(Cours Elémentaire 1 or CE1)
American Curriculum (20% of school time)
To best meet the needs of our different student populations, there are two distinct first- and second-grade programs. The first is designed for native English speakers and the other for non-native speakers who have already acquired a good level of English fluency but require targeted instruction to build vocabulary, reinforce grammar, mechanics, and develop their oral English. Following this two-year cycle, students are mixed in grades three through five.
Language Arts: Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are at the heart of everything we do. Students have many opportunities to practice these four basic language skills during every session. Spelling, phonics, grammar, and mechanics are taught explicitly. Students write often and assignments vary to allow them to practice organizing their thoughts to work with different genres. Oral reports and presentations help develop speaking and listening skills.
- Second grade: Reading Workshop, as developed by the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University forms the basis of reading instruction and practice. Through mini-lessons, modeling, and conferring, teachers guide students in developing the strategies they need to be active readers. Emphasis is on dealing with the evolution of reading skills and becoming more independent readers. They become experts at reading nonfiction, build stamina, and increase fluency. The books get longer, and students read series in book clubs. A fully differentiated program, it allows students to grow as readers at their own pace. A thorough review of all phonics completes the three-year SRA/Open Court Phonics course begun in Kindergarten.
- Second grade Plus (CE1 Plus): Second grade Plus (CE1+) builds on the initiation students received in First grade Plus and places emphasis upon consolidating basic reading skills in a “safe” environment where children are less likely to be intimidated by native speakers and receive one-to-one attention to their oral English needs. They are encouraged to use oral English through retelling stories, Reader’s Theater, songs, and poems. Their reading-workshop lessons focus on basic comprehension through images, vocabulary in context, approaching a book, reflecting on what has been read, etc.
The following curriculum features are identical for second grade and second grade Plus:
Content Area – The Nature of Science & STEM: Second-grade students begin the year learning the essentials of how to think like a scientist. Through the Houghton Mifflin Science Fusion curriculum, students begin to develop understandings of 21st Century Science/STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts. With experiments, games, and hands-on activities, second graders will explore everything from technology and design to life science. A culminating project at the end of the year lets students apply basic research skills and showcase what they have learned.
Art: Second graders participate in an art class every other week. The art program's objectives are reinforced through hands-on projects using a variety of techniques. Over five years, students are introduced to the essential elements that structure the way one creates art, namely: line, shape, form, space, texture, value, and color. Every project includes a combination of these essential “building blocks.” Students work with gradually increasing agility, complexity, and intention, as they mature from grade to grade. Each year, art expectations become more sophisticated as the teachers support each student’s increasing ability to observe the physical world, as well as their ability to better express their feelings and ideas. Examples of possible projects and lessons include drawing leaves from observation, painting an imaginary seascape, and experimenting with one color.
Library/Technology: Students are given the opportunity to think and to question as well as to connect learning to their personal experiences. In the earliest grades, students select books for pleasure reading, learn about favorite authors, and form the foundation for problem-solving. The older primary students learn to differentiate fact from fiction and to critically analyze websites in order to hone research skills. In second grade, students learn to locate resources in the library and to differentiate between fiction and non-fiction. They begin to learn about how libraries are organized as well as to formulate research plans to guide them in their learning for their culminating science project. Students use vetted internet services to permit their first foray into safe Internet research. Student work is showcased for parents and their peers.
Character Education: Six basic human values (respect, responsibility, self-discipline and perseverance, trustworthiness, fairness, and caring) are discussed and developed whenever appropriate during the year. The teacher may choose to create a lesson around one or several of these values. From everyday experiences that lead to discussions and writing topics, to the use of mentor texts which purport happiness, believing in oneself, and being a caring, determined, and responsible child, the various aspects of our character education program are woven into our curriculum daily.
French Curriculum (80% of school time)
All students follow the French national curriculum for second grade with the exception of those in the French immersion class, Français Special. Besides French reading and language arts, math, gym, and penmanship are taught exclusively in French. For more on the content and skills developed in French during the year, please visit the website of the French Ministry of Education.