Second grade is a year for confidence building in both reading and writing. Our goal is to make each child see him/herself as a competent reader and writer. As children solidify skills learned in first grade, they begin to expand their knowledge and have a new set of needs. Children need extensive time for reading, writing, and word study to support their learning. The way for children to get better at reading and writing is to read and write!
Second grade is an exciting year of school because the children are at a point where they can bring together all of their reading skills from first grade. Children no longer have to put all of their energy into learning to read words (decoding), instead they are able to put even greater emphasis on meaning making. As children are reading more complex texts, we put an emphasis on “Reading is Thinking.” Children learn how to capitalize on thinking strategies to improve their reading comprehension.
Visualizing and Using Sensory Images
Second graders also work to improve their metacognition skills by learning how to make their thinking visible, identifying when meaning is breaking down, and honing their ability to select a strategy to fix-up the break down in meaning. Students will become more reflective readers as they work to ensure they are reading across a variety of genres and improve their ability to set literacy goals.
Literacy research has demonstrated a high correlation between reading comprehension and reading fluency. Second graders will improve their understanding of texts by continue to practice their reading fluency skills including pace, phrasing, and intonation.
Another big step in second grade reading is learning to read and use non-fiction books. Children will learn that you do not need to read the entire book and that there are ways to find out the information you need. They will learn how to use a table of contents, captions, a glossary, an index and other features of non-fictions texts.
During Readers’ Workshop students participate in read aloud and shared reading, practice reading independently, and develop specific strategies in guided reading groups.
How parents can help with reading:
Modeling: Demonstrate the importance of reading throughout our lives to your child. Read a book together, discover a new recipe, read road signs out loud, read a newspaper. Take your child to the public library on a regular basis. Most importantly, share your own love of reading with your child.
Read to your child: Even if your child reads independently, it is important you continue to read to your child. Together, you are able to enjoy books which are too advanced for your child to read on their own. The shared experience increases your child’s vocabulary and develops the schema necessary to understand more difficult text.
Read with your child: Based on the way most of us were taught to read, we have told children to “sound it out” when they come to an unknown word. While phonics is an important aspect of reading, reading for meaning is the primary goal. To produce independent readers who monitor and correct themselves as they read, try the following prompts, after giving your child 5-10 seconds of wait time:
- Use the picture to help you figure out what it could be.
- What would make sense there?
- What would sound right?
- Go back to the beginning of the sentence and try again.
- Skip over the word and read to the end of the sentence. Now what do you think it is?
- Look at how the word begins. Start it out and keep reading.
- Break the word into parts
- Put in a word that would make sense there.
- Tell your child the word so he/she can continue with the flow of the story.
- Reinforce the importance of reading comprehension by asking your child questions about his/her reading. Help your child value the meaning of reading, not just decoding.
- Ask your child many “WHY?” questions before, during, and after reading.
- Listen to your child read both new books and old favorites.
- Ask your child to retell or summarize key parts of a chapter or a book, including character(s), setting, plot (in sequence), and supporting details.
The reading and writing processes are interconnected. In second grade, children write every day for a variety of purposes. They learn how to generate writing from within themselves and from their own experiences. Emphasis is placed on learning to read like a writer. Children will study and write a variety of genres including narratives, poetry, and non-fiction. During a writing study children will read mentor texts written in the same genre, tease out strategies and techniques specific to the genre, and work through the writing process to produce their own writing. Students practice generating writing ideas, planning stories, creating drafts, revising, editing, and publishing. As we are encouraging students to concentrate on getting their ideas onto paper, we emphasize the use of “sound-stretching” where students try their best to sound out the spelling of words. Second graders are in the process of learning simple proofreading skills to help them spell unknown words accurately and use capitalization and punctuation correctly. Second graders are able to do specific work on editing such as punctuation, capitalization, spelling, as well as looking at the content of their work in order to choose interesting and descriptive words.
As in other subjects, we view word study developmentally. Some children in second grade begin the year as phonetic spellers. Phonetic spellers understand that letters relate to sounds that they hear. They may write “grl” for “girl” or “cr” for “car.” The majority of second graders are transitional spellers. Transitional spellers begin to experiment with and apply spelling patterns. Transitional spellers may write “bote” for “boat” by following the silent-e pattern. Throughout second grade, children begin to learn conventional spelling. As part of the process, students begin to identify words in their own writing that are misspelled or “don’t look right.”
To support students’ spelling development we integrate the word study program Words Their Way into our curriculum. Words Their Way allows us to provide word study activities that are just right for each individual child. Each week the students receive a list of words to study. During our literacy block, they engage in direct word study mini-lessons and independent word study practice. Word study is also an important component of our weekly homework assignments. You can support strong word study skills at home by engaging in the word study homework assignments, and expecting your child to spell studied patterns correctly. In order to facilitate writing fluency, encourage your child to use sound stretching when spelling more advanced words.
At Catlin Gabel, we have adopted the Italic system of handwriting. We begin working with the lower case printed letters and later introduce the upper case letters. In second grade, the expectation is that children will begin to use the proper cases in their daily writing. Cursive writing begins in third grade.
How parents can help with writing:
- Provide meaningful opportunities for writing: thank you cards, shopping lists, love notes, letters, etc.
- Model the usefulness and love of writing; “think aloud” as you write.
- Encourage your child to read his or her writing to you; help your child refine his or her writing by asking the questions: Does it make sense? Does it look right? Does it sound right?
- Encourage your child to both tell and write stories (fiction & non-fiction) at home.
- Notice and praise your child’s use of proper writing mechanics including penmanship (lower case letters, good spacing, clear and consistent letter formation), basic punctuation, and grammar.
- Keep a family journal: have each person write or dictate his or her view of a significant family event or vacation. Include pictures or illustrations.
- Provide ample writing tools: make a variety of paper, pens, and markers available to your child.