There is a lot of information I would like you to know about the first grade program. I hope this will be a good start.
Language Arts: I use a combination of phonics, whole language and the Daily 5 to teach reading to the first graders. During the first month of school I will evaluate your child’s reading level and begin reading groups. The first grade uses the “A-Z” reading series combined with many other phonic series. I send home many books during the year, some at the exact reading level of your child and some that were read whole class. Please have your child read ALL books that come home, help as needed. I suggest that you get a box for all the reading material that comes home. Reading 1 or 2 books every evening with your child will increase your child’s fluency. Due to the changes in Michigan’s expectations and the new curriculum approved by the diocese there will be a lot more non-fiction and classical literature incorporated into this years activities.
Math: I am excited to announce that we will be piloting a new logic program (Mathematical Reasoning) this year combined with our math series “Math Expressions”. It is an excellent series that really helps early learners “understand” numbers. I like it because it is very hands on and challenging for the children. This program believes in daily homework. I will be putting math homework inside your child’s weekly homework folders and it will be broken up by nights. Please don’t have your child do it all in one night. The ideas is a little practice each night will keep the concepts fresh and help your child learn them by constant practice. I am also incorporating a new way to practice math facts at school. I will be sharing more information about this as the year goes on. This first month the children also need to learn how to do math sheets and take math tests. All math questions are read out loud. Some of the math vocabulary may be new to you so please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about the program.
Spelling: A list of the week’s spelling words will come home on Monday in the weekly newsletter. The words will follow the spelling rule of the week. I will send home a list of 10 words; there will also be 2 words, which will be “surprise” words on the test. They follow the rule or a past rule we have learned. We also learn 30 “red” words this year. A red word is a word that does not follow the phonic rule. (ex. the) The children have to write the words using the correct type of letter. A capital in the middle of the words will be considered wrong. Using the correct type of letter is definitely a first grade skill. We begin very easy and teach finger spelling as a strategy. I encourage using “spell city” a free online website as a fun way to practice spelling words at home.
Social Studies: Last year was the first year that I taught Social Studies. We follow the state curriculum. I have spent some of my summer finding new fun ideas to reinforce the first grade standards.
Religion: I incorporate a lot of different catholic materials when planning our religion curriculum. We use the “Faith & Life Series” combined with the children’s Bible and many other materials and books. Last year I started meditation with the first graders. Slowing down their minds so they can hear God speak to them. This year I plan to incorporate more meditational activities. One of my goals for my children is that they understand they have everything they need. God’s light is always there connected inside of them to help them be exactly who they were meant to be. We have a new religion text that is approved by the diocese. We spend a lot of time reinforcing the golden rule and teaching the children the importance of helping and thinking of others. Our classroom becomes a “safe” place to practice what Jesus has taught us. Both first grade classes will be working on a service learning project that will involve helping people in our community.
Writing: This year grades K-4 will be using the IEW writing program to teach writing to our students. It is a very structured way to teach writing that helps the children find key words in good literature and rewrite the story using their own words. The children will also publish a number of their own books during the year. We will learn how to connect sentences and expand our vocabulary when writing. After about a month we will be beginning our first book and writing in “writer’s workshop”. We spend a lot of time working on writing in first grade because it can be very difficult for a lot of children. The children will write throughout the curriculum.
Science: We have a number of different science units throughout the year that follow the state standards. It will be a few weeks before we begin our first science unit.
I hope this will give you a quick overview of our curriculum. If you have any questions as the school year progresses please contact me.