Guided Reading, Self-Selected Reading, Writer’s Workshop, and Working with Words represent the four different approaches to our Language Arts program. Guided Reading lessons focus on comprehension, fluency, and strategies for decoding. Self-Selected Reading focuses on helping create an appreciation of literature and independent reading. Writer’s Workshop is practiced for the application of concepts learned in other blocks, the joy of writing and sharing a story, editing, and spelling high frequency words. Working with Words is designed to enhance phonics, patterns, and spelling word wall words. Second grade students will use Language for information and understanding, for literary response and expression, for critical analysis and evaluation, and for social interaction.
In SRA Math for Grade 2, we use math games, mental math exercises, cooperative learning activities, thinking stories and mastery checkpoints to enhance our daily lessons, practice and review skills, develop problem solving skills and reinforce concepts. Our goal is for students to be proficient with multi-digit subtraction and addition by the end of second grade. We work extensively with fractions and measurement in both the metric and customary systems. There is a great deal of emphasis on whole number place value that will extend to later work with decimals. Students will also be introduced to multiplication and division and content that continues to enhance their skills in data analysis and probability. They should have basic facts through 10 + 10 and the corresponding subtraction facts committed to memory by the end of the year.
This year Social Studies is rooted in the study of geography and the United States. The year starts with a review of all the continents before narrowing down to the continent of North America and then the United States.
The United States is broken into 5 regions. The students “travel” through the country by learning about each region. We spend about 1 to 1 1/2 months learning about each region. We expose them to the region’s climate, geography, and interesting facts. They draw and write about this information throughout the year.
Basic map skills are also part of the year’s Social Studies exploration. The students use, read, and create maps throughout the year. Geographical features are also a part of the year-long study. Students will be able to identify and create the geographical terms introduced throughout the year.
The focus of study for the Second Grade is on the life sciences. Through a study of plants and their parts the students learn about the importance of plants to life on Earth. To further emphasize the role of plants in their lives, the class learns to identify the many different types of trees within the forest on campus. To give them a more global perspective, a study of the tropical rainforests and all its inhabitants is the next topic to be covered. The year concludes with a study of the human body where its systems and organs are introduced.
The Music class explores singing and classroom instruments through an integrative arts approach. Songs are interwoven with creative movement, artwork, and stories, thus creating depth of understanding and connection to the songs we sing. The 1/2 Music class learns several songs in a variety of styles. We learn and compose pattern pieces with simple rhythm, including whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and rests. Pitch and rhythm syllables are introduced as precursors to standard notation. Active listening, music games, and in-class performance are all be a part of learning developmentally appropriate music concepts.
In our class, students begin their adventure into the elements of design and the classical arts. This is done first subtly by using the language of art and then a bit later by actually studying the color wheel, mixing colors, painting, using clay, printmaking, collage, etc. Some of their art work is done solely to learn the different mediums and some of it is done in conjunction with their classroom studies.
Literature Groups allow for a variety of ways to approach reading. Children are placed in a book group based upon teacher discretion and personal choice. Then, in a smaller group setting, we work to increase reading fluency as well as comprehension. Our focus is on building more independent reading skills and personal interaction with a text. The skills we practice include: asking questions, making predictions, making inferences, making connections and visualizing scenes from a story. Literature groups also help us to practice and hone the students ever-developing writing skills.
Our Reading and Writing programs incorporate a modified 4-Blocks Literacy Model approach which includes Writing Workshop, Working with Words (vocabulary and spelling), Self-Selected Reading, and Guided Reading (Literature groups). The skills learned and practiced in these activities extend beyond each individual class subject and contribute to increased understanding and applications across subject matters.
The writing process we use focuses on working through the Pre-writing, Planning, Rough Draft, Self-, Peer-, and Teacher-Edits, and Final Drafts of our writing pieces. We are continuing to develop our descriptive, persuasive, and expository writing throughout the year. We work extensively in the development of well-formed paragraphs, friendly letters, and stories and we offer many opportunities for the students to share their writing. We offer positive and constructive feedback in groups and in individual peer and teacher conferences, with a focus on working within the construct of the writing process we use.
In Third Grade Math we will be focusing on expanding the children’s knowledge of basic facts and applying them in problem-solving situations to create more fluent mathematical thinkers. While we review addition and subtraction of multi-digit numbers, we also move ahead into learning the concepts of multiplication and division. Other areas of focus include: fraction reading and recognition, area, perimeter, volume, reading time to the nearest minute, and pattern recognition. Literature and writing skills are also integrated into the math curriculum.
Third grade studies focus on developing the students critical thinking skills as well as integrating literature and writing skills. In an “A” year, we build these skills through our Ancient Cultures studies, which include Ancient China, Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. In a “B” year, we turn our attentions to studying Medieval Europe, the Age of the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration.
The Third Grade explores three broad topics through which many concepts, skills and information will be presented. In the unit on Living Things Grow and Change, students learn the characteristics of living organisms, the requirements of individual plants and animals and how those needs are met. The second topic, Organisms through Time, starts with the beginning of life on Earth and through a timeline; the class discovers when plant and animal Orders came to exist on Earth. Once we reach the Dinosaurs, there is a great deal of exploration and individual research conducted on specific dinosaurs. The unit concludes with a look at all that humans have accomplished in the tiny amount of time they have been on this planet. The last unit, Simple Machines, introduces the concepts of work, energy and how we have developed methods to help us accomplish tasks. The class learns about the lever, the inclined plane, the wedge and simple pulleys through hands-on exploration.
The class learns to read and compose music through the study of classroom percussion and mallet instruments, in addition to the recorder. With continued use of pitch and rhythm syllables, standard musical notation is introduced. They discover time signatures, clefs, dynamic markings, tempo, and rhythm through the music. Several creative composition projects help students solidify these skills. We continue singing songs in a variety of musical styles and explore the families of instruments and their places in musical genres and ensembles.
Over the course of the year the children are placed in situations where they can learn through movement exploration and put their imaginations to work. Basic movement patterns such as running, galloping, skipping, jumping, rolling and leaping will be emphasized. All sorts of objects are manipulated including jump ropes, beanbags, a plethora of balls, hula-hoops, scooters and the parachute. Students move to music, act out stories and play what seems like five-dozen variations of tag. Personal Space and Body Awareness are important themes at this age. This allows students to move and learn in a safe environment. Students are also put in situations in which cooperation and teamwork are important. Last and perhaps most important, the students have fun while learning.
In our class, students continue their study of the elements and principles of design. They learn about subtle color variations, how to use line and space to create large drawings and paintings. They study painters and sculptors and use them as examples in their work. Many different mediums are used during the school year. Some of the art work is aimed at classical studies and some of their work is aimed at integration into their classroom studies.