The Grade 2 curriculum continues to develop strong foundational skills while broadening and deepening individual strengths. Based on the International Baccelaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP), the curriculum provides a framework for inquiry-based learning that focuses on the development of the whole child, both in the classroom and in the world outside. Teachers often respond to students’ questions with further questions designed to guide that inquisitive mind to its own solution. The goal through this process is to generate independent thinkers and problem solvers. Grade 2 also focuses on community by developing and strengthening work ethic, responsibility, respect, conflict resolution and a variety of social skills. Every day is filled with choices, outcomes and opportunities for growth.
Language study focuses on fluency development in both oral and silent reading, comprehension, beginning research and note-taking skills, and recognition and application of parts of speech. Grade 2 readers use the Junior Great Books program and learn to be more critical, to predict outcomes, to distinguish fiction from nonfiction, to identify diverse forms of writing, and, most importantly, to read for pleasure. They also learn valuable decoding skills to read and build words. Grade 2 writers learn to apply the three phases of the authoring cycle (Planning, Revising, and Publishing) to the creation of poems, stories, reports and other written work.
Mathematics is part of the ongoing daily routine of the classroom, from our morning calendar ritual to dividing the class into small groups. We utilize the Math in Focus program, heavily supplemented with hands-on activities, games, and reinforcing basic addition and subtraction facts. In all of our math activities, we stress problem solving, number sense and logic.
How do scientists observe phenomena? How does environment affect life? How is evidence important to scientists? What can we learn about nature when we watch it closely and carefully? How do we know dinosaurs existed? Why do we need to save the rainforests? These are some of the questions second graders grapple with in the science lab and in the classroom as they actively engage in integrated science units.
Grade 2 has Spanish twice a week. Students engage in both whole and small group activities that give them opportunities to practice new words and phrases. Vocabulary is grouped thematically around such topics as the house, sports, animals and the city. At the end of the year, when the Grade 2 classrooms are taken over by the tropical rainforest, students learn different rainforest animal names in Spanish and complete a book describing them. Students also begin writing assignments in Spanish.
Grade 2 students begin to use a formal typing program with an emphasis on home row finger placement. The computer also becomes an important learning tool, and technology lessons are integrated into the classroom curriculum. Students are introduced to a variety of application and productivity tools at this level, and learn basic functions within the application programs such as copy and paste. They use word processing, presentation and drawing software and begin to work with multiple programs simultaneously. Internet use is limited to specific sites with content relevant to curricular studies.
Teachers recognize students’ unique learning styles and assist them in reaching their full potential by helping them develop strategies for success. Learning resources are also available from Learning Specialists, who provide both extra challenges and extra support with specific skill work as necessary. Social/emotional resources are also available from the Lower School Counselor, who offers parent education; meets with teachers, individual students, small groups and entire classes; and provides the social/emotional support that helps children feel secure, successful and happy.
Grade 2 goes to the library once a week for stories, books and library activities. During group story time they learn about the Caldecott Medal-winning titles and discuss how text and illustration go together in each book. Students are introduced to library technology through taking computer quizzes on books they read and making basic searches in our online catalog. Second graders continue developing independent browsing skills with use of a shelf marker and appropriate library behavior.
Grade 2 art lessons provide imaginative outlets and opportunities for creative expression, cultural exploration and experimentation with a variety of artistic techniques. Students continue to learn and build upon the basic elements and principles of design taught in Grade 1, including line, shape, color and texture. Value and form are further explored, along with perspective. Students engage with a variety of media, including crayon, watercolor, color pencil, oil pastel, tempera painting, collage, color marker and clay, and are introduced to the use of a sketchbook and the practice organizing their artistic ideas.
Grade 2 musicians begin to use pitched rhythm instruments to develop their reading and playing skills. Ear training and dictation skills take on added emphasis as they continue to explore vocal music. Composition, improvisation, dancing, movement and performance skills are integral parts of the music program. Orff instruments are used in the program from Kindergarten - Grade 5.
Grade 2 students refine fundamental movement skills to a more mature level. Students learn to combine locomotor (traveling), non-locomotor (movement in place), and manipulative (throw, catch, strike, swing, push, pull) skills. They also begin to progress to vigorous and fun activities for longer periods of time and at higher intensity levels. Students continue to demonstrate appropriate behavior according to the physical settings by following directions and rules, practicing safety and working cooperatively with others.
By Grade 2 most AWS students can swim comfortably in deeper water. Students focus on refining swim technique across the shorter width of the pool while using the length of the pool to develop muscles and build endurance. Water safety skills are also a primary focus. After-school swim clubs are offered for Kindergarten - Grade 5.