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What's Happening in 2nd Grade?

Second grade is full of possibility and newfound independence.

Walk through a second grade classroom and you'll see children making "Eric Carle paper" to create bugs in the style of the famed illustrator. You'll hear conversations about gender stereotypes and how to be a good friend. In the art studios and theater, students develop self-expression by conceiving of sculptures and scenes and then making them real. And outdoors, they scramble under a parachute during physical education, and wave farewell to monarch butterflies that emerged in their classrooms as they begin a long and perilous migration.

Foote photographer Joe Charles spent the past few weeks documenting life in 2nd grade for the first in a series of spotlights on each grade.

"Morning Meeting" sets the tone for each day in 2nd grade and provides a chance for teachers and students to discuss various topics. Above, teacher Felicia McKee talks with her class about friendship. Student's excitedly raise their hands to answer the prompt "What are some way's that you can be a good friend to someone?"

 

After studying Spanish in Kindergarten and 1st grade, students take Mandarin in 2nd grade, where they learn about the wonders of the Chinese language and culture. (In 3rd grade, students choose a language—Spanish or Chinese—to study for the remainder of their time at Foote.) Food and celebrations are a frequent part of modern language classes, and 2nd graders recently had the chance to make traditional Chinese moon cakes with teacher Wenyan Witkowsky.

 

In addition to collaborative learning, one-on-one time with teachers is a crucial part of the daily rhythm. Pictured, teacher Donna Santomasso works with a 2nd grader on her nonfiction writing assignment, focusing on how to structure a story's beginning, middle and end.

 

Tina Cunningham, Music Department Chair and teacher for Grades K–3, plays tones on resonator bells and leads students through musical hand signs as they identify the correct names of the musical pitches so, la and mi. Later in the year, 2nd graders will use these foundational skills to learn how to read and write music.

 

A beloved part of the 2nd grade science curriculum is observing the life-cycle of monarch butterflies. Second graders observe monarch chrysalises in their classrooms over the course of several weeks. When the butterflies emerge, the children release them into the campus butterfly garden near the main building—waving farewell to their new friends as they embark on a long and perilous migration. (Video by Kim Yap)

 

Numerous studies have linked frequent breaks outdoors with improved focus and academic performance. As with other grades, the 2nd graders have picnic tables right outside their classrooms and they use them frequently for reading groups, snack and lunch. Yoga mats provide another comfortable spot for students to take a mask break and socialize in the fresh fall air.

 

Second grade art projects draw inspiration from the themes and environments of the science and social studies curricula. Students use a variety of materials and art supplies over the course of the year to develop skills and self-expression. Pictured, art teacher Mike Golschneider helps a student add plaster strips to recycled materials that will eventually become a "plaster pet."

 

There's no better outlet for the innate energy of 2nd graders than physical education. Students improve muscular control, coordination and balance through beloved games such as "Cat and Mouse" using a large rainbow parachute.

 

Learning at Foote is differentiated in recognition that students learn in different ways and at different rates. As part of their "organisms" unit on insects and monarch butterflies, 2nd graders read the books of acclaimed author and illustrator Eric Carle. They they created their own Eric Carle-style paper and used it to make their own insects. (Photograph by Kim Yap)

 

During Drama class in the black box theater, students created a unique story in a "pass-the-ball" activity. Each student had a turn to add one sentence to the tale before passing the ball to a classmate. This creative activity challenged them to think imaginatively and collaboratively. 

 

Teacher Hilary Pearson reads her students Juliàn is a Mermaid, a story about a boy who wants to be a mermaid. This is one of a several of pictured books used in 2nd grade to help children think and talk about gender stereotypes.

 

Students display illustrations of what they think people should look like, wear and do based on a description of a profession. Through many class discussions and read-alouds, students discussed what stereotypes are and how we can learn about others through an anti-bias lens.

 

At the end of the day, parents and guardians can meet their children at their classrooms. On a walk back through campus, a student excitedly describes her day.

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Since 1916, The Foote School has provided child-centered education that nurtures creativity, excellence and joy in learning.

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