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Plunging Into Reading, Math


A second grade class wastes no time jumping into reading and math, mindful of what will be tested by the state next year. Included: Excerpts of second grade reading, math lessons.

On the first day of school, Ms. Birch told her second grade students to open one of the four books they use with Everyday Mathematics.

"Is this going to be hard?" a girl asked softly.

"I don't think it will be hard," Ms. Birch assured the girl and her classmates.

Students began filling in number lines of three-digit numbers, one of the lines starting with 127.

Ms. Birch also reviewed the signs for greater than and less than. The book included lessons on telling time, counting coins, and addition facts.

Just a week later, seats had been re-arranged in the classroom since the first day, and students were answering questions about books they had read the night before. Children were assigned books based on their reading levels.

For each book, Ms. Birch asked the readers: "Who were the characters? What was the problem? Where did things happen?"

After the discussions, students picked up new books to read that night. Some excitedly showed Ms. Birch illustrations or asked about words they could not read.

The questions about characters, problems, and settings relate to skills that are tested on the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs). She admitted it can be hard questioning students about different books.

Ms. B knows the reading levels of her 24 students, based on evaluations done last year. They were in the process of being tested again.

In a short time, she planned to set up a phonics center, a listening center, a writing center, a guided reading center, and a silent sustained reading center in the classroom --"When I can; I'm usually here until 9 or 10 at night now."

While there is no formal state assessment in second grade, Ms. Birch used to teach fourth grade, and is very familiar with the skills students will need for their first experience with CMTs in third grade.

"I know where they have to go," she said.

(Editor's Note: All students' and teachers' names have been changed)