Grade 1

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Writing Continuum

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Literacy Statement

An effective literacy program offers a balance of challenge and support while building children’s confidence in their emerging abilities as readers and writers. Our goal is to develop fluent, capable readers who enjoy the process and learn from it, drawing from a diverse array of literature. Helping students become writers who can express their ideas cogently, clearly, and creatively is another important goal. We view reading and writing as a developmental process and understand that a child’s progress is seldom even or linear. It is common, for example, that a student’s leap ahead in learning is followed by a consolidating phase or an apparent plateau. We also find that students cannot be easily placed in a single category along the learning continuum. As such, our instruction is guided by regular formal and informal writing assessments.

While no two developmental journeys are identical, students often exhibit a range of skills and understandings. The following reading/writing continuum describes the basic path to literacy in the Beginning and Lower Schools.

 

Reading Continuum

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Literacy Statement

An effective literacy program offers a balance of challenge and support while building children’s confidence in their emerging abilities as readers and writers.  Our goal is to develop fluent, capable readers who enjoy the process and learn from it, drawing from a diverse array of literature.  Helping students become writers who can express their ideas cogently, clearly, and creatively is another important goal.  We view reading and writing as a developmental process and understand that a child’s progress is seldom even or linear. It is common, for example, that a student’s leap ahead in learning is followed by a consolidating phase or an apparent plateau. We also find that students cannot be easily placed in a single category along the learning continuum. As such, our instruction is guided by regular formal and informal reading assessments.

While no two developmental journeys are identical, students often exhibit a range of skills and understandings. The following reading/writing continuum describes the basic path to literacy in the Beginning and Lower Schools.

 

Mandarin Chinese 1

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In the first grade, we are expecting our Chinese learners to take advantage of their precious period of second language learning for Chinese Mandarin, which is a tonal language. The first graders will be exposed to simple and short vocabulary that are more concrete and tangible for them in their prior knowledge of the world. They will be able to distinguish the four tones of the Mandarin Chinese, and pronounce basic characters and simple sentences with correct tones. They will also recognize and write 50 - 100 basic characters. Singing and acting out are two major elements in first grade Chinese. There are also holiday celebrations through food and folk tales to familiarize themselves with Chinese cultural practices. 

Writing Continuum

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Literacy Statement

An effective literacy program offers a balance of challenge and support while building children’s confidence in their emerging abilities as readers and writers.  Our goal is to develop fluent, capable readers who enjoy the process and learn from it, drawing from a diverse array of literature.  Helping students become writers who can express their ideas cogently, clearly, and creatively is another important goal.  We view reading and writing as a developmental process and understand that a child’s progress is seldom even or linear. It is common, for example, that a student’s leap ahead in learning is followed by a consolidating phase or an apparent plateau. We also find that students cannot be easily placed in a single category along the learning continuum. As such, our instruction is guided by regular formal and informal writing assessments.

While no two developmental journeys are identical, students often exhibit a range of skills and understandings. The following reading/writing continuum describes the basic path to literacy in the Beginning and Lower Schools.

Writing 1

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Writer's Workshop

Writer's workshop emphasizes the importance of student engagement and the interaction between readers and text. It provides differentiated instruction in writing. Writer's Workshop focuses on the teaching of writing strategies. The purpose of Writer's Workshop is to foster a love of writing. Students develop an ability to write confidently in many forms for a variety of audiences and purposes.  

In the classroom this looks like a mini lesson devoted to one aspect of writing, followed by guided practice where the teacher works with groups of kids, and time for students to practice the skills independently. 

Specific components of this grade level are described below.

Writing Mini-Lessons

During writing minilessons, teacher's highlight a teaching-point regarding writing conventions (punctuation, spelling, spaces between words, etc.) or  writing craft (writing process, story elements, character development, word choice, voice, etc.). They use mentor texts, teacher-written texts, or shared-writing texts to model the teaching point and then give students opportunities to discuss how they can make use of the minilesson within their own writing. Teachers follow-up on writing mini-lessons with "mid-workshop" interruptions in which they highlight student work that exempflies the application of the minilesson.

Word Study

Students work as a whole-group, small-group, and individually on phonemic awareness (hearing sounds in words), sight words, and patterns within words.

