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Need help from parents of 1st and 2nd graders

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My friend and I are dismayed by the lack of rigor in our second-graders' curriculum and are planning to go to the school board meeting on Feb 26th to complain about it. I showed my daughter's 2nd MP portfolio to friends with first graders, and they felt it was very similar to what their first graders were doing, so my friend and I decided to gather some ammunition. This is where I need help:

 

Part 1: Can you tell me about your child's curriculum and what kind of work is done? 

  • What grade is it?
  • What region of the United States are you in? (For argument's sake, I think US responses would be most helpful)
  • What kind completed work comes home? 
  • What is your sense of the curriculum--what your child does all day--in terms of math, lang. arts, science, social studies, etc.? 
  • How much of the work seems to be worksheets?
  • Are there differentiated reading or math groups for kids working at different levels? 
  • What kind of writing are they doing? (For what subjects? Sentences? Paragraphs? Fill in the blanks? Sentence starters, where the teacher provides the first part of the sentence? Essays? Reports? Creative writing?)

 

Part 2: Can you provide me with some samples? If you have samples you'd be willing to share, PM me, and we can figure out how you can take a picture and email them to me. I would remove your child's name, but would share your region or district. 

 

Thank you so much for helping out!

post #2 of 15

Second grade has always been a lot like first grade. It isn't until 3rd grade that you see a shift in how the kids are taught. K/1st.2nd are considered the "learning to read" years and 3rd after considered the "reading to learn" years. Obviously, there is a wide range of abilities but 2nd grade is set-up for kids who are still working towards true fluency. I'll note that our district isn't big on worksheets period so there were never a ton in any grade.

 

It's been several years and my kids experiences were atypical in a lot of ways so not sure what I share will help much. I do remember a lot of journal writing.... draw a picture, write a paragraph about it. There were spelling lists that were differentiated for ability and were basically plugging through the "must know" curriculum words with a couple relevant vocab words in the mix. There were reading groups based on ability ranging from emergent readers to fluent chapter book readers.

 

In math, addition and subtraction continued with larger numbers and regrouping. There was some early multiplication but still more in terms of skip counting and working with groups of numbers instead of worksheets with multiplication problems. They learned about fractions and decimals as units but weren't doing any arithmetic with them yet. They learned a lot about measuring too.

 

2nd grade is a big geography year in our district though they are still focused largely on the individuals history.... personal timelines, where their own family comes from, ect.. They do learn about basic government and individuals who have made a difference in our society (Lincoln, Sitting Bull, Madame Curie, Einstein.) There were reports done on their choice or notable figure.

 

All I remember about science was that it was still a little of everything... biology, physics, chemistry, earth. Can't give you a lot of details on that.

 

On paper, it "looks" different from 1st but really, it didn't feel much different. They just went farther with what was introduced in 1st. 3rd grade was the big shift.

post #3 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by staceychev View Post

My friend and I are dismayed by the lack of rigor in our second-graders' curriculum and are planning to go to the school board meeting on Feb 26th to complain about it. I showed my daughter's 2nd MP portfolio to friends with first graders, and they felt it was very similar to what their first graders were doing, so my friend and I decided to gather some ammunition. This is where I need help:

 

Part 1: Can you tell me about your child's curriculum and what kind of work is done? 

  • What grade is it?
  • What region of the United States are you in? (For argument's sake, I think US responses would be most helpful)
  • What kind completed work comes home? 
  • What is your sense of the curriculum--what your child does all day--in terms of math, lang. arts, science, social studies, etc.? 
  • How much of the work seems to be worksheets?
  • Are there differentiated reading or math groups for kids working at different levels? 
  • What kind of writing are they doing? (For what subjects? Sentences? Paragraphs? Fill in the blanks? Sentence starters, where the teacher provides the first part of the sentence? Essays? Reports? Creative writing?)

