First Grade students in SFUSD engage in 125 minutes of daily literacy instruction. First Grade students engage in a variety of instructional contexts to build foundational skills in reading and writing that provide a strong sense of agency in order to support their identities as readers and writers.
Foundational Skills: During the literacy instruction time, students are engaged in a 40-minute foundational skills block that includes phonological awareness, explicit phonics instruction, and the application of foundational skills in continuous text. Lots of practice with all these foundational skills are potent steps toward students becoming joyful and competent readers.
Reading & Writing: There is an 80-minute reading and writing block that includes differentiated small-group instruction, reading, and writing. Students read independently, and participate in shared reading and interactive read-aloud. Through regular opportunities to think, talk, and write about rich stories and other read-aloud books, students’ vocabulary and knowledge about how the world works grow exponentially.
Students begin to experiment with writing and are encouraged to use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing letters to share information, ideas, and feelings.
|English Language Arts
|125 Min Daily
Foundational Skills Block:
Literacy Centers and Small Group Differentiated Reading Instruction
Reading & Writing Block:
What students will know, what students will do, and what thinking skills students will develop to apply and transfer English Language Arts understandings that endure within the discipline, leverage deeper understandings, and/or support readiness for success at the next grade level.
In first grade focus on these critical areas:
- Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
- Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
- Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
- Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension
- Ask and answer questions, describe connections, and retell important information and key details in a text
- Ask and answer questions to help determine or clarify the meaning of words and phrases in a text.
- Identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic.
Speaking and Listening
- Participate in daily collaborative whole class, small group, or partner discussions about anchor texts to process and extend their learning.
- Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
- Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.
- Write different text types including opinion, narrative, and informative/explanatory.
- Participate in shared research and writing projects using topics from their experiences and/or gathered information (e.g., explore "how-to" books on a given topic and use them to write a sequence of instructions).
- Respond to texts through writing in order to deepen comprehension
- With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
- 1st-grade conventions
Instruction: Signature Elements
Below are signature elements of SFUSD English Language Arts instruction that students should experience regularly throughout first grade as they develop their English reading, writing, speaking, & listening identities.
Foundational Skills Routines
These quick routines provide students with time to review and consolidate their phonological knowledge (letter names, sounds, phonemic awareness, high frequency words, etc.)
Phonics and Word Study
Phonics instruction is delivered to ensure all students have access to become independent readers and writers. The methodology includes explicit instruction, inquiry, physical hands-on application, and collaborative partnerships and discussion for students to engage in productive struggle and carry the cognitive load.
Interactive Writing / Shared Writing
Interactive and shared writing involves the teacher and students working together to compose text, with the teacher “sharing the pen” with students at strategic points. During interactive writing, the teacher and students create text word by word, with the teacher demonstrating the process and students participating in aspects of the writing.
Interactive Writing / Shared Writing cont.
The purpose of interactive writing/shared writing is for teachers and students to collaborate on negotiating the content of the text, constructing words through the analysis of sounds, developing concepts of letter, word, and punctuation, as well as increasing letter knowledge and gaining familiarity with frequently encountered words.
Decodable text helps children connect what they are learning in phonics to what they are reading to build a faster foundation in early reading. Children progress at a much faster rate in phonics when the bulk of instructional time is spent on applying the skills to authentic reading and writing experiences, rather than on isolated skill and drill work. At least half of phonics lessons should be devoted to application.
Shared Reading is a community literacy experience that provides students the opportunity to engage in the reading process together. Students participate in multiple readings of the text as the teacher guides them in text-based discussions and addresses teaching points that focus on letter/sound relationships, word analysis skills, vocabulary, language structure, and aspects of fluent reading and comprehension skills. During Shared Reading thinking and questioning of students is the focal point. Students build connections to prior learning and experiences through meaningful conversations and collaboration.
Small Group Reading Instruction
Small group instruction is a strategic and targeted component that is planned based on the analysis of student data (both formal and informal) to meet the specific, differentiated needs of students. During independent reading and center time, the teacher gathers 2-4 students with similar strengths and needs and leads them in instruction on a skill or strategy. They are designed to scaffold the students in applying the skill or strategy in their own independent reading. The lesson structure and teaching methodology is varied based on the level of scaffolding needed.
