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WELCOME TO SECOND GRADE 2016 - 2017

Daily Routines:
After prayer, pledge, and the handing in of homework and important notes most days begin with a Morning Meeting:  we do our daily number (math), sometimes a read aloud, and discuss our schedule for the day. 

Religion
Our faith is a part of everything we learn and do!  Religion is integrated into every subject we study as second graders.  We use the Blest Are We series as our primary source of information during Religion classes.  In addition, Mr. Kane has again purchased a Gospel Weekly called “Good News”  published by Pflaum for Second Grade.  Each Thursday or Friday we use it to go over the upcoming Sunday’s Readings, afterwards I send it home for students to share with their families.  

Our curriculum for this year: 
  • We Gather As Believers (Includes Baptism)
  • We Ask God's Forgiveness (Includes the Ten Commandments, Apologizing and Making Peace with Others and the Sacrament of Reconciliation)
  • We Celebrate the Word of God 
  • We Celebrate the Gift of Eucharist
  • We Go in Peace
  • Feasts and Seasons (Halloween/All Saints Day meaning, Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter)  In May we learn about the Rosary
  • Sunday Gospel using Pflaum Weekly

Naturally, sacramental preparation is quite important.  I will keep you updated as the school year progresses.  We are partners in your child's faith formation; one of the most important contributions from parents is to make sure that your child witnesses others receiving these sacraments.  ** I will send a separate document home about dates and plans for the sacraments as soon as I have one.  It’s very important that you let me know if you plan to have your child celebrate at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.  Fr. Tom Hayes is the pastor at St. Thomas.  St. Thomas 2nd graders do not celebrate the sacraments as a class; they celebrate as a part of a parish.  If you are not a parishioner of St. Thomas, but you still want your child to receive the sacraments at St. Thomas, Fr. Hayes will need a letter from your pastor.  Students receiving the sacraments at St. Thomas the Apostle Church will attend approximately 5 classes in the Media Center while at least one of their parents attends a class taught in the cafeteria.  I will let you know as soon as these sessions are planned.  Last year they took place on either Sunday mornings or Monday evenings. 

Father Daley is an important part of second grade life.  He volunteers his time many Wednesday mornings teaching second grade.  He begins this week; I will keep you updated about his lessons so that you may follow-up at home.  They really do learn the most fascinating things from him!


Language Arts:
English Language Arts is taught as a subject in the morning and also integrated into all subject areas.  Language Arts includes:  whole group instruction, small group instruction, partner reading, independent reading, phonics, spelling, speaking, listening, handwriting, grammar and writing.  Students will read selections from our literature book as well as trade books.  There’s a good guide to the Common Core at http://www.cgcs.org/Page/328
Three years ago STS K-5 began using Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing; I use some of her ideas. One of my most important goals for writing is to create a room of willing writers.  Therefore I begin the year by emphasizing meaning and deemphasizing mechanics and perfection.  Because writing is hard and complex, children who see the goal as producing a certain number of perfect sentences will not write willingly and will only do the bare minimum to get by.  I will NOT spell words for children on a first draft; they are taught to stretch out words, use environmental print and we will develop a list of frequently used words.   Why won't I spell words??  If I spell words for children, they never pull away from me and become independent writers and thinkers!  They also waste time waiting for me to help them instead of using the time to write!  Once children are "willing writers" I'll be able to hold conferences with individuals and groups about their writing; at that time revising and proofreading are introduced. You won’t see pieces of writing which have been revised, edited and published come home for quite awhile.   Please be assured that in September we write for very short periods of time as is age appropriate; mini-lessons occur on a regular basis.

Mrs. Follis, a classroom aide, works with individuals and groups of second graders in our classroom on Language Arts and Math assignments four mornings a week.  This gives me the opportunity to work with individuals and small groups during our Language Arts and Math blocks. 

Mathematics
New York State has adopted Common Core Standards.  There’s a good Parent Road Map to the Common Core available at http://www.cgcs.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=244 Our curriculum is designed to meet and go beyond the Common Core Standards.  I will communicate weekly to you details about what we are currently studying.   We begin the school year with Addition and Subtraction strategies.  By the end of September I have to move on; after that addition and subtraction practice should continue to occur in the home in order to achieve mastery.  Mr. Kane will be  adding “Math Lab” with another teacher to the second grade schedule.

Science includes a balanced study of Life, Physical, and Earth Science and the Human Body.  Our Science book will be supplemented with additional hands-on activities and experiments.  An outline of the planned science curriculum for grade 2 is available on our site.  We begin this year by studying the Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterflies followed by a study of the Properties of Matter.  **Does anyone have a pond? Two years ago someone brought me frog eggs (floating together in a mass) and we were able to watch their development to the tadpole stage and then the frogs were returned to the pond.  We can only do that again if someone finds the frog eggs!




