Second Grade at Open Window School intentionally builds on students’ emerging sense of self and connects the individual to the larger community. Second graders continue to build a strong classroom community through various activities and structures, including a daily morning meeting. Moving beyond the classroom, second graders also learn about their larger community, culminating in the creation of a fictional community where each student takes on the role of a community member. Continuing to expand students’ understanding and empathy, second graders also create a toy company and create a custom toy for each of their kindergarten buddies. Through processes like these students not only learn the design process through an authentic project, they also deepen their ability to listen to others and understand their needs. Second graders also continue to develop autonomy and self-reliance as they learn to recognize when they need help and when they can accomplish tasks on their own. As with all grades at Open Window, second grade also provides an intentional, age-appropriate learning progression that focuses on social and emotional learning and development.
Building on a solid foundation of reading and writing skills developed in earlier grades, second graders thrive in the Language Arts program that is designed to nourish literacy at all levels, including those students who enter as fluent, confident readers and writers. Language arts concepts are integrated throughout the core disciplines in the second grade curriculum. Reading is taught in small groups, supported by Words Their Way word study. Students continue to engage in phonics building lessons that are selected according to each student’s need and ability. The second grade reading program incorporates the study of Junior Great Books, with a strong focus on developing critical thinking skills. Twenty minutes of nightly reading at home is an important piece of the learning-to-read process. Through regular practice, second graders are learning to choose, complete, and comprehend appropriate leveled books independently.
Second grade students are becoming independent writers and are provided the instruction and skill development to make this a priority. Students view themselves as creative, competent writers, eager to share their ideas with an audience. Writing is integrated throughout the curriculum, including personal journals, responses to literature, poetry, and creative stories. Handwriting Without Tears lessons emphasize the importance of proper letter formation, sizing, and placement. Communication skills are practiced daily through class discussions, cooperative group experiences and personal interactions.
Based on the Bridges in Mathematics program, instruction is differentiated according to students’ needs and abilities. Math instruction includes hands-on, experiential activities taught in small groups by the lead and associate teacher. Assessment is ongoing and informs the content and pacing of the math instruction.
Second graders work collaboratively in teams to plan and conduct investigations. Learning how to make keen observations and construct an argument with evidence to support a claim, are examples of skills that are taught and practiced. The topics of Magnetism and Electricity, Rocks and Minerals and Taxonomy are used to plan and conduct investigations and to develop models to represent patterns in the real world. These topics are integrated with homeroom projects and activities. Devoted strictly to kindergarten through fourth grade learners, the Open Window Lower School Science Lab offers inquiry based, hands-on experiences for young students. Capitalizing on the natural curiosity and zeal for learning of gifted students, the lower school science curriculum develops not only a solid foundation of science skills but a passion for all things scientific. Scientific investigations cover four domains over the course of kindergarten through fourth grade: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science.
The second grade social studies focus is communities. Teachers use the Storypath curriculum, which offers a unique approach to social studies instruction. It uses the basic components of story-setting, characters and plot to organize the social studies curriculum into meaningful and memorable learning experiences. The story structure enables students to become active participants in a problem-based situation resulting in deep involvement and creative exploration of social studies concepts. History, civics, geography, economics and citizenship are recurring strands throughout the year-long study of communities. Time for Kids introduces and facilitates an understanding of current events as it relates to the student and his or her community. Second graders also learn about the history of Open Window School and its surrounding community.
The lower school exploratory Spanish program follows the natural sequence of language learning: understanding > speaking > reading > writing. Understanding and speaking are the primary focus. The program is designed to provide both an introduction to another language and an appreciation of another culture prior to the more academic middle school Spanish curriculum. Consistent with how a child learns his or her first language, the Spanish curriculum encourages a learning environment in which the language directly relates to the students and their surroundings, reflecting their needs, interests, and everyday life. Students are exposed to Spanish-speaking cultures through stories, songs and a study of customs. An appreciation of other societies and cultures is fostered through the study of the Spanish language.