First Grade at Monica Ros School


Grade school at Monica Ros School

In our grade school, a variety of teaching strategies are used to enhance learning and meet the needs of all students.  California State Standards are met using hands-on activities, unique integrated thematic units and direct instruction.  These Monica Ros School thematic units are taught to expand student’s interests, encourage them to collaborate, build social skills, solve problems, think critically, and help them connect to the world.  Each classroom has a teacher and an assistant teacher. All special subjects are offered regularly throughout the week: Art, Library, Music, P.E., and Spanish. Each classroom has a special classroom-specific performance which ties to a thematic unit, as well as the school-wide performance opportunities for holidays and community events. Grade school also comes together for a grand performance each Spring, with increasing levels of memorization, stage time, and lead character responsibilities for each grade level. 

Thematic Units and Curriculum in First Grade

In first grade, desks are first introduced to the students and the amazing world of academia is greater explored.  In language arts, students develop a more sophisticated understanding of language to read more complex text.  Skills are integrated and taught in multiple modes – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic – to reinforce language learning.  In math, emphasis is placed on problem solving in everyday situations, and frequent practice of basics skills.  Topics are revisited regularly to ensure concept development and long term retention.  First graders go on several math ‘excursions’ during the year.  These ‘excursions’ are thematic, integrated units where math is used as a tool to pursue projects or conduct investigations.  Problem solving is the main emphasis. Excursions may include Are You Sure Its Twenty? (counting), Hats (patterns, geometry, measuring, money), Wild Things (writing and solving story problems), Famous Threesomes (exploring patterns, skip counting) and Counting Kisses (estimation, counting large numbers). 

First graders study the rocky seashore and enjoy visiting the tide pools, creating 3-dimensional tide pool animals and playing sea shore charades. While learning about American heroes and symbols, first graders perform a play where each student plays the role of a famous American.  These units engage students in meaningful ways and provide a deeper understanding of the subject. 

The Best Part

Mrs. Ricasata (Teacher):  My favorite part of first grade is the tide pool field trip.  The sights, sounds and smells of the seashore bring our study of this habitat to life.  I love being with my class in the salty air with the sand between our toes, exploring life in the tide pool.  It’s never the same trip twice and I love the excitement that the first graders feel when they hold a sea slug, find a perfect seashell, finally see a real chiton, or see the tiniest of hermit crabs crawling along.  Its a truly magical day!”

Mrs. Hawkins (Assistant Teacher):  “My favorite part of first grade is seeing the absolute joy that our students experience when they accomplish and achieve. The Science Fair Animal Expert project, for example, is a wonderful moment where our kids have learned somehting and then not only teach their friends but also their parents and teachers, too. The pride our students have for learning and then turning around and teaching what they’ve learned is a truly beautiful and powerful thing to behold.  To me… that’s what magic looks like!” 

Mrs. Ricasata &

Mrs. Hawkins

Erinn Ricasata (Teacher) has been at Monica Ros School for more than a decade. Her undergraduate degree is from UCLA and teaching credential is from Pepperdine University. First Grade at Monica Ros is guided by Mrs. Ricasata creating a classroom environment both safe and accepting as well as encouraging of wonder and discovery. Mrs. Ricasata loves teaching First Grade because of the social and academic growth that happens specifically in the First Grade classroom. “I love seeing them learn to read, write, and to become focused on what it means to be a good citizen.” 

Jenn Hawkins (Assistant Teacher) has been at Monica Ros for over 8 years. She has a preschool teaching permit, a certificate of training in ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), Love and Logic, and ETM (Education Through Music).  Her favorite part of First Grade is seeing the joy of students learning and their love of reading come to life.  “I love seeing children be excited about goals and the pure joy that comes to them when they accomplish what they set out to achieve.”