First Grade at FRCS
A focus on literacy and math in an exciting, hands-on environment builds an excellent foundation for the growing elementary student.
First grade is centered on literacy. Even though most students’ language skills are just emerging, first grade has a rich literary environment. Students read fiction and non-fiction books that extend their reading in many ways. For example, after reading the book If Dogs Were Dinosaurs, students create their own “What if?” writing. In first grade, reading is taught through literacy centers and Guided Reading, allowing for consistent and daily differentiated instruction. This allows each student to be reached at his or her level.
A wonderful component to first grade is a phonics and reading program called F.A.S.T. This program appeals to many different learning styles and is an ideal fit for a first grade classroom, allowing students to be involved in the reading and phonics process through a board with magnets representing sounds. This program has several different components: reading, writing, board work, spelling, and instruction time. Through all of these different centers and small group work, students are able to gain ownership over the information they’re learning, allowing for incredible jumps in understanding of phonics and reading… as well as a great gain in reading confidence!
Writing also plays a key role in first grade work. When a student leaves first grade, the goal is that he or she loves to write. Writing is taught most commonly using picture books to introduce a topic. For instance, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is used to introduce sequencing in writing and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is incorporated to introduce the importance of details. Writing begins with sentences and pictures, but by the end of first grade, students are creating their own picture books. Each major writing assignment concludes with “Author’s Chair,” where each student is given the opportunity to share his or her writing with the rest of the class. In first grade, every student is an author!
First grade science is an introduction to the amazing natural world. Students in first grade will never forget watching chicks hatch right in the classroom! Creating magnetic fields makes sure students will always remember the poles of a magnet. A visit to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum brings other science concepts to life with fun and engaging exhibits.
Science Lab with Ms. Paige
First grade students enjoy hands-on science lab two times per week, and are working on developing critical thinking and lab writing skills. Students always begin class with a question and are engaging in the scientific method in order to complete their labs. Science topics in first grade include: weather and seasons, solar energy, properties of objects, and animal life.
Technology Lab with Dr. Haynes
First grade students enjoy working on technology projects and mastering their keyboarding skills. Students learn how to conduct early research, and how to use specific applications to create digital creative documents.
In the Progress in Mathematics curriculum, interactive teaching methods and materials help young students understand the concepts and see how math really works. It has consistent, cumulative review of the concepts taught and encourages memorization of math facts early in the students’ school career. Along with Progress in Mathematics, a Guided Math approach is taken, allowing students to learn in a multi-sensory manner. This more constructivist approach allows students to truly own their learning process, helping to make the important math concepts a permanent understanding.
Spiritual training is also an important facet of first grade learning. Studying Old Testament figures such as Adam, Eve, Noah, Jacob, Joseph and Moses creates a foundation of biblical knowledge. The use of other media sparks inquisitiveness and curiosity about biblical truths. Memorization of scripture is also a regular part of school.
Enrichment studies enhance the children’s growth and education through visual art, vocal music, physical education, Spanish language, library, and chapel, offered on a bi-weekly basis.
An integral part of first grade training is developing good learning habits and requires students to use developing skills to solve problems and answer questions. These habits help foster responsibility and confidence. Parents are encouraged to help students be responsible for their learning by teaching parents how to ask subject specific questions so that learning can extend beyond the classroom. For example, instead of asking, “What did you do today?” and receiving a typical response like “Nothing?” It is suggested that parents ask, “What are two things you learned about an addition number sentence?” Parents already know the answers to the question because they are madly reading the class newsletter, which is a sneak peek into the lesson plans for the week.