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# Talk to me about academic expectations/assessments early in the year for 2nd grade in public school

Hey y'all,

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Here's the background. My kids are just starting this year at our local public school. They've been to a week and a half so far. Previously they were at a small hippie crunchy private school where everybody knew everybody and the teachers all knew where the kids were academically before they even started class, but the school unexpectedly folded over the summer. We were planning to make the transition away from private school to public and/or charter next year so this is just a year early on our timetable.Â

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Both our girls are pretty bright. Dd2 (7, almost 8) is a little more driven and will push herself a bit more. She's taken off with reading, for example, and is reading the 3rd Harry Potter book right now, but she still loves Junie B Jones (ugh) and consumes those like candy (good thing she can read them herself, because I won't read them to her!!). Her math skills are similar. I would think she's doing slightly above average work for a second grader, but not profoundly gifted or anything. She can do some multiplication that she has memorized (9x7=63), but is not working calculus problems in her spare time or anything.Â

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So, that's the background, my question is what should I, as a parent, expect the academic work of second grade to look like Â at the beginning of the year? We've been getting a few math worksheets coming home and a few explanations of what they will be doing and it all seems really, really easy like adding single digit numbers and pictures of 5 rocks + 4 rocks. Is this just an assessment period? That's basically what I've been thinking/hoping/telling dd2, who is eager to do something a little more challenging. The teacher is new to the school this year and taught 5th grade last year, so I have a slight concern in the back of my mind that she's underestimating at least some of the kids' abilities.Â

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The school we're in is a great school, but it does have a quite a few kids from lower economic backgrounds and a fairly large immigrant population that do not have english as a first language. The school does have a dual language spanish program so many of the hispanic kids, as well as many who are not native speakers, are in that. We came in too late to participate in that so we are in the traditional program. We're in a college town, though, and overall it's like Lake Woebegone and all the kids are above average. We do have a lot of really bright/gifted/academically-motivated kids and the schools, including ours, have a lot of different programs to serve them. I think there are 3 or 4 different programs for gifted kids in the elementary school alone.Â

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So my thought is that this is just an assessment period in the first few weeks of school and the work will start to be on a more appropriate level as the teacher starts to know what each kid can do, but because this is our first year in this school and this kind of school, and because it's the teacher's first year teaching 2nd grade I just want some reassurance that this is what's supposed to be happening at this time in the school year.

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Can somebody tell me that it's all okay?

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School got pushed back here because of the hurricane, but they had their open house yesterday and I got a chance to look through the books that DD (age 6, homeschooler going into 2nd grade) will be using. The first chapter of the math book was all review work. It was a national publisher, so I imagine that's pretty normal. It was when I was teaching, though that was some years ago. (That said, just about everything in the math book looked like skills and concepts that DD has already explored in some depth. Not sure yet how we're going to approach that issue.)

The whole first month is usually devoted to review and assessment. It's estimated that kids loose like 25 percent of what they learned the year before during the summer. That first month back is to make sure everyone is on the same page.

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What 2nd grade is going to look like can be regional. My kids 2nd grades focused on multi-digit addition/subtraction, early multiplication/division, adding/subtracting with money, early fractions/decimals, dealing with time determining how many hours between 6:45am and 10pm..... that sort of thing.Â 2nd grade is when a lot of kids take off in reading but there could still be a lot of variance in ability levels. Your DD sounds like she's at the perfect place for 2nd grade.... able to read at higher levels but still interested in the type of stories written for children her age.Â I know there were more book reports with individually selected reading material. They did a lot of autobigraphical writing. That's sort of all I remember lol.

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Personally, I'd wait it out a little. Let the teacher adapt to the new students and get an idea where everyone is. If things don't improve in a week or two, set-up a conference and find out what can be done for your child. She's sort of at thatÂ golden abilityÂ level. Advanced enough to always do well but still within the expected range for her age and so may be spared too much boredom and iscolation. I'm sure everything will be great... you may just want to keep an eye on it.

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While I think what one second grader is learning about in math should be pretty consistent no matter where you are located, the reality is as someone else pointed out...it might be "regional".

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Your school district should be able to provide you with standards/benchmarks for second grade math. If you live where I live, it might involve some teeth pulling to get this information in clear language. Â You might find it on the district website, some states also have information on the education portion of the websites.

Quote:

Originally Posted by whatsnextmomÂ

The whole first month is usually devoted to review and assessment. It's estimated that kids loose like 25 percent of what they learned the year before during the summer. That first month back is to make sure everyone is on the same page.

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What 2nd grade is going to look like can be regional. My kids 2nd grades focused on multi-digit addition/subtraction, early multiplication/division, adding/subtracting with money, early fractions/decimals, dealing with time determining how many hours between 6:45am and 10pm..... that sort of thing...

That is consistent with the summer packet that was sent home last year that had samples of what they would be doing in second grade.

