Spring Into RPCS!
The second grade curriculum was developed to provide an opportunity for our girls to transition to new academic rigors in dynamic and interactive ways.
Girls are encouraged to be more independent and are expected to have more stamina for the learning process. Creating presentations about research using new technology, collaborating on STEM challenges, starting micro-businesses to develop entrepreneur skills, and using more sophisticated understanding of literacy and numeracy to communicate ideas, all contribute to making the second grade year a real turning point for our girls!
The goal of our literacy program is to develop confident and self-motivated readers and writers. Individual girls’ needs are met as skills are introduced and developed. In the second grade, the focus is on building fluency, comprehension skills and learning to read across disciplines. Our novel-based approach to instruction offers young readers daily opportunities to make connections, predict, infer and derive meaning. We expose children to a wide variety of genres and give them the tools to achieve a deep understanding of text, so ultimately, they attain a more perfect appreciation of literature as well as a hearty spirit of inquiry.
Lower School students grow into effective creative and analytical writers. We deliver classroom instruction along with personalized attention that builds each writer’s unique skill set. In second grade, students continue to learn about sentence structure, mechanics and presentation. These basic elements of written language lay a critical foundation for more complex endeavors down the road. All grades consider formal projects that cross various genres while inspiring heart in the writing process.
Second grade girls will focus on:
● Written and oral presentation
● Reading fluency and comprehension with leveled books
● Novel study to learn literary elements, plot and character analysis
● Individualized spelling
● Introduction to more genres and choice in reading
● Writer’s Workshop – creative story telling that builds confidence and foundation
● D’Nealian handwriting – introduction to cursive
● Poetry, non-fiction paragraphs, creative writing, written responses to reading prompts
The Lower School math program is founded on best practices and research-based mathematics education. The goal of the program is to help our girls construct deep conceptual understanding, build strong problem-solving skills, and develop computational fluency. From the earliest age, students are driven to develop a clear number sense that gives them confidence and power over numbers and computation. They analyze mathematical relationships, build their geometric and numeric reasoning and draw conclusions from this deeper thinking. An emphasis on understanding allows students to construct meaning and think flexibly about procedures that are efficient and effective. It is our hope that our approach to math instruction will empower our girls to feel increasingly confident about their mathematical ability and understanding. This confidence and depth of understanding will expand their future possibilities in all STEM fields.
During the second grade year, the emphasis is on developing strong number sense, understanding patterns and relationships, and practicing flexible thinking when solving problems. Lessons include:
● Exploration of the language of numbers
● Building on number sense
● Introduction to money, measurement, tangrams, geometry attributes
● Addition and subtraction equations and expressions
The purpose of the Lower School social studies curriculum is for students to understand their place in the global community and in historical time. Starting with understanding self and family, students progress to understanding local community, city and state, country and global. Geography and research are integrated throughout the curriculum. An emphasis is placed on the power of the individual to impact the world in which we live.
The goal of our second grade social studies curriculum is to look at these enduring understandings:
• History is connected to geography is connected to economics is connected to culture.
• Sound decision making starts in information gathering and analysis.
Activity revolves around a quick study of Ancient Egypt and the country of Bangladesh, Baltimore past and present, and a year-long unit on economics. Literature choices link to units, STEM challenges and hands-on projects build understanding of both Egyptian and Bangladeshi culture, and a multi-faceted series of activities allow the girls to experience both a classroom economy and the opportunities of entrepreneurship.
All science units in grades K-5 derive from the Next Generation Science Standards and engage girls in the areas of life science, earth and space science, physical science, and engineering design. Units are hands-on and performance-based and strive to enhance our girls’ natural curiosity. As girls explore the science content and how it connects to the natural world, they develop key learning skills, including communication, collaboration, inquiry, problem-solving, resilience and flexibility.
Learning is extended to the outdoors while working in the Lower School garden or visiting the Backwoods. Our garden program teaches basic skills in growing and harvesting plants, caring for the environment and encouraging individual wellness. Second grade girls harvest food and herbs early in the year for the Annual Harvest Feast. During science class, the girls study:
• What do living things need?
• Plant adaptations
• Plant “Three Sisters Garden” in spring
The music program uses a combination of Orff and Kodaly teaching methodologies. The Kodaly method is based primarily on singing and follows a child-developmental approach to learning basic rhythms and intervals. For example, children learn quarter notes and eighth notes first since these rhythms can be related to their walking and running paces. These rhythms are also the building blocks of most of the folk songs and games we play in class. The Orff method utilizes singing, moving, speaking and various instruments (both pitched and unpitched). The Orff instruments provide an ideal medium for texture and color exploration and provide a visual representation of pitch relationships that becomes especially useful when learning to read music. Playing in an instrumental ensemble requires focus, cooperation and an ability to hear one’s part within the whole. As children progress through the program, they begin to improvise and compose their own music and accompaniments to poems, rhymes and simple folk songs.
During the second grade year, students:
• Are introduced to accent, measure lines and meter
• Review eighth note, quarter note and rest
• Explore patterns of music using Orff instruments
• Participate in two concert performances per year
The Lower School art curriculum covers many of the skills necessary for meaningful self-expression. These skills include use of shapes, both geometric and free form, understanding the color wheel, and qualities of 2D and 3D design, as well as composition, using balance and spatial relationships. The Lower School curriculum also takes on an historical perspective that includes art units inspired by famous artists and varied cultures. Some examples of these artistic influences include Warhol, Chagall, Kahlo, Matisse, and Monet, as well as cultural inspirations from the Ancient Egyptians, Greco-Roman Bas Reliefs and mosaics, Native American artifacts, Peruvian weavings, and African tribal masks. Art movements are also incorporated into the curriculum units, such as: Pop Art self-portraits, Surrealist paintings, Impressionist landscapes, and Cubist compositions. Students in Lower School are encouraged to utilize artistic expression within a variety of media and techniques to extend their learning inside and outside the classroom. Media that are explored include everything from painting, drawing and collage to beading, building and sculpture. Students at RPCS can stretch their imaginations and intellects thanks to their involvement in the Visual Arts.
