First grade at Wesleyan is an exciting year! The first grade teachers strive to build a social and academic foundation while enriching each student’s childhood experience. Some of the highlights of first grade include Scarecrow Day, the Easter Egg Hunt, and hatching chicks in the classroom.
Manuscript handwriting is taught in first grade. Letter formation, letter size, neatness and spacing are emphasized.
Students engage in teacher-led guided reading groups which allow students to develop reading skills through a variety of texts at each child’s reading level. Decoding and comprehension strategies are taught and reinforced during guided reading.
First Grade implements the Daily 5 literacy structure. Students choose from five authentic literacy activities including reading, writing and working with words.
Phonics and Spelling-
First grade is the time for children to further develop their phonemic awareness and become fluid, comprehending readers and spellers. Students begin the year reviewing the sounds and letters taught in kindergarten using the Orton-Gillingham method. This multi-sensory approach is used throughout the year to build a strong phonics and spelling foundation. Students learn phonetic rules and how to apply them.
First grade students are introduced to the writing process. They learn how to write personal narratives, letters, simple reports, and creative stories.
Students learn grammar and sentence structure through Shurley English. This program teaches parts of speech using catchy songs and jingles. This instructional method helps students commit to memory and apply rules of the English language.
The foundation of our K-4 mathematics program is Math in Focus, a curriculum focused on problem solving through real-world and hands-on experiences. Students are taught to think critically about math by moving from concrete (manipulatives) to pictorial (bar models) to abstract (formulas/algorithms) learning. To achieve mastery, students will learn the “why” behind each mathematical concept before learning the “how”. The ability to apply knowledge to routine as well as non-routine math problems is an integral part of demonstrating mastery of math concepts.
In first grade, students develop a strong understanding of place value. Students learn strategies for fluently adding and subtracting within 20, which leads to the introduction of adding and subtracting multi-digit numbers with regrouping. Telling time, counting money and other important concepts are also part of our challenging curriculum.
We believe success in math cannot be achieved without mastery of math facts. Therefore, each grade level has its own expectations for math fact mastery guided by Wesleyan’s Math Matters program. Research shows students who are able to recall math facts quickly free up working memory that can then be devoted to higher-level problem solving.
Through the Studies Weekly program, students learn different strands of social studies. Students participate in guided reading, projects, and other hands-on activities to enhance their learning. Some of the units of study include maps, American symbols, Folk Heroes, influential figures in American history, and the 50 states.
First through fourth graders participate in the Passport Club. This program is run by Wesleyan parents and encourages children to learn the locations of several different countries each month. Parent volunteers assess the students monthly to see if they can locate these countries on a map. Students also have the opportunity to explore one feature country in depth, learning about that country’s history and culture through videos, books, and food.