First Grade

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1st Grade Philosophy

First grade is an amazing year, during which our WCSS students show remarkable amounts of growth, while having a lot of fun. Our workshop approach to teaching means that first graders spend most of the day working partnerships, small groups, or independently and that instruction is differentiated. We spend considerable time developing strong classroom communities and work hard on social and emotional skill development. 

Reading & Writing – Teachers conduct ongoing and interim assessments in literacy, sitting side by side and listening to each student read, discussing books, assessing high frequency words and spelling, noting what skills they have and which they need, and looking closely at their writing. Running records help teachers track student progress toward benchmarks and guide instruction. Consistent with the Next Generation Learning Standards, we have increased the amount of nonfiction/informational text in both reading and writing. By the end of first grade, children are expected to be able to read for 30 minutes independently and understand level I books. Examples of level I books are Grizzwold by Syd Hoff; Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox; Jim’s Dog Muffins by Miriam Cohen, and Yum and Yuk (Story Box). 

Phonics – We use the Orton Gillingham approach which is designed to help ALL readers. Orton Gillingham teaches the connections between sounds and letters and it pioneered the “multisensory” approach to teaching reading 

Envisions 2.0 Math – In math, we are strongly committed to a concept-based, problem-solving, hands-on approach to mathematics. We believe children need to be involved in constructing meaning in math, deciding on which strategies to use as they solve complex problems. We also know that children need to learn and practice basic math facts so that they can calculate quickly and efficiently, and so we do that as well. The Next Generation Learning Standards outline end of year expectations in math on each grade, and our pacing calendars are designed with that in mind. Students will also use the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions around rigorous tasks that ensures that they have the opportunity to reason mathematically and engage in high leveled conversations. 

Some of the key end-of-year 1ST grade math benchmarks include: 

  • Read & write #s to 120 
  • count to 120 starting at any number 
  • Skip count by 2s, 5s, 10s 
  • Add and subtract within 20 
  • Fluently add and subtract within 10 
  • Collect, record, interpret data 
  • Know even & odd numbers 
  • Count pennies, nickels dimes to 25cents 
  • Able to add or subtract 10 from any given 2-digit number…(23 + 10 = 33) 
  • Time to the hour and half hour 
  • Partition circles and rectangles into 2 and four equal shares, using the names halves, fourths, quarters. 

Social Studies – In Social Studies, students study The Neighborhood, Families Now and Long Ago and Our World Many Cultures. The curriculum incorporates inquiry and engaging trips throughout the year. 

Amplify Science – We will explore: Animal and Plant Defenses; Spinning Earth; and, Light and Sound. 

Other Activities – All first graders have STEAM, makerspace time, art, music, drama, physical education, computer time, dance, Enrichment Clusters and NYC Ballet residency. The day incorporates many opportunities for movement during transitions and daily recess. 

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