 

Part 2: Can you provide me with some samples? If you have samples you'd be willing to share, PM me, and we can figure out how you can take a picture and email them to me. I would remove your child's name, but would share your region or district. 

 

Thank you so much for helping out!

 

 

2nd grade  : Midwest

 

Worksheets, projects, journals, published (finished stories) pieces, tests, come home.

 

I like most of the curriculum.

 

They use Everyday Math and supplement with Xtramath/Mad Minutes. It works because my DDs teacher uses the challenge portions of EM as needed. 

 

They are currently doing doubles    2-4-8-16-32-64-128-256 or starting from a number and double it 5 times  5, 10, 20, 40, 80  or 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96 (this was last nights homework). Then adding of 4-5 single digit numbers (5+4+8+3= ) mentally or three two digit numbers (17 + 13+22= ) - mentally if they can! (last weeks homework) They also have 45+ ____= 77  as simple algebraic problems and some simple multiplication/division 3x2 = 6  or 6/2= 3 (mostly 2, 10, 5, 4, 0, and 1 facts).  They have done subtraction with regrouping of two digit numbers and subtraction of 3/4 digit without regrouping. Lots and lots of word or story problems as well as graphs. They have learned to add/subtract money sums and can/did play store with coins/stuff. Also equvilants of money--- 3 quarter is the same as ________. Or find three ways to make $1.20.

It is differentiated twice a week for enrichment/practice/or reteaching.

 

Reading is guided reading groups with levels from early 1st to 3rd/early 4th grade levels. They read to self/partner/teacher and do both teacher selected and self selected books. They often do reflections on what they read about character development, plot, theme, etc. They use the Fountas-Pinnell for leveling & assessment. A few issues with high reading groups being left to their own devices or not working with the teacher as much.

 

Writing is also individualized. They do a published piece every few weeks. They have written a small moment story, non-fiction book with index/glossary, a review, poetry, and a problem/solution story. Expectations are individualized within grade framework and student level. Most of the student work for writing seems to be 4-8+ pages when it is a story or book format. Right now they are working on the reviews and trying to limit it to 1 page and three paragraphs.

 

Spelling is two tiered. There is standard spelling for grade (her, fur, part, never, first, etc) and the next tier  ( swerve,course, dessert, absurd, bargain, exercise,etc).

 

Science/Social Studies is hands on mostly and journaling through pictures/writing and experiments. Same level for everyone, but very very open ended for all students. They have studied Ellis Island  (did a simulation), communities (did a tour of the city), family history (we made a family tree & studied ethnic roots), the ear, and life cycles.

 

 For the most part, it is not review of 1st (at least in our area and for our kids) except the reading. The format was the same last year, but the materials were different for everything (different subjects, assignments, words, etc) or a quick review and then build on last year. I dont know if it is a better teacher/student match or my DDs have matured or something else, but they are enjoying 2nd grade more than 1st.

 

I am very glad they differentiate- or we might have more concerns. Both my DDs have weak/strong areas that have benefitted from differentiation.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks to both of you! Your input is really helpful. I had people tell me on another forum that they found that school boards get defensive when being compared to other districts, so I may not end up doing that. I am, however, grateful for any comparisons!

 

Our math sounds similar, KC, but DD definitely doesn't do as much writing. There may be reading groups but DD isn't in one: teacher has apologized to me twice that she hasn't put her in a reading group yet, once before Thanksgiving and once last week, but nothing has changed. 

post #5 of 15
As whatnextmom indicated, 2nd is considered a consolidation year where they try to make those 1st grade skills very much routine and solid. You will see a lot of similarity.

A better approach would be to check your state standards to see how things line up. I have not had good luck with talking to school boards about this kind of thing. They generally are more of a financial oversight to the district, and curricular matters are handled by curricular specialists. If you are concerned, you might learn more by asking for a meeting with the teacher, then principal, followed up with a visit with the curriculum specialists. This is particularly useful when you start to see that the education does not fit your child's individual needs.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

If you are concerned, you might learn more by asking for a meeting with the teacher, then principal, followed up with a visit with the curriculum specialists. This is particularly useful when you start to see that the education does not fit your child's individual needs.

