Second Grade

Second grade is a truly exciting year with a lot of growth, milestones, and dynamic experiences. From communities to insects to food groups to Noah’s Ark – we learn much about the world around us and our place in it. Through songs, literature, hands-on projects, and minds-on field trips, second graders gain a better understanding of themselves, each other, their Jewish heritage, and their role in the community. Using an integrated learning approach in both General Studies and Jewish Studies, teachers work together to create individualized and balanced learning opportunities for each and every child.

2nd grade akiva schoolThroughout the year, students research, discuss, defend, and present about individual and group topics with a focus on 21st Century technology and effective public speaking skills. Supported and repeated practice as expert presenters on engaging topics allows students to gain confidence and pride in being capable leaders in their school community, even at a young age. Akiva second graders leave the year with a high sense of self-worth, a commitment to responsibility for actions and choices, and wonderment at their achievements and potential. Most of all, they are compassionate learners and friends who find a home away from home in Akiva School.


The program Developed by the University of Chicago’s math department, Everyday Math is a spiral curriculum that introduces and reintroduces concepts throughout the entire year. Students will explore addition and subtraction strategies (doubles, going through tens); money; 2-D and 3-D shapes; adding three or more numbers together; multiplication and division with arrays, patterns, fractions, measurement; and place value with decimals. The Everyday Math program also includes games for students to play in order to reinforce math concepts. The  Investigations curriculum will be used to supplement our Math lessons with hands-on explorations, as well as multi-step word problems and challenges for early-finishers and enrichment. Some of the homework will be differentiated  although the purpose of Math homework will largely be for review purposes.

The program will be supplemented with pretests so that each student’s strengths and areas for growth can be quickly identified. placing Emphasis will be placed on finding real-life scenarios in which students can practice mastering math skills. This is often referred to as  – putting clothes on the numbers because a 5 is not just a 5; rather, it refers to 5 people or 5 cookies or 5 feet.   Suddenly 5 becomes something tangible that we can imagine instead of an abstract number that we need to manipulate into an answer. At Akiva, we strive to make Math a tangible, purposeful, useful, and exciting part of both the school day and the students’ lives in general.

Based on observed differences in strengths and needs in the class,  a small portion of the Math block will be conducted in small groups that may change throughout the year. Groupings will be based on frequent evaluation of the student’s progress towards mastery of the content at hand. A student might change groups because s/he may need additional help in one concept, but excel in another. Students will also have a chance to work in mixed-ability groups on projects, games, and challenges.

Another portion of the Math block will be spent in whole group discussion of strategies that students use to solve math problems related to the concept at hand. Students of all levels of abilities and understandings will get a chance to go up in front of the class and explain their thinking. Students are expected to be able to explain someone else’s thinking after it has been presented. Research has shown that this is an excellent way to engage learners of all skill levels, and that the students are more likely to adopt more effective and efficient strategies through this format of open discourse among peers. It really challenges students to think like a math strategist instead of plugging numbers into algorithms they don’t understand. Plus, all children LOVE playing – teacher – for a bit!


In Second Grade, the focus in Literacy gradually moves from decoding words fluently to deeper comprehension of more complex texts. There is a lot of growth expected of your second grader in Literacy, and we will be very busy reading, thinking, and discussing!

At Step Up day last year, I told your children that I only read children’s books – I am very excited to share some of my favorites with them! Through frequent read alouds and mini-lessons, carefully chosen books will be used as mentor texts to show how literacy, comprehension, and language arts concepts appear in real literature and non-fiction texts. The class will have discussions about characters, themes, genres, story elements, and messages related to the texts. Discussions will be used to reinforce both academic and social concepts.

Three days a week, small group guided reading instruction will be conducted, using leveled readers from the Literacy By Design program, as well as other leveled text from a database that I have created. Texts are chosen based on students’ interests, as well as their reading level;  the guided reading lessons are structured based on the student’s, small group’s, and whole class’ needs. Guided reading allows for differentiated instruction, ensuring that students receive the individual attention they need for reading success and advancement. With a focus on comprehension, tools to build reading stamina, and ongoing assessment to inform instruction, guided reading allows students to grow as thoughtful and accomplished readers. Concepts from the whole group mini-lessons will be revisited in these groups. Groups may change as each student progresses at his/her own pace.

For spelling, we will be using both word sorts and sight words to grow the students’ understanding of spelling patterns and word recognition. Word sorts will be differentiated based on pretests, and students will spend a full week with each sort to familiarize themselves with the spelling features through activities at home and at school. Sight word work will also be based on pretests of the students’ ability to both read and spell the words.  The entire class will work with the same sets of sight words. Once the class has spent a week with the sight words, there will be a quick assessment at the end of each week to check for mastery. After that, they will be alphabetized on our class Word Wall. Some students may choose to challenge themselves with additional tricky words from their reading or interests which they may log in their personal dictionaries, but the sight words on the Word Wall will be the same set for the whole class; the entire class will be responsible for reading and spelling these words correctly at all times.

