The second-grade reading curriculum touches on many aspects of reading. In Reader's Workshop, teachers speak with children individually about their reading, help them find new books to read, and read with them. Students learn how to select books according to their interests and "just-right" reading levels. They also read nightly -- even on weekends and holidays -- and read stories and nonfiction informational texts as part of theme studies.
Second graders also have opportunities to be read to every day from a novel chosen for the class to enjoy. As students write their own stories, they also read their work to classmates, so they hear peers' writing and receive feedback. Children also go to the Library every week to listen to the librarian reading books, check out books, and share book ideas with friends.
In Lit Clubs, which meet weekly for an hour to discuss literature, children meet with students from other classes and grades, discuss books with adults, and share their thoughts about content.
Writing, in addition to being an academic subject, permeates many aspects of classroom learning. Children write about their experiences, record written results in science, write in their "Theme Books," and respond to theme studies. Writing prose is the main focus of Writer's Workshops, in which students also learn the skills of improving and proofreading one's work.
Second graders learn from novel writers, picture books, and the poems they read. Whether writing prose or poetry, they weave these techniques into their own writing. Children learn about organization, word choice, sensory details, vivid verbs, repeated phrases, and similes. Through these crafts, they learn how to help the reader visualize and feel the emotion of a story or poem.
Writing mechanics are also important. Children practice proofreading their work and their classmates' writing while looking for spelling mistakes, capitalization, and basic punctuation.
When editing with a teacher, they receive individual and small-group mini-lessons on topics such as serial commas, incomplete sentences, and spelling rules and are reminded of these rules when proofing their work. Students gradually build both proofreading skills and the understanding that writing isn't complete until it is correct. Students also apply writing mechanics in writer's notebooks and in letter writing.
In addition to integrating correct spelling into creative writing, the class participates in a spelling-inquiry study. Teachers ask big questions about why words are spelled a certain way and work together to find the answer. As spelling is connected to a word's meaning, the class discusses words that share the same base, the base's original meaning, and the meanings of prefixes and suffixes.
Second graders work together to create word sums by breaking a word down into the prefix, base, and suffix, and investigating what happens to the spelling when each part is added to the base. This analysis helps children understand there's a reason words are spelled in certain ways, and it is up to the class to investigate and prove spelling theories to find answers.
The second-grade math program provides a student-centered, hands-on environment in which students observe, explore, and discuss the meaning of mathematics in our world. Accordingly, subject matter is treated as an integrated whole rather than collections of isolated concepts, procedures, or algorithms.
Building a sequence of problem-solving experiences in a gradually enlarging spiral provides the opportunity for students to use multiple methods for solving problems with ever-increasing depth of understanding and higher levels of thinking. Second-grade teachers value and expect a capacity for logical thought and multiple approaches. Students learn math skills through a variety of mediums such as hands-on projects, games, pattern blocks, word problems, and more.
The second-grade theme, "A Tapestry of Tales: Our World Through Culture, Geography, Life Science, and Stories," was chosen as a bridge to exploring the larger world beyond our immediate community. Children learn about geography and other cultures through the cultural stories they read. After reading a variety of texts, the children retell the story using a variety of storytelling techniques like reader's theater, puppet shows, drama, and skit writing.
Additionally, they retell and illustrate each story in their "Theme Books," which reflects their learning across time. Throughout the study, students continue practicing their reading-comprehension strategies in both fiction and nonfiction reading. Fiction reading focuses on cultural stories, and nonfiction reading includes reading about animals, biographies, and geography (landforms, locations, and biomes).
Homework at Nueva begins in second grade for the purpose of students practicing skills and further connecting curricula. Homework is a review of topics and skills from class; children aren't expected to learn new material. It also helps students develop a sense of responsibility. Reading every night for twenty minutes is critical, and students are also assigned about ten minutes of additional homework, which often includes playing math games. Other topics can include social studies, language arts, and science.
There is a "no-tears" policy in second grade, which means that if a child becomes very frustrated and perhaps even brought to tears due to difficulties with his/her homework, he/she doesn't need to finish that part of the homework. If this happens, please send a note with your child the next day that explains the issue so the teacher can provide further support at school.