Lower School

First Grade

Building literacy skills is a high priority. Each student reads 1:1 every day with a teacher, and books are selected each week for practice in school and at home. Weekly teacher communication provides updates and strategies on an individual basis. We have found that this partnership is the best formula for reading success in our students.
The first grade experience is designed to foster confidence and a love of learning. Building literacy skills remains a high priority. Whether the student is an emergent, developing, or advanced reader, leveled books are utilized as students read one-on-one daily with a teacher and receive a selection of books each week for practice in class as well as at home. Components of the Teachers College at Columbia University Reading and Writing Project supplement the curriculum and provide skills and strategies for students to use.  Units of Study for Teaching Reading program further refines fluency, phonics, and comprehension, and delves into domains such as how to read nonfiction and examine story elements. Writer’s Workshop expands to writing full pages, initially composing stories about oneself and broadening to include expository, narrative, and opinion pieces. Students demonstrate an increasing command of grammar conventions in both writing and speaking and become more familiar with nuances in word meaning and figurative language.

Mathematics lessons focus on extending base-ten notation understanding, building fluency with addition and subtraction, utilizing standard units of measure, and describing and analyzing shapes. Differentiated lessons and homework provide opportunities for students to expand their skill set to include regrouping in addition and subtraction and an introduction to multiplication and division. Our main goal is to strengthen number sense and problem solving skills by incorporating these concepts throughout the school day and in hands-on activities. In doing so, we strive to pave a path in which all students are successful and able to transfer skills to future work.

Designed to harness the innate inquisitive nature of young children, the science program is engaging and relevant. Students are active participants as they explore big ideas learning units such as classifying organisms, sea life, weather and climate, sound, heat and light. Using the Engineering is Elementary program, first graders design windmills as they learn to think and speak like budding scientists and engineers.

First grade curriculum builds upon the social studies foundation from kindergarten. Expanding the notion of community, beginning with the school community as a model, students explore civics and local government. This provides a forum to promote the ideas of citizenship, civic responsibility, and leadership. Students examine basic economic principles and map the physical geography of various rural, suburban and urban communities. Trips around our local community, such as the Urban Farm in Morristown and downtown Chatham, reinforce class discussions.