The Virginia Standards of Learning
While each classroom provides an exciting, inviting atmosphere that is conducive to the child’s social, emotional, and mental growth, our academic curriculum is based on, but not limited to, the Virginia Standards of Learning. We acknowledge the fact that each child is unique, and that our first graders come to our classrooms from different backgrounds, with different life experiences, and at different stages of readiness. Therefore, we use a variety of teaching methods to accommodate each child’s learning style and developmental stage as the child attempts to master the Virginia Standards of Learning.
Much of our First Grader’s day is spent working in the area of Language Arts. Our basal reading series provides the foundation for daily reading instruction. The children also read in leveled books, a supplementary series, and in trade books. In addition to being exposed to a variety of wonderful literature which will, hopefully, make the children want to read, the students are taught strategies which, if mastered, will enable them to become fluent readers. These strategies include the application of phonetic principles that the children are taught as well as the use of picture and context clues.
Our students receive formal instruction in Spelling through a process called Word Study. Students will practice reading, writing, and spelling words as they learn to recognize the patterns in each week’s list. We will do lots of hands-on activities including sorts, playdough, fiddlesticks, and magnets to help students create an understanding of how to spell and follow the familiar patterns in the word study words.
The children receive formal instruction in Handwriting, as taught in the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting series. This instruction involves correct letter formation and placement and correct spacing. The children practice these skills in their daily work.
Our First Graders also spend time doing creative writing. They use a combination of “inventive” (phonetic) spelling and dictionary spelling. As the year progresses they learn to write stories which they edit and “publish”, using dictionary spelling and correct punctuation.
In Math the children learn about time, money, fractions, measurement, estimation, place value, addition and subtraction to eighteen, patterns, graphing, two-digit addition and subtraction, geometry, probability, and problem-solving. Each day the children participate in “Math Your Way” activities that provide reinforcement in graphing skills, understanding the calendar, money counting, place value, fractions, and telling time.
In Science, the children conduct investigations, study force, motion, and energy, discover how matter changes, learn about the life processes of plants and animals, learn more about the relationship between the sun and the Earth, and discover ways to conserve our natural resources. We take two wonderful field trips during the first-grade year to reinforce many of these important scientific studies.
In Social Studies the children compare their everyday lives with the lives of people in other times and places and discover how and why people and places change. They learn about many famous Americans, American holidays, and American symbols and traditions. They learn about our city, state, and country. They study human, natural, and capital resources, and learn about consumers and producers and goods and services.
One of our goals as teachers in First Grade is to help our students to become independent readers. Some children need extra help in order to meet that goal. When children need more help, our Reading Specialists offer their expertise. Some children work one-on-one with our Reading Recovery teachers, Mrs. Wilkes and Mrs. Simmons, and some work in small “literacy groups” with one of those teachers. These teachers also serve as valuable resources for the regular classroom teachers and often help them solve reading problems that occur with children who are not in one of the special reading programs.
Each day our first-grade students have an opportunity to work with other teachers who are specialists. Our special area classes follow an eight day cycle.
§ Our children enjoy a visit to the Library every fourth day of the cycle, where they enjoy listening to stories and checking out books with the help of our librarian, Mrs. Wright.
§ They have Classroom Guidance with Mrs. Cocowitch once every 8 days.
§ The children enjoy Physical Education in the gym three times during the 8 day cycle, under the direction of Mrs. Butt and Mr. Barber, our Physical Education teachers.
§ The children enjoy their sessions with Mrs. Bowles, our Music teacher once each cycle.
§ We do some type of classroom art almost every day; however, the children have Art with Mrs. Meadows as well once during the eight days.
§ The children will have an opportunity to work in the Computer Lab once each week for 45 minutes as well as time in the classroom to work on ipods, ipads, and laptops.