Online Class: First Grade Curriculum
with CEU Certificate*
have taken this course
The view of schooling is no longer the textbook-based, one-sided lecture method of the 19th and even 20th Centuries. Education theory has shifted dramatically in recent decades. The passive learning styles of our past are now understood to be inferior methods of teaching that ignore the learning needs of children.
Research soundly shows that a holistic, interactive style of teaching, that encourages students to think and reflect, experiment and share ideas is a far superior way to harness their energy and minds. Through easy-to-understand lessons, this course identifies key concepts and techniques to help teachers transition to this interactive approach to teaching and learning. Drawing on what research now tells us about the brain and how people learn, we will demonstrate models for more active learning and less one-sided lecturing and rote memorization.
Forty-eight states have signed onto the concept of core standards. This course builds from those suggested national standards in eight subject areas: Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music and Movement, and Creative Dramatics.
For each subject, the course summarizes basic curriculum elements for first grade. Each lesson includes suggested age-appropriate activities to reinforce the lesson topics. Each lesson also includes teaching tips from experts on how to engage students in learning.
In the United States, there is no specific national school curriculum. Many states don't develop their own particular curriculum, but rather adopt standards of knowledge that students are expected to master.
The national push for testing provides some specific targets, but those tests don't kick in until the third grade. Additionally, states are now being allowed to opt out of No Child Left Behind testing. Either way, for first graders, reference to any national tests to guide curriculum is of little use.
In recent decades there has been some general agreement on the kinds of information students in different years and different subjects should be learning. Various professional teaching organizations have worked to knit together some guidelines on substance. One goal is to provide continuity; more research is showing that effective learning builds on prior knowledge. It would help if a second grade teacher might have comfort knowing the basic level of knowledge earned by the class in the prior year.
Forty-eight states have signed onto the concept of core standards. Built under the auspices of the Core Knowledge Foundation, an attempt has been made to collect and distill recommendations by grade and subject. This outline will draw significantly from those standards, which may represent the closest thing we have to national agreement on curriculum for first graders. Teachers should always consult their specific state and school districts for any local requirements.
It may be frustrating to teachers or parents that there is no one written curriculum to pull out and start work from; but educators point out that anything too rigid would not allow flexibility for different teaching styles and student learning styles.Child Development & Learning Needs
The view of schooling is no longer the textbook-based, one-sided lecture method of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Education theory has shifted dramatically in recent decades. The passive learning styles of our past are now understood to be poor methods of teaching that ignore the learning needs of children.
Research soundly shows that a holistic, interactive style of teaching, that encourages a student to think and reflect, experiment and share ideas is a far superior way to harness their energy and minds. In the popular guidebook, Best Practice: Today's Standards for Teaching and Learning in America's Schools, the authors note: "Children's urge to make sense of their world propels their own learning."
In the Best Practices book, the authors identify key concepts and techniques to help teachers transition to this new way of approaching teaching -- different than most U.S. adults experienced as children. Drawing on what research now tells us about the brain and how people learn, they urge a focus on more active learning, and less lecturing, less, passive instruction, and less fill-in-the-blank worksheets.
Underlying this shift is a focus on what is called "authentic" learning. In the past, we've had a tendency to oversimplify subjects taught to young children. In addition, curriculum focus has often been a superficial race to cover a wide swath of subjects, without going very deep.
This brings up the national political arguments over "teaching to the test" at the expense of real knowledge. Attempting to put politics aside, one standards group acknowledged that tests can serve a purpose of testing levels of knowledge - however, this type of timed, pressure, written testing can only measure a small part of a student's actual knowledge.
Authentic Learning- New research on how people learn and how the brain works has led to the focus on "authentic learning." Two points are important to know about how this works:
(1) Students construct knowledge
Students learn best not simply from direct telling and teaching. This is a difficult concept to let go of, since many of us were educated that way. Constructive teaching is an understanding that students don't just simply memorize information that they are told. They internalize and reconstruct that knowledge. Learning, therefore, is really an internal process. The new goal for teachers is not to lecture from the front of the classroom, but to create an environment for students to construct their own understanding.
(2) Students connect what they learn to their own lives
Lecturing is one-way conferring of knowledge. Teachers need to allow students to analyze, think, experiment, share ideas, and reflect.
Shift away from segmentation - Part of the importance of including interactive learning time, is to allow students to share with each other their own techniques and solutions to problems. Instead of segmenting off the "talented" kids and the "slow" kids, let them work in groups and learn from each other.
Children grow in common patterns, but at different rates. Kids may arrive at the same level of knowledge, but at different speeds and by different methods. These differences in abilities and approaches are no longer seen as grounds for splitting up children into categories.
Role of technology - The explosion of computers in the classroom, handheld devices and the Internet have radically changed learning opportunities. One expert suggests that the Internet and technology has made learning both easier and harder:
1. On one hand, students now have access at their fingertips to huge amounts of information that not too long ago would have required hours in a dusty library to track down. However, it is difficult to learn how to sift through all the raw data to find what's meaningful.
