Last Monday, illustrator Joseph Santiago of Saint James Studios and his business partner Yamilca visited their son's fifth grade Core class with Stefanie Trepper to give a lesson on a crucial aspect of the filmmaking process: storyboarding.
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
- Technology 2
- Library 2
- Physical Education 2
- Yoga 2
- Dance 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 focuses on events from the past and present through the lens of an essential question. In the second grade, social studies focuses on immigration and the question "How did I get to New York?" which builds on the foundation of the first grade curriculum. Through research into their own family history, second graders explore how cultures are similar and different. These narratives inform class projects and a field trip to Ellis Island reinforces these themes and brings them to life for the students. The second grade comes together for the International Festival, a celebration of their immigration journey and a family history study that includes traditional costumes, songs, food and a presentation of a written report about their own immigrant story. Students also examine what life was like in New York City a century ago, researching transportation, food, housing and other areas of life. This unit culminates with a visit to the Tenement Museum. Each class examines a specific neighborhood (i.e. Arthur Avenue in the Bronx or Chinatown in Flushing, Queens), takes a field trip to that neighborhood and develops a deeper understanding of culture. 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. Students explore solids, liquids and gases and learn how energy is used to change matter, and 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 on Spanish literacy, developing knowledge of the Spanish alphabet by searching for Spanish words around the classroom, playing “Show Me” listening games, and playing Flores, a Spanish version of the game Hangman. They also explore metacognitive strategies for language learning by using cognates, which are words that look and sound similar across languages and can be helpful when discovering new words. Next, the second graders investigate Spain and the Spanish speaking countries of Latin America. 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 “pack a suitcase” for an immigrant traveling to Ellis Island, which complements the second grade social studies curriculum.
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.” Students also work three dimensionally by constructing soft paper sculptures as well as ceramic pieces. In collaboration with the classroom social studies curriculum, students visually tell the story of immigration. They collage multiple large scale murals, which are showcased at the annual International Festival.
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.
During their time in the technology lab, second graders learn about both digital art and general coding. Students are introduced to coding concepts by experimenting with the Scratch Jr. app from MIT to create an interactive game. Students also program Dash robots to complete obstacle courses, develop challenges and coordinate a synchronized Dash dance party.
During their units on digital art and animation, students learn how to draw and add graphics and animate original drawings. They explore various ways to express their creativity using technology, and many of the skills students develop are used in other subject areas to enhance and share their learning.
Second grade is an exciting time in the library. Each cycle, the students alternate between having Library class and Reading Buddies, during which they are proud to be the older buddy in the partnership for the first time. In Library class, the librarians share longer chapter books and help then make connections and predictions based on the text. The students are excited to check out up to two books per Library class. As the older Reading Buddies, second graders relish the chance to set an example and form a bond with a younger child. They read books to and with their buddies and do book-based projects together. 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.
The second grade curriculum is based on a deeper knowledge of yoga and mindfulness. Students practice challenging poses that require increased core strength and flexibility. The children engage in yoga adventures and activities that are connected to the social studies curriculum, acting out an immigration journey in yoga poses and activities. Strategies are also explored that focus on anxiety reduction, relaxation, focus and attention. Students attend yoga for half of the school year.
Second grade dancers incorporate gross motor movements into solo, partner and group dances. Students explore improvisation, tempo, and sequencing with directional changes as well as mirroring and imitation. They create patterns, shapes and formations. More complex choreography and patterns are explored that are connected to core curriculum concepts based in math and language. Dance offers social interaction, non-verbal communication and cooperation with peers as well as storytelling through movement and theatre games. This fosters spatial and body awareness, self-expression, and body and emotional regulation, and instills a love and appreciation of dance.