First graders take enthusiastic ownership of their learning and gain the basic skills necessary to become self-sufficient learners. Together, class guidelines are created to ensure a happy, collaborative community. First graders receive a balanced literary experience for sequential instruction of phonics, complemented by a variety of reading and writing activities. Daily reading workshops utilize the "Daily Five" format of reading to self, partner reading, word work, writing work and listening to stories, focus on phonics, word building activities, and comprehension through shared and independent reading. Writing is a corresponding focus, through a variety of experiences. The math program allows students to explore math concepts at the concrete level, gradually progressing to more abstract understandings. Students develop computational skill and mathematical thinking to solve real problems. Our yearlong, social studies focus on “community" consists of units integrated across the curriculum. Projects challenge the students to apply their blooming literacy skills to self-directed learning and build the courage and clarity to think and speak for themselves.