Shared Writing

Shared writing is a time when students engage in a small or large group writing experience that is actively guided by the teacher. Shared writing may be focused on any of the mini-lesson topics (please see above).

Independent Writing

During independent writing time, children work on self-selected topics within the given writing unit. For example, during our personal narrative unit one student may be writing a story about her family’s trip to the beach while her neighbor is focusing on a story about his skateboarding adventures. Each day, children apply skills, strategies and concepts learned in the day’s mini-lesson to their independent writing projects, often coaching and drawing upon their writing partners for feedback, assistance and praise.

Writer's Circles

Writer's Circles occur throughout the writing process.  At times, a Writer's Circle may be an opportunity for a student to share a polished piece of writing with an audience.  At other times, students bring pieces of writing that are in process to share with the writing community for the purpose of soliciting feedback and assistance.  Writer's Circles may include the entire class community or they may include a small group of children who are asking for help from or offering help to their fellow writers.

Writing Conferences

Individual writing conferences are a time when students sit one-on-one with teachers to discuss their writing process. Teachers work closely with students to identify personal goals around writing conventions (punctuation, spelling, spaces between words, etc.) and writing craft (writing process, story elements, character development, word choice, voice and application of other concepts learned in minilessons).

 

 

 

 

Woodshop 1

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        The 1st graders begin the school year in woodshop building a set of “Deck Blocks”. These are full sized outdoor building blocks used during recess time by grades 1-5. The Deck Blocks are modeled after both traditional classroom unit blocks and large hollow blocks.  This is a community-building project allowing the 1st graders to further develop their woodworking skills and practice using all of the hand tools.
         When the Deck Blocks are finished we focus on individual and collaborative creations.  Basically, we’ll try to build whatever is imagined.   We’ll practice drawing plans with some measurements and discover how units of measurement can determine balance, equality and success.  Making a plan in 1st grade shop has two functions.  First, it creates thinking time.  We talk about letting your mind imagine things, think about the details and respect the processes.  Secondly, a plan helps everyone (the artist and teacher) remember from one shop time to the next what has been decided.  For instance, when their idea is a table, the drawing will show an outline for the top, and have additional lines jutting out from each corner representing the legs.  The drawing appears flattened with all of the parts showing.  If their idea is a birdhouse I’ll ask them to draw a detailed view of just the front. Next, I will literally stand their paper drawing up on the workbench to discuss the perspective, volume and dimensions. Their understanding of these terms continues to develop as we use the vocabulary and experience the work. 

Spanish 1

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A brief note about languages in first grade: "ROTATIONS"

At the beginning of the year, our first grade students will attend both languages offered by the Lower School for a period of three weeks. After this six week rotation period students and their parents will decide which language they want to join for the rest of the year. This may be a wonderful time to include input from your child, since we want to nurture a passion for learning other languages. While we allow children to switch to another language for their second grade year, we ask that they stay with the same language in grades 3-4-5.

Reading Continuum

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Literacy Statement

An effective literacy program offers a balance of challenge and support while building children’s confidence in their emerging abilities as readers and writers.  Our goal is to develop fluent, capable readers who enjoy the process and learn from it, drawing from a diverse array of literature.  Helping students become writers who can express their ideas cogently, clearly, and creatively is another important goal.  We view reading and writing as a developmental process and understand that a child’s progress is seldom even or linear. It is common, for example, that a student’s leap ahead in learning is followed by a consolidating phase or an apparent plateau. We also find that students cannot be easily placed in a single category along the learning continuum. As such, our instruction is guided by regular formal and informal reading assessments.

While no two developmental journeys are identical, students often exhibit a range of skills and understandings. The following reading/writing continuum describes the basic path to literacy in the Beginning and Lower Schools.
 

Science 1

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For a Lower School Science overview, start here:

www.catlin.edu/classroom/lower-school-science

For the first grade science classroom page, start here:

www.catlin.edu/classroom/lower-school-science/first-grade-science

 

 

Reading 1

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Reader's Workshop

Reader's workshop emphasizes the importance of student engagement and the interaction between readers and text. It provides differentiated instruction in reading. Reader's Workshop focuses on the teaching of reading strategies. The purpose of Reader's Workshop is to foster independence among readers.  

