Curricular Highlights: First Grade


Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65 utilizes a balanced literacy approach. A balanced approach uses a variety of reading, writing and word work instruction, and practice opportunities for students in order to expose them to the rich world of literacy. An essential component of balanced literacy is called “workshop”. Our understanding and implementation of workshop, in District 65, is grounded in the research and practices of Lucy Calkins and her colleagues from the Teachers College, Reading and Writing Project who have developed the Units of Study in both Reading and Writing to guide us.

Reading and Writing Workshops are conducted daily to allow for students to receive personalized learning by engaging with and producing high volumes of both fiction and nonfiction texts of their choosing.  Because all lessons begin with explicit, direct teaching points, workshop prioritizes time for students to be immersed in independent reading and writing work, while teachers provide focused, differentiated instruction in smaller groups. As a result, workshop challenges students to develop the habits and dispositions of lifelong readers and writers.

1st Grade reading

In Reading, first graders are exposed to stories and texts across genres.  Student learning will be focused on:

  • Strengthening decoding skills in order to read increasingly challenging words
  • Deepening comprehension and improving fluency while reading fiction and nonfiction books
  • Developing strong literal understandings of stories and beginning to think inferentially about characters and lessons learned

1st grade Writing

In Writing, first graders produce 3 types of texts:

  • The narrative units ask students to tell a focused story by zooming in on one, small moment.
  • The informational unit calls for students to teach about a topic part-by-part.
  • The opinion unit asks students to state an opinion with reasons.


Mathematics instruction in District 65 provides the opportunity for all students to have a rigorous, engaging, and accessible curriculum which focuses on developing students’ deep understanding of mathematics concepts. In order to achieve this, students engage in a high level of discourse and are exposed to multiple strategies in order to solve complex problems. The backbone of this instruction comes from Bridges 2nd Edition which has been developed by the Math Learning Center after years and years of research in the field of elementary mathematics instruction.

1st grade Math

In 1st grade, students focus on addition and subtraction, place value, and shapes. Throughout the year they:

  • Add and subtract with numbers to 20, including with story problems
  • 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
  • Fit shapes together to make other shapes, solve puzzles, and talk about fractions

1st grade Science

1st grade students examine and make connections about space patterns through exploring day and night, seasons and lunar phases.

First graders engage in a variety of light and sound challenges that will allow them to determine how shadows are created, explore the movement of light and sound, and investigate how certain materials affect light and sound.

First grade students study plants and animals and design experiments to determine what makes something living and how to increase an organism’s chances of survival.

1st grade Social Studies

In first grade, students focus on how people live, learn and work together in order to determine how different historical figures have impacted our world today.