Handwriting will be taught using the Handwriting Without Tears program. Research supports the active teaching of handwriting, and recent findings demonstrate that writing by hand improves creative writing skills and fine motor skills. Additional activities will be used with students who need to build up their fine and motor muscles.

Throughout the year, students will participate in the Junior Great Books  series. Periodically, students will participate in an open-ended discussion about various aspects of the story. This program is an exciting addition to our curriculum because it promises meaty and in depth comprehension while allowing a forum for multiple views and thoughts. This is some great stuff!

In March, students will participate in Literature Circles, where they read books on their reading level in small groups and discuss the books. The students will also be responsible for rotating discussion roles and for additional creative response projects about the books. The students love that they can read longer chapter books and the independence they have in choosing their response projects.

Writer’s Workshop

Second Graders will participate in Writer’s Workshop. This approach centers on getting students actively involved in the writing process daily. Using the program Units of Study for Primary Writing, a Yearlong Curriculum, developed by leading writing expert Lucy Calkins, we aim to foster increased independence in writing. Students will engage in a short mini-lesson each day that focuses on a writing strategy, and will spend the next thirty minutes writing. During this time, they may have the opportunity to confer with their teacher, check in with a partner, and share written stories with the class. They will be able to create stories at their own pace, which frequent feedback from teachers and peers. We will have mini-lessons on the 6+1 Traits of Writing developed by Ruth Culham; these will provide support to build students’ use of ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation. The program guides students through the different stages of the writing process “from idea, to draft, to revision, to publishing“ and through a variety of styles and genres. I already have a special section of our classroom library dedicated to the published books our class will produce!

Social Studies

The Social Studies Alive: My Community program is filled with interactive projects, educational songs, and important concepts about communities. There are interactive and hands-on activities that take students step by step to a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of people in their communities. One key theme in the program is the interconnectedness of all members in a community, which creates a great parallel to our own classroom community with its own roles and interconnectedness.


Akiva is excited to continue with the inquiry-based FOSS Science curriculum. The second grade units are Solids and Liquids; Sand, Silt, and Pebbles; and Insects. We look forward to fostering budding scientists through this curriculum “the students have already been asking about the insects! We will have a field trip to a quarry for our Sand, Silt, and Pebbles unit, as well as examine actual rock, sand, and soil samples from my summer in Israel. An entomologist will be our guest speaker for our three-month-long Insects unit.

Second Step

Our second graders have already shown their ability to empathize and be considerate of others. This bully intervention program uses images, videos, and role playing to encourage students to be more empathetic of others and to be aware of cues about other’s emotions.


Second grade students have PE twice a week. They will learn various skills through games and activities. Students will begin the year working on team challenges, then move onto hand-eye and foot-eye coordination activities, including Tinikling!

Ivrit and Judaics

In the 1st-4th grades at Akiva, our teachers use the Tal Am curriculum for Ivrit and Judaics. It is a program developed in Canada and Israel that was created based on years of research on the principles of language development and learning patters. The goal of the program at Akiva is to develop children that are literate in the Hebrew language and equipped with the knowledge and skills to inspire informed Jewish living.

Students in the classroom are surrounded in a stimulus rich environment. Knowledge is acquired through a variety of activities using the five senses, including stories, songs, visual aids, and games. Our students develop their Hebrew and heritage literacy in a gradual, spiraled process each year that builds new ideas and concepts onto an expanding foundation of knowledge.

In second grade, the children are introduced to the year’s theme: Daily Life, – It is Good in the Classroom and at Home – Tov Bakita Ve Babait. The students get to know their fellow students through activities performed in class which extending to their home environment. (Much of these activities focus on vocabulary related to verbs). The Tov Babayit (at home) component deals with the daily routines in the home concerning clothing, cleanliness, and food. For this year, the students continue their learning of the present tense and are exposed to the past tense.

In Judaics, the students learn first four Parashiot of Sefer Bereshit (The Book of Genesis), as they take their first steps in the development of biblical literacy and the acquisition of Biblical Hebrew. In addition to this, our students prepare for the major Jewish holidays. The 4 units in this program explore the biblical and/or historical background of the holiday, as well as its rituals and customs, through stories, songs, and experiential learning in Hebrew.  Second graders are responsible for teaching and leading the school in the celebration of Sukkot.


The art program at Akiva is presented to students using the Discipline-Based Arts Education approach. DBAE includes four disciplines: arts production, arts history and culture, criticism, and aesthetics. An introduction to the use of various materials concerning both two and three dimensional art will be implemented as well as an appreciation and understanding for various historic and contemporary artists. Students will be exposed to a broad scale of exciting projects appropriate for each grade level.

