The Lower School Visual Arts program at Durham Academy is designed to provide students a variety of art experiences with the intention of fostering an appreciation of art and the value of personal expression. The acquisition of knowledge through the arts is viewed as a valuable component and complement to the core curriculum as well as daily life. Curriculum content encompasses skill development, art history, art appreciation and connections between the visual arts and other subject areas. Weekly lessons are intended to encourage divergent thinking skills, develop artistic exploration and encourage students to take creative risk in a safe environment through active learning. The visual art curriculum for first through fourth grade continually focus and build upon the concepts of the elements of art (line, shape, space, color, value, texture and form) and principles of design (contrast rhythm, unity, emphasis, pattern, movement and balance).
Drama is important for developing confidence, expressiveness and creativity in each child using movement, dialogue, pantomime and improvisation. Students learn about creating, designing, playwriting, directing and acting through a variety of literature choices and theater exercises. A combination of independent and small group work helps to develop intrapersonal skills used in creative drama. Each grade works on projects that teach them skills not only for the stage, but for confidence in everyday life.
At Durham Academy students become musicians, singers and movers in a very active way. The philosophy for music and movement education for our students is rooted in the Orff Schulwerk creative process of learning music. Orff Schulwerk uses poems, rhymes, games, songs and dances as vehicles to actively learn the elements of music. Students explore rhythm, melody, harmony, form and expressive qualities through singing, speaking, moving, playing instruments, listening, reading and notating. A unique aspect of this approach is an emphasis on developing a student's creativity and the opportunities to improvise in many ways. Students create their own rhythms, dramatizations, lyrics/words, instrument parts and melodies for sections of many pieces. Their own work is encouraged and valued. Through this process, students gain a deep understanding and love of music as they develop their creative potential.
The Physical Education Program at Durham Academy emphasizes active living through participation in a balanced variety of movement experiences. We want to enable all students the opportunity to enhance their quality of life through active living and healthy decisions. Movement and play are focal points of children's lives, critical to all aspects of their growth and development. Our physical education program provides opportunities for all students in the Lower School to be physically active on a daily basis and to develop an appreciation for and enjoyment of movement. Students' active participation and success in a variety of activities is stressed over competition. Our health and wellness program uses hands on, active application on a broad range of topics and may include instruction on bones and muscles, nutrition, first aid and injury prevention.
Second-grade science is a hand-on, experiential enrichment. Topics include senses and abilities, “What's the Matter?”, Keepers of Life, Time Keepers, forensic science, animal classification, food webs, fossils, dinosaurs and bubble-ology.
Second-grade students further develop their sense of numbers through 9,999. Students flexibly add and subtract within 1,000 using place value strategies, properties of operations, and the relationship between addition and subtraction. Second grade students work independently and in small groups to develop the skills needed for mathematical thinking. Students are expected to explain their problem-solving strategies and work to further develop this skill. Many resources are used to facilitate mathematics instruction, to include Investigations and teacher-created lessons. Second grade marks the first time they may work with other second-grade teachers for specific units of study. The metric system is also introduced in second grade as students explore capacity, weight, and measurement. Second-grade learners will also work with equal groups of objects to gain foundations for multiplication. The critical learning phases of understanding the structure of three-digit numbers and flexibly adding/subtracting numbers are paramount in second grade.
Just like first grade, the reading program in second grade is built around the workshop model to instruction. Additionally, second graders begin to read more words, more easily. This growing ease with word reading leaves more energy for thinking deeply about books. Readers are given direct, explicit instruction in the skills and strategies of proficient readers. Students are actively involved in their reading. They learn to choose “Just Right Books” from a wide range of reading materials and learn to set goals for themselves. Students spend time reading with partners and are given opportunities to talk and sometimes write in response to texts.
Explicit instruction is given during a mini-lesson. After which, students are provided long stretches of time to read. During this stretch of time, teachers conference with students individually or work with small groups to maximize their potential as readers. Teaching is consistently responsive to the needs of the students.
Our balanced approach to literacy instruction provides children with the structure needed to become well-rounded and accomplished independent readers. This structure includes phonics and word study, read alouds, and the 7 Comprehension Strategies: Using and Creating Schema, Asking Questions, Visualizing, Inferring, Determining Importance, Synthesizing Information, and Monitoring for Meaning/Using Fix-Up Strategies.
Our ultimate goal for our readers is to guide them to create a reading life of their own and to inspire them to become life-long readers.
The Spanish class is conversational with an exposure to literacy in the target language. From the very first day students are spoken to only in Spanish. The lessons parallel topics covered in science and math classes. Students are engaged through familiar games and are encouraged to speak aloud their new vocabulary. Vocabulary in the second grade includes introductions, description of self, numbers, days of the week, months, basic classroom objects, family, the nervous system, the five senses and animals, as well as other science-related topics.
Writing instruction is organized around four units of study. Second-grade students begin with the unit Lessons from the Masters: Improving Narrative Craft. In this unit, students learn how to create engaging narratives by stretching out small moments and writing detail. Unit 2, Lab Reports and Science Books uses inspirational nonfiction texts to help design and write about experiments and other scientific information. Unit 3, Writing About Reading, has students read closely and gather evidence from texts to craft persuasive arguments. The final unit of grade two, Poetry: Big Thoughts in Small Packages helps our second-grade writers explore and experiment with language. Students learn to use line breaks to express the meaning and rhythm they intend and use visualization and figures of speech to make writing clear and powerful.
The writing program is built around the workshop model to instruction. Writers are given direct, explicit instruction in the skills and strategies of proficient writers. Students are actively involved in their writing. They spend time collaborating with writing partners. Writers are given opportunities to talk and respond to each others work. As thoughtful and skillful writers, they learn to set goals for themselves.
Explicit instruction is given during a mini-lesson. Afterward, students are provided long stretches of time to write. During this stretch of time, teachers conference with students individually or work with small groups to maximize their potential as writers. Teaching is consistently responsive to the needs of the students.
Emphasis is placed upon the 7 Traits of Writing: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions, and Presentation. These traits are an important support structure for fluent and thoughtful writers.
A focus on communities in second-grade social studies generates questions. How do communities change? What shapes a culture or community? What are the roles of citizens in their communities? These questions are addressed as second-graders explore units about friendship, Native Americans and colonial America. A country study on Greece helps children make connections between life in America and life in other countries. Using Maps, Globes, and Graphs, students learn and practice map skills. Positive character traits are recognized and discussed as historical leaders such as Samuel Adams, Chief Joseph and Rosa Parks are introduced.
Second grade students begin the year by learning to publish a document that uses the skills of inserting pictures and formatting fonts and text styles. Second graders also learn how to be "CyberSmart." CyberSmart students know how to safeguard their personal information, use good manners, recognize advertising, evaluate websites and apply the attributes of good citizenship to the cyber environment. Students use VoiceThread to learn about collaborating on a digital project. Digital cameras are introduced in the spring. In a collaboration between art and computer, students learn to take photographs and then organize, edit and print the photos. Towards the end of the year, students work to create a research report. This project is a collaboration between the classroom, library and computer. Students learn to find and save photos from the Internet, use iPhoto to organize photos and use a word processing program to type and format a report with text and photos in computer class.