First Grade

About First Grade

First grade at Open Window School is a year when students begin to expand their understanding of the wider world and their place in it. Recognizing the energy and curiosity of six and seven-year-old gifted students, first grade provides many opportunities for students to be active and inquisitive learners. First graders begin the year exploring the idea of family; first by recognizing and sharing their own family structure and then comparing their family with that of other families. Throughout the year, students continue to develop their understanding of family through several projects that integrate literacy, social studies, and science. These projects include learning about empathy as they work to meet the needs of a fictional family and expanding the idea of family into science as they choose a family of animals to learn about, including designing and implementing a community service project designed to help the animals. As with all grades at Open Window, first grade also provides an intentional, age-appropriate scope and sequence of lessons focusing on social and emotional learning and development. 

List of 5 items.

  • Language Arts

    First grade is a time of tremendous growth in language arts skills. Students begin the year possessing a wide range of abilities, skills, and development. The language arts program is designed to nourish emergent readers while developing literacy at all levels, including those students who enter as fluent, confident readers and writers. First grade classrooms surround students with books and environmental print, nurturing their curiosity through carefully chosen independent and group language activities. Students select from authentic reading and writing choices, working independently toward personalized goals, while the teacher meets individual needs through whole-group and small-group instruction, as well as one-on-one conferring. 

    The first grade reading program instills a deep understanding of self-selecting text that is of an appropriate reading level and interest to each student, with a strong focus on developing critical thinking skills within those books. Twenty minutes of nightly reading at home is an important piece of the learning-to-read process. Language arts concepts are integrated throughout the first grade curriculum as students read and write in the content areas of science and social studies. Writing occurs daily and includes writing journals, reading response activities, reading journals, collaborative writing, and Handwriting Without Tears lessons. Students use phonics books and engage in phonics lessons that are selected depending on each student’s need and ability. Communication skills are emphasized through class discussions, cooperative group experiences, personal interactions and social-emotional skill lessons. 
  • Math

    Based on the Bridges in Mathematics program, instruction includes hands-on, experiential activities that push students to explore mathematical patterns, solidify a deep understanding of numeracy, and investigate both their own thinking processes as well as those of their classmates. Students also participate in collaborative problem-solving activities and games which serve to further deepen this mathematical understanding through social learning and strategizing. Assessment is ongoing and informs the content and pacing of math instruction.  
  • Science

    First graders begin their year with an introduction to the scientific method, answering the questions, "What does a scientist do," and, "How do scientists ask questions?" The scientific skills of planning and carrying out investigations, constructing explanations and designing solutions are learned through high-interest topics such as Biomes and Structures, Spiders, Earth Science and Raptors. These topics are integrated with homeroom projects and activities. 
    Devoted strictly to kindergarten through fourth grade learners, the Open Window Lower School Science Lab offers inquiry based, hands-on experiences for young students. Capitalizing on the natural curiosity and zeal for learning of gifted students, the lower school science curriculum develops not only a solid foundation of science skills but a passion for all things scientific. Scientific investigations cover four domains over the course of kindergarten through fourth grade: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science.
  • Social Studies

    Social studies in first grade extends the foundation established in kindergarten and is designed to promote awareness of the relationship between oneself and the world. Using a unifying thread of the broad idea of “family,” social studies in first grade exposes students to experiences in the areas of culture, history, diversity, geography, global connections, and leadership, and are often cross-disciplinary, incorporating math, literacy, science, and technology concepts wherever possible. Students also engage in the use of basic map skills, comparison strategies, and beginning research skills in specific areas of study. Additionally, first graders find authentic applications of their studies throughout the school year that might include performances, presentations, and service learning opportunities. 
  • Spanish

    The lower school exploratory Spanish program follows the natural sequence of language learning: understanding > speaking > reading > writing.  Understanding and speaking are the primary focus.  The program is designed to provide both an introduction to another language and an appreciation of another culture prior to the more academic middle school Spanish curriculum. Consistent with how a child learns his or her first language, the Spanish curriculum encourages a learning environment in which the language directly relates to the students and their surroundings, reflecting their needs, interests, and everyday life.  Students are exposed to Spanish-speaking cultures through stories, songs and a study of customs. An appreciation of other societies and cultures is fostered through the study of the Spanish language. 

Sample Schedule

8:15-8:30 Morning Work 
8:30-9:00 Literacy Centers 
9:00-9:30 Morning Meeting/ SEL 
9:30-10:00 Science 
10:00-10:30 Snack/ Recess 
10:30-11:00 Social Studies 
11:00-11:30 Writer's Workshop 
11:30-12:00 Recess 
12:00-12:30 Lunch/ Read Aloud 
12:30-1:30 Math 
1:30-2:00 Technology 
2:00-2:30 Snack/ Recess 
2:30-3:00 Problem Solving 
3:00-3:15 Pack-Up/ Class Jobs 

First Grade Teachers

List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Mark Kalal

    Mark Kalal 

    1st Grade Teacher
  • Photo of Amanda Vaish

    Amanda Vaish 

    1st Grade Teacher
  • Photo of Megan Waddell

    Megan Waddell 

    Associate Teacher, Grade 1
  • Photo of Anita Erskine

    Anita Erskine 

    Associate Teacher, Grade 1
Open Window School provides a challenging academic curriculum blended with nurturing support from teachers that prepares students for long-term success.