 

Unfortunately, I've been talking to the principal since last year. I've met with last year's teacher and with this year's teacher. It's a very small PK-8 school, with one person serving as both principal and superintendent, and no curriculum person as far as I can gauge. I'm not the only parent who has been on the hamster wheel of fruitless conversations, which is why we were thinking the school board route would be justified. 

 

Thank you so much for your responses, all of you. It's been really valuable to hear! 

post #7 of 15
I would maybe go in with an idea ir expectation of what you would like and include solutions- be it specific curriculum, parent volunteering to help small group work, a clear format on what curriculum is used and why,etc.

If you have a plan or expectation laid out rather than a more vague dissatisfaction- there is more likely an opportunity to change.

Can you visit other schools or districts to get an idea of expectations, workload ,and format?

Do you expect 3rd to be different? Do you have other schooling options?
post #8 of 15

How does your schools test scores compare to schools with similar demographics in your state? That is the sort of thing that school boards can relate to easily.

 

I'm a teachers assistant in a first grade class during reading and writing times. My view of the level of work completed is skewed because I'm with the lowest performers in the room.

 

For reading, there is a group lesson covering a reading strategy and is something that is helpful to kids with various reading levels.

 

Then there is "read to self" time. Each child has a box of books specifically chosen for them based on their current reading level, and then they get what it read from within their box. So each child is working right on their own level but with a feeling a choice. There is also a "read to friend" time when kids partner up and read aloud to each other and help each other also using books from their own box. The teacher spends these times working in small groups with specific students or working one on one to with a student to see exactly where they are.

 

The writing practice includes a variety of activities and sometimes worksheets that are organizers for their thoughts. For example, last week they had a worksheet that had a place for them to write their favorite thing to do during recess, and then 3 boxes for them to write 3 great things about this activity. The goal was to come up with 3 details for one main idea, which was a challenge for them. Once they had their sheet approved, the got a second sheet with room to write a simple paragraph using their worksheet as a foundation for 4 sentences. There was room to draw a picture to go along with it, and the big goal was a capitol at the beginning and a period at the end of every sentence. So it is worksheets, but it's very open-ended.

 

They also have times that they do "work word" which includes more specific phonics, word endings, etc. A lot of work they do is through centers or dry ease boards or on the smart board, so there isn't a lot that goes home for parents to see. The teacher does a GREAT job of varying how they kids practice rote skills so it doesn't feel like drill, but it means there isn't a neat pile of papers for parents to see what they did at the end.

 

I'm never in 2nd grade -- the rest of my day I'm in Kindergarten love.gif

post #9 of 15
What Linda describes for first is exactly what DS saw for kindergarten, and what he's doing again as 2nd grade. The reading level targets and time spend reading are what's different.

I saw you put the same question on Davidson. I might assert that you are not seeing a bad curriculum, but one poorly matched to your child's abilities. Again, the state data on the school and district should help you figure that out.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

What Linda describes for first is exactly what DS saw for kindergarten, and what he's doing again as 2nd grade. The reading level targets and time spend reading are what's different.

I saw you put the same question on Davidson. I might assert that you are not seeing a bad curriculum, but one poorly matched to your child's abilities. Again, the state data on the school and district should help you figure that out.

 

Ah, yes, this puts a whole different spin on the OP. You can't really go to the board for accelerating the standard curriculum if you aren't referencing a typical child. You'll do better advocating for accommodation for the individual... and we found over the years that in doing so, opportunities and increased flexibility happened for all. 

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

Ah, yes, this puts a whole different spin on the OP. You can't really go to the board for accelerating the standard curriculum if you aren't referencing a typical child. You'll do better advocating for accommodation for the individual... and we found over the years that in doing so, opportunities and increased flexibility happened for all. 

