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 opportunities for students to be active and inquisitive learners through projects that integrate literacy, social studies, and science. First grade also provides an intentional, age-appropriate scope and sequence of lessons focusing on social emotional learning (SEL) and development.

List of 5 items.

  • Language Arts

    As a part of Open Window School's program, the reading curriculum is accelerated by one year. As first-graders working a year ahead, students continue to work on the reading comprehension strategies that research shows good readers use to make sense of texts. During first grade, students are formally taught or informally experience using their schema and making connections, retelling, visualizing, wondering, and questioning, using text features, making inferences, determining important ideas, analyzing text structures, and summarizing. They explore and practice these strategies at an appropriate level of complexity, both in terms of the reading level of the texts and the types of problems and dilemmas dealt with in the texts. This happens both through shared text that is read as a class and through individualized daily reading.

    Writing in first grade is focused on the process of translating ideas to paper. Students work through the writing process, regularly creating graphic organizers to help them brainstorm ideas, followed by rough drafts, teacher or peer edits, and a final draft. They focus on basic grammar ideas, including writing complete sentences including using capitalization and punctuation, as well as stringing sentences together to form complete paragraphs. Foundational skills are also emphasized including print handwriting and phonics understanding to support spelling. They explore a variety of writing styles such as open-ended journaling, creative writing, personal narratives, poetry, letter-writing, and expository writing.

    In addition to academic skills, students continue to develop socially and ethically as those skills are integrated naturally into the work. As the students work together, they develop caring and respectful relationships, creating a safe and supportive classroom community that is conducive to sharing their thinking. They are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning and to be aware of the effect of their behavior on others. Throughout the year, students think about and act on five areas: responsibility, respect, caring, fairness, and helpfulness. Additionally, the students explore other values that arise in shared texts such as courage, perseverance, gratitude, and compassion. The social skills that students learn as a part of the reading instruction help them to act on these values intentionally.
  • Math

    As a part of Open Window School's program, the math curriculum is accelerated by one year. As first graders working a year ahead, students' mathematical thinking and reasoning abilities are developed through appropriately leveled problems and investigations in the areas of number, operations, algebraic thinking, measurement, data, and geometry. Some of these problems and investigations grow out of ventures into everyday life—reading stories, playing games, drawing pictures, making collections, and conducting simple hands-on science experiments—while others delve more deeply into the world of mathematics itself. Students are encouraged to explore, develop, test, discuss, and apply ideas: to see mathematics as something fluid, vibrant, creative, and relevant.

    This year, students focus intensively on four critical areas of mathematics: 1) extending understanding of base ten notation; 2) building fluency with addition and subtraction; 3) using standard units of linear measure; 4) describing and analyzing shapes.
  • 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 conducting investigations, constructing explanations, and designing solutions are learned through high-interest topics such as biomes and structures, spiders, Earth science, and collaborative animal projects with the homeroom teachers. 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’s exploratory Spanish program aims to inspire an early passion for learning language. It introduces students to important vocabulary and fosters awareness and appreciation of Spanish-speaking cultures with authentic stories, songs, and games. The curriculum includes themes that relate to students and their surroundings, reflecting their needs, interests, and everyday life and provides the opportunity for students to begin developing the speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills necessary to communicate confidently and proficiently in Spanish.

    In first grade Spanish, students strengthen and build on their language skills from kindergarten as they engage in thematic units related to family, celebrations, clothing, and weather. While the primary focus continues to be on understanding and speaking, students begin developing their recognition of Spanish words while reading short phrases and questions.

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 Dana Surman

    Dana Surman 

    Associate Teacher, Grade 1
  • Photo of Amanda Vaish

    Amanda Vaish 

    1st Grade Teacher
  • Photo of McKenna Sevruk

    McKenna Sevruk 

    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.