First grade is a challenging year as the students experience a change in the learning environment from Kindergarten. The students now spend 61/2 hours in school as opposed to 4 hours in Kindergarten. First grade focuses on helping the students to become independent learners. The students are expected to engage in small group activities, whole class discussions and independent assignments.
On a daily basis students are engaged in a one-hour exploration of math. The main focus of our math program is to help students become logical thinkers as well as independent problem solvers. Our math instruction focuses on the child’s need to experience mathematical concepts in a concrete way. Math manipulatives are used in teacher guided lessons as well as independent explorations. Many math concepts are reinforced through math games. Computational skills are developed through daily review exercises.
We use a spiraling program that allows students to see concepts years before they are expected to master them, and to revisit concepts once they have been learned so that they are not forgotten. Logical thinking is a major emphasis of this math program.
The curriculum focuses on six strands of knowledge: Algebra; Data and Chance; Geometry; Measurement; Numeration and Order; Patterns, Functions, and Sequences; Operations; and Reference Frames.
In first grade, students are immersed in a literature-rich environment to continue their development of an awareness of phonemes and print materials as sources of information and enjoyment. They listen and speak to participate in classroom discussions and use a variety of strategies to read new words and familiar selections aloud with fluency and expression. First graders also begin to learn comprehension strategies and focus on making connections and visualizing. They take part in independent reading, shared reading and guided reading. Writing instruction consists of first graders writing daily. Students are encouraged to write personal narratives and fictional stories using the writing process which is pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. Daily mini-lessons teach story elements, grammar, and punctuation. Spelling is taught through word patterns and word walls.
Science in 1st grade is taught in six week themes through hands on activities. Children are encouraged to explore the themes through and introduced to the scientific method of observing, forming a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis and forming a conclusion. The science themes in first grade are eye sight, dinosaurs and the water cycle.
In 1st grade Social Studies students are beginning to extend their knowledge of the world around them from their families and neighborhoods to the seven continents of the world. They learn about different habitats and the elements of a habitat. They focus in-depth on the backyard habitat. In their study of the seven continents of the world the students compare places, people, food, language and homes of each continent. First graders learn about homes, what a home is, different homes around the world and constructing homes. Basic geographic terms and principles such as continents, oceans, poles, equator, basic elements of maps and globes (title, legend) are taught and worked on through the above themes.
The first grade Sociales class completes an in-depth study of themselves, their families, neighborhoods and community. Their study is based on positive and negative characteristics about living in a community and what they themselves need to be able to live in a community. They also focus on Dominican culture and the study of music, important places and people and endemic plants and animals to the Dominican Republic. The Sociales classes are taught solely in Spanish. The children work in small groups with hands on activities as well as completing independent assignments.