First and Second Grades
The Primary student is entering a significant new stage of development, signaled by the change of teeth, lengthening of the body and limbs, and the emergence of new faculties of memory and the imagination. Where the majority of a child’s energy has been employed in physical development over the first seven years, this energy now becomes available in the form of newfound cognitive abilities and an emerging sense of the self as an individual in the world.
School Day: 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. with the option of Extended Day through 4:30 p.m.
A balanced approach is most effective in children’s reading and writing development.
For reading, writing, and phonics, teachers use Reader's and Writer's Workshop curricula, developed at Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.
Below are key elements of our rich and balanced language arts program:
Reader’s Workshop – Teachers start with a minilesson where a particular reading skill or strategy is taught. Then the children go off and read, with teachers coming to them to confer. Children read “just right” books and try the strategies learned in the lesson. Reader’s Workshop provides children with feelings of success and competence while reading.
Young readers need opportunities to read high-interest, accessible books of their own choosing. Our classroom libraries contain over 400 leveled books at each grade level, all organized into collections, shelves, and bins based on level, genre, topic. Our libraries meet all learners’ needs, both for students reading at, above, and below the benchmark.
Guided Reading - Guided Reading happens weekly for children Kinderclass through the primary grades. This small group work allows children to read slightly above their “just right” reading level in a supportive group setting. Reading groups meet with the teacher and read texts that are matched with the students’ reading levels. The teacher demonstrates reading strategies and children then practice with teacher guidance.
Writer’s Workshop - Students practice writing a variety of genres. Over the course of First and Second grade, students will write Personal Narratives, Persuasive and Opinion Writing, Informational Texts, and Poetry.
Every writing session starts with a minilesson where a particular skill or strategy is taught. Then the children go off and write, with teachers coming to them to confer. Writers learn to use the writing process: rehearsing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Writing is taught with direct, explicit instruction including spelling conventions and the skills of proficient writing. Through daily independent writing, young writers move towards conventional spelling. Writing across genres gives children practice with different authorial voices. At the end of each unit, young authors edit their work for publication and are celebrated at publishing parties.
Phonics - Phonics is taught in the primary grades using Units of Study Phonics from Columbia University's Teachers College. Concepts learned in the primary grades include phonological awareness, spelling patterns, word knowledge, and high-frequency word study. Lessons are engaging and often solidify knowledge through games with partners.
Listening and Speaking - Through classroom discussions, teachers actively utilize the social dynamic of the classroom to develop each student’s ability to express thoughts, feelings, and needs respectfully and effectively. One of the wonderful developments in primary age children is their ability to begin to consider others’ perspectives. This milestone means that children are now ready to engage in discussions that take into account multiple viewpoints. Through a variety of literature, students are introduced to the concept of 'windows and mirrors.' Windows allow you to view someone else’s experience and mirrors allow you reflect on your own culture. Both resources help build one’s identity and develop empathy and understanding.
Spanish - Through weekly Spanish classes, children continue to build Spanish vocabulary through engaging games, songs, and stories.
Reading Support - When students are not meeting the literacy benchmarks that they developmentally could meet, the Head Teacher makes a referral to the Reading Support Teacher. Our Reading Support Teacher is trained in the Institute for Multi-Sensory Orton Gillingham Reading Approach. The Reading Support Teacher meets frequently with students either one-on-one or in small groups using an explicit, sequential, systematic, and multi-sensory approach used to teach literacy. The support program breaks reading and writing into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, then builds on these skills over time. The Teacher will also meet with children for reading fluency and writing support as needed.
At Nantucket Lighthouse School, we use Bridges in Mathematics developed by The Math Learning Center. Math in the Primary grades focuses on forging meaningful connections between what children understand conceptually and the conventional symbols and procedures used to represent mathematical concepts.
First graders focus on addition and subtraction, place value, and shapes. Throughout the year, they add and subtract with numbers to 20; become fluent with addition and subtraction facts to 10; count to 120 and learn about place value (ones, tens, hundreds); identify, sort, and draw shapes; and fit shapes together to make other shapes, solve puzzles, and talk about fractions.
Second graders focus on addition and subtraction, place value, shapes, and length measurement. Throughout the year, they become fluent with addition and subtraction facts with numbers to 20; add and subtract with numbers up to 1,000; measure length and solve problems involving lengths; and identify, describe, compare, put together, and take apart shapes. Teachers use a variety of visual models to help children develop deep understanding.
Diverse projects that incorporate writing, reading, math, and science, and field trips provide children with both imaginative and hands-on personal experience.
Primary students venture into new terrain outside of the home and school, and the social studies curriculum reflects this impulse outward. In First grade, a study of the history of Nantucket acquaints children with the history of their home and the way of life of early Nantucketers and Native Americans.
Second graders study what a community is, the services required to meet all the needs of a community, and the rules and laws that help keep communities thriving. Through the creation of their own unique community, Gingerville, students learn all about the community in which they live, why it is the way it is, and what improvements they would like to make.
Investigating animals and plants and the concept of a habitat; recording observation of Nature through writing and drawing; growing vegetables and herbs; composting and recycling
Children in the Primary Grades are discovering the world in new ways and are eager to learn about its creatures and uncover how things work. This natural curiosity is channeled in the study of creatures and their natural habitats. Through firsthand observation and lessons on how to research, children learn about the characteristics and needs of diverse creatures and plants and their shared habitats while learning about life cycles and adaptations.
Weekly Physical Education classes include exercising gross motor skills through running, jumping, hopping, climbing, balancing. There is an emphasis on collaborative games and good sportspersonship.
In First Grade, students learn longer songs with multiple verses and sections, as well as shorter rhymes and repetitive songs. Musical selections include songs from the American folk canon, popular music, and songs from around the world. Students use instruments more specifically than they did last year, playing the western musical scale up and down on a xylophone and learning the names of the tones (e.g. do, re, mi, fa, sol). They also play games to reinforce feeling and creating a steady beat, both independently and in a group. Students also start to become familiar with musical notation, learning to identify high and low, as well as rhythmic notation.
In Second Grade students learn songs that have multiple verses and sections. Musical selections include songs from the American folk canon, popular music, and songs from around the world. Students use instruments, playing short melodies and fragments of songs on boom-whackers and xylophones, as well as percussion instruments such as drums and rhythm sticks. Students play musical games to reinforce feeling and creating a steady beat, both independently and in a group. Students also review and expand their knowledge of musical notation.