2nd Grade

Read Aloud

In the second grade, we launch our read aloud with a favorite series that many students read independently in their second grade year; ready freddy. Together with the students, we take time in this first read aloud to establish expectations and goals for our classroom conversation together. What makes a good conversation? What can we do to improve our conversation? How can we help our peers in getting better at talking about books? These are some of the questions students ask themselves, as they set goals as a class and individually around quality conversation.

We also demonstrate key comprehension skills during this unit, such as:

  • Getting a strong start in a book by previewing, then reading carefully at the beginning to get to know the important characters and the big problem in the book.
  • Carrying a story across chapters by stopping to think about what happened in the chapter, and how it fits with the whole story.
  • Making predictions as we read, and reading on to confirm or adjust our ideas.
  • Inferring character feeling – figuring out how a character feels, even if he/she doesn’t say it.
  • Thinking about the role of secondary characters – why are they important to the story.

Our next unit, Endangered Species, extends through the end of October. This is a project-based unit where students investigate first extinct, then endangered species, and then they take action by educating our community about an endangered species of their choice. Part of this project involves community outreach – on November 3rd at 8:10 am -  students will be presenting what they’ve learned and asking for commitment from families in our school to take one step toward protecting these endangered species.
In Read Aloud, we spend most of November studying characters. We also study how have conversations. To do this, the teachers have chosen books that inspire lively discussions among our second grade students – Shoeshine Girl and The Chalkbox Kid. Both of these books are written by Clyde Robert Bulla, who experienced many changes during his own childhood – moving from place to place, making new friends, feeling lonely or left out. His stories, which in the end are all uplifting, are the kinds of stories that many students connect to, and all students have something to say about! We then read My Name is Maria Isabel, written by Alma Flor Ada. This is a story of a girl who finds the courage to speak up about how to say her name and where it came from.

Through all of these books, we invite students to question and react to the characters and the choices they make. Rather than ask them comprehension questions at the end of each chapter, we pause often inside of the chapter to let students think about what they’ve heard, and have an idea about. We often ask the simple questions, What are you thinking? Or, What are you wondering? From there, students are invited to build on each other’s ideas, or propose other points of view.
You can support this work at home by picking out a chapter book – slightly above your child’s level – to read at night to your child. Pause often to think about what happened and ask your child what they’re thinking or what they’re wondering.  

In January, our read aloud curriculum focuses on reading to learn about the Native Americans of New York. This is a project based unit, where the students are given the challenge of creating a museum piece to illustrate what they’ve learned about New York Native American Culture. Alongside our read aloud time together, the students are studying native American culture with their art and dance teachers, both of whom will be advising and supporting the students in their final projects.  Our curriculum focuses specifically on how Native Americans used the natural world around them to meet their needs and wants, and the students also learn about Native American contributions to our culture today.
In mid-February, we begin our study of Roald Dahl, which continues through March. Roald Dahl is a prolific author whose writing is funny and often inspired by his own life events.  The students are already familiar with him – they read The Enormous Crocodile in Kindergarten, and The Twits in first grade. This year, they’ll read Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Witches. They’ll watch the movie Matilda, and then they’ll read Roald Dahl’s collection of memoirs, called BOY. His memoirs are short, true stories about his childhood, and these stories gives students a window into a different place and time, and also a window into how authors are so influenced by their own experiences. This is another project based unit, where the students will be asked to draw connections between events in Roald Dahl’s real life to characters and events that appear in his book, and they’ll be asked to represent these connections in a creative way.
In March, the second grade students continue their study of Roald Dahl, ending with his autobiography, BOY. The students then take time to consider what real life events influenced the characters and lessons in his books the students have read. They learn that even fiction writers create stories inspired partly from their real lives, and that also learn that – when you really like an author – it’s interesting to read their autobiography or their memoirs, because it gives you a window into their lives and how they’ve come to write the stories they do.

In April, the students begin a social-studies themed read aloud, where they study the Colonial Period of New York. They read “When Peter Stuyvesant Came to Town,” as well as a few brief articles on Henry Hudson and other explorers. Then, the students work in small groups to research what life was like during the colonial period for New Yorkers. They study clothing, family structures, food, housing, and leisure. The students then present their findings to each other so that everyone gets a sense of what life was like then, and how it was quite different than our lives now.
We end the year reading E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, exploring friendship, endings, and new beginnings!

