Second Grade Classes 2010-2011
Ms. Elliott, Ms. Wimer, Ms. Sheaffer, and Ms. Martin.
SOCIAL EMOTIONAL: An important aspect about learning is providing a classroom atmosphere where children are comfortable being themselves. Children are encouraged to stretch themselves while improving their academic performance and developing a variety of talents and passions. Children are expected to have as much fun as possible without violating the boundaries of respect, trust, and kindness. When boundaries are crossed and social emotional issues arise throughout the learning process, these matters are discussed in a non-threatening, logical way. This forum supports the idea of child expression and values the feelings of everyone. Students are given the opportunity to express their ideas about how to resume learning in a compassionate environment. Beginning each day with a Morning Meeting provides the children practice in greeting each other and every child has a sharing day so the kids can learn more about each other’s interests, families, hobbies, vacations, etc. In addition to these activities, the weekly “Star Student” program also contributes toward the building of a classroom community.
READING: During Reading the children participate in reading exercises in the form of whole class teacher guided literature circles, small group student guided literature circles, individual reading, and partner reading. A variety of literature is read, providing opportunities for the development of word identification skills, reading fluency, comprehension strategies, and the use of prior knowledge to enhance the meaning of the story. The students practice reading responses in the form of reader’s response, summary writing, poster board displays, group discussions, and short answer questions focusing on comprehension strategies. Students are expected to identify the setting, characters, problems, and outcomes of a story and be able to give a brief story summary. Another aspect of the reading program is Silent Reading. During this time the children choose reading material appropriate for their own reading level and personal interests. Resources include trade books and anthologies of literature. The genres of reading focused on in second grade are: poetry, biography, folktales, fairy tales, mystery, and non-fiction. Reading for at least 20 minutes per night is one of the homework expectations for second grade.
WRITING: During Writer’s Workshop the children work through the writing process of brainstorming, pre-writing, writing a rough draft, editing and revising, conferencing, and publishing. The children are occasionally assigned topics during writer’s workshop, although an abundance of time is also provided for the children to write creatively, choosing their own topics and genre. Students select topics, determine chapters, find resource materials, read and take notes, write rough and final drafts, and present their published books at an Information Fair. Throughout these writing experiences students are expected to develop their capitalization and punctuation skills, handwriting skills, sentence structure, and the use of conventional spelling. The students have opportunities to share their writing with other children during author’s chair. The children also had the opportunity to display their writing progress with the parents at various times throughout the year. The Information Book is a year-end activity that integrates both reading and writing skills. Cursive handwriting is also a part of the second grade curriculum. The children learn how to form both the lower case and capital letters, are given time to practice connecting the letters properly, and provided opportunities to read cursive writing.
SPELLING INFORMATION: The students become responsible for correct spellings through the use of a word wall and other extension activities about building new words from using words they already know. Each week five new spelling words are introduced that follow the rule being taught for the week. Through learning these words, the children also learn other words in the word families, how to add endings to the words, and develop handwriting skills. The students also have five red words to study each week. These are high frequency words that don’t follow a specific spelling rule or pattern. Each week the spelling test requires students to use the list of weekly words that they know to write other words that follow the same rule. Another skill tested weekly asks students to write sentences that are dictated by the teacher to assess the child’s application of spelling and writing. The students are expected to spell the word wall words correctly without looking, incorporate other phonics skills learned to figure out the spellings of unknown words, and demonstrate proper handwriting in all areas of the curriculum. Completing spelling homework is one of the second grade learning expectations.
MATH: The primary focus in second grade Math is developing math skills through problem solving. The students solve many different problem types integrating the second grade Math skills and using either literature or topics from other curricular areas to help bridge the connection between Math and real life. The exposure to problem solving encourages students to explore the strategies for joining and separating numbers, as well as multiplying and dividing and problems involving groups, parts, and wholes. The students use Math Journals for recording both their answers and the methods they used to decipher the problem. To successfully complete a math journal problem the students use the information given, make inferences, and use their logical thinking skills. Their answers may include pictures, equations, graphs, charts, counting sequences, or number sentences. After the children have had time to solve problems, a discussion occurs and children share their thinking strategies with other classmates. Another major activity included in the Math curriculum is the economics unit that teaches about money. During the Economics Unit, the children attain a job at home, earn an income of $1 for each week during the unit, balance their income, create a classroom store, choose merchandise for the store, price the store items, learn about profit and supply and demand, create store advertisements, and make consumer choices. The culmination of this unit involves holding a second grade bake sale using the profits from the store to buy ingredients. The proceeds from the bake sale are then used to purchase groceries for donation to the New Trier Food Pantry during a class field trip. Another example of a hands on Math project is Project Polaris that teaches about estimation and measurement. The concentration areas for second grade Math are: addition and subtraction facts to 20, basic multiplication and division concepts, geometry, fractions, measurement, money, and time. Throughout all of these content areas, the children practice and develop basic concepts of numeration, collecting and analyzing data, and formulating problem solving strategies. Common math activities completed during class time include: hands-on exploration, games, collecting and charting data, computation, and discussing math concepts. The children complete the Winnetka Math books at their own pace during independent work time. Math games are sent home on a regular basis to be included in the nightly homework schedule.
SCIENCE: SCIIS Life Cycles and Interactions and Systems provide the basic foundation for the life science and physical science sequences. Children participate in making observations, collecting and charting data, and writing individual journals and lab reports. Activities and experiments include: magnets, the study of ocean animals, meal worms, chemical interactions, the water cycle, growing plants, constellations, the water reclamation process, Star Lab, field trips, and more.
SOCIAL STUDIES: The Social Studies curriculum is a study of both geography and culture, which integrates a variety of creative and academic subjects. The goal of these studies is to help children understand how they relate to the physical world around them. The Location Book Project is the backbone of the Social Studies curriculum. It is each child’s cumulative record of the information they learn throughout the school year. The Location Book moves from the child’s school as a geographical location out to the solar system in the following order: school, village, lake, state, country, continent, Earth, and the Solar System. We try to heighten children’s awareness of their own community as well as other communities that exist in the world. We encourage awareness of diversity through the discussion and observation of different cultures.