In 2nd grade at University School of Milwaukee, children begin to see themselves as independent learners. Our 2nd graders start to work on their own more often, and for longer periods of time, in classes, and will have individual desks for the first time at USM. They also transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” as more chapter and non-fiction books are introduced. Students also focus on one world language (Spanish or French) for an entire school year starting in 2nd grade.
The concepts and importance of community are explored more deeply in 2nd grade, in both traditional ways—such as the study of indigenous peoples—and in unique ways—such as the study of ant colonies—to learn about how communities work together and the importance of being an active member of a community. This is showcased throughout the year as 2nd graders interact with their junior kindergarten “buddies” for academic and social meetings. These themes all come together in the annual 2nd grade overnight retreat (which children attend with a parent or guardian) at Camp Minikani in Hubertus, a highlight that is talked about by USM students and alumni for many years after the trip.
The 2nd grade curriculum in USM’s Lower School combines core subjects taught by grade-level teachers with many additional classes taught by specialist instructors.
Subject-area outcomes are an important part of how our curriculum is developed and how our students are evaluated. The following lists, broken out by subject area, provide some examples of student outcomes for the end of the 2nd grade year.
Each year, 2nd graders take part in many engaging field trips, including an exciting, hands-on trip to a rock quarry in nearby Sussex, Wisconsin, during their study of life cycles and rocks and minerals, and both the Kenosha and Milwaukee Public Museums during their study of Wisconsin’s indigenous communities. Another highlight in 2nd grade is when children tap maple trees and participate in the process of making their own maple syrup. Ahead of spring break each year, all 1st and 2nd graders showcase their vocal talents along with all Lower School orchestra children in a formal concert at school.In May, toward the end of the 2nd grade year, the children, along with a parent or guardian, stay overnight and have two days of fun activities and learning at Camp Minikani in one of the first bonding experiences outside of the USM campus for the class.