First Grade

1st grade Akiva Jewish Day schoolWelcome to First Grade! We cannot wait to welcome you into our classroom where learning comes to life first hand.  Our students build a roller-coaster, are introduced to a virtual classroom of peers in Hebrew, learn about the United States of America by observing Flat Stanley tour the country, and have the opportunity to take part in Nashville’s rich Arts culture with trips to the Nashville Symphony and Nashville Children’s Theater. First grade is a time to soar in reading, investigate in science, and analyze word problems in math. We can’t wait to see you here!


The goal of the first grade math program is to build students’ knowledge and understanding in all strands of mathematics. The topics studied include place value, basic addition and subtraction facts, telling time, patterns, two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes, constructing and analyzing graphs, fractions, and more. We use the Everyday Mathematics curriculum to help us achieve these goals. Developed by the University of Chicago’s math department, Everyday Math is a spiral curriculum that introduces and reintroduces concepts throughout the entire year.


Using a Guided Reading approach to reading instruction, students participate in small groups where they read leveled readers that are at their instructional level. During this time, students work on phonics, decoding words, and comprehension strategies. They also participate in active discussions that correspond with each reader. Students partake in a daily reading mini-lesson that focuses on a particular strategy that will be covered in guided reading groups.

In addition to guided reading groups, students will also participate in an inquiry-based class discussion designed by the Great Books Foundation. Once a week, students will listen to a short story, and will have an in-depth discussion following the readings using the Shared Inquiry discussion format. Using interpretive questions where each student arrives at his or her own answer, the program encourages meaningful participation, and places an emphasis on the fact that there is no right or wrong answer to questions.

Writer’s Workshop

Akiva School uses a workshop approach to teaching writing in first grade. This approach centers on getting students actively involved in the writing process daily. Using the program Units of Study for Primary Writing, a Yearlong Curriculum, developed by leading writing expert Lucy Calkins, we aim to foster increased independence in writing. Students will engage in a short mini-lesson each day that focuses on a writing strategy, and will spend the next thirty minutes writing. During this time, they may have the opportunity to confer with their teacher, and share written stories with the class. The units covered in first grade include: Launching the Writing Workshop, Narrative Writing, Skills and Strategies, and the Craft of Revision.

Social Studies/Second Step

First graders pride themselves on learning how to be considerate peers and citizens. Students will participate in activities that center around how to treat others and how to appropriately manage their emotions. They will also learn about schools from the past, and how to read a map.


In first grade the students’ study units are: Balance and Motion, Air and Weather, and Plants and Animals. Akiva is excited to continue with the new inquiry-based FOSS Science curriculum. We look forward to fostering budding scientists through this curriculum!

Ivrit and Judaics

In the 1st-4th grades at Akiva, our teachers use the Tal Am curriculum for Ivrit and Judaics. It is a program developed in Canada and Israel that was created based on years of research on the principles of language development and learning patterns. The goal of the program at Akiva is to develop children that are literate in the Hebrew language, and equipped with the knowledge and skills to inspire informed Jewish living.

Students in the classroom are surrounded in a stimulus rich environment. Knowledge is acquired through a variety of activities utilizing the five senses. These activities include stories, songs, visual aids, and games. Our students develop their Hebrew language and Jewish heritage in a gradual, spiraled process each year that builds new ideas and concepts onto an expanding foundation of knowledge.

In the first grade Hebrew class, the students focus on two tracks in their learning: Ariot and Shalom. In the Ariot track, students learn the Hebrew print and script letters, vowels, key vocabulary for each letter, and short stories. The grammar learned is: present tense, the concepts and vocabulary related to feminine and masculine, and singular and plural, as they relate to verbs and nouns.

The Shalom unit consists of two parts: Shalom BaKita (in the classroom) and Shalom BaBayit uVaChutz (at home and outdoors). The first unit focuses on the class environment. Students get to know their fellow students, the classroom environment and its objects, the daily routines, and the learning process. The second unit pertains to the objects and daily routines in the home. It exposes them to Jewish ways of life and to the world, including weather patterns. The learning is conducted through activities and concrete experiences facilitated through the Hebrew environment in the classroom.

Holidays & Shabbat – Chagim: In first grade, the students learn to identify each holiday’s symbols. They also become familiar with the Hebrew vocabulary related to the biblical or traditional stories (when applicable), and the Mitzvot and the traditions of each holiday and Shabbat. Rosh Hashanah and Pesach are celebrated in class and Shabbat, Sukkot, Chanukah, Tu B’shvat, Purim, and Yom HaAtzmaut are celebrated school-wide.

Torah – Weekly Parasha: Students develop the awareness of the act of reading a parasha (Torah portion) in the synagogue and in class every week. They learn the Torah blessings, and learn to identify the name of the parasha in its first verse. Each parasha is studied through illustrated books.

Signature Projects

  • Rosh Hashanah Performance
  • Siddur Ceremony
  • Learn about a President
  • Be a Meteorologist

Field Trips

  • Performance at Nashville Children’s Theatre 
  • Percy Warner Park

Classroom Policies and Procedures

In first grade, the students travel between two classrooms: General Studies and Judaic Studies.  There are two folders in which homework, schoolwork and any other necessary information from General or Judaic Studies will be sent home daily. It is important for the folders to be checked, reviewed, and returned to school daily.

Homework in General Studies will consist of a homework packet and spelling list each week. The homework packet will be due a week later, and the spelling list will need to be reviewed for the weekly spelling test.

This year, the Responsive Classroom program will be implemented into the first grade class. This is a thoughtful, hands-on program that involves all students. Together, as a community, they establish guidelines that encourage cooperation, respect, and responsibility.

The program believes in logical consequences that emphasize the importance of redirecting misbehaviors into positive actions. These consequences include:

  • You Break It, You Fix It- If students are observed mistreating property, an authoritative figure, or peer, they must find appropriate methods to mend the situations immediately.
  • Lose a Privilege- If it appears that students are having difficulties using materials or participating with others, they may have to cease the use of the materials, or have to work alone.
  • Take a Break- If students are having difficult times focusing and cooperating, they may have to go sit in a chair in the corner until they are ready to come back. This is not seen as a punishment, but rather as a moment to calm down and recollect themselves.

First Grade Daily Schedule

  • 7:30-7:55 Homeroom
  • 7:55-8:05 Morning Assembly
  • 8:05-8:30 Tefilah
  • 8:30-10:00 General Studies
  • 10:00-11:30 Hebrew and Judaic Studies
  • 11:30-12:00 Recess (JCC playground Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Courtyard Tuesdays and Fridays)
  • 12:00-12:30 Lunch
  • 12:30-2:00 General Studies
  • 2:00-2:45 Specials
  • 2:45-3:20 General Studies
  • 3:20-3:30 Dismissal

Contact Information

The best and most effective way to contact is through email. If you would like to communicate by phone, please email and let us know an appropriate time and phone number to reach you. Thank you.

Annie Douthit