In second grade, students apply new confidence and new skills to an ever-expanding world that now extends beyond the confines of Gordon’s campus. Along the way, they get a tangible sense of their own ability to make an authentic impact on the world around them.
In second grade, students have their own assigned desks for the first time, which include storage space for all their supplies, signaling a new autonomy—and new expectations around personal organization. This organization will be tested in the spring, as they draw together notes and artwork to create their first extended research paper on marine animals.
Second grade includes a year-long partnership with Save the Bay that grounds much of students’ academic work in social and ecological issues that allow students to become advocates for positive change. Students host Save the Bay educators and scientists in their classroom to discuss their work, and, for their first-ever Gordon field trips, they visit Save the Bay sites to do some primary fact-finding of their own. This work is all firmly centered in a sense of the direct impact that students’ choices can have on Narragansett Bay (and the Gordon pond and spring that feeds into it).
The second grade’s work on the Gordon School Multicultural Picture Book Award is another connection between academic work and the world beyond Gordon. In a close partnership with classroom teachers, Gordon’s librarian introduces students to the well-established world of children's book awards, and challenges them to create their own criteria for a multicultural picture book award. Students then dive into stacks of new picture books, evaluating them from a fresh perspective informed by their experience creating their own books in first grade, and their experience as valued members of a beloved community. It's a yearlong process with a long list of honorees, several of whom have received the honor in person during visits to campus.
In the hallways, second graders practice being courageous advocates by leading poetry breaks throughout April. In celebration of National Poetry Month, students select favorite poems, pair up, and visit classrooms and offices across the campus, interrupting lessons and meetings by offering to read some verses as a poetry break. The entire school listens graciously, but the challenge of approaching adults and older students is very real for most seven-year-olds. They’re buoyed by their emerging confidence as readers, by their love of poetry, and by a community that is invested in their success.