In this course, students build on the language and literacy foundational skills established in Kindergarten. The course is structured, systematic, morphophonemic (relating to sounds that belong to the same letters or groups of letters and the relationships among them as well as the conditions that determine when the same letter/s produce different sounds), multisensory, and scaffolded to include a written spelling component.
The start of first grade is a time for dusting off the skills and habits that children learned during kindergarten. The first unit, Building Good Reading Habits, reinforces children’s learning from kindergarten and establishes ability-based partnerships that tap into the social power of peers working together to help each other become more strategic as readers. The second unit, Learning About the World: Reading Nonfiction, taps into children’s natural curiosity as they explore nonfiction, supporting the teaching of comprehension strategies, word solving, vocabulary, fluency, and author’s craft. The third unit, Readers Have Big Jobs to Do: Fluency, Phonics, and Comprehension, focuses on the reading process to set children up to read increasingly complex texts. The last unit of first grade, Meeting Characters and Learning Lessons: A Study of Story Elements, spotlights story elements and the skills that are foundational to comprehension, including empathy, imagination, character study, and interpretation.
The first-grade units are written for children who are just tapping into their burgeoning powers as readers as well as writers, and believe they can do anything. Students begin with Small Moments: Writing with Focus, Detail, and Dialogue. In this unit students take the everyday events of their young lives and make them into focused, well-structured stories, then they learn to breathe life into the characters by making them talk, think, and interact. In Unit 2, Nonfiction Chapter Books, students enter the world of informational writing as they combine pictures and charts with domain-specific vocabulary and craft moves to create engaging teaching texts. In Unit 3, Writing Reviews, students create persuasive reviews of all sorts - pizza restaurant reviews, TV show reviews, ice cream flavor reviews, and finally book reviews that hook the reader, clearly express the writer’s opinion, and bolster their argument in convincing ways. In From Scenes to Series: Writing Fiction, the final unit of the Grade 1 series, students learn to “show, not tell” and use action, dialogue, and feelings to create a whole series of fiction books modeled after Henry and Mudge.