First grade is a magical time in the life of a Beauvoir student. Students enter first grade enthusiastic and ready to learn, and first grade provides the framework for children to develop a love of reading and writing, to expand their awareness of the world around them and to apply mathematical concepts to real-life situations.
Throughout the day, students are creative, curious, courageous and collaborative. Students work daily to develop the ability to persevere in a challenging moment, take risks, problem-solve and build resilience. Classrooms are bustling with cooperative, cross-curricular projects, activity, and excitement.
Math at the first-grade level encourages children to become investigators, discovers, predictors, explorers, and risk-takers. In these ways, children make the connections between the concepts and skills important to understanding and applying mathematical principles. The first grade math program continues to be hands-on and active, even using the Washington National Cathedral as a learning context. First graders study number and operations, learn place value through the hundreds place, develop efficient strategies for increasingly complex addition and subtraction problems, work with geometric shapes and measure, and explore data and chance. Students also begin to practice recording their math thinking using picture models and numeric equations as a way to clearly share math arguments and respond to those of others.
Students enter first grade with varied reading skills but a common enthusiasm for books and an appreciation of literature. First grade teachers understand that reading skills develop at various times for children. Each student is met as an individual throughout the instructional process. In first grade, reading instruction focuses on five pillars: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
First graders engage in teacher-led guided reading instruction, whole class mini-lessons and interactive read-alouds. When our first graders hear books read aloud, teachers model fluent reading and facilitate rich discussions that foster students’ vocabulary and a love of reading. In small, guided reading groups, students explore a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts to build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. They also receive explicit phonics instruction to expand and strengthen their decoding skills.
First graders build upon foundational skills to become organized and clear writers. Using a workshop approach, students plan, draft, revise, and publish their pieces as they delve into genres such as personal narratives, informative reporting, and opinion writing. Students write about important moments from their lives, write reviews of books and favorite items, and share expert facts about topics they love. First graders learn to elaborate as they build confidence as writers, stretching ideas and adding more details to their writing. Along the way, they learn the mechanics of writing: word spacing, sentence structure, handwriting, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. As they learn phonics rules and proper letter formation, children become increasingly independent and their writing advances.
Cathedral Studies is a unique feature of Beauvoir’s social studies curriculum in first grade. Students participate in an extensive exploration of the art, architecture, grounds, and history of the National Cathedral. They have opportunities to visit the Cathedral with Beauvoir’s chaplain, go on an organ tour with the organist, speak with the stonemasons, and view century-old plantings in the Bishop’s Garden. One particular area of study within the National Cathedral is the Human Rights Porch. First grade students learn about the citizens recognized on the Human Rights Porch and their contributions to society. They participate in a research project identifying other citizens that have worked towards equality of civil rights and write a persuasive letter to the Cathedral identifying who they think should be added to the porch. A first grader’s particular lens on Global Studies in the latter half of the year is that of houses of worship. In addition to learning about the physical environment, history, customs and culture of our focus location, first graders zero in on several houses of worship from a variety of religious traditions, and use their foundational studies of the National Cathedral to make comparisons and connections.
Arts education benefits First Graders because it cultivates the whole child, gradually building many kinds of literacy while developing intuition, reasoning, imagination and dexterity into unique forms of expression and communication. Through art, students gain powerful tools for understanding human experiences, both past and present, learn to respect different ways of thinking and working and learn to make decisions in situations where there are no standard answers. In art, students stimulate their natural creativity and learn to develop it to meet the needs of a complex and competitive society.
First graders visit the library with their class once a week to choose books. All grades are introduced to different genres, as well as the works of individual authors and illustrators.
First grade students explore the library section by section and begin to learn library skills, including the use of the electronic library catalog.
First graders are encouraged to experiment, research, imagine and explore the unique resources and opportunities for global, collaborative communication, and Beauvoir’s technology team is dedicated to providing a safe, reliable and user-friendly environment. At Beauvoir, we seek to foster a spirit of inquiry and joy in learning, and we use technology to meet that goal and our community’s growing technology needs.Students have 1:1 access to iPads and use them to enhance their learning every day. The digital literacy curriculum supports the developmental skills needed to navigate digital devices and allows students to become digital creators, designers, builders and coders.
The study of music for First graders involves structure, freedom, theory and creativity. Children make music and perform drama by speaking, singing, playing, moving and listening. Beauvoir children learn about rhythm, melody, harmony, form and tone through a wide variety of games and activities. Movement is an important aspect of music. Singing and percussion instruments are components of the music program. Drama experiences include the performance of stories.
Physical education supports first graders in their growth and development through guided participation in physical activities. The curriculum ranges from fitness stations and lacrosse to soccer and climbing. A variety of activities with different skill levels are introduced throughout the year. Lead-up games for individual sports are started in first grade so students can start to incorporate their skills into game situations. Physical education is structured to enhance children’s abilities to cooperate with and respect others.
Science in the First Grade introduces new scientific concepts with an emphasis on how natural cycles affect our environment. Scientific inquiry skills are developed through a discovery approach. Children learn that, when making and testing predictions, they can benefit from both correct and incorrect answers.
Spanish instruction in the First Grade is cross-curricular. Spanish language lessons feature familiar stories, cultural songs and poems, and interactive games. First Graders learn vocabulary and basic conversational phrases, and begin to develop partner communication skills. Morning meetings are conducted in Spanish on a weekly basis, including a written morning message, greeting, calendar work and sharing. Counting numbers, creating graphs, measuring objects and completing science experiments contribute to the understanding of Spanish.
Beauvoir children participate in service activities that actively engage them in creating and building relationships with others to benefit their city, their country and the world. At each grade level, children participate in a meaningful and age-appropriate service experience each year, first grade students develop a staff-appreciation project to better understand that service to others begins at home
Beauvoir’s Life Rules provide the foundation for the social-emotional curriculum in first grade. Students demonstrate kindness as they develop friendships, work and play cooperatively, and interact with members of our community; respect towards themselves, their peers, teachers, and community members; responsibility for their actions, academic work, and materials; and honesty in all that they say and do. In the fall and winter, students practice initiating and participating in classroom routines and activities, working independently, and sustaining attention to a task, transitioning between activities efficiently, and following multi-step directions. Students continue to develop expressive and receptive language and work toward staying on topic while speaking, expressing themselves clearly and in complete sentences, and actively listening to their peers and teachers. First graders develop student skills for lifelong learning. Through the social-emotional curriculum in first grade, children develop self-confidence, agency, and resilience as members of a class community.
—Current Beauvoir Parent
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Partner Teacher, First Grade
Head of Middle Years, Kindergarten and First Grade
Partner Teacher, First Grade
Partner Teacher, First Grade
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