Library and Technology

The Library program at Akiva is based on the Standards for the 21st Century Learner created by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). The four main standards are that learners use skills, resources, and tools to: (1) Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge; (2) Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge; (3) Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society; and (4) Pursue personal and aesthetic growth. Additionally, in the Technology classes, students will learn computer basics (hardware, software, typing) as well as databases, the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), Web 2.0 tools, and Internet safety.

Signature Projects

  • Sukkot Assembly
  • Black History Month PowerPoint Presentations
  • Supermarket Trip
  • Social Studies Fair
  • Insect Creation Project

Field Trips and Guest Speakers

  • Quarry – This coincides with our Sand, Silt, and Pebbles Science unit, and will give students a deeper understanding on Nashville’s own rocks.
  • Performance at Nashville Children’s Theater.  This is a joint field trip with First Grade in February.
  • A Trip to the Supermarket – This is a interdisciplinary field trip that allows students to practice being informed shoppers (Social Studies), select the right number of items using addition and multiplication (Math), pay for their goods (Math), and use Hebrew names for the items they purchase (Jewish Studies). The kids actually get to spend cash! (We will need many volunteers for this one though.)
  • Insect Expert – Victoria Cohen-Crumpton, a biologist and entomologist, will be coming in to discuss insects during our Science Insect unit.
  • Second Grade Picnic – students will have a picnic at the end of the year to celebrate their growth. We will try to speak only in Hebrew and revisit food groups and summer safety, as well as play some Israeli games and enjoy some sunshine!

Classroom Policies And Procedures

In second grade, the students will have one homework folder for both General Studies and Jewish Studies. This should be checked each night for work and notes. Any notes for teachers may be put in here as well. Students also have a reading log in which they will record all the reading they do. For the beginning of the year, only 10 minutes Monday-Thursday are required; however, more than that is always encouraged! Required reading time will increase as the year progresses.

Students have been learning various musical cues in the classroom. There is a short music clip for coming to the rug, for lining up, for clean up time, and for going home. The students are already very fond of the songs, and it gives my voice a break from giving direction as often.


Our goals for the second grade class are to foster independence, a sense of consideration for others, and understanding. The Responsive Classroom procedures that emphasize cooperation, respect, and responsibility through student-created and student-agreed-upon sources of structure will be implemented. The students will create their own rules, their own classroom contract, and their own logical consequences for misconduct.

Logical consequences are not punishments, but rather a way to redirect misbehavior into positive actions that have the least amount of classroom disruption for all students. Logical consequences come in three forms:

  • You Break It, You Fix It- If students are observed mistreating property, an authoritative figure, or peer, they must find appropriate methods to mend the situations immediately.
  • Lose a Privilege- If it appears that students are having difficulties using materials or participating with others, they will not be able to use the materials or will have to work alone. The teacher will explain that the student can demonstrate that they are responsible enough to regain the privilege at a later date.
  • Take a Break- If students are having difficult times focusing or cooperating, or if they are being distracting to others, they may have to go sit in a quiet corner of the class library until they are ready to come back and participate productively. Take a break is not a punishment or a time out, but rather an opportunity for the students to regain control of their actions and emotions. Students may also request time alone if they need to recompose themselves; this is a great way to help them self-regulate their behavior in a non-disruptive and safe way. In our class, we read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. In that story, Alexander is having a bad day (obviously!) and periodically remarks that he wishes he could go away to Australia. When the class discussed options of what we could do if we were having a bad day, we said that someone could go to a quiet place, and one student said that they could stand on the part of the map of the world rug with Australia! We call taking a break – Going to Australia – so students can take a vacation from the situation.

Akiva and the second grade team maintain a firm anti-bullying policy. Bullying behavior and gateway behavior will not be tolerated. As soon as this is observed, it will be dealt with in a direct, firm, and matter-of-fact manner. Students will understand that it is not behavior that is allowed, that they need to stop it immediately, and, if necessary, they need to fix what they broke in the relationship with the other student(s) involved. Parents will be informed of this behavior and we will work with the families to educate the students about how to interact with others appropriately. Please do not hesitate to tell either of us about specific bullying or gateway behavior that you suspect or hear about from your child so we can make sure all the students in our class and at this school are happy to be here and treat each other with kindness and respect.

Second Grade Daily Schedule

  • 7:30-7:55 Homeroom
  • 7:55-8:05 Morning Assembly
  • 8:05-8:30 T’filah
  • 8:30-11:30 General Studies
  • 11:30-12:00 Recess
  • 12:00-12:30 Lunch (Multi-Purpose Room every day, except mixed Lunch Groups on Wed.)
  • 12:30-1:50 Hebrew and Judaic Studies
  • 1:50-2:30 Specials
  • 2:30-3:20 General Studies
  • 3:20-3:30 Dismissal

Contact Information

The best and most effective way to contact us is through email. If you would like to communicate by phone, please email and let us know an appropriate time and phone number to reach you, or you may call the office. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any concerns or comments.

Ellen Cloyd