Social Studies
The focus for second graders in New York State is communities.  First, they will learn about their local community.  From this common knowledge base they can "visit" rural and suburban communities throughout the state and country.

As described in a separate document already sent home, our traveling buddy project will help us with our studies this year.  We use many sources for information including Social Studies Weekly, a textbook, National Geographic Explorer Magazine and a variety of trade books and internet sources.  Some information is stored in a Social Studies folder and packets.  The folder is only sent home when there is homework; otherwise, you can ask me to send the folder home if you’d like to see its contents.

On behalf of 2nd Grade, I’ve adopted Hannah, a young girl living in the Philippines, through UNBOUND (formerly called CFCA -Christian Foundation for Children and Adults).  We will write group letters to Hannah and learn about her life in the Philippines.  Three years ago 2nd grade had a fundraiser and donated to CFCA’s birthday fund.

Technology
Technology is integrated into the curriculum by teachers in all academic areas.  In addition to extending what we are learning in second grade, students work on developing their keyboarding skills; learn about the computer, and other age appropriate topics.  Two years ago the school received a grant from the Diocese for Chromebooks for use in the primary classrooms.  We will have access daily to about 10 Chromebooks with the ability to borrow enough for a full class set as needed. 

Every second grader has been assigned a username that is used for an e-mail account intended for academic purposes.  As first graders in Mrs. Mattis’s room they saved their work to one of seven accounts set up exclusively for first grade; in second grade each student saves work to their own Google Drive.  These e-mail accounts are protected by our server; chrome2learn.org is a domain owned by St. Thomas School.   The e-mail address is a gmail account and can be accessed with any computer that way.  My second grade classes have successfully used their own accounts for 2 ½  years now. .  Parents will be given their child's username and password and will be able to check the account at any time.(Parents may not change the password.)  Parents and their children are welcome to send e-mails to each other; students (or other friends) may not e-mail each other at all using this e-mail address.. (If you want your child to e-mail friends, I'm sure that you've set up an account for them!)   Students will not "check their e-mail" during the day unless there's an academic reason for being in their gmail account..  They will be told that the e-mail may not be used to sign-up for anything and shouldn't be typed into any site or used for anything other than academic purposes as specified by classroom teachers. I will have total access to each account while they are second graders and then Mrs. Hendrick will take over monitoring the accounts in third grade.  Account privileges can and will be removed if we have any problems (which I don't expect.)   We will begin using the e-mail accounts to access the Chromebooks as soon as Mr. Kane has had the opportunity to create accounts for everyone.


Homework Details
Homework assignments are written down daily in the BLUE folder.  In the beginning of the year most of the homework is typed on the sheet when it is duplicated and put into the folder.  As the school year progresses second graders will assume more responsibility for writing down assignments.  It is requested that an adult initial/sign the homework sheet daily so that home/school communication is consistent.  The weekly homework sheets are placed in the prongs on Mondays and stay in the prongs until I remove them at the end of the marking period.  Children have mailboxes which they are responsible for checking daily.

Reading for 15 minutes is a daily homework assignment.  Second graders may read alone, with someone, or have someone read to them.  Inside the blue folder is a reading record for daily reading.  Title and author are requested.  If a child is reading a chapter book they may write down pages numbers or chapter numbers but do not have to.  A chapter book would only need the author once per week.  It is expected that second graders will be able to completely independently write their own titles and authors by November.  Reading homework is part of each quarter's grade; please do not remove the pages in the three-prongs from the folder because I total at the end of each quarter.  We participate in the Pizza Hut Book-It Program; the homework reading record is also the record for meeting that monthly goal. (Pizza Hut begins in October.)

In addition to reading, your child can expect to work on one or two other homework assignments most nights including studying.

Math homework will be sent home in the beginning of the year at least twice weekly.  I try to send home a variety of homework - not just worksheets.  Don't be surprised if your child is expected to explore the house and make a list!  Written details about "different" homework assignments will be sent home.  Studying math facts or practicing concepts should occur at least 4 times weekly at home to aid mastery.  Beginning next week students will have a record sheet in their BLUE folders to keep track of their home practice.

Religion - Occasionally your child will bring home religion homework that compliments our study in school. 

Handwriting - printing practice will only be sent if needed. Please, please notice if your child is forming letters incorrectly or in the wrong direction and help me fix that!  We will begin with a review of manuscript writing.  Common letter formation errors include writing a, o, e in the wrong direction (the circle should be written counter-clockwise), not writing descending lines (lines which go through the baseline) for g, p, q, and y, and forgetting the pull down line with which letters like m, n, and r begin with.  We need to form our manuscript letters correctly prior to learning cursive.  Cursive homework will be assigned in the spring.