In the classroom this looks like a mini lesson devoted to one aspect of reading, followed by guided practice where the teacher works with groups of kids, and time for students to practice the skills independently. 

Specific components of this grade level are described below.

Read Aloud

Here, the teacher reads picture books and chapter books to the children that may be above their instructional reading levels and their independent reading level. This provides a rich context in which children can experience more complex language and stories. Sometimes we will be reading great literature and other times we might introduce a series that eventually children will be able to read on their own. These books are often a stimulus for writing as well. Great literature influences first graders very positively; just like it does for you and me. 

Shared Reading

Teachers will read picture books and big books aloud with the children while structuring discussions and demonstrations on how to read and think about a book. Here, the teacher often points to each word and frequently children are encouraged to join in. They hear the language of stories during which we create a warm and positive atmosphere. Children learn to recognize words at the same time they are learning to love books and poetry.   

Guided Reading

In guided reading groups, the teacher provides support so that children can read books with a small amount of challenge. Books are considered to be at an instructional level in guided reading group if a child can successfully and independently read at least 90% of the words. Children will be working in small groups with the teacher. We place children in flexible groups according to their ability and personal interests. Groups may change throughout the year depending on the needs of the students. The children in each group are guided through a reading selection together as a group and then independently. Children will be involved in word study and learn and practice the strategies they will need in order to become independent readers. The goals for each child will change as his/her reading level changes. 

Independent Reading

We provide time for children to read independently and will guide them to select “Just Right” books. This is typically a years-long process of working with children to make choices of books that are just right for them. We teach the children that this means that the text is not too hard that it causes frustration and not too easy that it presents zero challenge, but rather right in the middle (think Goldilocks!). “Just Right” books give the right balance of confidence and practice to promote the continuation of one’s desire to read along with acquiring the necessary skills and vocabulary to move forward in this pursuit.

Reading Conferences

Individual reading conferences are a time when students sit one-on-one with teachers to discuss their "just right" book choices, reading preferences and reading habits. It is also an opportunity for both formal and informal assessment of students reading levels with regard to both decoding (figuring the words out) and comprehension (understanding).

 

 

 

 

PE 1

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Full year

Physical activity is critical to the development and maintenance of good health. The goal of physical education is to develop physically educated individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity.

Music 1

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The first grade music program is based on the Orff-Shulwerk model of music education. Experiences in speech, movement, dance, song, instrumental work, listening, improvisation, and critiquing lead to the development of increasingly sophisticated skills and concepts through the child’s experiences as performer, composer, critic, and listener. This structure for learning music has at its roots active participation by all. The literature for Schulwerk comes from Music for Children as the foundation for instructional sequence.

For students to be fully engaged in the music program in the Lower School, they need to participate in ensemble through instrumental work, singing, drama, dance, creative movement and improvisation. Through these experiences students develop an increased understanding of the elements of music. It is the blending of all of these areas that creates an increasingly sophisticated ensemble experience for students. Experiences in the first curriculum maintain an experiential focus. Experiences in the second – fourth grade curriculums maintain an experiential and conceptual focus.
Core to the curriculum is music which is drawn from a world perspective. Exposure to music from many cultures gives students a window into the understanding of how music reflects the lives and values of other people. Through music, participants harmonize into a single expression which facilitates relationships and strengthens community.

Library 1

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We offer a warm and welcoming environment for serving the developmental needs of first graders and their families. We foster love of language and development of reading skill. We are partners with the family and encourage pleasure reading and use of library resources at home. We provide advice and counsel to parents as each child moves along a unique developmental path to independent reading.We assist students in exploring the library and discovering books on all topics. We emphasize use of the “Orange Dot” section for finding books for independent reading practice. 

During storytime, we highlight the joy of sharing books and examine the powers of imagination, the importance of laughter, and the impact of the choices made by illustrators and authors. Elements of fiction, text features in all genres, and strategies for searching and previewing non-fiction are all discussed with first graders. Essential too are the inclusion of multicultural perspectives as well as encouragement of geographical curiosity and understanding. Students make connections to themselves, other books, and the world.