Reading to Build Knowledge
Class communities gather daily to build knowledge in content-rich, grade-level complex texts. Teachers guide students using text-dependent questions and facilitate engaging conversations and written responses that promote evidence-based deeper thinking.
This block may include a variety of instructional contexts, including minilessons, interactive read-aloud, close/shared reading, academic conversations, and shared writing about text.
During the writing block, students are engaged in creating writing pieces from the Common Core State Standards that follow the writing process. This writing block includes lessons that provide direct, explicit instruction and guided practice in skills and strategies connected to the genre. Afterward, students apply their learning to writing in partnerships and individually. There are multiple opportunities for students to share their writing in addition to providing and receiving feedback.
Classroom Libraries to Support Independent Reading
First-grade classroom libraries provide student access to a range of text types including leveled books, decodable text, informational text, and literature. Libraries should also include culturally relevant texts that represent diverse language and cultures. Leveled books support students' early reading behaviors and print concepts as well as give readers access to reading increasingly complex text. Decodable books reinforce phonics and decoding skills explicitly taught during the foundational skills block.
Informational text and literature provide students access to familiar and/or high-interest books that have been read aloud to students, are connected to content area instruction, or just fun to read. The classroom library should be an inviting space with labeled bins organized by interest, theme, content, level, or phonics skill. The organization of the library should support student engagement and interest along with ease of choice and maintenance.
Literacy centers provide students with the opportunity to practice previously taught literacy skills or reinforce content area learning. There may be some permanent centers, like writing, reading/listening, word study/phonics, on particular literacy skills. There may also be literacy centers that have a particular content area focus (i.e. science) and change periodically. These content area centers would include reading and writing practice on a specific topic. The centers have appropriate materials to enable students to work independently, with partners, or in small groups.
Below are items you should have to support your students' ELA instruction. If you are missing anything from the list, please first contact your site administrator or designated support. If they are unable to resolve the issue promptly, please contact email@example.com from the SFUSD Elementary ELA Team Team.
The following are physical materials found at your site or in your classroom:
The launching unit teaches students the routines and structures of Literacy learning while building a positive classroom community and celebrating the literacy knowledge students bring to the classroom. Over the course of the Launching unit students will:
|Spiral 1: Narrative
This spiral reimagines both fiction and nonfiction text through the lens of historically and culturally responsive pedagogy. There is an emphasis not only on skills, but identity, criticality, intellect, and JOY. Over the course of the spiral students will:
|Spital 2: Informative/Explanatory
This spiral supports students in building their ability to read and write informational texts. There is an emphasis not only on skills, but identity, criticality, intellect, and JOY. Over the course of the spiral students will:
|Spiral 3: Opinion/Argument
This spiral supports students in building their ability to read and write both narrative and persuasive texts. There is an emphasis not only on skills, but identity, criticality, intellect, and JOY. Over the course of the spiral students will:
|Spiral 3.5: Revisiting Narrative
This spiral supports students in getting to know characters in books deeply by performing their books, as well as using their knowledge of characters to develop their own writing series. . There is an emphasis not only on skills, but identity, criticality, intellect, and JOY. Over the course of the spiral students will:
Unit that are used in this spiral:
|Spiral 4: Research
This spiral supports students in building their ability to read and write both narrative and informational texts. There is an emphasis not only on skills, but identity, criticality, intellect, and JOY. Over the course of the spiral students will:
|Spiral 1: Narrative
|Spiral 2: Informative/Explanatory
|Spiral 3: Opinion/Argument
|Spiral 3.5: Revisiting Narrative
|Spiral 4: Research
- How are students' developmental needs, communities, and experiences being reflected and honored, or how could they be?
- What opportunities do you see for developing equitable access & demand, inquiry, collaboration, and assessment for learning?
- What are the implications for your own practice? What strengths can you build upon? What will you do first?
This page was last updated on August 24, 2023