This week, we’d like to share with you some of the work going on in our classrooms. Lower School students’ work in Social Studies is the starting point for project-based learning, helps to form classroom culture as students learn to respect and admire other people and places, and serves as an integration point for other subjects. Our blog today comes from Second Grade Teacher, Amanda Smith!
In Second Grade Social Studies, students focus on our city, what it’s like now, and how it came to be. We begin by exploring the five boroughs, what makes them unique, and how they contribute to our city as a whole. Second Grade is the first time that students “move through time”, incorporating history into their social studies work, so solidifying their understanding of the current landscape is an integral part in understanding how our city has grown and changed.
We began our study developing an understanding of mapmaking and construction. The students examined a variety of maps, searching for locations provided by the map key. Then students received a copy of a white map of New York City. While receiving clues, such as, “This is the most southern island of New York City,” students identified each borough and created a color-coded map and key. They also discovered places outside of New York City that were easy to travel to, New Jersey, Westchester, and Long Island.
Other subjects are integrated into our social studies work, for example in integrated science we studied compasses and orienteering. Students learned that compasses work because of magnetic force and that the earth generates a magnetic field that allows compasses to point north. Then we headed to McCarren Park to try out compasses for ourselves. Students identified the cardinal and ordinal directions, and then followed a series of compass directions to “find their way home”!
As we continue to study each borough, our classroom begins to grow and change. For our walls, the students worked on a New York City map. The first piece was creating the boroughs by tracing and cutting, as well as creating labels, a compass, and a key. As we move to studying the difference between boroughs and neighborhoods, students will create a more detailed map, featuring landmarks, and other distinguishing details of our city.
Currently, our researchers are working in pairs to create a 3-dimensional map of northern Staten Island, southern Manhattan, and New York Harbor. Each pair is working on constructing a different landmark or mode of transportation that can be found there. After reading, they’ve highlighted important information, took careful observations of photographs, and “shopped” the MakerSpace for different items they could use to build their models. Soon, we’ll head to Staten Island on our first field trip. We’ll take the Staten Island Ferry and this will allow students to see the different landmarks they are modeling in person!