This SFUSD first-grade instructional guidance is organized into four sections: Culture of Learning, Academic Ownership, Essential Content, and Demonstration of Learning. We recommend you explore the four sections so you have a sense of what is available here and then focus on the Culture of Learning section for the start of the year. There you will find guidance on the development of 6 and 7-year-olds, setting up your classroom, building family partnerships, and launching the school year. For content-specific guidance go to Essential Content.
Our intention here is to provide an overview of first-grade instruction and make the information easily accessible. It is not a scripted manual - first-grade instruction is more complex and nuanced than these pages alone can illustrate. Still, there is a lot of information here that we believe will be supportive. Please do not feel compelled to dive into this website all at once. Please use it as a resource throughout the year as needed. This guide is one piece of the puzzle; your partnerships with students, fellow teachers, coaches, families, administrators, sites, and departments are all essential to supporting you in creating a learning environment where every day we provide each and every student with the quality instruction and equitable support required to thrive.
The Instructional Guidance Team
Student-Centered First Grade
Each and every student comes to the classroom with a wealth of strengths and lived experiences along with specific developmental assets, and needs. These constitute the root that instruction should be informed by and grow from. Honoring these roots, cultivate an environment where your students can tap into their joy for learning and nurture it with their classmates.
Support them to deeply engage in their learning by modeling, scaffolding, and providing ample opportunities to freely ask questions, openly explore and share their thinking, provide and use feedback, and ask for help when needed. Support each student to develop and demonstrate a sense of ownership for their own learning and that of their classmates - growing a sense of shared responsibility for academic and non-academic routines, procedures, and expectations throughout their first-grade experience.
Six-year-olds’ capacity for logical thought is blossoming. They begin to grasp cause and effect in the natural world, understanding, for example, that it is the wind that makes the trees move, not vice versa. This growing capacity extends to social relationships. Sixes begin to understand other points of view and can consider rules and behavior with greater objectivity.
Sixes experience rapid physical growth and rapidly expanding vocabularies. They live in an out-loud world of constant and contagious talk and activity. They need classroom environments that reflect that. They crave adventure and activities that invite exploration, discovery, inquiry, sharing, and explaining their thinking. As six-year-olds work to understand and order the world in new ways and take greater steps towards independence, they still crave the predictability of daily routines and predictable interactions with loved ones.
After the outwardly expressive exuberance of six, sevens turn inward to consolidate the enormous cognitive and emotional growth they’ve just experienced. They become quieter and more sensitive, self-conscious, and self-absorbed as they figure out how to manage new feelings and cognitive structures. Seven is a year of moving forward cautiously, of craving security and structure while avoiding risk and uncertainty. This is a time when imagination and exploration meet with and find expression in order and precision.
The Core Four
This page was last updated on May 22, 2023