Second Grade

How does learning about other cultures help you respect and understand people around the world?   This is an essential question that second graders consider while studying people and places from their immediate region and around the globe.  Across the curriculum, second graders study places in our region, like the Chesapeake Bay, as well as countries outside our region: Brazil and Japan. In reading, composition, art, music, and social studies, students immerse themselves in appreciating the commonalities and differences between their own experiences and those of people in other cultures. Guest presenters help students expand their knowledge, and field trips, such as a visit to the Bay, develop a first-hand understanding of the area. Students study the immediate watershed to see how human activity in one place affects others. Additionally, they think globally by considering how actions here can impact places outside our region. These lessons are further enriched through hands-on projects, which include building models of various Brazilian homes and experimenting with designing ikebana, a form of Japanese flower arranging.  

List of 10 items.

  • Reading/Language Arts

    Building on work in kindergarten and first grades, students refine reading skills and focus on higher-order comprehension such as making inferences and drawing conclusions. All second grade teachers are trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach and explicitly teach phonics patterns following a phonics sequence. In addition, we devote time to growing reading comprehension skills while continuing to nourish a love of literature through exposure to books from a wide range of genres and cultures. Comprehension is enhanced through class discussion and written responses to literature. Students begin to notice author's craft by exploring the patterns in books in a series and the elements of mystery writing. Both the book series and mystery units are often favorites, especially when readers get hooked by a series and can't wait to pick up the next book. In Writing Workshop, students study mentor texts in a variety of genres and create a yearlong portfolio of their own work. Students compose personal narratives, fictional stories, persuasive essays, poetry, and research reports. As part of the writing process, second graders study and apply grammar and punctuation. Expanding vocabulary is a focus in both reading and writing throughout the year.
  • Math

    In second grade, math becomes a way to solve problems. Studying place value, patterns, and equations, as well as money, time, and data sets, students continue to develop as mathematicians. Visual models, such as bead racks, open number lines, and base 10 area pieces support students’ move from concrete representation to the more abstract in mathematics. Through whole and small group instruction and math games, second graders continue to practice fundamental computational skills in addition and subtraction. With a solid foundation in these concepts, students demonstrate their understanding through solving multi-step, open-ended problems. 
  • Social Studies

    In second grade, students study our region and then expand to other cultures around the world. Looking specifically at the Chesapeake Bay, second graders explore the geography of the Bay as well as how it has shaped the cultures that have lived around it. By visiting rivers and streams in the watershed, they learn how water from the Bethesda area ultimately reaches the Bay. Second graders also visit the Bay to develop a first-hand understanding of the area. As they study other cultures around the world, students cast a wide net, exploring, for instance, a country's geography, art, music, history, government, religion, and economy. They are immersed in different aspects of the countries: While studying Brazil, students learn about the rainforest and the impact of its loss, and while studying Japan, students write in haiku form, study Japanese vocabulary words, and design their own version of a traditional Japanese home.
  • Science

    Second grade marks the first time that students maintain a science journal where they collect their observations and notes during the year, and these journals continue to be an integral part of the science curriculum through eighth grade. During the Simple Machines Unit, second graders study levers, pulleys, ramps, and gears to explore measurement and data analysis as they develop a conceptual understanding of how these machines make work easier. Students also learn about light and color, exploring concepts such as refraction, reflection, and other properties of light through hands-on activities with mirrors, prisms, and lights. During the Ecology Unit, second graders study two distinct habitats on Norwood’s campus: the eastern woodland and a marsh wetland. They learn about food webs and the importance of plants. They grow and observe plants and water-cycle terrariums. They also take local field trips to the woodlands and marsh and discuss the similarities and differences in these two habitats.
  • Spanish

    The second grade Spanish program is closely tied in to the social studies curriculum. The students learn to name and locate the continents, oceans, and Spanish-speaking countries, particularly those in South America. By focusing on the animals of South America, the children learn plurals, definite and indefinite articles, action verbs, gender agreement, and adjectives as they describe the physical traits of the animals, what they eat, and their habitats. The students write and illustrate their own class version of the story Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and share the book with parents and classmates.
  • Art

