First Grade



First graders make huge strides in reading and writing during the year. There are many components to a balanced literacy program that help support children as they are learning to read and write. These include:

Shared Reading: During shared reading time the teacher and students read songs, stories, charts, big books and messages together.

Read Aloud Time with Accountable Talk: Teachers select books to read aloud in order to teach skills about reading comprehension.

Word Study: During word study time we give direct instruction in letter sound relationships, spelling and strategies for encoding and decoding words.

Reading Workshop: During Reading Workshop the teacher gives a brief mini lesson on a specific skill or strategy. The students read independently and practice strategies modeled during the mini lesson with “just right” books that they have selected. During this independent time the teacher meets with individual students or runs small-guided reading groups.

Writing Workshop: We believe that although first graders are not proficient spellers they have a lot to say! With regular practice they learn to see themselves as authors. They learn to write personal narratives, friendly letters, persuasive reviews, and informational texts.


Illustrative Mathematics is a problem-based core curriculum for 21st century learners designed to address content and practice standards to foster learning for all, preparing students to solve problems, reason, communicate, and think critically in the classroom and beyond. The students are introduced to many strategies that help them become independent problem solvers.

The topics include:

  • number operations
  • geometry
  • place value
  • money
  • measurement and time
  • data and graphs
  • fractions

Integrated Units of Study:

One of the unique aspects of McCarthy-Towne is that we integrate our social studies and science units into the curriculum. We have art, writing and research projects that are inspired by the units and engage students in the work they do. We do a lot of direct observation and detailed sketching of objects and we use a variety of art materials to represent learning. Some of the units of study are: the Tide Pool, Volcanoes, the Sonoran Desert, Japan, and Weather.

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