How Does Randolph Challenge 1st Graders?

Posted by Meade Davis - 21 June, 2017

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1st Grade is different than Kindergarten, and it should be!
 
While the curriculum is a little deeper and broader and expectations increase, we work hard to infuse the right amount of challenge for each child along with the appropriate amount of fun and engagement.
 
Randolph's grade-level teachers, foreign language specialists, science, computer, library teachers and administrators collaborate weekly to coordinate their lessons to make deeper, more meaningful units. We are committed to providing an engaging and rich environment in which all of our students can thrive and realize their potential.

Learning through doing forges deeper neural pathways and makes learning fun!

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Design thinking and design lab challenges

Design thinking projects and challenges in the Imagination Station (our K-4 design lab) encourage innovation and creativity, while building empathy through connection to real-world scenarios.
 
After learning about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in a weather unit, we challenge 1st  graders to build a house from notecards that can withstand hair-dryer winds.
 

Spanish

After exposure to Spanish and French in Kindergarten, 1st Graders study Spanish to continue to develop cultural and language literacy.

Our Lower School Spanish teacher, Sra. Vega, conducts her class in Spanish, meeting for three 30-minute sessions in our six-day rotation. Students learn vocabulary and syntax through song, rhyme and activity. It is a fast-paced ride through the Spanish-speaking world where it's not unusual to see students leading the song or chant.

Science labs and coding

Our science and computer classes meet by half-class to give the teacher a better student:teacher ratio when diving into experiments, coding, and providing individualized reading and math instruction. Because we know that problem-solving is important, our little scientists use the scientific method to chart their hypotheses, questions, results and speculations! They apply this knowledge during Mad Scientist Day, as they lead experiments and observational studies. They learn to explore through questioning and discovery, making learning more meaningful and concrete.

For coding, students use a hands-on board game that helps demonstrate the process of logical thinking. After they have mastered the board game, the students move to an online curriculum that allows them to move at their own pace. Once they're confident, they take their coding to the next level by pairing a device with a robot via Bluetooth and watching the code they've written come to life. Wow!

Individualized curriculum

All 1st graders are well into an individualized reading curriculum through cross-curricular integration between the media specialist and classroom teachers. Students learn a balanced approach to literacy, with phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension lessons tailored to individual reading levels through small group literature circles. By the end of the year, many 1st graders describe their greatest accomplishment as reading a chapter book all by themselves.

Customized, hands-on math lessons connect the study of mathematics to real-world, age-appropriate contexts. Playing math games regularly, provides students the opportunity to explore fundamental number concepts, develop computational fluency, and build leadership skills. Based on the belief that children are naturally curious, classroom teachers and the science lab specialist collaborate to write hands-on science curricula, that teach individuals to explore through questioning and discovery, make learning more meaningful and concrete.
 

Hands-on learning 

Design Engineering - 3286328.jpgRich units of study, such as the human body, give students the opportunity to learn concrete information such as body systems, what they do, and why they are important, as well as understand abstract concepts such as how our hands and fingers move. First grade students build a moving hand with straws and string.
 
In Middle School, these same students can apply this knowledge in Design Engineering to build and 3D print a prosthetic hand for a child who needed it. (You can watch a video about that here.) First graders enjoyed testing these hands for the 7th graders to ensure that the hand would fit the child for whom it had been built.
 
In December, we study holidays around the world, focusing on the cultural traditions of many different countries. Through this unit, students learn that each individual in our world is unique and can appreciate our differences.
 
By the end of 1st grade, our students are equipped with confidence to seek problems and develop solutions. They have a deep understanding of themselves and how they relate to the greater world. Learning through doing makes the student journey engaging and fun; learning through relating to others makes it compelling and memorable. Our 1st graders are driven and inspired to fix everything they see as broken, and we hope that they do! 
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Topics: 1st grade, academic challenge, admissions, challenge


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