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First Grade

In grade one, students learn about and practice faith in meaningful ways. From daily prayer to our many service projects at school, we learn from an early age to give to those in need. The first graders also host Mass for one of our most special days, Grandparents’ Day! Through simple acts of care and kindness, the students follow the way of Jesus and know what He was trying to teach us. Our religion book, Who Has God's Life, provides lessons to help children act as images of God. We also weave in ideas about our faith in literature, poetry, science, and social studies. Throughout the year, we observe and discuss Catholic holidays and seasons as a way to foster a deeper understanding of our religion. For this reason, our students connect faith as a part of our daily lives and we appreciate and give thanks to God for our blessings.
English Language Arts (ELA)
In grade one, reading not only enables children to learn new information, but also sparks joy as children learn to explore new worlds through texts. Given that good readers read often and for extended periods of time, it is of paramount importance that students develop a love for reading. Our reading program promotes using a variety of instructional methods including whole group read alouds, small group skill work and individualized instruction, so each child sees him/herself as a reader. Our teachers are trained in the widely-acclaimed Wilson Fundations program, which helps foster phonemic awareness, sight word recognition, and many other key reading skills. Furthermore, reading comprehension is supported through analysis of text including: fiction, folk takes and fairy tales, informational text and poetry. The Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System monitors student growth and allows teachers to track growth of phonics, sight words and comprehension. 
Students engage in writing activities that correlate with the genres we learn in reading class. Each writing genre has specific traits that are overtly taught. Some of the major writing genres that students focus on in first grade include: personal narratives, fictional narratives, nonfiction writing, how-to writing, biographies, poetry, and more.  Saint Joe’s utilizes the Voyages in English Grammar and Writing curriculum, which aligns with our reading and phonics lessons. Furthermore, our teachers are trained in the John Collins writing and editing program, which focuses on content, grammar and mechanics. At Saint Joe’s, teachers weave writing into all aspects of the day, including religion, social studies, math, and science. Through these daily writing activities, students have a safe place and purpose for sharing their individual thoughts and ideas.
Social Studies
The first grade curriculum teaches students to understand our role at home, at school, and in our community. We learn about patriotism and citizenship and why these values and practices are the foundation of our society. As outlined in the Massachusetts Frameworks for History and Social Studies, our students study themes of leadership, cooperation, unity and diversity. Topics of study include leadership roles and characteristics of a good leader; rights and responsibilities of a good citizen; identifying and locating places on a map; and recognizing American symbols and their meanings. Our unit on the economy distinguishes between goods and services; income and savings; money and jobs; and needs compared to wants. Students learn about natural resources and renewable resources and the connections to geographical locations in our country.
Students engage in science units that are aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. First graders will study the properties of light and sounds, plants and the life cycle; animals and animal traits; patterns of daylight and sunlight; and patterns of temperature and weather that impact animals, plants, and people. Using the engineering design process, students learn that failure and retesting are part of a process. Our young scientists investigate the scientific process through inquiry, experimentation, observation and problem solving. While in first grade, students bring the science curriculum to life by planting and maintaining a garden. This not only teaches an understanding of the scientific conditions needed for a seed to blossom, but also fosters a student’s sense of responsibility.
The first grade math program develops students’ analysis and knowledge in four areas of mathematical practice: operations and algebraic thinking, number and operations in base ten, measurement and data, and geometry. We utilize the Progress in Mathematics program. Math concepts are utilized by students to engage in rich problem-solving activities. Additionally, students use hands-on manipulatives to gain a concrete understanding of math concepts. When learning concepts, students work in whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one settings, ensuring that each student’s needs are met.