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Usually schools have a "Back-to-School" night about a month into the school year where you can talk to the teacher.

i would call the school and ask the office if you can have the what they teach in 2nd grade sheet. in fact i wonder if you google it you can find it online. our distict has it but the teacher does not hand it out to parents. they do use it during PT conference.Â

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yeah the first 3 to 4 weeks is about review last grades work.Â

Yes, y'all are all right. I do have the what our district does in 2nd grade sheet somewhere and there is an open house for parents coming up next Thurs. I think it probably is just review and assessment, but I haven't been in this school before so it's all a little new to me. The math they've been doing seems more like what dd2 was doing in K or the beginning of 1st grade, but she was in a mixed 1st & 2nd grade so she may have been working slightly above a 1st grade level. I really think she's very appropriately placed in 2nd grade. She's got a Nov b-day so she is one of the older kids, but I think 2nd is right on the money for her. I just want to make sure the teacher is teaching 2nd grade and not 1st! I think it's probably just a settling in period and the teacher is seeing where all the kids are, but just wanted to make sure that was what was going on.

A lot of teachers focus more on teaching the routines and expectations during the first few weeks than on actual classwork.Â  They use that time to ease students into the work, review basics from the year before, and assess where students are at academically, but the focus is on establishing an environment where things will run mostly smoothly so more time can be spent on teaching throughout the year.Â

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That being said, the teacher may or may not differentiate the instruction for you children.Â  If you are worried about that you should ask to speak with her about it early on.Â  Some teachers and some schools don't differentiate, all kids do the same work even if it is tediously boring material they learned ages ago.Â  If your dd is very ahead in math you should probably tell the teacher by how far she is ahead.Â  In second grade here they briefly touch on multiplication towards the end of the year if they get that far in the book so she probably won't be testing that far ahead during the first few weeks.

She doesn't know much multiplication, but she has absorbed some of it from dd1 (10) working with it and she's interested in it at times. Other times she's not interested. She does have a few problems memorized like 9x7=63 and she usually gets her 10s and 1s and most of her 2s. We haven't really pushed it, though. Sometimes she will ask a multiplication related question and we'll help her think it through. Really, she's more on the level of refreshing her Â multi-digit addition and subtraction skills. She was using the standard algorithm (stacking the numbers) last year and working with simple 2 digit addition and subtraction, so the pictures of 4 gray rocks + 5 white rocks are really easy for her and start to feel "too easy" to her.

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I think it's a lot of what you're saying One_Girl â€” the teacher is establishing routines and behavior expectations. I will wait and see and hope the work gets to be a little more appropriate soon. If not I'll bring it up. I'm sure there are resources for moving up in math in our district if that were necessary, but I don't think she's really at a 3rd grade level. Maybe she's at 2.5 or something. There are 4 different gifted education programs in our schools, Nurturing and Enrichment, Gifted Education, Highly Gifted Education, and LEAP (Learning Environment for Advanced Programming). They all start at least by 3rd grade, but NE and HGE both start in K. So, I certainly think the district and school have the resources to deal with whatever my bright (but not Profoundly Gifted) kids can throw at them. I'm just hoping this particular, new-to-second-grade teacher is on track. I feel confident the school and district as a whole can deal with them fine.Â

FWIW, my 6 yo DS is in 1st grade, and that is exactly what he is getting - 4 rocks plus 5 rocks pictures, and some with the actual numbers, but most of them adding up no more than 10. It is too simple, but it is review I think, so the teacher can get an idea of where everyone is. Which I think is fair, because in our case I would guess that my DS math is ahead, but reading is behind.Â

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I think it is a catch-22 though. Some of the homework assignments here are finish at your own pace, and then get the next level assignment. But my DS doesn't do them, not because he can't, but because he thinks it is boring. And I don't want to force him, because then he will get the idea that homework is a boring chore. But he will never get to something more age appropriate at this pace! Will your DD be given homework that she can speed through, then get more advanced works, or does everyone get the same thing at the same time?

I'm pretty sure right now everybody is getting the same homework. It may be they will differentiate after they are able to see where everyone stands.

We are in a similar setting: great school district with diverse demographics.

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It may differ regionally, but your daughter sounds well past where my son (same age/ grade, great decoding, but barely reading chapter books) is at and they said he was testing at an end of second grade level at the end of first grade.Â

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Yeah, she may be a little more ahead in reading, but I don't think her math skillz are that far above what should be expected for a second grader. I mean, she would be challenged with some two or certainly three digit addition or subtraction. That regrouping (carrying) thing is a new skill for her and she's not really at a mastery level with that, but she was exploring it at the end of last year. She's got adding single digit numbers down pretty solid, though, and is ready to work on two and three digit problems.

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She goes on tears on the reading. Some days she will be all into it and wanting to read all the time and sometimes she doesn't have much time for it. She really started the Harry Potter books to keep up with big sis, but she does enjoy them. I think they are about at the top of her comfort zone and are a bit of a challenge for her. Junie B Jones is pretty easy for her, but she thinks they're hilarious! So not my fave!

