As with writing, we completed the elements of narratives, specifically fairytales and tall tales in November. Using the new unit, Consumer/Producer, we switched to nonfiction material. We read short articles and descriptions of food production. The students went from looking for beginning, middle, and end of stories to looking for the main idea and understanding how text elements like table of contents, headings, captions, glossary, and index help a reader understand the material. They read and discussed the processes required to get food from the farm to our table. The students were also introduced to the economic concept of supply and demand.
In late January we began a short unit on immigration. The students went back in time to learn about why immigrants came to the US, especially between 1880-1920. I used powerpoint presentations from the Engage NY curriculum, supplemented with articles and interesting videos about Ellis Island and Angel Island. The students learned some complex vocabulary; immigration, emigration, e pluribus unum, liberty, opportunity, ancestors, descendants, ethnic, tradition, and more. They also got a taste of three important historical US documents; Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
Next we will be continuing the study of nonfiction through the science unit, Simple Machines.
The first few months, August - November, the focus was narrative. Beginning in December we switched to expository. The students learned the elements of a proper paragraph; topic sentence, details related to the topic, examples to further explain the details, and conclusions. Our first paragraphs were directly related to their lives, favorite recess activity, favorite breakfast, and favorite dinner. Then we used what we learned from the food production unit to begin writing paragraphs about the production of raisins, strawberries, tomatoes, bread, milk, and beef. All of these began with outlines using the Step Up method with color coding, stars, and bars as memory triggers to set up a paragraph properly. We are currently working on writing rough draft paragraphs for all of the outlines.
Second graders often struggle with sentence structure, especially understanding where a sentence ends. For some students I am guiding them to build simple, but complete sentences. Others are working on combining simple sentences to make compound sentences.
The next genre will be opinion, which will be a simple addition to the basic expository paragraph.