Students participate in a moment of mindfulness each day after lunch.
Academic and non-academic growth are equally important in Grade 2. Second grade is a time to build foundational academic skills, challenge students to the next level, to build mission skills, build “student skills,” and cultivate a love of learning. All disciplines in the second grade program intentionally include cross curricular components, the Far Hills Pillars and mission skills.
Our social emotional, mindset, and mindfulness curricula are key. We focus is on interpersonal skills, being a friend, including others, identifying feelings, being our B.E.S.T (body language; eye contact; say nice things; tone of voice), problem solving, perseverance, grit, and kindness. We practice mindfulness and learn how to use this practice to focus, regulate our emotions, and be ready to learn. Mindfulness teaches us to take the time to respond rather than react to what happens.
Students continue to grow as readers developing decoding skills, fluency, and reading stamina. In second grade, we read fiction and nonfiction and focus on comprehension skills such as predicting, determining the main idea, and making inferences. Understanding plot, theme and setting are also goals.
Second-graders develop an understanding of place value concepts to 1,000. They become proficient with a variety of mathematical procedures, including standard algorithms for adding and subtracting multi-digit whole numbers. Fraction concepts are studied in the context of part-whole relationships. Students learn and apply a variety of problem solving strategies to solve multi-step word problems. They use equal groups, arrays, the number line, and skip counting to model multiplication and division. Second graders explore linear measurement, practice using different combinations of coins to equal given values, and study attributes of two- and three-dimensional shapes.
Second grade students study elements of both Earth and Life Sciences. In the Earth Science unit, an extensive study of air and weather teaches students how to read thermometers and compare weather conditions using graphs. Students also learn how to measure length and distance in meters and centimeters and measure liquid volume. Wind turbines are constructed and tested developing early engineering skills. As part of their unit on Life Science, second graders learn the basic structure and function of the skeletal system, and through the study of Antarctica, they understand the states of matter, identify the adaptations of plants and animals, and identify food webs in the biome. Students study how plants make their own food through photosynthesis by tapping the sugar maple trees on campus. They observe how sap is made into maple sugar and have a delicious tasting during lunchtime in the cafe.
At the core of our Social Studies curriculum is empathy. Through a study of heroes, students learn to describe what characteristics define leaders and heroes. Students also learn about of democracy, government, and the election process, as well as the individual’s “voice” in the United States.
We talk about immigration as a lead-up to our culminating capstone project. The goal is to understand and empathize with the experience of immigrants about their decision to leave their native country, their journey to a new land, and their assimilation process in a new country.
The Art of Inquiry is also a very important component of the Grade 2 curriculum. Students learn why we ask questions, what are the question words, what makes a good question and the difference between thick and thin questions. We begin the research process by learning how to find the answers to our questions.
Utilizing a program called Write From the Beginning, students learn the process for writing. Students learn to write an opening sentence that says who, what, where, and when, as well as a closing sentence. They confer with one another during the process and then critique each other’s work in an effort to make it the best that it can be. They write personal narratives, memoirs, non-fiction, and poetry. Phonetics, spelling and grammar are all a part of the writing program.
Coming to America: The Immigrant Experience
The second grade Capstone experience is an interdisciplinary study about immigration which culminates in an event titled, "Coming to America: The Immigrant Experience." During this study, they strive to answer the essential question, "What is the experience of an immigrant?" and practice empathy while learning how to walk in the shoes of someone else.
"Coming to America: The Immigrant Experience" helps second grade students to refine their skills in the following areas:
Writing & Creativity
Global & Cultural Understanding
Critical Thinking Skills
A Day in the Life...
Second graders are busy! Not only do students focus on traditional subjects like science, math, reading, writing, spelling, and social studies, but also experience rotating special subjects like our technology curriculum, Learning and Design; both Spanish and Chinese language and culture; music and visual arts; and physical education.
Below is what a sample day could look like in our classrooms: