In second grade, the expectation is that students always strive to do their best, take care of others, and think before they act. Within the safe and nurturing environment of the classroom, they are encouraged to take risks and walk the fine line between comfort and challenge.
A strong relationship with parents is fostered through regular communication. Contact is made both in person at pick-up and drop-off times, as well as through email and weekly newsletters. Parents are notified if there are concerns, and achievements are celebrated.
Students are exposed to a variety of genres through books read aloud, independent reading, and small reading groups. In the reading groups, second graders identify and examine literary elements, summarize the sequence of events of a story, and offer connections between the text and personal experiences. In order to get them to think more deeply about what they are reading, students are challenged to come up with their own questions about the text, which their reading groups then answer and discuss.
Explicit phonics is taught using the Sequential English Education program (also called SEE), which is a multisensory language approach to reading, writing, and spelling. Lessons focus on phonics, spelling, vocabulary, and paraphrasing. Students also participate in auditory discrimination lessons to strengthen phonemic awareness and working memory and improve attention to auditory information.
Written assignments include autobiographies, stories about mythological characters and aliens, planet and animal reports, a pioneer journal, and poetry. Students write stories that have a settling, characters, a problem and solution, and include a series of events. They are encouraged to elaborate on their ideas by using descriptive language, specifically adjectives and similes. Second graders also develop research skills by locating, recording, and organizing pertinent information, paraphrasing sources, and then producing a final product, which is either a written report or a slideshow on their iPads.
Everyday Mathematics: The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, forms the basis for math instruction in second grade. The Everyday Mathematics program builds on mathematical strands such as numeration and order, measurement, data and chance, operations, geometry, patterns, functions, and sequences. Students review two-dimensional shapes and learn about three-dimensional shapes. They develop a solid understanding of place value, fractions, graphing, and double-digit addition and subtraction. Toward the end of the year, students are introduced to multiplication and division.
Lessons emphasize the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills. Lessons are taught in small groups during centers. Concrete materials are used to introduce and reinforce concepts, and math games are an integral part of the curriculum. Assessments are given three times a year.
Theme Studies (Science and Social Studies)
The science and social studies curriculum is composed of five thematic units called theme studies. Units include the study of maps and communities, Ancient Greece, and pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail. The science units are space and biomes, which includes an in depth look at the five classifications of animals.
All theme studies units are integrated with language arts, physical education, art, and performing arts. For example, as part of the unit on pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail, students pretend to travel along the trail and write a journal about their adventures, and they learn pioneer songs and square dancing in music class.
Technology in the Classroom
Slideshows and educational videos like BrainPop Jr are used to present information to students using the Smartboard. The Smartboard is also used for interactive math and language arts activities where students manipulate projected words and objects and play games. Math apps and the Seesaw learning platform are used for independent skills practice as well as for visual exploration of concepts.
Social-emotional learning in second grade is focused on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social management. The Responsive Classroom approach is implemented through daily morning meetings and closing circles, group rule creation, positive teacher language, logical consequences, and academic choice.
Students learn to fold origami in second grade and make a different design every week. For their service learning project, second graders use their origami skills to make origami crane mobiles, strings of lights for the holidays, and heart boxes for Valentine’s Day. Proceeds from the sales of the projects go to whichever charity the second graders choose.