In second grade, we are curious, we set and meet our own goals, and above all, we are passionate about learning and challenging ourselves to be the best we can be using our individual strengths. Second grade is a time when we begin to see ourselves as scientists, mathematicians, citizens, writers, actors, engineers, historians, artists, and musicians because we are becoming more confident in our ability to rise to the learning challenges presented to us. We also learn the value of collaboration and different ways of thinking and being as we learn together and make the most of our extraordinary classroom and school community.
In second grade, skills taught previously in Everyday Mathematics are reintroduced and students work towards developing even greater automaticity and fluency. The spiraling approach to this math program allows students to revisit and explore math concepts and language with increasing complexity and in greater detail. Students work collaboratively and individually to create concrete models of the concepts they learn for a deeper understanding of these concepts. Students are also guided to discuss and write about each concept because research has shown that this supports mathematical development in the primary grades (Van de Walle, Karp, Bay-Williams 2013).
In second grade, students develop greater oral reading fluency and comprehension and the ability to write for a variety of purposes. Students are guided to see themselves as competent verbal and written communicators who can read and write both to learn and for pleasure. Students are first taught how to consider their purpose, interests and reading level when choosing books to help them develop a lifelong love of reading. Then, they learn from modeling and practice how to read with speed, accuracy, and expression employing a variety of comprehension tools. Using guided reading and the Daily 5 classroom model, students develop valuable literacy skills through daily practice reading alone; reading with partners, small groups, and the teacher; listening to reading; writing; and working with words to improve spelling and vocabulary.
Phonics continues in second grade using the Orton Gillingham program to tackle more advanced spelling concepts. Vocabulary is also a big feature in second grade as we begin our WODs or “Words of the Day” program. Five new advanced words are introduced each week to expand each child’s vocabulary and comprehension. There is more emphasis on grammar in second grade and learning to write grammatically correct sentences. In addition to grammar mechanics, students learn to identify parts of speech in sentences and learn to create and identify well-developed sentences. Children are also taught the steps of the writing process from brainstorming to publishing and begin to consistently employ strategies to edit their written work.
History & Geography
Students in second grade go back in time to learn about life when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. They then begin to explore the life of pre-historic humans by attempting to answer questions about why and how humans made progress toward civilization through hands-on projects - such as creating fur hats with a replica of the bone needle or attempting to make fire and stone tools with the materials available in Stone Age times. Later in the year, students learn about the Bronze and Iron Ages and the change from a pre-historic to a historic society with the impact of writing. From there, they move on to learn about early civilizations including the Sumerians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Babylonians, Phoenicians, and Egyptians, discovering many of the important legacies these civilizations left for societies today. Favorite projects include inventing their own system of writing on clay tablets, like the Sumerians; creating a sundial; creating a class code like the Code of Hammurabi; and “meeting an Ancient Egyptian princess who helps students dress like Ancient Egyptians.” History is woven throughout the curriculum in second grade as students, for example, use Sumerian and Ancient Egyptian counting techniques in math, do an in-class research project on Ancient Egypt during an expository writing unit, and read stories, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh.
In Geography, students develop map skills throughout the year and learn to create their own maps to give simple directions. The main focus of geography in second grade is the 50 states of the United States of America. Students continue to develop research skills, first introduced in history, through a small research project focusing on one of the 50 states. This project culminates in a classwide oral presentation to parents and a culinary celebration of the chosen states at the end of the year.
In science, students are introduced to the steps of the scientific method and inquiry-based learning as they begin to acquire the important science process skills of predicting, observing, modeling, classifying, measuring, interpreting data, inferring, and communicating. More specifically, in Life Science, second grade students begin a more in-depth study of plant and animal life, as they are introduced to the parts of a plant, plant life cycles, and plant differences. Students also learn about animal body parts, adaptations, and life cycles with an emphasis on insects and butterflies. During Earth Science, students discover more about planet Earth, its natural resources, and the importance of conservation. Through interactive modeling, second grade students are introduced to the interrelated movement of the earth, sun, and moon and how these movements affect our everyday lives. In Physical Science, students explore motion, sound, light and heat through a variety of hands-on, often student designed, experiments. In Health Science, students are motivated to learn more about human sensory systems, dental hygiene, and the importance of healthy eating and living. Science is scheduled for two class periods each week but science concepts are woven throughout the curriculum wherever relevant, especially in reading, mathematics, and social studies.