    In the Lower School, the art curriculum enables students to gain confidence, knowledge, experience, and appreciation for a wide variety of art ideas and materials. Throughout their experiences in art class, students are introduced to a sequential program which emphasizes process while exposing them to the elements of art. Media covered include drawing, painting, ceramics, collage, sculpture, and printmaking. As students develop as artists, teachers emphasize the development of personal expression, imagination, curiosity, and careful observation. Students apply these concepts and techniques while making connections, problem solving, and developing self-confidence and their personal artistic voice.
  • Music

    The Second Grade music program is devoted to instilling a joyful sense of music and music making in every child. The goal is to develop students’ aesthetic sensibilities by increasing musical understanding through activities involving performing, listening, and creating. In addition to learning increasingly musically sophisticated chants and songs (many from a multicultural folk repertoire), Second Graders enthusiastically partake in activities involving playing rhythm instruments, playing xylophones, figuring out mystery songs (music reading), dancing/movement, dramatization, and improvisation on the tone bells. In addition, Second Graders enjoy opportunities for composing original music, sharing personal favorite recordings with the rest of the class, and performing in both the LS Winter Concert and a staged spring musical program based on the culture of either Japan or Ghana.
  • Physical Education

    In the Lower School, students are introduced to basic loco-motor skills and activities that develop hand-eye and hand-foot coordination, spatial awareness, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Each year builds on the skills, games, and experiences from the previous year. Going beyond the games and activities, teachers process the experiences with students individually and in groups, asking questions like, “Can a self-win also be a team win?” and “What does it mean to be a good sport?” In the lower grades, students learn the mental and physical foundations that will help them succeed in later experiences on and off the field of play.
  • Library & Technology

    Second graders are taught and able to demonstrate a basic understanding of the Dewey Decimal System. They start doing author studies, learning about visual literacy through a study of Caldecott award winning books, and they research countries and animals for class projects. The students engage in research using both print and online resources. Additionally, they continue to explore technology using iPad apps to support language arts and math studies.
  • Life Skills

    As part of our commitment to the whole child, Norwood School’s Life Skills Program introduces students to age-appropriate information about personal and community health and well-being that will help them lead happy, healthy lives and make positive contributions to their community from early childhood through adolescence and beyond. Some of the topics for lower school students include friendships, self-esteem, being inclusive, bullying, conflict resolution, peer pressure, responding to teasing, and safety. At all ages, the program establishes skills and strategies for lifelong well-being and promotes caring for the well-being of others. Throughout the program, teachers emphasize the important role students’ own family members play in guiding goal-setting, problem-solving and decision-making.
A Week in the Life of a Norwood Second Grader

Each morning starts with a community gathering to focus on the value of the month and to prepare for the day ahead. Second graders then enjoy a balanced schedule combining writing, PE, reading, recess, math, social studies, science, Spanish, music, art, and library.

Homeroom Teachers

List of 4 members.

  • Photo of Alleyne Aiken

    Allie Aiken 

    Second Grade Homeroom Teacher
    Spelman College - B.A.
  • Photo of Emily Bramowitz

    Emily Bramowitz 

    Second Grade Homeroom Teacher
    Duke University - B.A.
    Bank Street College of Education - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Cathy McCoy

    Cathy McCoy 

    Second Grade Homeroom Teacher
    University of Maryland - B.S.
    George Washington University - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Lara Salyer

    Lara Salyer 

    Second Grade Homeroom Teacher
    Mount St. Mary's University - B.A.


  • Team Teaching
  • Child-centered Classrooms
  • Hands-on Learning
  • Writing Workshop
  • Book Publishing Parties
  • Cultures Around the World
  • Cereal Drive for Manna Food Center
  • Chesapeake Bay Animal Research Reports
  • Constructing Brazilian Homes
  • Trip to U.S. Botanic Gardens
  • Winter Concert
  • Spring Performance
  • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
  • Norwood Air Flights to Brazil, Ghana, and Japan
Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.