Last week, fourth graders launched their new social studies unit—an in-depth study of the geography, history, civics and stories of Central Park.
Second graders at CGPS move from learning to read to reading to learn.
As part of an intensive unit of study on immigration and researching their families' histories, the entire second grade puts on a musical performance for families at the International Festival, with songs celebrating a variety of countries and cultures.
After the performance, students and families enjoy a potluck buffet of foods from all over the world. Preparation for International Festival serves as a springboard for second graders to continue to explore specific neighborhoods where immigrants settled.
- Language Arts 2
- Math 2
- Social Studies 2
- Science 2
- Spanish 2
- Art 2
- Music 2
- Library 2
- Physical Education 2
- Movement, Mindfulness & Drama 2
Second graders receive daily small group instruction in reading with classroom teachers and reading specialists. In both small-group and whole-class settings, students are exposed to various genres and have opportunities to engage with literature across the curriculum. They learn that readers have a “toolbox” of strategies that help them read unknown words and increase fluency. As decoding and fluency improve, second graders further develop their reading comprehension skills. They learn to retell the main events in a story sequentially, identify and understand the main idea, make inferences and use the text to find important details. Students have many opportunities to discuss and respond to text both orally and through writing.
Second grade classes use the word study program Words Their Way for phonics, vocabulary and spelling instruction. Students work in differentiated groups using a hands-on approach to compare and contrast categories of word features. The second grade writing curriculum is based on Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study. Students learn to follow the writing process (plan, write, revise, edit, publish). They learn basic paragraph structure as well as writing mechanics such as grammar, capitalization and punctuation. Through the program Handwriting Without Tears, students learn to read and write in cursive.
The Grammar School mathematics program develops mathematical thinkers who value collaboration and communication when investigating big ideas, identifying patterns and explaining relationships. Students learn to think flexibly and persevere through productive struggles as they develop the growth mindset needed for problem solving. Concepts and skills build from grade to grade in each of the major domains: counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, numbers and operations in base ten, numbers and operations with fractions, measurement and data, and geometry. Students are given ample opportunity to construct their own understanding of foundational concepts and computation strategies through hands-on experiences and rich opportunities for discourse, as well as the use of concrete materials, pictorial models and contextual problem solving. Our teachers and math specialists promote the type of learning environment that encourages risk-taking and celebrates mistakes as students revise and develop their thinking. Second grade mathematicians engage in experiences that continue to develop number sense and build fluency and efficiency for addition and subtraction strategies. The facts they have already mastered become their starting point when reasoning about facts with which they are less fluent. Students discover that they can extend these strategies when computing and estimating sums and differences of multi-digit numbers as they solidify their understanding of place value in a base ten number system. Algorithms are introduced alongside various strategies and related to a conceptual understanding more so than a mastery of procedure. Through collaborative investigation, discourse and hands-on experiences with manipulatives and various pictorial models, students develop as problem-solvers and work to employ flexible thinking and a variety of strategies. Ongoing experiences with standard units of measurement, data collection and graphing, telling time and reasoning with elapsed time, as well as calculating values of sets of coins and making change, introduce students to multiplicative reasoning as they discover the efficiency in counting by groups. Studies of measurement and geometry also provide a contextual and concrete introduction to concepts of fractions.
At CGPS, the social studies curriculum explores events from the past and present that build upon previous grade levels’ strategies and content. In the second grade, social studies focuses on the essential question of, "How did we get here?" Through research into their own family’s story, second graders explore what makes their family special. These narratives inform class projects which culminate in Family Heritage Day, where students celebrate a country or state that contributes to each student’s family identity. Students also explore the theme of communities in second grade and investigate different types of communities and how they change over time. They take a deeper look at how people from many different heritages and backgrounds helped shape and change their New York City community. Students compare New York City then and now through interactive field trips, such as the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Each class also examines a specific neighborhood (e.g., Chinatown or Harlem), takes a field trip to that neighborhood and develops a deeper understanding of that community. By the end of the year, students have a better grasp of what their immediate world looks like through both the geographical and cultural lens.
In the second grade, students investigate matter, energy and the water cycle. Second grade scientists explore solids, liquids and gases and also learn how energy is used to change matter as they engineer windmill blades to harness wind energy. Second graders' study of fish and oceans combines writing, technology and art with an individualized research project.
World language exposure encourages empathy for learning a new language, development of problem-solving skills and an understanding of and openness to cultural differences. All Spanish classes are full immersion experiences with focus on acquiring speaking and listening skills. The students begin the year with a unit investigating the Spanish speaking countries of Latin America and Spain. The students use the table of contents, index, captions and other nonfiction features to research an assigned country with a partner. In addition, to explore clothing vocabulary, students play Eye Spy, “Clothing Battleship,” and other interactive activities.
Second grade students are introduced to a varied arts curriculum that explores different art techniques and media. Artists continue their study of lines and shapes through projects that encourage them to create “active drawings.” Their exploration of lines and pattern making culminates with a fiber arts unit where the children stitch and embroider. Students work three dimensionally by creating ceramic pieces and sculpture. . The art studios provide children a valuable opportunity to express their feelings, thoughts and ideas in a safe and nurturing environment.
Second graders continue studying solfege and playing the xylophone, metallophone and unpitched percussion instruments. Students learn to read notes and rhythms on the staff by playing rhythm games to reinforce concepts differentiating whole, quarter, half, eighth and sixteenth notes. Students move and dance to a variety of songs to explore phrasing and music form. In second grade, the students experience a large choral setting for the first time as they prepare and perform several songs from around the world to sing at the International Day Festival.
Second grade is an exciting time in the library. In library class, the librarians share longer chapter books and help them make connections and predictions based on the text. The students are excited to check out up to two books per library class. Second graders are also encouraged to submit poems, short stories, and book reviews to the library's literary and book-review magazines, enjoy an annual book-based movie night and attend presentations by visiting authors and illustrators.
The second grade physical education curriculum incorporates a variety of individual, partner and group activities that introduce and continue to develop sport-specific knowledge. By using lead-up drills and game simulations, students are taught offensive and defensive strategies which are further developed as they progress toward mastering game concepts. Throughout the year, cooperative team games and fitness activities are also integrated into the curriculum. These lessons focus on building character and encourages students' awareness of sportsmanship, kindness and respect for others.
Movement, Mindfulness & Drama allows students to explore various forms of self-expression. Non-verbal communication, storytelling through movement, and theater games all allow students ways to interact and cooperate with peers as well as build their self-confidence. They also explore mindfulness practice to build strategies for finding calm and to be in the present moment. They incorporate gross motor movements into various dances, explore mirroring, improvisation, tempo, patterns and sequencing with directional changes as well as more complex choreography. They continue acting fundamentals such as stage directions and character development as well as using more written dialogue and directions. Movement, Mindfulness & Drama fosters spatial and body awareness, self-expression, body and emotional regulation, and instills a love and appreciation of movement and theater.