1st Grade: Wood Class » First Grade Curriculum

First Grade Curriculum



Reading in the WOOD class focuses on establishing good reading habits, building independent reading stamina, and using effective strategies to tackle print. Students practice retelling stories, drawing on key details to support their comprehension and understanding of the text’s central message or lesson. In Reader’s Workshop, students learn how to make predictions, reread for deeper meaning, and identify key differences between nonfiction and fiction texts. First grade readers also learn how to compare different characters’ experiences, points of view, and character development throughout the story. To support their non-fiction text understanding, the Woodworkers draw upon a variety of texts on the same topic to compare and to contrast perspectives, text features, and information. 


The Writer’s Workshop curriculum in first grade focuses on narrative, informational, and opinion writing. In the fall, the Woodworkers write “small moment” stories, learning how to generate and record cohesive and sequenced narratives and utilize resourceful strategies for spelling “tricky” words. WOOD writers learn how to “hook” their reader using details and illustrations to support readers’ understanding. In our informational writing unit, we create nonfiction, teaching books. Writers learn how to organize their writing by naming a topic, providing facts, and a sense of closure. We practice supplementing our teaching books with nonfiction text features like labels and arrows, illustrations, table of contents, etc. For opinion writing, the Woodworkers write their own opinions on a variety of interests with the intent to persuade the reader. Writers write reviews evaluating restaurants, games, foods, etc. Other writing experiences in the WOOD room include poetry, handwriting development, bucket fillers, and free writing. 


The Phonics program follows the same workshop format as the Reading and Writing Units of Study. Twenty minute whole group phonics lessons are taught daily, with additional small group differentiated lessons taught during readers and writers workshops. Woodworkers will study and practice concepts about print, phonological awareness, letter knowledge, word solving strategies, and high frequency (snap) words. The work they do in Phonics will be directly applied to and practiced in the reading and writing workshops. 


Math in the Wood class focuses on developing number sense and an understanding of addition, subtraction, and strategies for addition and subtraction within 20. Learners develop an understanding of whole number relationships and place value, including grouping in hundreds, tens and ones. The Woodworkers learn standard and nonstandard measurement, geometric shapes and attributes, and how to interpret and represent data with a graph. First grade mathematicians also work on word/story problems to develop their multi-step processing skills as well as effective mathematical representation and modeling. Other concepts include telling time, identifying and counting change, and extending a counting sequence. Mathematical practices include effective reasoning, constructing viable arguments, using appropriate tools strategically, and developing a sense of perseverance in solving problems. Throughout the year, first graders learn a variety of strategies (i.e.- counting on/back, working from known facts, combinations of 10 and 20, etc.) and basic math facts (i.e.- doubles, “neighbors,” partners of 10, and +10 and +9 facts) to help them engage with higher numerals. 


Learners explore the overarching theme of “community” in First Grade, beginning the year by building classroom culture with habits of trust, respect, and care. First graders develop an understanding of their own personal roles and responsibilities as members of our class community, holding different job assignments each week. Through our year-long Giraffe Heroes Program, the Woodworkers study what it means to be changemakers in their community and culminate the year by designing and carrying out a service project. Other projects include an in-depth study of Dia de los Muertos, Adapt Your Hobbies (students learn about physical disabilities and design a modified hobby that is accessible for children with disabilities), and Blast from the Past (interviewing a community elder and writing a book about them). Through these projects and more, first graders learn about other cultures, communities, and degrees of equity and accessibility around the world. Study of various global customs and traditions also support the Woodworkers’ understanding and practice of multicultural awareness, diversity, tolerance, and inclusion. 


Science in the WOOD class happens each week in a variety of forms, including our weekly trips to the forest. Some units will focus on a particular concept or investigation and will extend over several weeks, like our butterfly and moth unit, our sound unit, and our archaeology unit. Some shorter units may complement a field trip like elephant seals at Ano Nuevo. At other times, an emergent curriculum evolves as students begin informally asking questions like, “What’s inside a coconut?” or “How many miles is it from California to the Equator?” or “Do ants sleep?” Scientific process skills such as observing, measuring, sorting/classifying, inferring, predicting, experimenting, questioning and communicating are also practiced through our investigations. 


Social Justice in the first grade weaves through all our curricular areas, activities, and classroom systems and structures. Under the domains of identity, diversity, justice and action, Woodworkers begin studying the self then move out to their family, school, local, and global communities. By examining our own identities in relation to family, culture, religion, and so forth, first graders learn that all our identities carry the same positive value. Diversity of each other and of other communities is celebrated often in the WOOD class and major studies like our Dia de los Muertos project allow for deep explorations of culture and tradition. 

Through the yearlong Giraffe Heroes Program, Woodworkers also study various historical changemakers such as Claudette Colvin. Discussion of current events and how we can respond to injustices, both big and small, is an integral part of the social justice curriculum. In our final project of the year, the Woodworkers will design and carry out a service project to improve our community. 


Socio-emotional skills and development are just as important in the WOOD class as is the academic curriculum. We began and end each day with circle times where students have the opportunity to build community, get to know each other,  and express concerns, gratitude, and ideas for our class community. Berkwood Hedge School also practices the 12 tools of the Toolbox Project. Supplemental resources and programs such as Restorative Justice, Kimochis, Bucket Fillers, and Friendship Theater are also utilized. Throughout the year, in a multitude of ways big and small, we practice expressing our feelings, communicating our wants and needs and how to navigate the “big kid” responsibilities and accountability of first grade!  

In our classroom, WOODworkers are constantly referring to the mantra, “Mistakes are MAGIC!” Students begin to understand that when they make a mistake, they are actually learning a tremendous amount.