Grades 1 and 2 - Rainbow
Our multi-grade classrooms create a cycle of leadership. When students move to a new classroom, they make new friends and renew friendships with former classmates. Students remain in the same classroom for two years.
PHOTO GALLERY: See what school life is like in Rainbow!
In January and February 2021, first and second grade students are studying the Underground Railroad and have learned about quilt patterns and how quilts were used as maps. They have been reading and comparing texts related to Black history and civil rights. With their 5th and 6th grade buddies, students listened to “A is for Activist” and made their own signs for issues they believe are important. In writing, students have been working on writing their autobiographies. They are writing basic facts about their lives as well as their favorite memories and proudest moments.
A Learning Community
How do you establish a learning community with children who are six, seven, and eight years old?
NGFS students create their classroom rules through a well thought out process at the beginning of the school year. Even children at this age have an innate knowledge of what they need to feel safe, valued, and ready to learn. Through discussions, shared books, and activities, our students begin to be able to articulate what they already “know” about themselves. This is an important developmental building block, for now they can begin to appreciate that others may have similar needs. The investment of time in building this awareness is critical, children become invested in how the rules are worded and what each rule actually means to how they live and work together. The culminating rule-signing ceremony is a celebration of their hard work and of their personal investment in the success of their classroom community.
Experiential Learning Through Thematic Units
Ask a first or second grade “Rainbow” student their favorite time of day (other than outside time) and the response will surely be “choice time.” At NGFS, thematic units integrate subjects and content areas. Our hands-on, experiential course of study provides the opportunity for students to apply their knowledge in meaningful ways: an art project teaches a scientific concept; an outside writing activity encourages students to describe the world around them; an apple tasting invites students to graph their favorites and analyze the graph. Thematic units not only encourage collaboration, they address the diverse ways students engage in their work and their world.
MORE THAN CORE
Beyond Core Academics
First and second graders attend each resource class (Art, Music, Spanish and PE) twice a week. The content of resource classes may mesh with what is being taught in the regular classroom; making a pinch pot out of clay was an activity during a Native American unit of study. End of unit celebrations showcase student work and often integrate the Arts, Spanish, and PE resources.
Service Learning: Students in first through third grades team up in multi-grade groupings and perform service projects both on and off campus. Some share their singing talents with residents at Friends Homes and at our preschool, others decorate tote bags and fill them with books and goodies for new mothers at Women’s Hospital. Other students are part of the Odd Job Squad which does tasks to help teachers and other staff members at NGFS.
Learning Time Management
How do you teach first and second graders about deadlines and managing their time?
Choice time is one of the most popular times of the day; the work done at this time is important to students. There’s required work and optional work. A “top priority” system provides specific due dates for some of the centers, creating a situation in which students have to organize their time and make choices that allow them to meet deadlines. When things are not finished on time, the appropriate consequence of having a teacher make your choices for you is a motivating factor to improve your time management the following week.