The NUA Sparrow first grade is a time to begin unlocking all the wonder school has to offer. It is the goal of NUA Sparrow to cultivate a lifelong love of learning and discovery. Sparrow strives to empower students to create their own understanding of the world through exploration and creativity. One of the ways in which this process is introduced is through the use of fairy tales. These stories naturally lend themselves to creating vivid images in the minds of the students.
The stories are told the first time orally without any images. Students simply listen quietly without any discussion or questions. This allows students to truly internalize the story. On the second day of the story cycle, students see a beautifully illustrated chalk drawing that goes along with the story. In this drawing, there is a hidden image. This can be something as simple as six swans for the story, “The Six Swans” or something more complicated such as the letter “J” appearing as a jug of water being held by a prince for the story, “Water of Life.”
The class relishes trying to uncover the hidden image. They rush into the room and gather round the drawing discussing any possibilities they see with their classmates. It is important to understand that this process is not a guided lesson and the discussion is purely student-driven. Students are not told if they are right or wrong nor given any clues. This discussion and the subsequent knowledge have intrinsic value as students are creating their own understanding of the story and its relation to their ideas. This process works to create an environment in which each child’s ideas have value and bring additional meaning to the group. This process helps students gain confidence and understanding as they create a truly rich inner picture of the alphabet and the numbers presented.
On the third day of the cycle, students draw the chalk image into their Main Lesson book. Thisallows the children to slowly recreate what they see in the image and what they imagine. The final product is amazing and often astounds parents who had no idea their child was capable of this level of art. Throughout the year, the children blossom into confident artists, while their comprehension, listening and speaking skills begin to take root.
Submitted by Erin Jones, First Grade Teacher