Manchester Public Schools
Office of Equity and Partnerships
Grade 1 English Curriculum Information
Here are the things your child will be expected to accomplish during the school year…
  • First graders work to become more efficient and flexible word­solvers. Good habits will encompass word solving as teachers suggest that first graders have good habits for getting themselves unstuck as they read. First graders attend to all the parts of each word, and also need to begin to be more flexible with letters and sounds, particularly vowels, trying both the long and short sounds for vowels within words.
  • Teachers will open this unit by inviting children to write like professional authors. They’ll share a mentor text (perhaps Night of the Veggie Monster, from the trade book pack), give children three­page booklets, and invite them to tell and then write the small­moment stories of their lives. The most important words of the first mini lesson are the final ones: “Off you go. You can get started drawing and writing your own Small Moments book.” Children learn to touch and tell their stories, then sketch and write, so they can move independently through the writing process again and again. They learn to use their word solving skills, and they learn that when they are finished writing one story, they can begin another. Children learn ways writers develop their narratives bit by bit. Partners act out what the people in their stories did and then capture that on the pages of their booklets. Writers will generate a list of techniques the author of a mentor text used that they could try as well. With a partner, they rehearse reading their piece aloud. As the culmination of the unit children read their books in small groups and then add them to a newly created basket in the classroom library.
  • At the start of this unit, teachers will build on that natural curiosity by telling your children, “We’re going to learn about the world. We’re going to swim with sharks. We’re going to travel back in time. We’ll hold baby monkeys and crystals in our hands!” When the kids wonder how that can be true, teachers will unveil a new section of the classroom library, filled with books that teach about these topics and more. This unit balances support for nonfiction with support for reading processes. Children think about how nonfiction readers become super smart about topics, but teachers are also teaching comprehension strategies such as previewing the text, predicting, noticing text structure and synthesizing information from multiple sources (the picture, the print, the text boxes). The unit spotlights word solving and vocabulary. Many students will move from a level D all the way to J. Many students will be working on using parts of words to word solve, breaking longer words into parts, and using inflectional endings such as –ing. Towards the end of the unit teachers will shift the emphasis to building fluency and studying craft, teaching students to reread, to sound like an expert, and to notice craft.   
  • This unit takes children on a writing journey that builds in sophistication. It begins with instruction in how to make a basic type of information book—the picture book. Children then create several information chapter books filled with elaboration, interesting text elements, and pictures that supplement the meaning conveyed by the words. These first books will resemble nonfiction picture books. Children will revisit some of the skills they learned in Small Moments—planning, tackling big words, and drawing—in the context of this new genre. Children will assess their work against the information writing checklist. Introducing this tool on the first day and revisiting it continually will help children build the habit of reflecting on their work and setting goals. Children write chapter books, which gives them opportunities to structure their texts. It is likely that the pace of the children’s writing will slow as the books they produce become longer and more ambitious. Teachers will revisit the mentor text Sharks to investigate how chapter books are written. They will teach children to include in their books not only all the things they’ve learned so far but also new elements: how­to pages, stories, introductions, and conclusions, also spotlighting new ways to elaborate: comparisons, examples, and elements of persuasion. Partner work will again be important as a way to check for clarity, generate more ideas, and cheer each other on. There will also be opportunities to teach six­year­olds simple ways to research their topics by studying photographs and asking questions. Finally, lessons around craft and thoughtful punctuation add flourish to the powerful writing first graders are now doing in their information books. All of this work will lead to one last celebration, during which children will choose their favorite book to share with an audience.
  • Readers develop the mindset to take charge of their own reading. Teachers will focus on strengthening and expanding students’ word­solving strategies, reminding them to draw from multiple sources of information. Teachers will draw students’ attention toward monitoring for meaning. Children will learn strategies for maintaining meaning across large parts of text, as well as strategies for understanding new vocabulary. Students will become problem solvers and read with fluency. In this unit, as in many, partner work plays an important role. It will be important that the readers feel what it’s like when they understand the story, and are able to solve words —in other words, it’s important that they feel what’s it’s like when their reading is going well. A partner can help them to do this, getting a sense of what it will be like to eventually do this independently.
  • Students will be asked to bring a small collection of something neatly in a shoebox. Specifically, they will review their collections and choose which item in that collection is the best, writing defenses for those judgment. This writing is their introduction to developing opinions and insights about all that matters most to them and writing reviews, the subject of this book. Because the teacher’s mini lessons will often teach a new quality of good persuasive writing, on any one day some children will be revising previously written reviews to include the new learning, and some will be writing new ones. Teachers will teach children that much like they collected things and judged the items in their collections, they can collect and judge books and then write to tell others their opinions about those books. Teachers will also return to teaching your children how to write to persuade, using all they’ve learned about the structure of a review and persuasive writing. The unit ends in a big, old­fashioned celebration of the ways people persuade others to read their books (much like PBS’s Reading Rainbow book reviews of years past).
  • In this unit, teachers will strive both to improve the students’ nonfiction reading skills, and to work on their speaking and listening skills. Teachers will teach children how to read nonfiction, really read it, fully and deeply from the first page to the last. Teachers help children move from simply “fact collecting,” to a deeper understanding of main ideas and supporting information. Children will be reading longer books than they ever have, and will need new strategies for hanging on to the important information. They will also learn to take the information provided in one book and add it to information learned in another, and another, thinking and learning about a topic across many texts, not just one. Students will learn to synthesize and summarize the information into main ideas, rather than retell lists of relatively unimportant details. This unit provides an opportunity for your class to revisit informational reading, this time with the added feature of book clubs.
  • After a sequence of units focused tightly on reading process, this one spotlights the nuts and bolts of story elements and the skills that are foundational to literal and inferential comprehension. It teaches empathy, imagination, envisioning, prediction—all of those key comprehension skills that add up to engagement. Teachers will also teach readers strategies for holding on to longer and more complex stories and determining importance to retell key details in sequence. They will teach children to draw from the details in the text to grow ideas about these characters and to read in a way that brings them to life.
  • Teachers will teach children that fiction writers call on their pretending skills to invent characters and small­moment adventures—and then children will come up with characters of their own, name them, and put them into imagined scenarios. Teachers will encourage your children to write lots of realistic fiction quickly and with independence, using all they already know about writing small moments and bringing stories to life. Teachers will introduce the notion that characters face a bit of trouble—and that writers then get their characters out of trouble to give readers a satisfying ending. They will spotlight courageous word choice and spelling. They’ll end by asking writers to reflect on their writing and use the narrative checklists to set new goals. Teachers will teach children that series writers put their characters into more than one book and more than one adventure and give special consideration to what to put into the very first book of a series so that readers are set up for the books to follow. As children stay with one or two characters for a few or even half a dozen books, they’ll teach them to write with detail and how to make their characters talk for different purposes. Teachers will use Henry and Mudge to model as the children are taught the rest of this unit. There is a mini celebration of children’s first series. Children will edit their work in preparation for this celebration and create a boxed set (perhaps a painted­over cereal box with a blurb about the famous young author on the back) to showcase their work. Teachers will use Henry and Mudge to determine what writers do to make realistic fiction realistic. They’ll teach children that writers call on their own experiences to imagine tiny details they can include in a story to let their readers know a story is realistic. Children will then try this themselves, adding little details to their second series to help readers picture the stories in their mind. Teachers will spotlight how to show not tell and then prompt youngsters to think about the structure of their stories as they write chapters with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The unit ends with a grand finale, during which an audience will join the class in celebrating their newly published series.

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