First graders are raring to go! They crack the reading code and dive into extended investigations of patterns in number and shape. Securely connected to their school community, they explore the broader neighborhood and end the year with an intensive study of the Cathedral itself–its history, design, and place in our city and the world.

List of 6 items.

  • Reading

    First graders practice reading independently and in guided reading groups, which help them build decoding skills, apply phonetic strategies, use context clues, and build sight-word vocabulary. They also develop comprehension skills, including predicting outcomes, making inferences, visualizing, and studying character traits.
  • Writing

    First graders write in a variety of genres, including journalism, personal essay, non-fiction, poetry, correspondence, and creative writing. They develop revision and editing skills, with a focus on ending punctuation, capitalization, sight words, word choice, and use of complete sentences.  First grade writing is a journey towards the effective expression of ideas.
  • Mathematics

    In class, first graders build an understanding of the number system through 100 and are introduced to place value. They practice addition and subtraction and counting by 2, 5, and 10. They also investigate geometry, measurements and patterns and create charts and graphs. Throughout the year, they develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and strategizing skills, which allow them to explain their mathematical thinking.
  • Social Studies

    Diversity and community are focuses of first grade social studies, with students studying family composition and exploring the meanings of “neighborhood” and “community.” They also explore access and ability regarding physical and cognitive differences in the Understanding Differences Curriculum. In the spring, the social studies curriculum culminates with an in-depth study of the Cathedral. The first grade writes a guidebook featuring 25 landmarks in the Cathedral and around the campus. Then, using the docent guidebook, each child leads a docent tour for their family.
  • Science

    The students spend the year focusing on the concept of cause and effect. They begin discussing the basic scientific method through conducting small experiments where they carefully predict, observe, and analyze results. During the soil/worm study, students conduct experiments to better understand worm behavior. They use specimen collection jars and artificial lighting to figure out if worms prefer the light or dark. Connected to the theme of cause and effect, the students also discuss ecology, with focus on water pollution and access to clean water. The students build water filtration devices to see if they can filter contaminants out of polluted water.
  • World Languages

    Spanish language instruction is a key component of the first grade year. The students are introduced to vocabulary and common phrases such as greetings, expressions of courtesy, numbers, family members, colors, personal interests and hobbies, and the months of the year. Spanish speaking, listening, and writing skills are cultivated through songs, games, conversations, and hands-on activities. Finally, first graders explore cultural traditions and celebrations of Spanish-speaking countries.

Curriculum in Action

There is already an award-winning identity program at The Cathedral School, but the first grade’s Understanding Differences Curriculum expands that program to include discussion of diversity of ability, both physical and mental. This curriculum, which stretches over several months of the first grade’s fall and winter, starts with a unit on wheelchair access. The children learn about wheelchair athletes and also tour the neighborhood to examine public transportation, local businesses, and Columbia University for potential flaws in their accessibility design. There are also units on autism, Down Syndrome, deafness, and blindness. The Understanding Differences Curriculum finishes with a week-long charity drive called Pennies for Puppies, during which the first graders participate in bake sales and read-a-thons to raise money to train Seeing Eye dogs, which can cost as much as $50,000 per dog to train.
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