During the second grade year, girls are introduced to a variety of artists’ mediums and forms of expression and look in-depth at color, collage and figure in motion/gesture drawing. Artist studies include Degas, Jacob Lawrence, Mondrian, Egyptian and Bangladesh art. The girls in second grade take an annual trip to the Walters Art Gallery.
The Lower School dance program introduces emerging to developing techniques, and students evolve throughout the various levels of instruction. Using a variety of dance styles such as pre-ballet, ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, partner work, and choreography, the dancers mature in their overall knowledge of many styles and forms. Emphasis is placed on motor control skills, spatial and motor awareness, muscular development, core conditioning, stretching, yoga, and posture. Dance classes are specifically designed to support multiple learning styles. Dancers work together in ensembles, to engage in and connect with problem solving activities, teamwork, and leadership skills.
Second grade girls experience dance three days out of the 10 day cycle. They receive an introduction to basic ballet and learn to focus on breathing, movement, posture, spatial awareness and core conditioning. Girls practice performing as an ensemble for the winter and spring recitals.
Second grade classes meet five days out of 10 for 50 minutes. The main emphasis of the physical education (PE) program is individual skill development and cooperative interaction. PE in the Lower School strives to provide the best opportunity for physical activity for students. The goal is to develop healthy, responsible students who have the knowledge, skills, and mindset to work together in groups, think critically and participate in a variety of activities that lead to a sustainable healthy lifestyle. The students explore and refine basic movement patterns and are exposed to exploratory and discovery experiences involving body awareness, spatial orientation, basic body actions, eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, rhythmic movement, and an introduction to team sports such as badminton, soccer, tennis, and basketball. Yoga continues to be a part of the second grade students curriculum as part of an overall focus on mindfulness and well-being.
Three languages are offered in the Lower School: Chinese, French and Spanish. In K–2, students practice each language with an emphasis on oral communication reinforced through songs, games, role playing, language-based websites and a broad survey of the representative culture. In grades 3-5, students focus on one language, utilizing a variety of learning tools such as total physical response, Symtalk, poems and plays. Writing and reading skills are developed with the support of books, audio and interactive technology. Girls choose their focus language as they enter third grade. Chinese and one Romance language are offered each year. The Romance language could be Spanish or French, depending on the student’s year of entry.
Second grade girls are given exposure to three languages during the year. Classes are taught five days out of the 10 day cycle for 50 minutes. Projects, games and performances at our Lower School morning meetings showcase their learning.
With over 11,000 books in the Lower School library and an iPad for every student, girls are given endless access to thoughts, ideas, stories and research that are both current and timeless. Girls in grades K-5 receive weekly instruction in using the library for research and literature appreciation. Library classes provide exposure to many kinds of literature genres and monthly book clubs provide enrichment opportunities for young readers.
RPCS believes that technology can foster and ignite some of the most creative ideas. With our 1:1 iPad program and a dedicated Innovation Lab, we provide students with endless ways to be curious and creative. Our technology program provides tools that are completely integrated into our classrooms and supports learning across all content areas. This integration provides students with purposeful access to research tools, digital libraries, content specific apps, and creative tools. Our Innovation Lab provides a dedicated makerspace filled with state of the art 3D printers, building tools, green screens, and materials for students to design and develop their ideas. The Lower School has a dedicated technology integrationist to help provide instruction and support for students, as well as, learning opportunities and technology integration planning for our faculty.
At each grade level of the Lower School, girls’ social and emotional intelligence is intentionally developed. This attention to the whole child is woven into every activity, not just a once-a-week course. Through the use of Responsive Classroom and The Toolbox Project curricula, girls in grades K–5 learn how to recognize the traits in themselves and others that lead to healthy relationships and a sense of personal well-being. Toolbox lessons are taught by the Lower School counselor to give the girls access to the 12 tools within themselves that build self-regulation skills. The Responsive Classroom approach fosters respect and empathy. In addition, daily morning meeting time is used to build an understanding of unique qualities of culture, race and circumstance that enriches our community. Our girls leave Lower School with a moral compass, prepared to see the good in others and appreciate the good within themselves.
• Second grade girls gain practice using the 12 Toolbox tools: breathing, quiet/safe place, listening, empathy, personal space, using our words, garbage can, taking time, please and thank you, apology and forgiveness, patience, and courage.
• Through Responsive Classroom, the girls develop classroom expectations and practice being a good citizen. They learn to express themselves and solve conflict through listening and conversation. Second grade girls are exploring new friendship options and explore language for creating positive friendships and healthy conflict resolutions. Morning meeting time builds community and empathy for each other.
• Lunch as a classroom is a time for the girls to explore the ideas of healthy eating, make colorful choices on their plate, hold respectful conversations, and use quiet time to listen to stories of individuals that made a difference in the world.
• During second grade, girls enjoy “lunch bunches” with the Lower School counselor and Director of Diversity and Inclusion on a regular basis.
The grade two experience is highlighted by a number of special events including:
● Fall harvest feast
● Egyptian STEM challenges
● Walters Art gallery trip
● Pop-up marketplace for mini-businesses
● Pre-Preakness Pimlico Race Course trip
● Baltimore Museum of Industry trip
● Recreation of Baltimore Visitors Center