Reader's Workshop

Second grade reading workshop is a very exciting time, because our readers begin reading chapter books that are at once challenging and exciting to read! Students come into second grade reading a variety of levels, but the standard beginning-of-second grade is a level j. These books may have small chapters, but they can be read in one sitting and they often have a simple plot. By the end of second grade, most students will read level m and n books. These are often books with 10 chapters, so our students need plan their reading across a couple days. The stories have multiple characters, so students need to read carefully in the beginning of the story to learn who is who and what role they may have in the problem. And finally, these stories have more complex problems – often there is a big problem, as well as little problems all along the way. Or, there’s a big problem, but the real problem is more internal – the character has to change or change their mind about something by the end of the story.

We support this journey in the beginning of the school year by teaching students to track the elements of story….Characters, setting, problem, important events (where something happens related to the problem, or where the character has a strong feeling or makes a decision about the problem) and resolution. The story elements give students a framework for reading with strong comprehension – they know they need to be reading with these in mind, and that if they are confused about any of them, they will need to reread because they probably missed something.

At home, you can support this important unit by first and foremost setting up a place and time for your child to read quietly each night. By the end of september, your child will come home with an individualized job to do in their books. You can ask them to tell you about the characters and the big problem, and to explain their reading job. Then, if you have the time, sit with them as they read and work on their job. We encourage independence in reading homework, but we also recognize that reading can be lonely and hard work for some children, and we would much rather have a student reading well alongside a parent than not reading or fake reading each evening!

Reading in november is dedicated to reading our leveled books actively, with comprehension. We read a few different series books, where students we asked to watch their characters closely in the beginning to get to know them, to identify the problem their main character was facing, and to watch it progress, and to read the ending very carefully to notice exactly how and when the problem was resolved, and what their character learned. We discovered that second grade readers have to do a lot of envisioning – making a movie in their mind – to really understand what is happening in their books. We noticed that authors on these levels (levels j, k, and l) don’t always tell you how the character is feeling - you have to figure it out by watching what they do and say. This unit sets our students up for high expectations around what it looks and feels like to really understand a book.

At home, you can support this work by asking your child to read a chapter aloud to you, and and they read ask them to stop every once in a while a share what they are “seeing” and what they’re thinking. In other words, where is their character, what are they doing, what do they probably look like, and what are they thinking about their character and the problem now?

In december, we begin our nonfiction study, which later extends to the writing workshop where each student will choose a topic of interest to study in depth. These first few weeks, we take time to introduce students to different nonfiction structures – procedural writing (how to), expository writing (informational texts), and narrative nonfiction (biography, autobiographies).
We also take time to teach students key comprehension strategies they will need for reading and researching nonfiction, including previewing a book to get ready to read, reading in small chunks and summarizing in your own words what you’ve learned, solving words using context clues, glossaries, and photographs or pictures, and accumulating all the information on a page, which basically means reading the big text, the small texts, the pictures (yes, read the pictures!) and the captions, then retell what you’ve learned on the whole page.

At home you can support this work by taking some time to talk to your child about the kinds of nonfiction reading you do at home – do you read the newspaper? Biographies? Cookbooks? Blogs or news online? Or do you use another type of media to get your information? Do you listen to podcasts, for example?

You can also take trips to your local library or bookstore, and spend some time browsing the nonfiction sections there, too. Or if you are looking for a holiday gift, consider one of these great magazines that often offer a combination of nonfiction and fiction:
Spider magazine

National geographic kids

January and february in the reader’s workshop is an open cycle period, where teachers give students a larger window of time for reading, and meet with individuals or groups within that time each day to tailor lessons and reading jobs for each child. Please ask your child about their reading job, how to do it, and why they are working on that job.

In each class, a few of these weeks will be dedicated to the goal of students developing ideas about characters. This is an extension of the work introduced at the end of first grade, and invites second grade readers to look closely at a book – or across a series – to develop an idea about a character. We begin the unit by reading and discussing short stories and illustrated fiction together, then we invite students to try similar work in their independent books.

In the spring of second grade, our readers dive into the mystery genre. This is a very exciting time, where students read their books carefully, looking for suspects, watching for suspicious behavior, and collecting clues to help solve the mystery. They work in partnerships or small groups, planning their reading work, and talking about the chapters they’ve read and what they’ve learned.

This kind of reading requires a lot of envisioning – making a movie in your mind as you are reading – so a great way you can support your children at home is by reading with them - have them read their chapters out loud, or read a separate mystery book as a family – and slow down the reading to make a picture of who’s in the scene, where they are, and what they are doing. Pay special attention when the author goes out of their way to describe physical appearances, facial expressions, or behavior. They might be wanting you to picture this because it’s a clue!!

