the school family in monthly food shelf collection, the fall service marathon, our monthly visits to New Perspectives Senior Living, and projects that help expand awareness of the greater Christian community.
Carolina Curriculum is our science curriculum. Science is taught using a hands-on approach. Investigations and inquiry are key to learning science concepts. In Earth Science Unit, our 1st graders investigate the chief components of soil (sand, clay, and humus) and study the relationships between soil and growing plants. They make their own compost bags and observe decomposition over time. Our schoolyard garden is utilized as an outdoor classroom during this unit. In our Physical Science Unit, we explore how balance is affected by mass of an object, the lever arm, and the position of the fulcrum. Using an equal arm balance, the 1st graders measure mass and order items in serial order. In our Life Science Unit called, Organisms, we use our natural curiosity to learn about plants and animals. 1st graders compare organisms by creating and observing an aquarium and terrarium and making observations of plants and animals. This allows us to develop an understanding and appreciation of God’s gift of our natural world.
Basic computer skills and terminology are taught in our technology classes. 1st graders learn how to navigate search engines. In SmartLab, the first graders use technology as they work on their touch screen computers to learn animation and beginning coding skills. Technology is used in the classroom when researching and reporting on our birds, and to enhance instruction throughout the day.
1st graders are taught about engineering design in Smart Lab, an engaging program where students explore STEM and media arts through applied technology and project-based learning. 1st graders learn how to act like an engineer, using the engineering process and the 4-Cs, creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration to solve challenges. The 1st graders are given design challenges in the SmartLab as well as in their own classroom to design and build bridges, to design and use a tool to rescue a kitty from a well, to build a simple machine to perform a daily task, and as part of our 1st grade bird unit to explore how birds fly and find food. As part of our Weight and Balance Unit, the first graders are challenged to design and build free standing towers, using different kinds of materials, and are expected to explain in their journals how weight and balance affected the how tall the tower could be built.
1st graders continue to grow in their math and subtraction skills, gaining a deeper understanding of the concepts taught. Our math series, Math Expressions, is a hands-on learning curriculum that spirals throughout the year. This series offers a traditional approach with manipulatives and real world illustrations to build mathematical ideas that make sense to your child. It is important to create an inquiring, personalized environment and to encourage constructive discussion. The students are actively involved in their learning, writing about the math they do and answering questions. There is a quick review of the last lesson taught, activities that can be fit into the morning routine, and leveled activities for all learners. Math Expressions offers many opportunities to differentiate learning in the classroom.
Language Arts is taught daily, learning about grammar, writing, spelling, handwriting, listening, speaking and viewing. There is a strong focus on phonetic awareness, high frequency words/sight words, vocabulary, reading and fluency. Comprehension strategies are taught throughout all reading genres. Sequence of events, story elements, using words and pictures of a story to help to better understand, using the topic and main idea, and comparing and contrasting, are taught through our weekly stories and classroom discussion. Differentiated instruction strategies such as iRead, small groups instruction, leveled readers, take home phonics readers, and reading groups help our readers progress from their current reading proficiency. Phonetic spelling is acceptable at the beginning of the year but as the year progresses, convention spelling is encouraged that focuses on word patterns and high-frequency words. Handwriting focuses on upper and lowercase letters, proper formation and spacing. Our language arts components are taught in the context of our weekly stories where it makes more sense for the child to see how the many parts work together.
First graders must be given many opportunities to read during this crucial time of language development in the brain. As well as intensive reading instruction and practice in school, monthly reading goals are set for home reading, and are expected to be met by each student.
Global awareness and multicultural learning are integrated into our social studies program. Students learn about neighborhoods, how to work together in families and the community, and discover the world beyond our communities. We learn research skills and the ability to compare and contrast different groups. In 1st grade we continue to have our class meetings as we understand the calendar, classroom and school events, and American holidays.