Science and Social Studies - As the school year progresses students will have assignments related to our current themes.  Written directions will be sent home explaining assignments to families.

Projects - At this time I don't have many "at home" projects planned for second graders.  You can expect us to do something for the 100th Day of School.  Some years children study a person and write a biography or do an animal report.

Other Subjects Schedule
Physical Education – Monday and Thursday   French - Wednesday and Friday     Music- Tuesday       Art is either Wednesday or Friday
Supplies -  Everyone has what they need.   You can expect to replace pencils and erasers as the school progresses as students go through many, many of each.  Right now we have plenty of tissues and wipes, when we need more I’ll let you know.

Folders:   If your second grader brings work home in a folder marked Work Folder,  please do not do the work at home - send it back to school!!  Unfinished work is placed in the folder daily.  I also add papers for individuals as needed.  I will not send home work for your child to finish without attaching a note to you.  BLUE folders are for homework and completed papers to keep at home.  The BLUE folder should come home every school day. YELLOW folders are for tests and evaluations.  If the YELLOW folder is going home, it will be on a Monday and I’ll let you know to expect it.  All tests and evaluations are to be kept inside the YELLOW folder until June unless I removed them to file at school to make your child’s folder lighter; if you would like to keep a test or evaluation at home please let me know and I’ll make a copy for you.  Unless you hear from me otherwise, other folders shouldn't come home!  I do create Science and Social Studies and Writing  folders to use in school; that work is taken out of the folders and sent home when we've finished with it.

Snack - We have a short snack break each morning.  It is expected that children will only be eating healthy snacks in the classroom.  They are told to chose one healthy snack from their lunch box and to put everything else away until it is lunchtime. 


Community Service  Reilly House is a home for disabled adults next to St. Thomas Church.  I will make arrangements for second graders to visit the residents monthly.  Last year I took no more than 12 students at a time.  These visits take place from 3:00 - 4:00.  While there we visit with the residents and have an activity such as a craft.  Permission slips go home ahead of time and parents are needed to join us as chaperones.  Last year we also created holiday and birthday cards for each resident.  I expect to begin in October.  In addition to Reilly House 2nd grade participates in a variety of other service projects as the need arises.

Book Orders  This year I will send home multiple book orders.  Parents may order the books the traditional way by filling out the order form and sending in either the exact amount in cash or by writing a check.  One check may be written if all the book orders are from Scholastic.   Online ordering for Scholastic is also available; parents would need to use a credit card.
The site:   www.scholastic.com
One time class activation code needed:  GZWYD
The first orders go home this week and are due before school ends Wednesday, September 21.  Online orders are due before 6 PM that day (e-mail me if you experience a problem)  I will send an additional order if you can’t make the Wednesday deadline; I have books I want to order immediately which is the reason for the deadline.

**If you want to order books at a time when I don’t currently have an open order, you may place an online order with Scholastic Books at anytime.  Scholastic will e-mail me telling me that you’ve placed an order and then I’ll confirm you are one of my families and the order will be sent to school the next time I process an order.

Communication
Home/school communication is very important.  A daily e-mail is available to keep parents updated.  If you are not already on my e-mail list and would like to be, please send me an e-mail at kmiller@stthomas-school.org.  Messages and reminders from the office are sent home in the text of my e-mails frequently so daily checking of e-mail is strongly recommended.  The Clear Home folder is sent home as needed and needs to be returned the following day.    Our class website is http://homestead.com/millergrade2.   Passwords for the St. Thomas School website are available from the office.    I check e-mail daily, but please don’t rely on an e-mail for important messages such as pick-up changes or early dismissals.  Keep in mind I may not check my e-mail during the day and might wait until dismissal.   You may always send me a note in the morning, call the front office, or use the website to send a message.  Together we can make this a wonderful year for your second grader.

Report Card
A new report card was adopted by the Diocese of Albany two years ago  Copies of the St. Thomas the Apostle report card for grade 2  are available for anyone who would like one. (I would need time to print one for you,) It is a standards based report card.  The purpose of a standards based report card is to communicate progress towards meeting end-of-year learning standards. 

The Rubric Used:
4  Student work demonstrates a thorough and consistent understanding of grade level standards and objectives. Student completes work independently and integrates learned concepts and skills.
3  Student work demonstrates an understanding of grade level standards and objectives.
   Student completes work satisfactorily and applies expected skills to work.
2  Student work demonstrates a partial understanding of grade level standards and objectives.
   Student exhibits inconsistent understanding and application of concepts and skills.
1  Student work demonstrates minimal understanding of grade level standards and objectives; evidences very  limited organizational, reasoning and critical thinking skills; completing independent tasks only with assistance, struggles with grade level standards and objectives producing less than expected work