Finally, we end the year reading traditional literature, introducing students to the concept of an archetype. They learn that, across time, many stories are made of similar characters, or archetypes, that make the story compelling and worth reading (or listening to) and that it’s helpful to recognize these characters quickly, and even to think about how the fit or break the pattern of the archetype. They end the unit considering their own books, written in modern times, and notice similarities and differences to the characters that come up again and again in traditional literature.

Writer's Workshop

The second grade writing workshop focuses on studying the structure and craft of different genre, and many units allow students to dive deeply into this study by writing multiple pieces and by referring to mentor texts for inspiration as well as craft.

We begin the year with a brief unit reviewing and practice key grammar concepts that all second grade students need to know. What is a sentence, and what are the parts? How do we punctuate a sentence, and why? And how do we extend our sentences using “helping” words such as and, but, so, or because, and what do these words mean? We don’t expect perfection – we expect our students to take risks in their writing, and with risks come mistakes, especially when you are trying to get amazing ideas onto a piece of paper with a pencil. However, we do provide and insist that our students use an editing checklist on a regular basis, and final pieces are graded with grammar and punctuation grade level standards. Finally, the students learn the basics of writing a single focused paragraph, including a topic sentences and supportive sentences. This paragraph work is extended across the year on most Mondays, where the students enjoy prompt-writing.

Where our kindergarten and first grade writers took Mondays to write their weekend news, second grade writers practice paragraph writing. They are given a prompt – usually an opinion question that is exciting to them – and they’re asked to respond, supporting their idea with anecdotes and examples. This is a great way for students to develop a writing voice, work on punctuation and sentence construction, and strengthen their persuasive and essay skills in a fun but meaningful way all year long.

In October, we enter a realistic fiction study, where students develop their own fictional character with “real life” problems and “real life” solutions. This writing compliments a lot of the work students are doing in reading workshop, because it forces students to think carefully about these questions: who is my character, what are their interests, strengths and weaknesses, and how do these lead to a problem? Who are the other characters and what role will they play? How will the character deal with their problem, and how will they finally resolve it?

Students work on planning scenes, writing with craft such as specialized dialogue tags, 3 step action, and body language or facial expressions that reveal character feelings. The craft we try is inspired by favorite books on the grade, such as ready Freddy.

In November, the students continue to work on writing realistic fiction stories. This time around, they are focusing on improving their craft, and giving and getting feedback from their peers.

In December, the students begin their nonfiction research during the writing workshop. They will select their topic, gather their resources, and begin reading the resources, first beginning to end, then again with their big research questions in mind. This research will be used in january to write a nonfiction book, and to create a visual project to teach about their topic.

As many of the students select animals, there are certain questions that are essential to address in a research report – habitat, food, predators, etc. But we challenge students to also consider other sections they might want to include in their book, and many do. You can support this unit by asking your child what their topic is, then visiting your local library or online nonfiction sites such as national geographic kids to continue reading and learning across many sources.

This is another project based unit, where the students choose their topic and the materials they’ll use, but they all learn the art-form of a diorama as a tool for teaching their audience. We will be asking you to help your child collect supplies for this final product, and we will certainly be inviting you to celebrate your child’s writing and teaching dioramas at school!

In the spring of the second grade, our students learn to write persuasive pieces. They sample foods, games, movies, and they even recall favorite class trips. Then they consider whether they’d recommend it, and why. They learn the structure of an essay, and they learn persuasive techniques, such as providing examples, giving detailed descriptions with a slant, or exaggerating details to make a memorable point. Our students love to write these reviews, because it helps them to organize and exercise their argument skills! We return once more to persuasive writing at the very end of the year, where students in the second grade work together to create a summer family fun resource for the families of the school, recommending the best places to go in NYC over the summer – we are excited to share these with you!

In April-May, the second grade students study memoir. Memoirs are anthologies, or collections, of stories, poems, or picture books that tell about a person’s life. They often include beautiful language, and some thinking or reflection at the end. We planned this memoir unit for the spring of the second grade because it is a wonderful time for our students to start thinking about who they are, what is important to them, and how they would like to record this in poems or stories for others to read.
There are many ways you can help your child throughout this unit – please see below. 

