First and Second Grade
Strong foundations for academic/intellectual and social learning are built. Students learn to balance their own needs and wishes with the interests of the classroom community. These skills and habits of mind support our students’ growth as lifelong learners. Learning happens by doing. Students are given the chance to explore and play with language, concepts, quantities, and materials.
Language Arts is the cornerstone for all learning. The classroom is rich in opportunities for students to develop skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students begin the journey to becoming lifelong lovers of the written and spoken word. Learning to read and write are intricately connected and build upon each other as children develop their ability to decode texts, express their ideas effectively both orally and through writing. At Friends School Haverford students learn to use their language skills in the context of self-expression and connecting meaningfully with others. Children happily develop mastery of the language arts in a classroom community that promotes confidence and kindness.
The reading and writing skills students develop are vital in communicating with others and sharing ideas. Students develop their ability to identify and represent sounds, learn common spelling patterns, and increase their sight word vocabulary. During these two years, children develop their confidence in sharing their ideas with others. They practice using a clear, strong voice when addressing a group. They also become aware of what it means to be a good listener and develop the ability to be active listeners.
During Reading Workshop, students’ metacognitive skills (awareness of one’s own thought processes and learning strategies) are developed. The growth of voracious readers is vigorously promoted. Children are asked such questions as, “What does your brain do when you read? How does it feel to read with understanding? How can we make personal connections to the text?” The behaviors of good readers and writers are studied. Students incorporate these behaviors as they work independently and in small groups. As the year progresses, students develop greater accuracy and fluency, expand their vocabulary, and strengthen their comprehension skills.
In Writing Workshop, students write about everything from memoir to nonfiction. Children are encouraged to craft detailed vignettes about things that are true and important to them. As they write, students refer to a “word wall” for the standard spelling of high-frequency words. Students develop phonemic awareness by listening for and representing the sounds in words they are writing. Grammatical awareness is also taught in the context of student writing, as when they learn to appropriately use upper and lower case letters. Students plan, revise, and edit their pieces. Published authors are studied for the crafting techniques they use. Students are taught to incorporate these crafting techniques into their writing. Our writing curriculum includes such units of study as-- Where Do Authors Get Their Ideas, How to Read Like a Writer, Finding Writer Mentors, How to Structure Texts in Interesting Ways, How to Revise My Text and Make It Even Better, and genre studies in Poetry and Nonfiction. At the conclusion of each unit, we celebrate children’s writing with a Writing Celebration event.
The mathematics program builds a core understanding of numbers, shapes, and patterns. The curriculum is exciting and vital. The skills students develop, and the knowledge they gain, form the basis for all subsequent mathematical thinking. Students learn about measurement, time, money, place value, and more generally the relationships among numbers.
During math workshop, students engage in activities that extend and enhance concepts presented during the teacher-directed portion of the lesson. Then, students develop their mathematical abilities and expand their mathematical knowledge working independently, in pairs, and in small groups. Children work on tasks based on their developmental “just right” level.
Lessons relate to these four math strands: Number and Operations in Base Ten, Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Geometry, and Measurement and Data.
Students leave second grade with a strong understanding of mathematical concepts, operations, and relations. They have the skill to carry out procedures flexibly, accurately, and efficiently. Students understand and apply key math skills in a variety of situations, solve problems using many different strategies, and communicate their solutions and methods for solving problems effectively both verbally and in writing.
The Social Studies curriculum is designed to help students acquire information, develop critical thinking skills, construct new knowledge, and participate and collaborate with others. Early in the year, we concentrate on building a warm, safe, and intentional community that allows the children to think for themselves, work with sustained effort, and treat others with empathy and integrity. We are able to choose topics for further study based on the children’s backgrounds and interests. Some recent Social Studies units we enjoyed include Dreams and Dreamers, Journeys, China, People’s Impact on the Earth, and Quaker Values.
Service is often a component of the curriculum. It is important for students to realize they can positively impact the world around them. Through a month-long read-a-thon, children donated funds to Reach Out and Read of Greater Philadelphia, which is an organization that provides parents with books and emphasizes the importance of reading to children from the youngest ages. With great enthusiasm, our children find sponsors, read voraciously, and raise money to provide books for children who might otherwise not have any.
For students to be successful in the classroom and beyond, developing both academic skills and social competencies is vital. The ideas and philosophies of two research-based programs: Responsive Classroom and The Zones of Regulation are incorporated into our curriculum. People learn best when they are in an environment that feels safe. From the first day of the school year, a comfortable environment is fostered. Partnering with families also ensures each child’s success. We begin each day with a Morning Meeting during which we greet each other and get to know about each other’s strengths, interests, and aspirations. We collaborate to establish classroom rules that will enable each of us to attain our goals.
Each year a new group will form. Children build new relationships while sustaining already established ones. The students learn to work productively and collaboratively with their peers. The expectation is established that each of us will contribute to building and maintaining a warm and safe classroom environment for all.