Our school does Accelerated Reader where each book in the program has an assigned reading level and a quiz to go with it, in addition to what is part of the curriculum. Ds reads those books/does AR quizzes during DEAR (drop everything and read) time and other free time. For his homework reading we have him read more challenging (and non-Captain Underpants) material--his school tests their reading level twice a year, and last year (1st grade) he was reading at a mid-third grade level. He checks out whatever books he likes from the school library and when we go to the library in the summer (it's too out of the way to go during the school year).

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Ds always has books with him, I find them in the bathroom, at least 3 or 4 in his bed, in his backpack, in the car... When his recreational reading was interfering with class time last year and we were trying to keep home books at home, we and the teacher would find books hidden in his sweater! I don't think his school does official differentiation for math and science until 4th grade, but they did some restructuring for this year so that may have changed; and things like the Language Arts Fair and the Science Fair they do based on their ability, whatever that is. Though his math skills are right on grade level at this point, I have a feeling that once he really "gets" math the way he understands other things, his ability here will take off.

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I agree with a pp that you should check your district/school website for the 2nd grade curriculum (our regular ps have this on their website); she has to teach to that.

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Are you permanently excluded from the dual-language program, or only for this year?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by beanmaÂ

Â Some days she will be all into it and wanting to read all the time and sometimes she doesn't have much time for it.

is she like this just about reading or other things too? that is dd's personality. when she is into something she is REALLY into it for a few days and then she takes a break and then goes back to her intensity. she is not a child who has her hands in many pies at the same time. instead she has her hand in one pie for a long time and then moves on to another one.Â

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Â Junie B Jones is pretty easy for her, but she thinks they're hilarious! So not my fave!

Do you know how she is reading them? when dd was into them for a wee bit along with her friends i found they really enjoyed it because they were correcting the mistakes amongst themselves.Â
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At our school, they have mini conferences in the first week. Â It is 15 minutes to see a broad overview of the year and time for you to tell the teacher about your kid. Â It is helpful to get to know who is going to be caring for your kid while they are away from home. Â I would just request a meeting with the teacher after school and tell her why you want to meet in advance so she can be prepared. Â

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We are in a college town, and your school sounds very similar on the surface to my dc's. Â Currently, they use a program called Everyday math. Â I know the teachers do timed tests of basics periodically with the kids to see where they are at. Â With reading, they do Dibels to assess, and try to place them in an appropriate reading group for their ability. Â The only homework dd has in 2nd so far is reading Â 20 minutes or being read to. Â This does not seem like homework to dd as she is an avid reader. Â One of the ways they learn to is through integrated lessons which include more than one subject. Â When ds was in 2nd, the big integrated subject/topic was the human body, and I think it will be the same for dd. Â Last year in 1st grade the large subject was the rain forest. Â There classroom has stations, and they work at different stations through out the day, such as they writing, reading, etc. They really work at their own pace as long as they are keeping up or advanced; last year dd was reading and doing 2nd grade math while in 1st. Â Socially, she is in the right grade and she is also a Nov. birthday. Â

Emmeline, the dual language program starts in K, but you can join in 1st. After that you're out of luck, I believe, but it's not really a big deal to us. Dd1 had significant anxiety issues when she was younger and we went the small private school route to ease her into a school environment and as the girls are very close enrolled dd2 there, too for K & 1. They do take Spanish, but aren't in the dual language or immersion programs.Â

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Meemee, she just thinks Junie B is funny and thinks the way she talks is funny. I've been able to redirect her to some other Â similar books that I think are less egregious, but I don't really mind if she reads them as long as I don't have to, or never have to listen to one in the car again as long as I live! (Once was enough!!)

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melissa17s, we do have an "open house" to discuss the curriculum, etc, this Thurs so hopefully I'll find out a little bit more then. If not I'll see if I can schedule a conference. I like the units approach. Not sure if we do that or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beanmaÂ
Meemee, she just thinks Junie B is funny and thinks the way she talks is funny. I've been able to redirect her to some other Â similar books that I think are less egregious, but I don't really mind if she reads them as long as I don't have to, or never have to listen to one in the car again as long as I live! (Once was enough!!)

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I have this problem with Captain Underpants .

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Quote:
Originally Posted by beanmaÂ
Meemee, she just thinks Junie B is funny and thinks the way she talks is funny. I've been able to redirect her to some other Â similar books that I think are less egregious, but I don't really mind if she reads them as long as I don't have to, or never have to listen to one in the car again as long as I live! (Once was enough!!)

Got the same thing with the same books here at our house.Â  Dd (almost 7, just starting grade 2) is a little too crazy about them.Â  I catch the odd bit of "Junie-speak" from her once in a while.... (argh!)

pianojazzgirl, I can recommend instead of Junie B, but also series and also about girls and also funny, the following: Ivy & Bean, Clementine, Just Grace, and Judy Moody. (Although I don't find Judy Moody quite as entertaining for me as the others, it's still definitely a step up from Junie B.)Â

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hth!!

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