The major themes of the second grade are people, place, and interdependence.
Children develop an understanding of culture, geography, and geology, as well as explore the effects that the environment around us has on our lives and the effect that people have on the land and water around them. Community is an important thread as we explore our own identities, relationships with each other, with the larger school community, and the Chesapeake Bay area.
Reading and writing are thoroughly entwined in our curricular framework. Students use examples of good literature to inspire their writing. Although second graders read and write at various levels, they are able to have conversations around a common theme and practice reading and writing strategies.
Through direct teaching and looking for examples in our own writing and in the writing of the authors we love, children are exposed to grammar, including sentence structure, parts of speech, punctuation, and word choice.
A goal of second grade is to encourage children to be aware of their reading processes; they think critically about what they understand, how they come to understand it, and how their personal experiences influence understanding of the things they read. Different perspectives on and interpretations of material stimulate lively, interesting discussions. As the year progresses, students consider the following reading strategies:
- Making connections
- Monitoring for meaning
- Making mental images
Second graders practice their writing skills through both assigned and student-chosen topics. Students explore different types of writing including personal anecdotes, nonfiction, poetry, and persuasive writing. They are encouraged to see writing as a work in progress as they share their writing, get input from other students, and learn to revise their work. Sharing their writing helps children internalize questions and anticipate what their readers need to know. Through feedback and revision, students learn to make judgments about what to put in and what to leave out of their compositions. As the year progresses, students develop and incorporate the following writing tools:
- Adding strong adjectives and verbs
- Using similes
- Developing suspense
- Including descriptive language and sensory detail to show, not tell
Students are encouraged to notice words as they read, look for spelling in the environment, and develop a playful attitude about words. Daily word study lessons introduce students to the various letter patterns and sight words that they will encounter as they read and write. Children use a variety of strategies to support their spelling development including referring to the word wall, clapping syllables to see if they have a vowel in each, and trying out a word several times to see if it “looks right.” Students participate in regular assessments, which they self-correct. Our goal is that children will:
- Develop a deeper understanding of spelling patterns
- Connect spelling to reading
- Transfer words learned into daily writing
Second grade students have library once a week. Each class begins with a story followed by free time for children to explore the library; they find their favorite authors and learn about specific subject sections in the collection (e.g. animals, planets) and how to find them. They share books with their friends and become more independent library users.
Park’s math program allows for an open-ended problem-solving approach, development of real enjoyment working with numbers, and understanding based on the discovery of relationships. Using the math curriculum, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, teachers emphasize the learning process, thinking flexibly, problem solving, showing answers more than one way, and finding all the solutions. The topics covered in second grade include:
- Coins, Number String, and Story Problems: Addition, Subtraction, and the Number System
- Attributes of Shapes and Parts of a Whole: Geometry and Fractions
- How many Stickers? How many Cents?: Addition, Subtraction, and the Number System
- Pockets, Teeth, and Guess my Rule: Modeling with Data
- How Many Tens? How Many Hundreds? Addition, Subtraction and the Number System
- How Far Can you Jump?: Linear Measurement
- Partners, Teams, and other Groups: Foundations of Multiplication
- Enough for the Class? Enough for the Grade?: Addition, Subtraction, and the Number System
- Trades, Jumps, and Stops: Early Algebra
- Ages and Timelines: Subtraction on the Open Number Line
In second grade, students practice scientific process skills and create positive habits of mind. Hands-on exploration, discussion, collaborative group work, and literature are integral to science lessons. Children make observations; ask questions, craft a hypothesis; record and analyze; and draw conclusions. At this age, children will not go through the entire scientific process in every activity, but each activity has a process objective that furthers their understanding of scientific processes.
Units of Study:
- Water: the water cycle, surface tension, and our impact on freshwater in our community
- Geology: the process of erosion, the formation of landforms, and the investigation of rocks and minerals
- Changes: states of matter, chemical reactions
Second grade students explore the language and many distinct cultures of the Spanish-speaking world through themes that connect with the classroom curriculum. The Spanish curriculum allows for the use of targeted vocabulary and language and increasingly complex sentence structures across grade levels, providing the repetition needed to retain chunks of language. Among other topics, second graders explore family and pets, descriptive vocabulary, geography, and topography.
In second grade, many technology skills revolve around writing, editing, and formatting. Second graders use graphic organization software and iPad apps such as Book Creator to organize and plan writing.
Second grade students also learn advanced word processing skills such as spell-checking and formatting images within text. Students become adept in the use of Seesaw and other productivity applications to create digital portfolios, stay organized, collaborate, and effectively manage school work. Children learn about research and apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. By the time students reach third, fourth, and fifth grades, their independent skills will have developed significantly.
Theme Studies, Social Studies, History
Interdependence is the focus of our theme study; the interdependence of people in a community, animals and plants in a biome, and people with their environment. Children explore ideas of identity, community, and culture throughout the year. Children will develop a positive sense of curiosity and respect for people who are different from themselves. They will begin to move beyond stereotypes as they explore their own varied experiences and cultures and diverse literature. Integrated into this work, we introduce students to concepts of geography and geology beginning with a particular focus on Moores Branch, the stream on our campus. Interdisciplinary projects are a dynamic part of second grade. Examples of projects are detailed in the sections below.
In the second grade, children explore identity. Through discussions, literature, and writing they identify aspects of their own culture and notice and discuss similarities and differences. An important piece of this work is effective communication. We explicitly teach active listening and respectful ways to disagree and share our thinking. Children create representations of themselves that reflect who they are inside and out.
Map Making and Landforms
Students create their own maps and read a variety of nonfiction. They learn about landforms and explore the many types and applications of maps. They display their knowledge by making 2-D and 3-D maps, and create a piece of descriptive writing to accompany them.
In this integrated math and social studies project, students work together to build a community. Their work includes planning buildings and neighborhoods, assessing the community’s needs, and creating their own culture in response to the environment. This community is set in a biome that the children have chosen and researched. There is a great deal of cooperative problem solving, computation, and measurement involved in this project. Also included in our study of community are concepts concerning land use, changes over time, and the need to plan and conserve.