 

Totally agree. And if we're talking about a gifted child, accelerating the standard curriculum won't be nearly enough of an adjustment anyway. Sometimes it can make things worse, because the teacher then has to spend so much time getting the lagging kids up to speed that s/he has much less time and energy for true differentiation and individualized acceleration. 

 

Miranda

post #12 of 15

I had an interesting discussion at Pinewood Derby yesterday.

 

Our district just changed math curricula.  A lot of parents were comparing notes, and I was mostly nodding along.  The discussion started as how the parents thought the curriculum was so basic, and they were learning more last year with the old curriculum.  I was starting to think that it was really much too easy for the average 2nd grader (DS has a radical subject acceleration, so we only see snipits of what the kids do).  Two more parents came along, heard that the discussion was the new math, and launched into a "oh, my, can you believe how hard this stuff is?  They're expecting so much of these kids!"

 

My take away was that for a lot of kids, they don't need to consolidation year, and they'd be better served by being allowed to move ahead a little faster.  Other kids really seemed to need that extra year to solidify the concepts of addition and subtraction.  It's hard to serve the K-2 curriculum where individual development varies so much.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for all the feedback. Nope, my kid isn't typical, but I thought that because other parents also were complaining that it was a larger issue. I considered putting that in the OP but decided against it. I guess it could've given some perspective.

Between comments here and on the Davidson board, along with conversations with the director of curriculum in the district where I work, I've come to the conclusion that the curriculum is probably acceptable after all, at least for most kids there. Perhaps my "smart kid" is gravitating to other smart kids, and therefore my sample of disaffected moms is skewed. smile.gif
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by staceychev View Post

Thanks so much for all the feedback. Nope, my kid isn't typical, but I thought that because other parents also were complaining that it was a larger issue. I considered putting that in the OP but decided against it. I guess it could've given some perspective.

Between comments here and on the Davidson board, along with conversations with the director of curriculum in the district where I work, I've come to the conclusion that the curriculum is probably acceptable after all, at least for most kids there. Perhaps my "smart kid" is gravitating to other smart kids, and therefore my sample of disaffected moms is skewed. smile.gif

I would agree--- we have had the same discussions here : it depends on who you talk to (parents) on if the curriculum is *challenging*. But upon further discussion--- the very request that parents wish to make it more challenging varies just as widely ! Some want MORE work ( common in our area-- they think it is too light on homework or 'practice'), some want more differentiation, some want faster speed, or more of a specific topic.....etc.

 

A few parents lament it is way too easy, a few say it is way too hard....the rest fall somewhere in between!

 

Remember, if you have a kiddo that is advanced....it may be a poor fit of school & student rather than grade level expectation.

 

Also, from moving around a lot--- grade level content and its related presentation/the implementation of 'differentiation' can vary widely by teacher, school, state and , district. Or even age of students themselves..... (in our area a 2nd grader could be 6y8 m at the start of 1st grade or even already 8 due to cutoff dates and mixed 'waiting a year for K when age eligible' that occurs. So could be a 18 month swing in one grade classroom....that is pretty big! )

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by staceychev View Post

Thanks so much for all the feedback. Nope, my kid isn't typical, but I thought that because other parents also were complaining that it was a larger issue. I considered putting that in the OP but decided against it. I guess it could've given some perspective.

Between comments here and on the Davidson board, along with conversations with the director of curriculum in the district where I work, I've come to the conclusion that the curriculum is probably acceptable after all, at least for most kids there. Perhaps my "smart kid" is gravitating to other smart kids, and therefore my sample of disaffected moms is skewed. smile.gif

 

There are things you can do so don't give up seeking accommodation. Just remember to stay positive. Recognize that your child is unusual and that what you are asking for is specific to them. Like I said, with a 12 and 16-year-old, we've experienced a lot and often found that when one child in class is getting their needs met in unusual ways, doors start to open for all kids needing something more individualized.

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