Greetings! Today we’re sharing a Second Grade blog by Amanda Smith. Grade 2 is a year of great transition and growth, as students not just build literacy skills but apply them to other subjects. In this blog, you’ll learn how literacy and social studies intersect to allow young students to research project work topics.
In Project Work the Second Grade has begun to develop their research skills while taking their first deep dive into history! Up until this point, students have studied New York City, communities, landmarks, and other topics that they can also experience in their time outside of school. When beginning historical studies, we ask our students to consider what they can see that they believe to be evidence of an important moment from the past. Additionally, we discuss how we can learn about the past, and I inform them that we might not have the full picture based off of who is telling the story; we need to rely on multiple sources to make sure that the information we learn is as accurate as possible.
The sources we used to learn about the Roebling family and the Brooklyn Bridge included a video, an article, a timeline, and a variety of books including, “You Wouldn’t Want To Work On The Brooklyn Bridge!” and “21 Elephants.” We used a KWL or “Know, Want to know, Learned” chart to document our research process.
For each source we focused in on one of the Roebling family members. Drawing inspiration from our newest read aloud, “Where Is The Brooklyn Bridge?” our researchers wrote headings for each of their note taking pages: Who Was John Roebling, Washington Roebling, and Emily Roebling? After reviewing the historical source, students practiced taking notes, using bullet points and shorthand to use their time as efficiently as possible. They also began to reflect on the information that they already knew, and wrote research questions for information that they wanted to know more about. This developed a purposeful search as they looked through their sources.
When parts of history become more conceptual, and the textual and visual sources are not enough, finding ways of replicating events is an essential way to increase their understanding. The sinking of the caissons of the Brooklyn Bridge was particularly challenging as students are unable to see them in real life as well as it negates their prior understanding of what happens to open objects when they enter the water: they fill up and sink. The caissons, however, did not fill with water. It was essential that the caisson had air inside to allow tubes to be connected from the caisson to the surface so workers could climb down with ladders and allowed for compressed air to be pumped inside. Our researchers did an experiment to see what happens when a cup is laid directly on top of the water line, and then slowly pressed down to the bottom of the container. They discovered that even though it was entering the water, the trapped air remained inside the cup.
They tested to release air bubbles from the cup, and carefully observed the cup fill with water as the air was let out. After this experimentation, students had a deeper understanding of the bridges’ construction. You can recreate this experiment at home the next time your child takes a bath or can fill up your sink! Look for our Roebling Family Tree bulletin board to grow next week as we begin to create cartoons depicting the various events of the Brooklyn Bridge construction.
Grade 2 Head Teacher