  • Memory project: help your child get ideas for their memoir Collection by working with them to put together a memory box, a scrapbook, or a Timeline of important or memorable events in their life. This can be a shoebox full of Pictures, important objects, programs from their first school performance, a belt from Their first karate course, a recipe for a special meal you make together that’s important To your family or culture, etc. Or it can be a scrapbook of pictures that show special Moments, special relationships, or special places they like to spend time. Or it can be a Timeline of their life – think about including “first times”, special visits with relatives, Special cultural celebrations, etc. Your child’s teachers will let you know what date we’d like these in by!
  • Talk to your child about your own memories from childhood – we want them to know That memories can be good and bad and in-between. So please take time to tell stories That made you happy, sad, proud, sorry, and of course silly ones too!
  • Talk to your child about memories you have of them, growing up. Remember that our Students don’t remember everything from when they were 3, or 4, or 5, or even 6. They Might need your help retelling stories- especially stories that say something about who They are. A nice idea might be to add storytelling to your dinner table or bedtime

The year ends with a return to persuasive writing, and this time the students are asked to reflect on the many field trips they’ve gone on – at school and with families on the weekends and vacations – and as a grade they put together a presentation of “summer recommendations for families.” students research a place they’d highly recommend to families of our school, and they present their recommendation – along with any friendly tips – by creating a video, diorama, brochure, song, or other format of choice that will successfully convey their ideas to their final audience – you, the families of the school!

Word Study

The word study week offers a variety of activities for all learners, as students engage in a combination of direct teaching, hands-on practice, and choral drills, along with small group centers where students can work on their own areas of need or readiness.

At home, you can make sure that your child completes their word study homework each night, and help them practice their trick words. Trick words are words that “break the rule” and just need to be memorized. Many students benefit for multi-sensory practice, so anytime you can invite them to clap out, stomp out, or “jumping jack-out” (you get the idea) the correct spelling of their weekly trick words, all the better! Furthermore, if you take time to read with your child at night, you can go on a word-part hunt to support the lessons that week…..For example, be on the lookout for vowel teams, new suffixes/endings, etc.

By the end of the year, students are introduced to the following word study skills and concepts:

  • Identifying word structures such as vowels, consonants, blends, digraphs, digraph blends
  • Identifying parts of words – syllables, basewords, suffixes
  • Identifying syllable types to help with reading and spelling: closed, vowel-consonant-e, open, r-controlled, vowel digraph (vowel team), and consonant-le
  • Reading and spelling words with short and long vowels
  • Reading and spelling words with r controlled vowels (ar, er, ir, or, ur)
  • Reading and spelling words with vowel teams (ai, ay, ee, ey, ea, oi, oy, oa, oe, ou oo, ue, ew, au, aw)
  • Reading and spelling words with unexpected vowel sounds (old, ild, ind, ost, olt, ive)
  • Reading and spelling words with suffixes (s, es, ed, ing, est, ish, able, ive, y, ful, ment, less, ness, ly, ty)
  • Reading and spelling phonetically regular words ( words that “follow the rules”) with one, two and three syllables.
  • Reading and spelling grade-appropriate trick words (words that do not follow the rules)


PS 172 is dedicated to a project-based, problem-solving, approach to mathematics that allows student to engage in hands-on, relatable experiences.  Our mathematics program is based on the Engage NY curriculum and incorporates projects throughout the year.  We are committed to having students take ownership of their learning and construct meaning in math, choosing which strategies work best, for them to solve complex word problems.  Students are encouraged to explore different strategies and explain and justify their reasoning when solving.  Common models, teaching strategies, and problem solving strategies are used to help students progress through each grade level. 
Sequence of Modules
Module 1: Sums and Differences to 10
Module 2: Introduction to Place Value Through Addition and Subtraction Within 20
Module 3: Ordering and Comparing Length Measurements as Numbers
Module 4: Place Value, Comparison, Addition and Subtraction to 40
Module 5: Identifying, Composing, and Partitioning Shapes
Module 6: Place Value, Comparison, Addition and Subtraction to 100
Module 1: Sums and Differences to 10
In this first module of Grade 1, students make significant progress towards fluency with addition and subtraction of numbers to 10 as they are presented with opportunities intended to advance them from counting all to counting on, which leads many students then to decomposing and composing addends and total amounts. In Kindergarten, students achieved fluency with addition and subtraction facts to 5. This means they can decompose 5 into 4 and 1, 3 and 2, and 5 and 0. They can do this without counting all. They perceive the 3 and 2 embedded within the 5. 

Module 2: Introduction to Place Value through Addition and  Subtraction to 20
Module 2 serves as a bridge from problem solving within 10 to work within 100 as students begin to solve addition and subtraction problems involving teen numbers.  In Module 1, students were encouraged to move beyond the Level 1 strategy of counting all to the more efficient counting on. Now, they go beyond Level 2 to learn Level 3 decomposition and composition strategies, informally called make ten or take from ten.
We will launch this module through out Inventory Project.  Help!!  Other classes are borrowing our supplies and we need a system to keep track of what we have, what people are borrowing, and what they are returning. Students will develop strategies to count classroom supplies such as counting cubes, scissors, and markers to keep track of how many of each item they have.  They will develop the bundling/grouping strategy to make tens to help them count more efficiently and use this context to develop addition and subtraction strategies.  Children can apply these strategies at home when organizing their toys or household items.  

