• First Grade English/Language Arts  

    Dear First Grade Families,

    Welcome to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Family Pages. We hope the information you find here assists you in supporting your child while s/he is learning important skills and concepts throughout the first grade year. The information provided below is meant to outline some of the specific learnings your first grader will be engaged in this year. This guide offers highlights of first grade learning, rather than an exhaustive list.

    Balanced Literacy addresses K-5 Michigan English Language Arts Standards through Reader’s Workshop. Reader’s Workshop includes five key literacy practices: (1) Interactive Read-Aloud, (2) Mini-Lesson, (3) Guided Reading, (4) Literature Study, and (5) Independent Reading. The K-2 resource is Guided Reading by Fountas and Pinnell and Literacy Continuum by Fountas and Pinnell.

    The K-5 writing program is based on the Writer's Workshop model.  It includes whole group mini-lessons, time for children to write individually, and time for writers to share their writing with each other. The Ann Arbor Public Schools uses Units of Study by Lucy Calkins and Ann Arbor-created Genre Studies as it’s core writing resources. To take a deeper look at each unit go to: Atlas: First Grade ELA 

  • Reading

    Key Ideas and Details (Fiction and Nonfiction)

    • Ask questions to deepen understanding of text
    • Refer to important information and details and use as evidence in discussion to support opinions and statements
    • Use evidence from the text to support statements about the text
    • Relate text to their own lives

    Story Elements (Fiction)

    • Setting
      • Recall important details about setting after a story is read
      • Recognize and understand that texts may be set  in different places and that customs and people’s behavior may reflet those settings
      • Understand the setting for a story and infer why it is important
    • Plot
      • Notice and understand a simple plot with a problem and solution
      • Follow a plot with multiple events
      • Include problem and its resolution in telling what happened in a text
      • Predict story outcomes
    • Character
      • Recall important details about characters after a story is read
      • Follow multiple characters in the same story
      • Infer characters’ intentions, feelings, and motivations using text and pictures
    • Messages and Themes
      • Infer simple messages in a work of fiction
      • Notice and understand obvious themes: e.g., friendship, family, growing, feelings
      • Understand that a book can have more than one message or big idea
      • Notice recurring themes in literature: e.g. struggle between good and evil, magic, wishes, trickery, transformations.

    Book and Print Features (Fiction)

    • Notice a book’s title and its author and illustrator on the cover and title page
    • Notice letters, words, simple phrases, or sentences that stand out
    • Tell the important events of a story using the pictures in the book
    • Notice how an illustrator creates the illusion of sound and motion in pictures.

    Organization (Nonfiction)

    • Understand that some nonfiction books tell information and are not like a story
    • Notice that a nonfiction writer puts together information related to the same topic
    • Identify the organization of a text: e.g., time order established sequence such as numbers, time of day, days of week or seasons

    Vocabulary (Fiction and Nonfiction)

    • Notice and acquire understanding of new vocabulary from read-aloud content
    • Use new vocabulary in discussion of a text
  • Writing


    • Understand that writers may tell stories from their own lives
    • Draw a picture or series of pictures and tell or write about the pictures
    • Use dialogue as appropriate to add to the meaning of the story
    • Provide some descriptive details to make the story more interesting
    • Explain one’s thoughts and feelings about an experience or event


    • Understand that writers of nonfiction texts have many ways to show facts: e.g, text, labels, drawings, photos
    • Write short pieces of writing that are enjoyable to read and at the same time give information to readers about a topic
    • Think about the readers (audience) and what they need to know
    • Select interesting information to include in a piece of writing


    • Write short pieces of writing that use a combination of drawing, dictating, and  writing
    • Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide closure to the topic.
  • Partnering With Your Child’s Teacher

    When you have questions or concerns, reach out to your child’s teacher—you are an important part of your child’s education. Ask to see a sample of your child’s work or bring a sample with you. Ask the teacher questions like:
    • Is my child reading on grade level?
    • How is my child doing in writing?
    • What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
    • What can I do at home to make sure that my child is successful?  

    Helping Your Child Learn Outside of School 

    1. Provide time and space for your child to read independently. This reading time should be free from distractions such as television.
    2. Ask your child what topics, events, or activities he or she likes. Then look for books, magazines, or other materials about those topics that would motivate your child to read.
    3. It is also helpful when your child sees other people reading at home. You could share what you have read.
    4. Start a family book club. Let different members of the family pick the book. This could be a good way to enjoy quality family time while experiencing the joy of reading together!
    5. Be sure your child has a library card. Children should select books in which they are interested to develop a passion for reading. Many libraries have book clubs and family activities that make reading fun for the entire family.
    6. Use technology to help build your child’s interest in reading. There are several websites where students can read books or articles online. The computer will help with words the student cannot read independently. Libraries also have computers students can use to access those sites. Feel free to ask a librarian or teacher for suggestions.