Second graders use the skills mastered in first grade to open the door to increasing independence and an ever-expanding mastery of skills and concepts. Seven and eight-year-olds want to grow up and assume the roles of older children. Therefore, self-reliance and responsibility are encouraged in second grade. Second graders like order, they zero in on what they are good at and like to practice it over and over. They are industrious and driven by curiosity and they love to discover and invent. They take great pride in their accomplishments.
However, they like order and structure in their day. Mixing individual activities, group discussion, and group activities works well for this age group as long as there is the comfort of structure guiding the development of individual responsibility. Small group cooperative activities are provided in a variety of ways from "center areas" located at different areas of the classroom during mathematics. A cozy reading center equipped with easy chairs and surrounded by library materials, a listening center, hands-on math materials, and a rotating science/social studies center further the opportunities for a variety of learning activities. Students may access these materials and activities during free time and continue work begun during scheduled center periods.
The language arts curriculum encompasses whole language experiences with an emphasis on phonics skills and the use of context clues for decoding words as well as writing. Second graders build on their literacy skills fostered through the use of the Reader's and Writer's Workshop model which combines whole group and individual instruction. Building vocabulary, understanding main ideas, details, sequence, making predictions, and developing conclusions are all important skills and understandings for second graders. Creative writing assignments provide a variety of writing experiences that introduce children to the various domains of writing and explore literary genres. Writing is exciting for eager-to-learn second graders.
Two major units involving integration across the curriculum provide specific learning outcomes using the skills mentioned above. In the first, the children discover his/her ancestral heritage and parents find themselves on stage, dressed as an ancestor, while the children read from the "newly discovered" diaries left by their ancestor. The second centers around non-fiction writing which enhances research and presentation skills.
The Singapore Math method of teaching math continues in second grade with the progression of concrete, pictorial and abstract understanding being applied to new concepts. Beginning model solving strategies are applied to word problems. Mathematical concepts are particularly accessible at this age, with increasing ability for students to infer, predict and estimate as they look for patterns and solve problems. A mastery of addition and subtraction facts by 2nd semester frees students to develop this ability. Building an understanding of multiplication and division continues at this grade level. Children also learn concepts in geometry, time, measurement, and money.
Technology education is embedded into the content areas, a focus on the Next Generation Science Standards extends learning in the area of science as well as features experiments using the science lab to enhance science education. Students also have access to our school computer lab at least twice per week.
Specialty teachers provide instruction in art, music, Physical Education, spiritual nurture, and Spanish and a variety of field trips are taken throughout the year. The field trips range from a trip to Suzy's Farm to the symphony, as well as Old Town to name a few, all are extensions of the classroom and are very much enjoyed.
Second grade is a balance between hard work and intense self-assessment. This produces a sense of competence in students, which sets the stage for greater independence and self-direction in the following grades.