First/Second Grade Curriculum

*Please note that for the 2016-17 school year we are excited to be returning to a fully-integrated multiage model in which we will offer combined Kindergarten/First Grade and Second/Third Grade classes with two lead teachers per homeroom.
Click here for information on the benefits of multiage classrooms.



First and Second Grade literacy is heavily into the Continuum for Literacy Learning by Fountas and Pinnell with regard to building fluency, solidifying the rules of decoding, and broadening comprehension strategies. Guided Reading groups are even more differentiated as children's reading capabilities begin to stretch across many levels. First and Second graders continue to study sounds and letters as a regular part of their day. Although we continue to utilize Writer's Workshop (by Lucy Caulkins), spelling expectations begin as children are solid with sight word vocabulary and learning beginning punctuation expectations for good writers. Many children are learning to diversify their interests in fiction and non-fiction. Learning to respond to literature in writing is honed and elevated.


John Van de Walle, Kathy Richardson, Marilyn Burns, and Constance Kamii heavily influence our approach to mathematics. We believe that our Early Years math should be hands on, purposeful, daily, and fun. Everyday Math, by the University of Chicago, is the foundation of our math instruction. Through the year, children repeatedly experience concepts and skills in each of these mathematical strands: Problem Solving and Application; Numeration; Operations and Computation; Patterns, Functions and Algebra; Geometry; Measurement and Reference Frames; Data and Chance. Each exposure builds and extends children's understanding. The three levels of skill and concept development used by Everyday Math are Beginning, Developing, and Secure.

Communication and work ethic are both important parts of math as well. We want children to stretch their thinking and share their strategies and approaches to solving math equations beyond traditional algorithms. We add additional problem solving components to the regular curriculum to give children the opportunity to engage with parents at home as well. Every class counts the days of school and a 100th day of school museum is opened in January where children can participate in a wide range of themed activities.


Science is incorporated into the First/Second Grade classroom within the International Baccalaureate IB units and through regular hands-on experience and experimentation. True to the IB model, science instruction is woven into the curriculum as it applies to the larger ideas and concepts being explored. From using ipad technology to communicate their learning on landfills to exploring how Van Gogh's "Starry Night" connects to their astronomy studies in a unit on space, our students are immersed in science learning that is significant, cross-disciplinary, and relevant to the world around them.

Social Emotional Learning

The First/Second Grade classroom is a range of levels of emotional development based on a number of factors. Parenting style, physical development, sibling experience, and former school settings all play into where each child is with emotional development. Daily factors such as sleep, hunger, growth, and family all combine into how each child feels coming in each morning. In addition, children are even more capable of empathy, kindness and fairness and we expect them to demonstrate even more consideration for others than they have before.

Our teachers know young children and have developmentally appropriate expectations for behavior. Positive Discipline (by Jane Nelsen) methodology is a balance of firmness and kindness without punitive measures. We choose to help children develop the language and strategies they need to get their needs met and connect with others. While a teacher may have a child sit close by to calm down for a few minutes if upset, we do not use "time out" or punishment with children learning to make good choices. We help children share with each other, to talk to each other kindly, and to enlist their teacher's assistance with social navigating in the day to day.

Independence and self-advocacy are necessary to successfully meet expectations for work output or group dynamics. Our expert teachers utilize a wide range of strategies to help children listen and focus whether in a large group, small group, one on one, even at Meadow time (recess). "Elders" are enlisted as buddies and role models for our "Youngers" as the first graders learn to navigate the classroom.

When a child is having consistent challenges, we develop a personalized awareness plan with that child and family in an effort to better support this development. If it is not successful, we enlist the support of our Student Support Team to make suggestions on how we can improve or whether outside support would be useful. Sometimes, High Meadows is not the least restrictive setting for a child struggling beyond our means with behavior, impulsivity, or aggression and counseling out of our program is deemed necessary.


The Primary Years Programme units of inquiry rotate over a two-year cycle in First and Second Grade. Children who enter the program as a younger and remain through the elder year will engage in 12 units. Currently, that rotation includes the following units of inquiry:

Odd Year: Exploration; Artistic Expression; Natural Forces; Trade; Global Games and Toys; Interdependence

Even Year: Peace; City Systems; Ecosystems; Astronomy; Shelters; Celebrations

In addition, All First/Second Grade students begin to learn and use the words associated with the PYP Attitudes and the Student Profile. The children engage in self-reflection after each unit and work with teachers to choose pieces for their PYP portfolio.


First and Second Grade students are capable of engaging in the reflection process after PYP units of study. They can also decide what work is their "best work" or "best effort". Teachers observe and record their behavior and choices throughout each day. Teachers also employ more formal forms such as the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment system to determine guided reading levels. Children assist in reviewing and editing their writing.

Watching children at work and play, listening to the comments and questions they make, and noticing their improvement or challenges is the key to the assessment in Early Years. Teachers are experts in the uneven timing of the young learner's development and not quick to rush or accelerate children's learning vertically to higher grade level work. Rather, it is typically more advantageous to the child to broaden his or her knowledge and skill horizontally—adding depth to their thinking and communication skills rather than rushing on to the next topic or concept. This is also integral to the child building a high frustration tolerance, becoming a risk taker, and developing self-esteem as a learner. Standardized testing such as the ITBS and the CoGat take place only in Elementary and Middle Years programs.


High Meadows School | 1055 Willeo Road, Roswell, GA 30075 | Phone: 770.993.2940 | Fax: 770.993.8331
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