Renaissance Second Grade Overview
Second Grade at Renaissance is a time of amazing industriousness and growth for learners. Students in Second Grade are hard workers, and they begin to move from teacher-directed learning to a greater sense of autonomy and self-direction. This is reflected in a curriculum in which students have greater choice about what they study and how they present their subject to others.
The Second Grade teacher creates a comfortable classroom environment that supports quiet, sustained work periods. Second Graders love to do a lot of original writing, and they flourish in a creative environment where they have time to express their imaginations and feelings in poems, short stories, letters, and journal entries. They take pride in displaying more careful handwriting along with accurate punctuation and grammar. In Second Grade, students begin to learn cursive writing in preparation for Third Grade.
Students have time in each day to read books of their choosing, and often work with their teacher in small groups to decode and fluently read more challenging texts. Science is a highlight for Second Graders at Renaissance; students love studying geology, the solar system and weather, and are especially excited to learn from visiting state experts as well as from Shelburne Farm educators who bring them to the local cliffs of Lake Champlain to explore earth’s history written in the rocks. Students continue learning about citizenship as part of Social Studies, including what it means to be a good citizen of a classroom, a community, and a nation. They begin to explore topics such as immigration and the election process. Second Graders at Renaissance begin to reflect on their learning, and with teacher support and guidance become more confident students who are ready to take on ever-increasing academic and social challenges.
Second Graders at Renaissance School enjoy a literature-rich environment with an extensive collection of fiction and nonfiction books to pick from, as well as cozy reading nooks that encourage reading for pleasure. Students work in book groups to practice fluency and comprehension; these are flexible groups that change throughout the year, giving students opportunities to stretch and develop their reading, listening and conversational skills. Second Graders begin to write more extensively and for more specific purposes. They develop their ability to summarize and critique what they have read through book reviews and reports, and they apply the conventions of grammar, spelling, and punctuation with more accuracy and consistency. An extensive poetry unit allows students to explore many types of poetry and to express themselves in writing with their original poetry.
Second Grade students continue to build a strong foundation of basic math skills; they become more proficient at ordering and comparing numbers, and develop a deeper understanding of place value and word problems. Students learn to solve two-digit and three-digit addition and subtraction problems and work on rapid recall of facts. This rapid recall is essential for solving the more sophisticated math problems that students will encounter in higher grades. Students collect data from inside and outside the school building and then learn to create bar, picture, and line graphs to depict the data. Second Graders develop more sophisticated concepts of time. For example, they learn to solve problems dealing with elapsed time. Analog and digital clocks are used to firm up their ability to tell time in various intervals. Multiplication is introduced in Second Grade; students learn a number of strategies to solve problems, and they learn facts through 0 - 10. Students explore more in-depth problems with money, including making change. They also learn to recognize mixed, improper, and equivalent fractions and how to order fractions. They gain knowledge and skills around measurement, learning about liquid volume, pounds, ounces, kilograms, and grams. Students learn how to predict the correct unit of measurement to use in certain situations. Second Grade students progress in their understanding of geometry, learning how to measure perimeter and the formula for determining area. They learn to name line segments and angles, as well as identify types of triangles and other plane and 3D figures.
There are three science units in Second Grade: geology, the solar system and weather. Each unit involves extensive exposure to real-world learning and exploration. Students scramble across the shores of Lake Champlain with educators from Shelburne Farms, studying the geologic formations and rocks of their native landscape. They travel to the Barre granite quarry and welcome state geology experts to the classroom. They gain a deep understanding of the earth’s structure as well as of Vermont’s specific geologic features. Second Graders love to explore the solar system, and combine creative expression with scientific facts in products like planet haikus. By the end of Second Grade, students will be able to identify the planets in our solar system and explain their similarities and differences. They will also have a basic understanding of key events in space exploration. While exploring weather, students learn the difference between climate and weather and learn about different weather phenomena such as rainbows, cyclones, and hurricanes. Students become more familiar with weather tools such as the rain gauge, barometer and anemometer. A visit to a local weather station gives students a closer look at what a meteorologist’s job entails. Throughout their study of all of these science topics, students conduct experiments to become familiar with the scientific process.
Second Grade students build on their understanding of community by exploring what it means to be a good citizen, and what the responsibilities of citizenship are. Students research important American citizens of the past and present their discoveries in writing. They learn about the history of voting, and begin to explore many aspects of their local, state, and federal governments including the positions held by political leaders. Second graders explore Ellis Island and the topic of immigration; they learn about early immigrants to the United States, and come to understand that immigration is still happening today. Finally, Second Grade students explore U.S. patriotic symbols such as the American flag, the Statue of Liberty, and the bald eagle.
Social, Emotional, and Life Skills
As academic work becomes more challenging, Second Grade is a great time to reinforce and practice flexibility in all areas through use of the Growth Mindset. The Second Grade teacher helps students reframe their self-talk from negativity (“This is too hard...I can’t do this” to the positive (“I can figure this out, I’ll try to do it a different way”). As students gain mastery, they experience the joy and confidence that comes from persevering through challenges.
In Second Grade, the teacher helps students understand the value of constructive feedback, and provides students opportunities to give and receive feedback for improvement. Students continue to practice self-regulation (taking time to think before they act on feelings) and patience. Through frequent class meetings and discussions, students explore how to express their feelings in appropriate ways and how their actions impact others. They revisit the concept of empathy for peers and others throughout the year.
Self-care skills such as maintaining a neat cubby, tracking possessions, returning homework folders and cleaning up after themselves are reinforced and practiced. Second Graders do a lot of in-class presentations where they can practice the important skills of standing tall, making eye contact, speaking clearly and loudly for the audience and displaying confidence. Presentation skills are revisited throughout the elementary grades so when students move on to middle and high school they are seasoned presenters who are comfortable talking in front of a group.