First-Grade English Language Arts (ELA) Standards

first-grade-languageIn first grade, students will master the building blocks required to read simple illustrated books and stories and write short texts. Here are a few examples of what your child will learn and practice throughout the year, questions to ask his or her teachers and tips for reinforcing academic skills at home.

Reading Literature and Informational Text

  • Be able to ask and answer questions about details in a story or text.
  • Demonstrate understanding of a story by retelling it using details.
  • Recognize which words in poems or stories appeal to the senses or describe feelings.
  • Describe the main ideas of a text using its details and pictures or illustrations.
  • Identify the narrator of a story at multiple points in the text.

Reading Foundational Skills

  • Recognize the basic features of print; know how a sentence capitalization and punctuation is organized.
  • Be able to recognize words and self-correct as necessary to understand them.
  • Understand  the spelling and sounds that correspond to consonant digraphs.
    • Sounds like th-,wh-, ch-, sh-, ph-, -ck, and -th
  • Learn the long vowel sounds for final-e words (take, ape) and common vowel team conventions (hook, reel), and so on.
  • Decipher two-syllable words by following patterns to break them into syllables.
  • Be able to read words with inflectional endings like -s, -ed and -ing.
  • Be able to recognize words and self-correct as necessary to understand them.


  • Be able to write an opinion piece that introduces a topic and includes an opinion about the topic, the reason(s) for that opinion and some kind of ending.
  • Write texts that explain or provide facts about a subject and include an ending.
  • Be able to write a narrative that:
    • Features two or more events in the correct sequence.
    • Includes details about the events.
    • Uses signal words like “first,” “then,” “next,” or “last” to indicate the order of events.
    • Provides some kind of ending.
  • With adult help, be able to hone in on a subject, reply to suggestions and questions from peers and add details as needed in order to improve writing.

Speaking and Listening

  • Understand and obey discussion rules set by the teacher such as taking turns to speak and listening to others.
  • Be able to ask and answer detailed questions about information that is read aloud, communicated verbally or presented in a multimedia format.
  • Use details and clearly expressed ideas and feelings to describe events, people, things and places in small or large groups of peers as well as adults.
  • Express thoughts in complete sentences when it’s suitable for the situation or task.
  • When listening to a speaker, ask and answer questions in order to clear up confusion or gather more information.


    • Show an understanding of the conventions of standard English usage and grammar verbally and in writing:
  • Be able to print all uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • Using possessive, proper and common nouns.
  • Match verbs correctly to singular and plural nouns in sentences; for example, “She walks. We walk.”
  • Be able to use the following types of pronouns: personal (I, you, we), possessive (my, our, their) and indefinite (all, any, some).
  • Express past, present and future using verbs; for example, “Yesterday I ate. Today I eat. Tomorrow I will eat.”
  • Be able to use adjectives that occur frequently, such as colors, sizes and shapes.
  • Use conjunctions that occur frequently (so, and, because, but).
  • Use determiners: Articles (a, an, the), demonstratives (this, that, these), and possessives (mine, theirs, ours).
  • In response to prompts, create simple and compound exclamatory, declarative, interrogative and imperative sentence.
    • Show an understanding of standard written English spelling, capitalization and punctuation:
  • Capitalizing names of people and dates.
  • Ending sentences with proper punctuation.
  • Using commas to separate single words and dates in sentences.
  • Using traditional spelling for words that are commonly spelled and for uncommonly spelled words that occur frequently.
  • Use phonetic spelling for words that are not taught using spelling conventions and phonetic awareness.
    • Choose from an array of strategies to ascertain the meaning of words and phrases that are unknown or have multiple definitions:
  • Find clues to a word’s meaning in the context of a sentence.
  • Use affixes  that occur frequently (-s, -ing, -er)  to determine a word’s meaning.
  • Recognize root words that occur frequently, such as take, and their inflectional forms (took, taking, takes).
    • With adult help, identify the relationships between words and nuances in their meanings:
  • Be able to sort words into groups such as colors and animals in order to identify the concepts they represent.
  • Define a word both by category and at least one important attribute; for example, “a swan is a bird that swims,” “an airplane is a machine that flies.”
  • Make real-world connections between words and how they are used, such as identifying types of food that taste tangy.
  • Show an understanding of differences in the manner of verbs (such as sip, drink, guzzle) and intensity of adjectives (such as big and massive) by acting them out or defining them.
  • Using words and phrases picked up through conversations, from reading or by being read to, and in response to texts, including conjunctions that occur frequently and express relationships, such as because.
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