PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Grade 2, Week of January 24

Hello Families,

This week we will be ending the week by going back in time for a celebration. New Amsterdam Day is quickly approaching! If you are able to volunteer and send in some supplies we would like to thank you in advance. Here is a brief look at our week.

In Writer’s Workshop, we are finishing up our Nonfiction Unit. The students have published their ‘All About Books’ and are really proud of their work. They not only learned new things about their topics, they also learned some new researching skills. With the help of Xposure we were able to learn new computer skills that helped us research online. We have even linked our writing to our Social Studies work by researching facts about our specific New Amsterdam topics (Dutch Food, Dutch Clothes, Games and Sports, Child’s Life and Jobs).

In Reader’s Workshop, we are continuing our reading of Jake Drake, Bully Buster. We are finding out that we have many connections to this text. We are trying to predict how Jake is going to handle being bullied by Link Baxter. This is also getting the students thinking about how to handle any issues that could potentially arise in school. We are noticing that we have already made many text to world connections and text to self connections. Just a reminder please make sure your child is reading at least 15-20 minutes a night.

In our second grade workshop last week, Marcy and Anne described our philosophy of teaching mathematics in relation to the current content and curriculum in Grade 2.  We hope you walked away with these three key ideas!



  • Rich Contexts: Providing students with real life context gives meaning to the numbers and the operation.



Last week, our class began an investigation in place value, addition and subtraction called “The T-Shirt Factory”. In this context, Nicholas, the organizer, groups t-shirts into bundles of ten, and loose t-shirts (according to our Base-10 Number System). The children will solve various kinds of problems within this context as they explore the meaning of the standard algorithm. Look forward to seeing some of their work on this blog!


  1.    2. Our goal is developing conceptual knowledge, not procedural knowledge.


In the early grades, students are making sense of the operations of addition and subtraction. We want students to have experiences that help them make sense of place value, the properties of operations, and the relationship between addition and subtraction.


  1. Flexible strategy use is important!  


The standard for second grade is that students develop a repertoire of strategies for addition and subtraction that are “based on place value.” The standard algorithm is only one strategy! We want students to develop what we call a “toolkit” or a “toolbox” of strategies. We hope these attached documents will help you understand the types of strategies we use in the classroom and how students might represent these strategies on paper. We encourage students to choose strategies based on the numbers in the problem:

For example, we do not need an algorithm to solve 300-299! An algorithm makes this problem quite messy! Instead, we can “count up” from 299 to 300, in order to understand that the difference is 1.


Please print these STRATEGY SHEETS and use them as a reference:

Addition Strategies

Subtraction Strategies


You also may be interested in reading this blog post as food for thought!

Strategies for Addition and Subtraction

Finally, here are our Home Explorations for the end of January:

In Social Studies, we are continuing to explore how New York City has changed over time. This week, we are finishing our investigation of why different immigrant groups moved to New York City in the late 1800’s, and what their lives were like. The students had a lot of great questions they wish they could go back in time and ask new immigrants, including “What did your school look like?” “Was it scary sleeping on the roof?” (as many people did to cool off in the summer!) “How did you feel when you first came?” and “How much money did you make selling newspapers?” Later this week, we will take a look at the way our use of natural resources has evolved, and how homes and buildings have changed over the years.

Just a few reminders, please send in trip permission slips as soon as possible. We need to turn in our lunch forms. Again, there are no Pokemon cards in school. If they are taken out in class or lunch they will be taken away. Also, New Amsterdam Day is this Friday, January 27th at 9:25! Please remember to send your kids in Colonial style clothing. You don’t need to buy anything special for this. To dress as a boy, wear a button-down shirt, pants, long socks, and a vest if you have one. To dress as a girl, wear a long skirt and stockings, an apron, and a bonnet if you have one. It is also a half day. Scholastic orders are due by the end of the week. We hope to see you soon!   

Ms. Mathis and Ms. Anne