Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade Core Curriculum
Last updated: 2003
Most students enter school confident in their own abilities and they are curious
and eager to learn more. They make sense of the world by reasoning and problem
solving. Young students are active, resourceful individuals who construct, modify,
and integrate ideas by interacting with the physical world as well as with peers
and adults. They learn by doing, collaborating, and sharing their ideas. Students'
abilities to communicate through language, pictures, sound, movement, and other
symbolic means develop rapidly during these years.
Literacy requires an understanding of listening, speaking, reading, and writing
in many forms including print and electronic images. Today, more than ever,
students must have the ability to think critically while applying new information
to existing knowledge. Therefore, school literacy programs need to involve students
in learning to read and write in situations that foster critical thinking and
the use of literacy for independent learning in all content areas.
Young students are building beliefs about what mathematics is, about what
it means to know and do mathematics, and about themselves as mathematical learners.
Mathematics instruction needs to include more than short-term learning of rote
procedures. Students must use technology and other mathematical tools, such
as manipulative materials to develop conceptual understanding and solve problems
as they do mathematics. Students, as mathematicians, learn best with hands-on, active experiences throughout the instruction of the mathematics curriculum.
Language Arts and Mathematics are the tools for doing work in other areas.
These content areas need to be integrated into other curriculum areas to provide
students with optimal learning. The curriculum becomes more relevant when content
areas are connected rather than taught in strict isolation. For this reason,
the content areas of the Arts, Health Education, Library Media, Physical Education,
Science, Social Studies, and Technology have been integrated to enable teachers
to teach more efficiently and students can learn in a real-life context that
enhances lifelong learning.
The Kindergarten through Second Grade Core describes what students should
know and be able to do at the end of each of the K-2 grade levels. It has been
developed, critiqued, and revised by a community of Utah teachers, university
educators, State Office of Education specialists, and an advisory committee
representing a wide variety of people from the community. The Core reflects
the current philosophy of education that is expressed in national documents
developed by the: International Reading Association, National Council of the
Teachers of Mathematics, National Standards for Arts Education, Information
Power, National Association for Sport and Physical Education, American Association
for the Advancement of Science, National Council for the Social Studies, International
Society for Technology and Education, and Early Childhood Standards.
Organization of the K-2 Core
The Core is designed to help teachers organize and deliver instruction.
- Each grade level begins with a brief course description.
- The first column consists of the Language Arts curriculum that encompasses
Reading, Language, Writing, Spelling, and Handwriting.
- The subject areas of: The Arts, Health Education, Library Media, Physical
Education, Science, Social Studies, and Technology have been integrated and
are found in the central column.
- The third column consists of the Mathematics curriculum.
- The K-2 LEARNING GOALS describe the goals for students to gain knowledge
and understand their world. They are found at the beginning of each grade
level and are an integral part of the Core and should be included as part
- A STANDARD is a broad statement of what students are expected to understand.
Several Objectives are listed under each Standard.
- An OBJECTIVE is a more focused description of what students need to know
and be able to do at the completion of instruction. If students have mastered
the Objectives associated with a given Standard, they have mastered that Standard
at that grade level. Several Indicators are described for each Objective.
- An INDICATOR is a measurable or observable student action that enables one
to assess whether a student has mastered a particular Objective. Indicators
are not meant to be classroom activities, but they can help guide classroom
Guidelines Used in Developing the K-2 Core
The Core is:
Consistent with the Nature of Learning
The main intent at the early grades is for students to value learning and develop
the skills to gain knowledge and understand their world. The Core is designed
to produce an integrated set of K-2 Learning Goals for students with specific
goals in all content areas.
The Core has been designed so that, wherever possible, the ideas taught within
a particular grade level have a logical and natural connection with each other
and with those of earlier grades. Efforts have also been made to select topics
and skills that integrate well with one another appropriate to grade level.
In addition, there is an upward articulation of concepts, skills, and content.
This spiraling is intended to prepare students to understand and use more complex
concepts and skills as they advance through the learning process.
The Core takes into account the psychological and social readiness of students.
It builds from concrete experiences to more abstract understandings. The Core
focuses on providing experiences with concepts that students can explore and
understand in depth to build the foundation for future learning experiences.
Reflective of Successful Teaching Practices
Learning through play, movement, and adventure is critical to the early development
of the mind and body. The Core emphasizes student exploration. The K-2 Learning
Goals are central in each standard. The Core is designed to encourage instruction
with students working in cooperative groups. Instruction should connect lessons
with students' daily lives.
The K-2 Core does not cover all topics that have traditionally been in the K-2
curriculum; however, it provides a basic foundation of knowledge and skills
in all content areas. By emphasizing depth rather than breadth, the Core seeks
to empower students rather than intimidate them with a collection of isolated
and eminently forgettable facts. Teachers are free to add related concepts and
skills, but they are expected to teach all the standards and objectives specified
in the Core for their grade level.
Teachers and others who are familiar with Utah students, classrooms, teachers,
and schools have designed the Core. It can be taught with easily obtained resources
and materials. A Teacher Resource Book (TRB) is also available for teachers
and has sample lessons on each topic for each grade level. The TRB is a document
that will grow as teachers add exemplary lessons aligned with the new Core.
Useful and Relevant
This curriculum relates directly to student needs and interests. Relevance of
content areas to other endeavors enables students to transfer skills gained
from one area of instruction into their other school subjects and into their
lives outside the classroom.
Reliant Upon Effective Assessment Practices
Student achievement of the standards and objectives in this core are best assessed
using a variety of assessment instruments. Performance tests are particularly
appropriate to evaluate student mastery of thinking processes and problem-solving
skills. A variety of classroom assessment approaches should be used by teachers
in conjunction with the Criterion Reference Tests (CRT) that are administered
to first and second grade students in Language Arts and Mathematics, and with
the pre- and post tests administered in kindergarten. Observation of students
engaged in instructional activities is highly recommended as a way to assess
students' skills as well as attitudes towards learning. The nature of
the questions posed by students provides important evidence of their understanding.
In the early grades, children are forming attitudes and habits for learning.
It is important that instruction maximizes students' potential and gives
them understanding of the intertwined nature of learning. Effective elementary
instruction engages students actively in enjoyable learning experiences. Instruction
should be as thrilling an experience for a child as seeing a rainbow, growing
a flower, or describing a toad. In a world of rapidly expanding knowledge and
technology, all students must gain the skills they will need to understand and
function responsibly and successfully in the world. The Core provides skills
in a context that enables students to experience the joy of learning.