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First Grade ELA Curriculum

ELA Curriculum

First Grade is a time of rapid growth and development of reading and writing skills. Most students enter first grade able to read simple pattern books, recognize some sight words, and use letter sounds to help identify new words. By the end of first grade, students are reading short books fluently. They have a large sight word vocabulary and many strategies for decoding unfamiliar words. Their academic vocabulary has expanded rapidly and they are able to discuss the books they have read describing characters and plot, or remembering facts that were learned through reading. First graders’ writing skills also undergo significant development throughout the year. By the end of the year, they are producing stories, letters, and short informational reports. Their spelling skills have improved so that it is much easier to read their writing and they are experimenting with longer and more complex sentences.

First grade teachers continue to engage in daily read aloud with their students. The process of reading books aloud gives all students an opportunity to engage with complex texts that might be above their personal reading levels, and provides important practice in listening comprehension and discussion skills. Within the reading and writing workshops, skills are modeled and then practiced independently and in partnerships with other students. An important goal of our first grade literacy program is to develop reading and writing stamina. The more students practice reading and writing, the more they will enjoy it and improve their skills.

Word work is also an important part of the first grade literacy program. Building on kindergarten skills, we provide structured, sequential instruction in phonics, spelling, and word study. The goal is to build fluency with reading and writing skills.

Another important component of the first grade balanced literacy program is small group or guided reading instruction. Students meet in small groups with their teacher on a regular basis. Guided reading allows teachers to match students with similar reading levels and goals to a text that helps them learn and practice new skills.

The following table identifies specific areas of instruction within the first grade literacy program, the instructional materials, and the units of study/learning objectives:

Instructional Area

Instructional Materials

Units of Study / Learning Objectives

 Word Work

Wilson Fundations Level 1

By the end of first grade, students will be able to:

  • Segment words into sounds (up to 5 sound words)
  • Name sounds and write corresponding letters of consonants, consonant digraphs, long and short vowels
  • Print all upper and lowercase letters
  • Use conventional spelling for words with common spelling patterns and many irregular words (trick words)
  • Read and spell two-syllable words by breaking them into parts
  • Add endings to basewords and read and spell those words
  • Apply correct capitalization and punctuation when writing sentences


First Grade Reader’s Workshop Units of Study from the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project

Units of Study Include:

  • Building Good Reading Habits
  • Learning About the World: Reading Nonfiction
  • Readers Have Big Jobs to Do: Fluency, Phonics, and Comprehension
  • Word Detectives: Strategies for Using High Frequency Words and For Decoding
  • Meeting Characters and Learning Lessons: A Study of Story Elements


First Grade Writer’s Workshop Units of Study from the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project.

Units of Study Include:

  • Small Moments: Writing with Focus, Detail, and Dialogue
  • Writing Nonfiction Chapter Books: expository writing
  • Writing Book Reviews: opinion writing
  • From Scenes to Series: Writing Fiction

Technology Tools


Imagine Learning

Raz Kids

Teachers use technology tools to support literacy development for all students. I-read and Imagine Learning are both individualized learning programs that adjust to students’ needs as they progress through the lessons. I-read helps reinforce beginning/foundational reading skills, while Imagine Learning assists our English Language Learners to learn vocabulary, comprehension, and reading skills. Raz Kids gives students access to many interesting leveled fiction and non-fiction books to practice reading skills.