Grade 2 Curriculum
The academic expectations for Cambridge Friends School second-grade students ramp up significantly from early childhood and first grade years. Students are taught to recognize and value their efforts and results as well as those of their classmates. Developmentally second-graders are bothered by mistakes and try hard to make their work perfect. They benefit from highly-skilled faculty support moving through assignments that teaches them to use their mistakes as learning tools. CFS fosters a classroom community that recognizes the difference between equality and equity. We help students to understand that they and their classmates all have different strengths and areas of growth and they work on the skills needed for being productive members of small and whole-class groups. Teachers help each child set goals for their own learning and social behavior.
The academic environment in a CFS second-grade classroom is specifically constructed to harness the developmental strengths of second-graders. Seven- and eight-year-olds enjoy learning in cooperative groups, sharing ideas with peers, and participating in hands-on exploration of materials. They thrive on explicit rules, routines, and boundaries. As students progress through our second-grade curriculum they are able to take on larger tasks and focus on work for increasingly extended periods of time. Cambridge Friends School interweaves activities throughout the second-grade curriculum that align with students developmental needs and allows students to have the strongest possible academic experience during their school year.
In second grade, students continue to work on growing friendship skills. Developmentally, second-grade students are becoming less egocentric and are beginning to develop increased empathy for others. This connects with students’ increased interest in issues of fairness and justice. Throughout the year students are encouraged to consider multiple points of view, to share power in work and play situations, and to recognize and speak up about injustice. They learn about and practice ethical behavior with special attention given to respect. They continue to work on resolving conflicts without physical or verbal violence.
Second-graders thrive in an environment of collaboration, enjoy hands-on activities, and are focused on issues of fairness and justice. These unique traits are harnessed each year through a variety of projects.
For example, each year our second-graders are in charge of designing, producing, advertising, and selling a new CFS t-shirt. This project is the culmination of student learning about the history of the cotton industry in the United States, and the various social movements associated with the industry. Each year the class works together, in collaboration with the art teacher, on a shirt design that incorporates a piece of art made by each student. The class creates a list of social causes important to the mission of the school (common ideas include: helping people in need, helping the environment, animal shelters, helping people who are sick). Students then sell t-shirts and are responsible for inventory, accounting, and charting progress.
Similarly, this collaborative spirit is reflected in students’ work to complete a Fairy Tale Newspaper. As part of this project students learn about journalistic writing, summarizing, and peer editing. Each student chooses a fairy tale to report on for the newspaper. They are introduced to peer editing, working to help each other in refining their articles. The students’ completed works are then compiled into one printed production which is shared with students and available to the school community in the library.
English and Language Arts
Language arts in second grade encompasses both reading and writing. The Cambridge Friends School’s teaching methodology incorporates direct instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics skills, and encoding skills. Instruction also includes work on developing sight-word vocabulary, writing mechanics, as well as a literature based language focus. Once a foundation is laid, teachers will work with students to raise the quality of their narrative writing. We look at mentor authors for guidance and experiment with realistic fiction writing, fairy tale adaptations, persuasive writing, and poetry. During the second half of the year, students will also work on “expert projects” in which they read and write about a non-fiction topic of personal interest. In the second-grade classroom our goals are to challenge the students to expand their ideas, to create focus within a topic, and to foster confidence at a time when self-consciousness may appear. As the students become more confident readers, they become more aware of correct spelling and punctuation in their written work.
The Cambridge Friends School second-grade mathematics curriculum is focused on three major areas of mathematical study: numbers, data, and space. Students learn to solve basic addition and subtraction equations with fluency and learn strategies for using these understandings to solve increasingly complex problems. Their learning is supported by the use of tools such as the 100 chart, number line, and other math manipulative materials. In their study of geometry, students work with two- and three-dimensional shapes. They learn to describe, define, and identify their attributes and relationships. Across the CFS math curriculum, students learn how to collect, sort and organize objects and data and how to represent their findings in ways that allow them to communicate information to others. They choose questions to investigate and learn to analyze the data they collect. Our goal is to support the development of confident math thinkers who are able to visualize, solve, and communicate their understandings. During second grade, children develop a deep understanding of the skills and concepts addressed and further develop the skills that will support their ability to observe and discuss the mathematics relevant to their real world experiences.