Module 3: Ordering and Comparing Length Measurements as Numbers

In this 13-day module, students will use non-standard units to measure objects, and will compare and order objects by length.  Module 3 opens by extending students’ Kindergarten experiences with direct length comparison to the new learning of indirect comparison whereby the length of one object is used to compare the lengths of two other objects.  “My string is longer than your book.  Your book is longer than my pencil.  That means my string is longer than my pencil!”  Students use the same transitivity, or indirect comparison, to compare short distances within the classroom in order to find the shortest path to their classroom door, which is helpful to know for lining up and for emergencies.  This module takes longer than and shorter than to a new level of precision by introducing the idea of a length unit.  Centimeter cubes are laid alongside the length of an object as students learn that the total number of cubes laid end to end with no gaps or overlaps represents the length of that object. Students will then explore the usefulness of measuring with similar units.  Students measure the same objects from Topic B using two different non-standard units, toothpicks and small paper clips, simultaneously to measure one object and answer the question, “Why do we measure with same-sized length units?” They realize that using iterations of the same unit will yield consistent measurement results.  Similarly, students explore what it means to use a different unit of measurement from their classmates.  It becomes obvious to students that if we want to have discussions about the lengths of objects, we must measure with the same units. This module closes as students represent and interpret data.  They collect data about their classmates and sort that information into three categories.  Using same-sized pictures on squares, students represent this sorted data so that it can be easily compared and described. 

Module 4: Place Value, Comparison, Addition and Subtraction to 40 and the The Design a Game Project
In this 35-day module, students will study, organize, and manipulate numbers within 40. They will compare number quantities, using the symbols for greater and less than (>, <).  Students will work with adding and subtracting tens and will begin to add two-digit numbers.  The place value chart at this point in 1st grade consists of two boxes; the one on the left labeled “tens” and the one on the right labeled “ones”.  Students will be asked initially to match a number of objects with the correct representation on the place value chart. Later, they use the chart more abstractly to add two-digit numbers.  Incorporated throughout this module is “The Design a Game Project” where students will work in small groups to create their own game (card game, board game, memory game) that will help them practice the skills and strategies they are learning throughout the module to add and subtract. 

Module 5: Identifying, Composing, and Partitioning Shapes and the Build A City Project

In Module 5, students consider part–whole relationships through a geometric lens. The module opens with students identifying the defining parts, or attributes, of two- and three-dimensional shapes, building on their kindergarten experiences of sorting, analyzing, comparing, and creating various two- and three-dimensional shapes and objects. Students combine shapes to create a new whole: a composite shape. They also relate geometric figures to equal parts and name the parts as halves and fourths. The module closes with students applying their understanding of halves to tell time to the hour and half hour.

Module 6: Place Value, Comparison, Addition and Subtraction to 100
In this final module of the Grade 1 curriculum, students bring together their learning from Module 1 through Module 5 to learn the most challenging Grade 1 standards and celebrate their progress. As the module opens, students grapple with comparative word problem types. Next, they extend their understanding of and skill with tens and ones to numbers to 100. Students also extend their learning from Module 4 to the numbers to 100 to add and subtract. At the start of the second half of Module 6, students are introduced to nickels and quarters, having already used pennies and dimes in the context of their work with numbers to 40 in Module 4. Students use their knowledge of tens and ones to explore decompositions of the values of coins. The module concludes with fun fluency festivities to celebrate a year's worth of learning.

How you can help at home:
  • Practice “counting on” as a strategy for addition, e.g. if you have 7 LEGO pieces, and then you get 3 more, encourage your student to start with the number 7 and count “8…9…10” to find the total.
  • Discuss various ways to take apart a given number, e.g. 6 is made of 1 and 5, 2 and 4, 3 and 3, etc.
  • Talk about how we can find “tens” in other, large numbers
  • Make up and discuss short story problems that involve simple addition and subtraction
  • Give your student as many opportunities to measure objects using other, smaller objects, e.g. “How many Lego pieces long is your book?  How many blueberries long is this notebook?
  • Continue to practice adding and subtracting within 20.
  • Continue to ask your student to compare two different quantities, using the language “greater than” and “less than”.
  • Begin to ask questions such as “What does the 2 represent in 29?”
  • Continue to practice counting up to 40 or beyond.

Student Links

 Engage NY  Reading A-Z  Zearn Math  Xtra Math