The primary focus of first grade is building a strong language arts and math skills foundation for future learning. Hands-on activities are utilized whenever possible.
Mrs. Amy Zenda-Johnson has been teaching at TLO for 6 years. Although an avid Packer fan, somehow she has spent her entire career teaching in the land of the Vikings and chooses to make this frigid state her home. During the course of her teaching career, she has taught all ages and grades from preschool through eighth grade, and has been a preschool co-director, conference presenter, and parent educator. She believes in being a life-long learner and enjoys taking continuing education courses. She feels it an honor to be able to share not only her love of learning, but also the message of Jesus with her students and their families.
Years of experience: 25
Education: BA in Elementary Education, Minor in English - Martin Luther College, New Ulm, MN;
Colloquy - Concordia Univ., St. Paul; MA in Education - Concordia Univ., St. Paul
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The privilege of Lutheran schools is the opportunity to discuss God and His desires for our lives. At TLO, we incorporate the Christian life-style into all areas of the curriculum. But to help students further their understanding about our Father as well as how we should live our lives, students participate in a Religion curriculum developed by Concordia Publishing House (CPH).
Daily lessons are designed to articulate the path Christianity has taken since the opening of time. Beginning with Creation, and then highlighting key events from the Old Testament, the curriculum lets students dive into the Word, studying historical pinnacles and events that helped build the foundation for our traditions today. Students also learn more about our Savior, Jesus Christ, including his life, legacy, and love for us. Memory curriculum is included too for first grade, thereby aiding students and their families in growing in their knowledge of the Word. Every other year, students study the Peacemakers curriculum, based off of the conflict resolution concepts presented in Matthew 14.
First grade is an important stepping-stone in the development of student reading skills. For the first part of the year, focus is placed on developing a solid foundation in letter-sound relationships. Phonemic awareness is key to the reading curriculum, so much time is spent in this area. As time progresses, students work more with blends, digraphs, chunks, adding prefixes and suffixes, parts of speech, and other features of beginning reading. Students also develop skills in comprehension, classification, and summarization.
Language and Writing
As students progress in their knowledge of letters and sounds, their writing proficiencies also increase. Students are able to practice and apply their phonemic awareness in written form during various writing activities throughout the year. From books to letters to poems, students expand their talents in writing. Specific emphasis is placed upon developing complete sentences and eventually paragraphs, appropriate punctuation, and identifying simple parts of speech.
Continuing on the phonemic awareness theme, the first grade Spelling curriculum is based upon the same principles as that of Reading. Building a solid foundation in letter-sound relationships helps students to identify spelling patterns. Thus, first grade spelling takes a single sound or concept and develops it from there. Students are engaged in a variety of activities each week to help them progress in their reading and writing skills. The class also participates in a school-wide, monthly spelling bee.
When students know how to make letters without guesswork, their written communication skills improve. Therefore, TLO encourages the development of penmanship. Focusing on the proper formation, slant, spacing, and hold of a writing utensils is practiced thoroughly.
The first graders are intrigued by many topics dealing with science. Hands-on activities to help students gain a better understanding of the topic at hand are encouraged as well as promoted in conjunction with trade book materials. Some of the units for the first grade science curriculum include health and self, land, water and air, and living things.
Math skills learned in first grade are those that students will use as well as build upon for the rest of their lives. From adding to subtracting, learning time to money, reading and creating graphs, our first grade math curriculum is diverse with the intention of helping our students to solidify their foundational computation skills. The beginning of the year focuses on numerical relationships, followed by beginning addition and subtraction, graphing and charts, numbers and patterns, time and money, measurement, and further addition and subtraction.
Social studies in first grade is just that: studying the social contexts of our lives. Beginning concepts introduce people in relationship to our homes, communities, state, country and world. Students progress into studying various family make-ups, handling situations with others, learning about key events in our nation’s history, and utilizing map skills.
A variety of media is used to give students a well-rounded experience in the arts. Crayons and chalk, paint and glue, tracing and cutting are all used to create masterpieces. Art is also an area where students develop fine motor skills, helping their writing/handwriting skills. Additionally, Art is used to reinforce different topics of discussion or units being covered at particular points throughout the school year.
Physical Education is five days a week! Students experience a wide variety of activities. Each month there is an emphasis on a particular activity. Students spend time on skills which relate to the emphasis. Activities include movement themes, manipulative skills (beanbags, beach balls, balloons, etc), rope jumping (individual skills, partner skills, long rope skills), tumbling, stunts and combatives, rhythmic movement and dance, parachute, bowling, relays and games, additional manipulative skills (scoops and balls, hoops, wands, paddles, flying discs), Tee ball, scooters, apparatus (playground equipment), and health related fitness.
The church and school own a parcel of land next to the playground that has been designated by Minnesota's DNR (Department of Natural Resources) as a School Forest. Students use the space in every season for any subject area. In any given week, one might find pre-algebra students using proportions to measure tree height, first graders examining and identifying leaves, fourth graders writing creatively about the sounds of autumn, or eighth graders conducting biological plot studies. Chapel services are also conducted in the forest in the worship area created by a student as an Eagle Scout project.
The Kindergarten and first grade classes combine for choir twice a week. One day a week first grade also learns about music appreciation and music theory. Class time focuses primarily on the enjoyment of music and understanding how to use our bodies to create it. Throughout the year, students learn through listening, echoing, solfege, movement, pitch matching, simple instruments, notation, and playing of rhythms. All students in this choir participate be singing in worship services, the Christmas Concert, biannual musicals, and the Spring Concert.