The social studies curriculum in second grade at Cambridge Friends School is based on a thematic study titled “Cotton Clothing: From Seed to Shirt.” Clothing, as a topic of study, offers a wealth of opportunities for rich exploration. Students follow the production of an article of clothing from seed to finished product and study the social movements that are connected to the cotton industry in the United States. Social studies units include: Africa, Resistance to Slavery in the Americas, the Civil Rights Movement, Gandhi and the Indian Liberation Movement, Textile Mills and the Industrial Revolution, New York News Boys, Labor Organizations, and the Design, Marketing and Sale of a T-shirt. The curriculum employs the disciplines of reading, writing, speaking, mathematics, science, drama, history, community service, music and the arts to explore each topic. Experiences are planned in an integrated way to support students as they make connections and use the skills they are learning across the curriculum in meaningful ways.
Cambridge Friends School second-grade students learn about animal adaptations, food chains, and camouflage while exploring local habitats, including the wetland at Danehy Park. A special focus on birds includes bird-watching, learning about different strategies birds have for building nests, creating realistic nests from natural materials, and dissecting owl pellets to learn about food chains. The habitat study connects to our earth science theme, weather. Students collect data as they observe and record different aspects of weather, practice skills with thermometers, and learn about various cloud formations and the weather associated with them. They apply their understanding and skills as they design devices or structures to solve a particular weather-related problem.
In physical science, CFS second-grade students explore creating simple electric circuits using bulbs, batteries, wires, and motors. While being guided through a series of investigations to build some shared understanding of content, they have many opportunities to test out new ideas, trouble shoot, and reflect on unexpected results. As engineers, students use woodworking tools to build small, wheeled vehicles. They explore concepts of force and motion as they measure their vehicles’ performance under different conditions, including rolling down ramps with different slopes.
The Cambridge Friends School second-grade art curriculum includes elements of design as well as a broad range of art media. As students further fine motor skills and control, their plans for their art-making become more specific, and they begin to work on fitting their ideas within the constraints of a project or a specific medium. CFS second-grade students use color expressively and learn to utilize a growing lexicon of art vocabulary. Projects for second grade continue to feature opportunities for using imagination and self-expression, and enhance students’ awareness of their own working styles and preferences for materials.
Some of the concepts explored by CFS second-grade students in the art studio include mixing secondary colors from primary colors, using shape, line, and texture in their artwork, and continuing to refine motor skills. Projects in second grade include observational drawing, printmaking, calligraphy pens, wire sculpture, weaving with paper and yarn, sewing, and ceramic hand-building, including exploring texture and slab work.
Grades two builds on skills learned in earlier grades and they are introduced to specific fitness activities designed to develop aerobic fitness, strength, and flexibility. Warm-up routines alternate between loco-motor patterns, rhythmic movement, and fitness activities. Fitness evaluations are used to measure each child’s aerobic fitness, flexibility, strength, and speed. Baseline data is collected in the fall, and retesting is done in the spring to measure progress. Dodging and fleeing games are very popular and help develop anaerobic strength. Core units cover the spectrum of large group games, team building and problem-solving activities, eye-hand coordination, activity stations, rolling, bouncing, and throwing games that involve a variety of materials.
Second-grade students at Cambridge Friends School have music class twice a week for forty-five minutes. Musical concepts and skills are developed and reinforced through the following curricular strands that progress and spiral back throughout the year into a planned overall structure: singing, movement, playing barred and percussion instruments, improvisation/composition, listening/critical response, reading and notation. Highlights of the year include singing games, circle and longways set dances with partners, learning to sing rounds and partner songs. The “Summer Sounds” unit consists of invented graphic notation and composition, continued work with barred percussion (hands together/hands apart technique, and playing borduns to accompany songs and dances), and continued work with African drumming to accompany songs and the dramatization of stories such as “Rabbit’s Snow Dance,” an Iroquois legend. There is a review of instruments of the orchestra leading to a study of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in which students listen to the musical story and learn to interpret a listening map. There are many opportunities to read and practice traditional rhythmic notation. Students also prepare songs for performances in Gay Pride, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Significant Elder Assemblies.
In second grade, Cambridge Friends students are introduced to a variety of trickster folktales, Pourquois folktales, and fables from around the world. Through these stories, students develop an understanding of the universality of humor in each tale while appreciating the aspects of the stories that are specific to certain cultures and places.