In second and third grades students are actively engaging with their teachers and peers in learning pursuits. They have developed the perspectives, skills, and knowledge to successfully navigate a school day and are able to apply them in new, exciting ways. There is focus on applying their personal preferences and ideas to a community. Students are given many opportunities to learn from each other and to share their knowledge in a variety of contexts.
The second and third grade classes begin to practice leadership skills, spearheading projects such as the Giddens School Postal Service, an interdisciplinary experience that engages the entire community in letter writing through a fully functioning postal service. Second and third graders begin to incorporate their expanding knowledge of the world into their intellectual pursuits, carefully considering the application of new knowledge to a variety of contexts. This allows them to interact with relevant topics of social justice and equity from a place of empathy and a desire to make positive changes.
Second and third grade is often when students transition from the behaviors of learning to read to those of reading to learn. Students are able to access information from both fiction and non-fiction texts with purpose and to deepen their own understanding. They also have well developed attitudes and habits of reading: maximizing reading time, building stamina, selecting “just right” books that are based on interest, strategies to decode unknown words, and the ability make meaning from what they have read.
During daily independent, partner, and small group reading time, students work on a variety of individual goals, such as using context to derive the meaning of new vocabulary, self-correcting when they make errors that detract from meaning, attending to punctuation cues, stopping and thinking about meaning, or reading dialogue with phrasing and expression. Teachers read aloud from a variety of genres. Through discussion and lessons, students explore comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary building strategies to enrich their understanding and enjoyment of literature.
Second and third graders work hard to build a community of writers, writing about what they know best – true stories from their lives – as well as crafting writing pieces that reflect knowledge newly acquired through research and investigation. They also focus on developing skills to work respectfully with a writing partner, giving and receiving detailed feedback, and developing an understanding of the importance of audience when engaging in written communication. Students practice revision strategies, including determining the most important part of their story, zooming in and adding details, dialogue, feelings and inner thinking. These strategies help the reader to better visualize the story. Throughout the writing process, students work on mechanics, including the proper use of capitals, punctuation, and conventional spelling patterns. Second and third graders write for a variety of purposes, developing their abilities to communicate to share information, connect with others, and advocate for their opinions.
Second and third graders mathematicians work to develop routines and build a mathematical community that allows them to engage in productive work and conversation about mathematical ideas, including articulating their solution strategies and understanding other’s ideas. Students solve mathematical problems that are based in real world contexts, working individually, in small groups, and with the entire class. They are given multiple opportunities to develop visual thinking, which requires both the ability to extract and use information from pictures, and the ability to put verbal or numerical information into picture form. In addition to lending depth and meaning to the basic operations, students find connectedness between mathematics and the world around them. The Bridges in Mathematics curriculum engages students in developing standards based knowledge and skills while practicing and deepening their mathematical understanding across mathematical operations and concepts.
Science in second and third grade gives each student the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the scientific method to deepening their understanding of the world around them. Students work with their peers to question assumptions as they actively explore the concepts in life science, physical science, earth science, and engineering. These concepts are presented through hands-on SPARK projects, units of study that give teachers and children opportunities to think more deeply about a scientific concept, and its connection to justice in the world, in a developmentally appropriate way. An example of this in a second and third grade classroom might be a study of weather patterns across different areas of Washington State and how those patterns impact the people living in those areas. This context give student’s the opportunity to learn important meteorological concepts, while exploring the impact that weather has on the economics, health, and social opportunities in a region.
Social Studies in the second and third Grade classrooms is focused on the student’s developing understanding of the interconnectedness of systems in the world. Opportunities to find patterns throughout civics, history, geography, and economics are interwoven into experiential projects that build on a child’s desire to learn more. These are SPARK projects, units of study that give teachers and children ways to engage deeply with a social studies concept, and its connection to justice in the world, in a developmentally appropriate way. In second and third grade, an example of this might be a study of democratic decision-making. In this context, students can explore how decisions are made and begin to understand the foundations of democracy. They can apply it to their own lives, and the decisions they make every day, as well as to decisions made on the global landscape.
Second and third grade students use their time in art to focus mostly on 3 dimensional projects. To start this work, student focus on a drawing project that creates a 3D effect; the project calls for students to create 3 dimensional spaces reminiscent of a spider web. Drawing to create dimension like this requires students to think about space, perspective and shadow.
Our athletes have fun exploring teamwork strategies in a variety of sports and activities. Through a range of team games and small group challenges, students continue to learn how to work together and solve problems to achieve their goals. These are skills that have been stressed throughout the year to help the second and third grade students be successful in sports, the classroom, and life. Along with team-oriented activities, students are enjoy developing sports tactics in basketball and hockey, and various track and field events.
The Spanish program at Giddens School supports children in building their understanding of World Languages and the Spanish speaking countries. By providing Spanish instruction in preschool – 5th grade, we are instilling in students an awareness of the varied ways in which the world communicates and solidifying pathways of language development that support future language learning. Exposure to Spanish vocabulary and language conventions is balanced with cultural explorations throughout the program. After graduation, many Giddens School students go on to place into higher levels of Spanish instruction in their middle schools, building on the solid foundation of instruction provided during Spanish class at Giddens.
The second and third grade classes begin year by using the library time to explore themes of injustice and inequality. Read aloud stories are aimed at giving the students a variety of viewpoints around these ideas, including racial and gender inequality, from around the world. As the year progresses, the second and third graders started to dig deeper into the ways that libraries work. The students focused on library organization. Using the Giddens School library as a starting point, the students learn about call numbers, barcodes, and the different systems used to organize materials.