Lower School

First Grade

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First Grade Overview

We have two sections in first grade — each section has a lead teacher and an associate teacher to ensure personalized attention. Classes range from 22-23 students. First grade is an important milestone for Burke’s students as they begin their formal education journey. It is a time of growth, exploration, and discovery, as children begin to lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning. It is also a time when students begin to take more responsibility for their own learning and daily routines.

In the SEL curriculum, students use Zones of Regulation, The Toolbox, and Kimochis curriculum, which focus on social-emotional skills and are used to teach tools and strategies for effective problem-solving and communication.

Academic Snapshots

List of 3 items.

  • Language Arts

    In first grade, students embark on a balanced literacy program that involves listening, shared reading, and interpreting stories through creative writing, drama, art projects, and games. 
    Reading: Guided reading instruction meets students’ individual learning needs, styles, and readiness levels. Teachers provide phonics instruction, phonemic awareness, and reading through small group work. Students practice reading with a focus on building comprehension skills, vocabulary, story discussion and analysis, and independent reading. 
    Writing: Students practice various forms of writing, from simple stories and letters to poems and expository writing. Creativity, fluency, mechanics of writing, and developmental spelling are the highlights of this program.
    Handwriting: Writing instruction continues with fine motor strength, letter formation, and learning how to generate topics and record ideas.
  • Math

    Our dynamic and engaging first-grade math program teaches children to value the process of learning through exploration. We investigate numbers through 100, whole number computation, measurement, time, geometry, and analysis of data collection.

    Students develop flexible thinking as they share ideas and strategies for solving problems. Concepts are introduced and reinforced through hands-on projects, games, collaboration, and discussion. 
  • Social Studies

    In first grade, the overall theme is From Me to We and students discuss self, school community, neighborhood community, cultural traditions and holidays, food and nutrition, community helpers, and changemakers. Lessons are interwoven with language arts curriculum and specialist classes. Areas of study are introduced through literature and expanded with discussion, writing, art projects, field trips, and a variety of hands-on activities. 
    Students continue to develop social-emotional skills throughout the year. Through the Zones of Regulation curriculum, and the Kimochi characters, students learn how to identify feelings, work through challenging social conflicts and regulate their emotions. Students are introduced to the concept of "intent and impact" and reflect on how their actions affect others. We revisit life skills, including patience, mindfulness, apology and forgiveness, and empathy. Our social studies curriculum strives to have students demonstrate the characteristics of active community members.

Specialist Programs

List of 6 items.

  • Art

    First-grade students continue to study the elements of art (line, color, shape, pattern, texture, and size) through various pre-planned and emergent projects. They strengthen their ability to express their feelings through visual language while exploring age-appropriate materials and creative techniques. They learn to identify and express a range of feelings through various 2D and 3D projects that combine social-emotional learning and art. They also learn that “mistakes are welcomed” and that art can be utilized as a creative problem-solving tool. 
    Students work in their personal sketchbook, where they “free-draw", and do sketching exercises to build skills and an understanding of artistic concepts.
  • Library

    How can I grow as a researcher, reader, and learner? That is the presenting question for first graders in Library. Literary experiences allow students to develop knowledge, practice reading strategies, and deepen understandings - how to compare similar stories, begin to identify the differences between fiction and nonfiction, use fiction and nonfiction for purpose, consider important lessons, and nurture empathy. Students practice research skills—how to brainstorm, ask starting point questions, use multiple sources, tab information, and generate notes orally.

    First graders are encouraged to read books from a variety of genres and practice self-direction, contribute to the class community, show respect for people, space and materials to facilitate learning.
  • Makery

    The Makery curriculum for first graders emphasizes two related goals: 1) learning to use a variety of media, materials, and tools; and 2) learning the skills needed to make, share, find, solve, protect, and learn. Content and learning goals for different projects often come from core and special classes. As they make, students practice the skills of attention, perseverance, and flexibility, which helps them develop creative confidence.

    Students work on a variety of digital and non-digital projects such as breaking apart a battery-operated tealight to isolate the parts and remake them into a new object. They have also used media tools and techniques to produce ebooks reporting on their study of the ocean and its denizens in Library, Science, and Art.
  • Music

    How can I keep the steady beat? Is what I’m hearing the beat or the rhythm of the words? How can we write down what we hear? What makes that instrument sound like it does? What do I enjoy listening to? How can I be an appreciative audience at a performance?

    First graders continue to explore music by moving, imagining, laughing, singing, and playing their way through an expanded variety of games, percussion instruments, folk dances, and listening selections. They become more experienced singers and dancers during weekly LS assemblies and other traditional events such as the Opening All School Assembly, Halloween, Diwali, and Thanksgiving celebrations; and the LS Holiday Sing-Along.
    Music Sharings: First-grade parents have the opportunity to join their child for a morning in the music room. Parents often comment on how much growth they see: the first graders are reading music from the music staff, singing on their own with freedom and ease, and accompanying themselves with instruments, some handmade in the Makery!

    Integrated themes and projects may include: Instruments of the Orchestra with Makery Music Instrument Building and a field trip to the San Francisco Symphony; Space and Oceans (science); SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) and other school-wide projects.
  • Physical Education

    First graders have physical education class every day! Concepts such as spatial awareness and keeping a “safe space” were practiced through activities like tag and locomotor activities. Each class has a warm-up routine incorporating the components of physical fitness such as flexibility, and aerobic and muscular strength. Students explore manipulative skills while throwing and kicking footballs, bouncing balls at a target, and catching balls that bounce. Through a variety of games including volleyball, Pin Ball, and “Not in My Backyard”, students explored various ways to throw and catch and discovered ways in which they can make their hearts beat faster.
  • Science

    First-grade science builds on the foundation of kindergarten as students continue to do real, hands-on science. This year includes a focus on experimental design and simple data analysis through multiple physical science topics. First graders also use simulations, modeling, and beginning research skills to explore topics including food webs, the weather, and outer space.
    To give a glimpse into the science room, here is an example unit from first grade:
    First graders explore forces and motion through hands-on investigations with balls and ramps. A large portion of this unit involves the students designing their own “fair test” experiments with balls and ramps, using the framing “What would happen if we change the _______?” They learn to identify the forces that affect the balls, such as friction making the ball slower on a ramp with a fuzzy surface compared to a smooth ramp. Designing experiments also involves planning, making predictions, recording and organizing data, interpreting data to draw conclusions, and showing your results with diagrams and graphs - not to mention a lot of teamwork!

First Grade Faculty

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Seneca Gupta

    Seneca Gupta 

    First-Grade Teacher
    415-751-0187, ext. 339
  • Photo of Anjali Ramisetti

    Anjali Ramisetti 

    First-Grade Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 304
  • Photo of Hailey Miller

    Hailey Miller 

    Associate Teacher
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.
Burke's admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.