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What Does a Roycemore Firstie Do?

When a Roycemore Firstie gets dropped off they are greeted with a warm smile, and they eagerly enter the room, anxious to see their friends and chat about our latest thematic learning. They enter a room with different working options like a standing table, wobbly stools, and squishy seats. Parents stay to share what’s happening at home and laugh over the latest Firstie quote.

At Roycemore, each student is seen as an Original. We embrace who they are, where they come from, and their journey by welcoming them into a supportive community that feels like home. It takes a team effort. Not only do they have a group of educators on their team, they also build relationships with students in different grades. Parents and teachers partner to best support each student.

First grade thematic units integrate all content areas to create rich and authentic learning experiences. During our Wild Weather unit, students visit the Museum of Science and Industry’s Science Storms Exhibit where they can enter a lifesize vortex, feel high speed winds in a wind tunnel, and test out a tsunami tank. The Firsties partner with high schoolers to make anemometers, barometers, and a rain gauge in the lab. We also practice the onomatopoeia of weather and use technology to help us experience and track weather.

During our America the Beautiful unit, we gathered postcards from friends and family across the United States to learn more about special landmarks and geographical features in each state. Songs, 3D models of land formations, and a mystery skype with first grade classrooms across the country add to the richness of this unit.

The year ends with a biomimicry study in which first graders learn how to research one animal of their choosing. Firsties then design and build an invention based on their animal’s adaptations. I have seen a sled mimicking antibacterial and aerodynamic shark dermal denticles, tools mimicking a giraffe's neck, and a camouflage box (to hide toys from siblings) based on a coyote! Not only do the Firsties build these inventions, they also record their learning in a digital book. While all content areas are integrated during this thematic learning time, first graders have dedicated math, reading, and writing time to ensure they develop the skills to pursue and communicate their learning.

Differentiation is an important part of the first grade curriculum. Teachers know where each learner is on a continuum of knowledge and support their unique growth throughout the year. In addition to small class sizes, the support of a learning specialist and gifted coordinator help to meet each learner where they are. Academics and a deep love of learning are important but so is the social emotional growth of a first grader. Each day begins with a morning meeting, to welcome each learner and develop our sense of classroom community. We incorporate Stephen Covey’s 7-Habits to build leaders, guiding and supporting them at school and beyond.

The Firsties have recess with second, third, and fourth graders. Here, multi-age groups play together in a baseball game or work together to build an animal hospital out of sticks and leaves. We come together as a school to Stand Against Racism, participate in a carnival put on by the high schoolers at Halloween, celebrate the winter season, and many other events so our Firsties feel part of the larger Roycemore community. It feels like family.

First graders participate in gym daily and have a wide variety of specials including art, music, chorus, foreign language, library, and integrated technology learning. Firsties have 45 minutes of unstructured recess time where they learn to navigate social relationships, choosing what games to play, drafting the rules, exploring nature, and getting a chance to be a kid!

By the time the firsties line up at the door to give their teacher a hug or high five goodbye, they don’t want to leave! They head to enrichment clubs like chess or cross country and then to the after school program to learn finger knitting or help design a cardboard village. A Roycemore Firstie is an inquisitive, thoughtful, and kindhearted Original.