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First Grade

Mrs. Rischard and Mrs. Walker are the first grade teachers. They each have a Reading Specialist that teaches sight word reading and a teaching assistant that helps in the classroom part of the day. Each classroom teacher leads the instruction in all academic areas in her classroom.

The Lindamood-Bell program is the basis of phonics instruction in first grade. Whole group instruction, led by the classroom teacher, is enhanced with the use of manipulatives and interactive SMART board activities to teach and practice phonics skills.

The reading curriculum in first grade uses the SRA Basic Reading series for the phonics approach to reading with additional practice in the Merrill phonetic reading series. The classroom teacher reads individually with the students on the phonetic-based reading. The sight reading curriculum is based on the Houghton-Mifflin Sight Word Series, as well as the Rite-Flight reading program which gives practice with high-frequency sight words. Students work individually with the Reading Specialist. Accelerated Reader, an important part of our reading program, begins in first grade. This reading comprehension program provides student motivation that increases sight word recognition, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Participating in the Book It program also provides additional motivation for these developing readers.

During their morning work time, students work independently on reading skill packets, workbooks, computer programs, iPad apps or center activities to reinforce reading and other academic skills. Students are able to document and share various learning activities with their parents using the Seesaw program. A teaching assistant is in the classroom during this time for individual help.

Sitton Spelling and Spelling City are the spelling programs used in first grade. Students also work on spelling skills through aspects of the Lindamood-Bell phonics program. Spelling City is a web-based computer program that allows the students to practice spelling at school and at home.

Written language skills are practiced using Practice Exercises in Basic English. Creative writing in first grade includes journal writing, descriptive writing, expository writing, and nonfiction report writing. The SRSD writing program is used for creative and informational report writing. Sentence formation, capitalization, and punctuation and editing are some of the skills also covered in first grade.  Students practice oral language skills with the Follow Me listening program.

The Handwriting Without Tears program is used throughout the year to help the students develop correct handwriting techniques. Use of the interactive HWT web site on the SMART board gives the students the opportunity to use their large muscle groups as they practice proper letter formation.

The students divide into smaller groups for math instruction. Our math curriculum scaffolds to meet the needs of individual students with hands-on learning and visual models that support and optimize the learning experience. The visual models, including bar models, help students develop the ability to visualize mathematical situations, which is key to becoming a successful problem solver. The emphasis on the concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) approach allows students to gain a deeper conceptual understanding through manipulatives, diagrams and models, and then, abstract symbols. The PHPS math curriculum is supplemented with Greg Tang’s new interactive website that aligns with the concrete-pictorial-abstract approach, and the IXL online math program that enhances skills practice.

The first grade classes join together to work on science and social studies. Some of the units they cover are The Five Senses, Parts of the Body, Food Groups, Rocks, Climates/Habitats, Insects and Plants. Lessons are designed to stimulate curiosity and interest in science. Many of the science units are enhanced with hands-on science projects such as in-house field trips provided by High Touch High Tech, planting in the school garden, enjoying field trips to the Dallas World Aquarium, the Dallas Arboretum, and The Butterfly Man.

The social studies units covered are Native Americans/Thanksgiving, December Holiday customs, Martin Luther King, Jr., Presidents and United States Symbols, Groundhog Day, and Dr. Seuss.

The first grade participates in the All School sponsored community service projects such as Coats for Kids for McShan Elementary and making sandwiches for Hunger Busters, a non-profit that feeds food insecure children in DISD.

First grade students receive additional instruction in the following areas:

Fine Motor lab-3 days a week
P. E.-3 days a week
Music- 2 days a week
Tech Lab-2 days a week
Art -1 day a week for an hour
Drama: Once a year, a representative from the Dallas Children’s Theater works with the class for 10 sessions to create an original drama production, which is performed for PHPS classmates.