First Grade - St. Joseph School Seattle
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First Grade

First grade is foundational in taking those first few steps towards becoming independent learners. Our students are engaged in multiple instructional and hands-on activities throughout the day…whole group shared reading, literacy centers, small guided reading groups, independent reading, partner reading, writing stories and journaling, math centers and games, science investigations, and prayer circle with technology woven throughout the curriculum.

St. Joseph School teachers follow the Common Core State Standards in math. Teachers have created focus standards for grades kindergarten through fourth grade that are essential for building a strong math foundation for middle school and beyond. The essential standards in first grade include:

  • Count to 120 from any number
  • Write numbers 0-120 correctly
  • Place value within 100 (tens and ones)
  • Compare two-digit numbers using <, >, or =
  • Add within 100 (2 digit by 1 digit; 2 digit by multiple of 10)
  • Solve addition word problems up to 20 using math models
  • Solve subtraction word problems up to 20 using math models
  • Fluently add within 10 (math facts)
  • Fluently subtract within 10 (math facts)
  • Add within 20
  • Subtract within 20
  • Determine the unknown number in a number sentence within 10: 6 + x = 10

In order to meet the needs of all students teachers differentiate instruction by using small groups. Instruction includes direct instruction, hands on activities, manipulatives, and problem solving.

In first grade, we focus on developing foundational reading and language skills in the following areas: concepts of print, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, reading fluency and reading comprehension as well as conventions of standard English and vocabulary acquisition and use.

In grades K-4, we have adopted the Fountas and Pinnell Reading Program. This program is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards and provides students with daily opportunities to engage in interactive read-alouds and literature discussions, shared and performance reading, differentiated guided reading groups as well as sustained silent reading and writing about reading. The Fountas and Pinnell rich collection of fiction and nonfiction books reinforces key vocabulary, has diverse content and serves as an essential tool to build our students' language comprehension.

As we develop skills to comprehend literature and informational text, we engage in three ways of thinking about a text while reading. Thinking within the text involves efficiently and effectively understanding what's on the page, the author's literal message. Thinking beyond the text requires making inferences and putting text ideas together in different ways to construct the text's meaning. In thinking about the text, readers analyze and critique the author's craft.

Our classroom teachers work in close collaboration with our Learning Resource specialist and Advanced Learning specialist to ensure that all students receive the support they need to become skilled readers.

At St. Joseph School, our goal is to develop life-long readers who can decode with accuracy and read at an appropriate rate with suitable prosody that leads to accurate and deep comprehension and motivation to read!

St. Joseph School follows the religion standards of the Archdiocese of Seattle. The standards are tied to the 6 tasks of Catechesis: 1) Knowledge of the Faith, 2) Liturgical Education, 3) Morality/Life in Christ, 4) Prayer, 5) Life, Community and History of the Church, and 6) the Church’s Missionary Life and Service.

Core religion concepts taught in the first grade include; Creation, Jesus and the Church. Essential questions include: What has God made? How do we know God? Who is the Holy Spirit? Who is the Church? How do we love? Can we see God? How can we help God? Service is a big part of each grade-level at St. Joseph School. As a Jesuit parish school we educate the whole person - body, mind, and spirit and teach our students about St. Ignatius and the Jesuits. We begin in kindergarten teaching what it means to be Open to Growth, Loving, Religious, Committed to Doing Justice, and Intellectually Competent.

St. Joseph School has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards and uses curriculum from Carolina Science. In first grade, our two main units are Sky Watchers and Exploring Organisms. In Sky Watchers we observe the nighttime sky as it changes throughout the month, charting the phases of the moon and the movement of the sun. We discuss the relationship between the rotation and revolution of the Earth and the seasons. Students enjoy engaging experiments throughout this unit of study. Exploring Organisms focuses on the difference between living and nonliving organisms. It also explores the needs of organisms and how these needs differ between plants and animals. This learning is done through experiments, written work and concludes with the designing of a model to mimic plant or animal structures to solve a human problem.

Our focus in first grade is on community.  We explore our own identity, our families, and our communities (class, school, church, neighborhood). We also develop an understanding of basic concepts and ideas from civics, economics, geography, and history.

Incorporating technology in the classroom allows students to actively think about and interact with information as well as supports students in performing authentic learning tasks. In the first grade, the use of Smartboards, document cameras, and classroom computers supplement teacher instruction and enhance engaged student learning. First graders also attend technology class once per week.

For writing we use the Writer’s Workshop curriculum, created by Lucy Calkins and Teachers College. The program emphasizes process, choice and product. It invites students to see themselves as writers. Students study narrative, nonfiction, and opinion writing as well as focus on conventions, organization and the writing process.

Our phonics program helps students master short and long vowel sounds, consonants, blends, endings, digraphs and contractions. Our spelling focus is on the study of high frequency words and common spelling patterns. We also practice developing phonological skills, building words and creating effective word study strategies. In all areas, we consistently practice proper letter formation using the Zaner-Bloser.