Students enter first grade as curious, active learners with a wide range of mathematical abilities and experiences.Although most students have mastered the oral counting sequence, actual counting abilities may vary greatly.Students possess mathematical knowledge based on their experiences, yet lack the communication skills needed to share this knowledge.In order to grow mathematically, first graders need time to develop conceptual knowledge, connect mathematical concepts with their own experiences, reflect on their learning, and communicate their understanding of mathematics to others.
An effective instructional environment incorporates the use of hands-on materials, in-depth reasoning activities, verbal communication skills, and visual representations of mathematics concepts.Morning calendar, daily data analysis activities, and other routines also provide opportunities for instruction in mathematics.Students work independently, with partners, in small groups, and in large groups as they include solving problems, making choices regarding materials and strategies, and reflecting on their processes.The integration of literature, use of cooperative learning strategies, and active participation in the classroom help students make strong connections necessary for viewing mathematics as an important way of interpreting the world around them.
Content standards for first grade are designed to allow students to learn mathematics concepts with understanding.Learning with understanding makes subsequent learning easier as students are better able to connect new knowledge to existing knowledge.Learning with understanding also allows students to enhance problem-solving skills and become more adept in computational skills.According to the NCTM, development of a balance of and a connection between conceptual understanding and computational proficiency is necessary for students to achieve computational fluency.
Concepts emphasized in first grade are number and number relationships, including grouping of tens and ones; addition and subtraction; and shape relationships and properties.Measurement and data analysis are incorporated into these core content areas to enrich and extend student knowledge.Identifying, describing, and applying number patterns and properties in algebra offer students additional ways to explore number relationships.With strong connections between the five content strands and the three emphasized concepts, first graders build a solid foundation for becoming independent thinkers and lifelong problem solvers.
from the 2009 Alabama Course of Study: Mathematics, p. 11