AMERICAN CURRICULUM (20% of the school week)
To best meet the needs of our different student populations, there are two First and Second Grade programs. The first is designed for native English speakers and the other for non-native speakers who have already acquired a good level of English fluency but require targeted instruction to build vocabulary, reinforce grammar mechanics, and develop their oral English. Following this two-year cycle, students are mixed in grades three through five.
Language Arts: Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are at the heart of everything we do. Students have many opportunities to practice these four basic language skills during every session.
- First Grade (CP): The First Grade Mainstream class is for children who are native English speakers. First Grade is the second of a three-year phonics cycle. SRA/Open Court Phonics is coupled with Reading Workshop, developed by the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University, to create a balanced and differentiated literacy program that gives explicit instruction in phonics while developing comprehension and a love of books and reading. Through modeled reading behaviors, mini-lessons, and direct instruction on reading strategies, first graders build good reading habits, learn about the world through reading nonfiction, work with reading partners, gain reading independence, and learn about book characters and various story elements. Writing skills, grammar, mechanics, and spelling are all developed throughout the program during this first grade year.
- First Grade Plus (CP Plus): The two-year Plus program begins in First Grade (CP+) and continues through Second Grade (CE1+). The First Grade Plus class is a gentle yet intensive, total immersion approach to English enrichment, that caters to our non-native speaking community. The focus is to build a rich vocabulary foundation (and grammatical structure) in preparation for reading in English. The students in this program begin their reading in English in the third trimester of CP using the reading skills they have learned through learning to read first in French and then transferring those skills to read in English. Having similar student profiles in the Plus classes allows the teacher to focus on similar second language issues, and tailor lessons to the specific needs of the class.
The following curriculum features are identical for First Grade and First Grade Plus students:
Art: First graders participate in an art class every other week. The art program's objectives are reinforced through hands-on projects using a variety of techniques. Over the course of five years, the students are introduced to the essential elements that structure the way one creates art, namely: line, shape, form, space, texture, value, and color. Every project includes a combination of these essential “building blocks.” Students work with gradually increasing agility, complexity, and intention, as they mature from grade to grade. Each year, art expectations become more sophisticated as the teachers support each student’s increasing ability to observe the physical world, as well as their ability to better express their feelings and ideas.
Examples of possible projects and lessons include painting an imaginary garden, reproducing a 3D object by pulling and pinching clay, exploring emotional value in colors.
Library/Technology: First and foremost, the library program strives to spark a love of reading by offering the students access to classics of children’s literature as well as contemporary fiction and non-fiction from leading authors. All students attend library classes every other week when they have an opportunity to browse the collection and check out books and magazines.
During the library sessions, First Grade students listen to stories, learn how the library is organized, and learn to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction books. Our classrooms are equipped with Interactive Smartboards and students have access to 1 to 1 use of iPads. The library team assists the classroom teachers in the implementation of this technology.
Character Education: Six basic human values: respect, responsibility, self-discipline and perseverance, trustworthiness, fairness, and caring are discussed and developed whenever appropriate during the year. The teacher may choose to create a lesson around one or several of these values.
FRENCH CURRICULUM (80% of the school week)
All students follow the French national curriculum for the First Grade. Besides French reading and language arts, math, gym, and penmanship are taught exclusively in French. For more information on the content and skills developed in French during the year, go to the website of the French Ministry of Education.