In the second grade we view mathematics as developmental pursuit, just as we do reading and writing. We recognize that children develop mathematical understandings across a broad continuum and thus need to be challenged in a ‘Just Right’ fashion in order to continue to develop with a full and flexible understandings. It is our work to provide these challenges in our classrooms. We do so by building a work-shop model, just as we do in our literacy instruction. This workshop allows for plenty of independent practice on projects and problems designed specifically for the requisite challenges paired with small-group instruction with a teacher and a group of children facing similar challenges or making use of similar strategies in their problem solving. The workshop is built by each teacher with the guidance of a math program: Investigations along with our study of First Steps, a developmental model for how children come to understand math across all ages of school. Dawn and John are thankful to be able to work closely with Courtney Nelson, our school’s math specialist in continuing to build our workshop to meet the needs of all learners within one classroom while making use of all of the resources that surround us.
Goals & Guiding Principles
Investigations in Number, Data, and Space is a mathematics curriculum designed to engage students in the making sense of mathematical ideas. The curriculum has six major goals:
- Support students to make sense of mathematics and learn that they can be mathematical thinkers.
- Focus on computational fluency with whole numbers as a major goal of the elementary grades.
- Provide substantive work in important areas of mathematics - rational numbers, geometry, measurement, data, and early algebra - and connections among them.
- Emphasize reasoning about mathematical ideas.
- Communicate mathematics content and pedagogy to teachers.
- Engage the range of learners in understanding mathematics.
Grade 2 Fields of Study
(From First Steps in Mathematics)
Number: The ability to read, write, and understand the meaning, order, and relative magnitudes of whole and fractional numbers. This is foundational for all future mathematics and is a ‘never-ending’ process.
Operations: Building an understanding of the meaning, use, and connections between addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division.
Calculations: Choose and use a repertoire of mental, paper and calculator computational strategies for each operation, meeting needed degrees of accuracy and judging the reasonableness of the results.
Geometry: Visualize, draw and model shapes, locations and arrangements in order to predict and show the effect of transformations on them, to solve problems and to justify solutions.
Measurement: Develop confidence and proficiency in using direct and indirect measurement and estimating skills to describe, compare, evaluate, plan and construct in our shared world.
Data analysis (Probability and Statistics): Understand and use the everyday language of chance and make statements about how likely it is that an event will occur based on experience, experiments, and analysis. Collect, organize, summarize, and represent data in order to draw conclusions, taking into account data collection techniques and chance processes involved.
How parents can help with math:
You will find a list of ways below that you can help your second grader practice math skills at home this year. Please remember that these are suggestions and not requirements. Our main goal is to help all of the children discover that math is fun, accessible, and helps them understand their world. You can help us achieve this goal by making mathematical activities at home as fun and as real-world as possible.
Right now the second graders are trying to learn their addition and subtraction facts up to 20. Please help your child by practicing these basic addition and subtraction facts at home. We have included a list of some of the addition and subtraction strategies we teach the students. Playing fun math games and activities will strengthen your child’s basic skills and give your child a feeling of competence during school math instruction.
Math Activities to Try at Home:
Math Facts: We share the goal of working towards automaticity with math facts (that is addition and subtraction of digits less than 10). Through the course of 2nd grade, students should have lots of practice with math facts bringing these calculations into an automatic process by which a child sees something like 2+3 and automatically thinks 5! Practice this at home and keep us posted as you go.
Story problems with strategy sharing: This is hugely important! Embed mathematics into contextual stories, connect them to real life situations and push your child to explain how they thought about the numbers. It is especially helpful to construct these problems in a myriad of ways so that children do not trick themselves to think that every story problem is asking them to merely add 2 numbers together. See John and Dawn if you’re interested in some samples to get started. The magic is in the conversations that can happen after the calculations...don’t be tempted to rush past it.
Calculate larger numbers horizontally: When presenting higher numbers (2 and 3 digit) calculations, it is very important to not merely teach the tricks of the algorithm. Children are ready for the algorithm at different times and rushing towards it cheats the child out of the journey of building his/her understandings. Our goal with this is to always increase flexibility and fluidity so no matter how a problem comes to a child, they are ready with their understandings of numbers and operations with a variety of tools needed to solve it. Simply presenting problems horizontally, rather than vertically stacked, is a great reminder to adults that this practice is about helping children really know what is happening in a problem (not just how to get to the answer).
Find and notice math out loud from your every day world: Math is all around you. It’s in how fast you drive, how you calculate bed time, how you set the table or load the dishwasher. It’s in your baking and your making. It’s all around. As an adult, search for it, find it, and make it known to your child. You are a mathematician too and talking numbers is one way that we communicated about this world that we share.