2. Media advances can help get students more engaged in learning; but the ever-presence of mind-blowing images is resulting in students who have less patience.
In math and the sciences, the presence of technology - once feared - is now seen as an enhancement to facilitate learning. Instead of worrying that students will rely on calculators and not learn formulas, the new thinking is that using technology to perform those calculations will free up time to learn and understand the concepts more deeply.
What we might think of as "general intelligence" develops with age, and can be influenced by the environment. A person's IQ at birth predicts no more than 20% of IQ at maturity. Teaching, therefore, can make a tremendous impact.
Educators stress there is no one right way to teach. However, there is agreement in the shift from passive one-way lecturing, to interactive teaching.
Build on prior knowledge- Students learn by connecting the new ideas being taught to their prior body of knowledge. Teachers should first make an attempt to assess their students' knowledge levels. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics stresses the importance of understanding the level of students' existing knowledge. (Curriculum reform efforts also strive to keep continuity throughout school for the ideal learning process.)
Teachers should then design lessons targeted to build on the current level of knowledge.
When presenting new ideas, a teacher can help students make connections to what they know already, through use of metaphors, analogies, and graphs. Teachers can also help students to see their own relationship to the materials, where appropriate.
Pay attention to student interests - Where possible, teachers should design lessons around student interests. It is believed that a large part of the problem when teachers find students not interested in learning, is really that the students aren't interested in the lesson being taught.
There are some approaches to develop lessons that engage students:
- Personalize learning - listen to students own ideas
- Relate lessons to students' lives
- Make lessons novel and capture students' curiosity
Students at this age will likely enjoy team projects. However, the teacher needs to be prepared that students at this age will also be active and noisy in the classroom.
Use of Technology - Technology shouldn't replace a basic understanding of math and science concepts, but properly used, technology can in fact support deeper investigation of the principles being taught. The existence of technology to perform some of the functions that one time were a large focus of the curriculum now allows a re-examination of what students should/could be learning instead.
One skill teachers can impart on their students is the critical ability to know when to rely on calculators and computers, when to work out problems by hand, and when to work them out in their head. The various pros and cons of each approach can be reviewed, along with means to check their validity.
Importance of Assessment
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has done some importance synthesis on new thinking about testing. These assessment principles can be used in all subjects. Especially in math, they may be particularly interesting to those who might have thought written tests were the best way to gauge math knowledge.
The new approach emphasizes that tests don't have to be something done to students, and can be something done for students. This involves two key shifts in thinking from what most of us experienced in school:
(1) Assessing levels of knowledge
To be sure, tests can serve as a measure of knowledge. But there is new awareness that formal testing only presents one view of a student's "knowledge," that is, the knowledge that a student can express in written form, under limited timing of testing conditions.
As an addition to written, timed testing, other methods of assessment can bring a fuller picture of the child's understanding. These can include individual interviews, observation, questions.
(2) Mid-learning evaluations
Another use of testing can be to measure a student's learning at periodic points throughout the year. Such assessments throughout the learning process can help teachers see how children have understood the material, and make any needed corrections. In this way, testing can be used to enhance learning, and not just as a narrow assessment of what has been learned, after the fact.
- Completely Online
- Printable Lessons
- Full HD Video
- 6 Months to Complete
- 24/7 Availability
- Start Anytime
- PC & Mac Compatible
- Android & iOS Friendly
- Accredited CEUs
Lesson 1 : First Grade Curriculum Overview
- Lesson 1 Video
- Lesson discussions: First Grade Curriculum; Reasons for Taking this Course
- Complete Assignment: An Introduction
- Assessment: Lesson 1 Exam
Lesson 2 : Creating Curriculum
- Lesson 2 Video
- Assessment: Lesson 2 Exam
Lesson 3: Writing
- Lesson 3 Video
- Assessment: Lesson 3 Exam
Lesson 4 : Reading
- Lesson 4 Video
- Lesson discussions: Routines
- Assessment: Lesson 4 Exam
Lesson 5: Math
- Lesson 5 Video
- Assessment: Lesson 5 Exam
Lesson 6 : Science
- Lesson 6 Video
- Assessment: Lesson 6 Exam
Lesson 7 : Social Studies
- Lesson 7 Video
- Assessment: Lesson 7 Exam
Lesson 8 : Art
- Lesson 8 Video
- Assessment: Lesson 8 Exam
Lesson 9 : Music and Movement
- Lesson 9 Video
- Lesson discussions: Music
- Assessment: Lesson 9 Exam
Lesson 10 : Creative Dramatics
- Lesson 10 Video
- Lesson discussions: Final Course Poll - Your Opinion; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
- Assessment: Lesson 10 Exam
- Assessment: The Final Exam
- Describe what to expect with a first grade curriculum.
- Describe the process behind creating curriculum for the first grade level.
- Describe the writing curriculum, reading, math, science, and social studies curriculum for the first grade.
- Summarize the art, music and movement curriculum for the first grade.
- Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.
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