2nd Grade: Earth Class » Second Grade Curriculum Overview

Second Grade Curriculum Overview



In the Earth Class, we begin the year by matching readers to “just right” books, building fluency and stamina, and identifying and applying a variety of word-solving strategies. Interactive read-alouds across the curriculum make space for the Earthlings to develop listening comprehension, to wonder together, to make predictions and connections, discuss strategies for deciphering tricky words or phrases, debate the intention of an author, notice word choice and text structures, and to disagree respectfully. Reading independently, the Earthlings learn to jot notes as they read to share later with a partner or a small group. By mid-year, the Earthlings are ready to articulate opinions about the books they are reading independently, provide evidence from the text for those opinions, and to express those ideas in letter form. We then turn our attention to non-fiction reading strategies, learning to look beyond the acquisition of facts and into how authors of information books organize information and engage their readers. The children work to identify main ideas and to compare and contrast information across text sets.


The Earthlings increase their fluency and deepen their understanding of the writing process, taking their audience into consideration, and drawing inspiration from a broad variety of authors. Revision and editing are consistent parts of the process as they prepare personal narratives, book reports, poetry, opinion and informational pieces for publication. In our first unit on personal narratives, the children work to add structure, detail, and dialogue as they tell the stories of meaningful moments in their lives. Next, they explore opinion writing about the books they've read. This leads into our study of biographies and how to write a report detailing the important moments in the lives of various change makers.. Then, they write as scientists, thinking about teaching others as they write up lab reports and craft information books. In the spring, they learn to look at the world through a poet’s lens. They close the year by learning to use writing to affect positive change in the world.


The Earth Class math curriculum supports children in developing a deep understanding of number relationships, understanding whether a strategy will always work and why it works. The year begins with a review of strategies for basic addition and subtraction facts to 20, and then strengthens children’s number sense and understanding of place value up to four digits. Next, we build the open number line model and develop strategies for addition and subtraction by taking leaps of ten or moving to a landmark number. In looking at the relationships between the differences in ages of our family members, the Earthlings develop their understanding of the relationship between addition and subtraction. The students use increasingly efficient and flexible strategies for moving forward and backward along the number line and strengthen their understanding of place value through one thousand and the properties of addition and subtraction. They learn to estimate and measure length in inches, feet, and yards and explore proportional reasoning. Next, the Earthlings dive into a unit on early algebra, exploring big ideas including balance, equivalence and exchange, and variables. Through our calendar activities, we explore a variety of growing and repeating patterns, learn to read analog and digital clocks and understand the concept of elapsed time, categorize two and three-dimensional shapes and explore lines of symmetry, identify fractions as part of a whole and part of a group, and use models for adding and subtracting 10 and 100 from any 3-digit number.



The social studies curriculum in the Earth Class centers on the idea of change. We focus on recognizing changes in ourselves, our families, our school, and our local communities over time. We begin the year with an internal look, noticing the many ways in which we’ve changed and grown. Widening our lens, we explore how things have changed over generations by conducting interviews with family members one and two generations back and creating Venn diagrams to demonstrate the contrasts and similarities in childhood experiences over time. Next, we learn about how our school has changed by analyzing historical photos and conducting interviews with community members. Each year, the Earthlings also choose a project that will make a positive change in our school community. They interview adults and other students, compile the data, and implement strategies for the common good. We also study how land use in California has changed over time and the impact that human development has had on the land and the plants and animals that call it home. In addition, the Earthlings learn about historical change-makers on a weekly basis.


The theme of “change” drives the science and engineering curriculum in the Earth class. The Earthlings learn to record their observations, ask questions, make sense of systems, isolate a variable in experiments and iterate designs. In the fall, they engage in an interdisciplinary study of the moon. By observing the moon on a daily basis, the children discern the pattern of its cycle. Through modeling, they gain an understanding of the phases of the moon, tidal locking, the relative size of the moon and the Earth and the distance between them. They engineer rockets and rovers, experimenting with the impact of changes in weight, material, width and length, and making tradeoffs in order to complete their chosen mission. We also study a local ecosystem over the course of the year, noting changes in biodiversity through the seasons, observing how animals and plants adapt to their environment and grappling with the impact of changes, both natural and human, on the ecosystem. In the winter, we study force and motion, learning about balanced and unbalanced forces, inertia and friction, magnetism, static electricity, and changes in motion. Alongside this work, the Earthlings study bridges and civil engineering. As they work in long-term partnerships to iterate bridge designs, they consider strength, stability, the properties of materials, and work to balance the forces at work on their bridges. Finally, the Earthlings take our study of change to the Galapagos Islands, learning about the islands' formation, the theory of evolution and natural selection, the impact of invasive species, and the unique adaptations that the animals on the Galapagos have developed in order to survive.


The theme of "change" is woven through the social justice curriculum in the Earth Class. The students begin by looking inward, reflecting on their own growth. By sharing aspects of their identity that have changed and remained the same, they learn to recognize the uniqueness and complexity in themselves and others. Recognizing and valuing the diverse perspectives and experiences that each person brings to a project becomes the foundation for building strong collaborative skills to their work as mathematicians, scientists, engineers, writers, readers and friends. Reading stories of change-makers who have worked to make a difference in their communities provides inspiration for the Earthlings to take a close look at their own communities (classroom, school, and beyond), to identify changes that would make things more fair, and to take actions that make a positive impact.


    Social Emotional Learning is threaded throughout the Earth Class curriculum. Through the Toolbox Project, class meetings, friendship circles, small group dialogue and role-play, project work and book-talks, we work to build the self-awareness, empathy, and self-regulation necessary to function well as a community of learners and friends. Our year-long theme, change, lends itself well to recognizing and strengthening our own growth and flexibility as well as staying open-minded about our peers’ capacity for growth, learning and change. Learning to collaborate effectively through active listening, understanding another’s perspective, giving and receiving constructive feedback, and learning to compromise is an essential component of group project work all year long.