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ARCHIVE: 2012-2013 - 2-202, Ms. Durgin

2-202's End Of The Year Slide Show 2013!

*BSI 2nd Grade Post Office 2013*

2-202 Brooklyn Bridge Workshop

2-202's Poetry Cafe 2013

posted Sep 8, 2013, 1:00 PM by   [ updated Sep 8, 2013, 1:04 PM ]

Newsletter 5-20-13

posted May 19, 2013, 3:41 PM by   [ updated May 19, 2013, 4:37 PM ]

Dear 2nd Grade Parents and Families,

    We hope that you’ve all had a wonderful weekend despite our soggy weather!  Here’s a quick look at the week ahead...

In Math Workshop our second grade mathematicians continue to explore fractions and equivalence.  Last week we examined how a whole might be divided into fourths even when the shape of the fourths is not congruent.  We’ll continue this discussion of congruence in fractional parts this week.  We encourage you to talk about the concept of congruence at home. Congruence, which basically means equal, comes from the Latin congruere  ‘to agree’.  So even if they may initially look different, fractional parts may be equal, though the sections are not congruent.  For example, a rectangle may be split into 4 equal sections that are not congruent, where it is split across the middle and then the upper ½ is split vertically down the middle but the bottom ½ is split horizontally down the middle.  These are precisely the fourths that are the subject of a wonderful math congress this week!

Later this week we’ll be taking these discussions into an exploration of the fractional parts of flags from around the world!  If you have some flags (ideally hand-held size or miniature) in the house that you’d be willing to have your child bring in for a share, we more than welcome it!  It would not only be a wonderful cultural share, but also add context to the fractional-flags we’ll soon create!  If you’d like for your child to try out some fraction games online, we invite you to take a look at some of the offerings here (some are cheesy and some are good, but we’ll let our mathematicians be the judge!)


Speaking of cultural shares, another realm in which we’d like like to invite you to help enrich our studies is in poetry!  For the most part, the poems that our young poets have been studying are in English, by predominantly American poets.  If you and your child have poems that are reflective of your family's cultural traditions, in other languages, and you’d be willing to share those as well... we welcome any and all appropriate poems to come in and enliven our investigation of poetry.  It would be very powerful for our young poets to hear poems from around the world and to discuss how so many cultures celebrate this dynamic genre.  Thank you in advance for your support!

Finally, your children have been having the unforgettable experience of working with Deb Windsor of Construction kids, alongside our own amazing Ms. Nanna in building scale models of the Brooklyn Bridge.  In class we’re looking to timelines of Brooklyn to appreciate the immense passage of time that happened from the times of New Amsterdam (1620s) to the building of the Brooklyn Bridge (mid 1800s).  For our second grade social studies scholars, one of the big ideas is the shifting of societal structure from hunter gatherer, to agrarian and finally to industrial.  We encourage you to discuss these key terms and idea at home with your child.  If you’d like to take a look at some of the incredible things that happened in this span of time, please check out:


Please expect a permission slip coming home this week for our 2nd Grade trip to walk across the actual Brooklyn Bridge on Wednesday, June 5th!  We’re really looking forward to it and hope that many of you will be able to join us.  Please sign and return your children’s slips as soon as possible.  

Thanks so much and have a wonderful week ahead,

  Ms. Durgin and Ms. Wolfe    

Family Newsletter 4-22-13

posted Apr 22, 2013, 5:19 AM by


Dear Families,

There is so much going on in 2nd grade at this time of year.  Not only are the children busy growing (they are shooting up!) and losing teeth, they are also solidifying many of the skills they have been learning throughout the year.

In our integrated unit, our brochure project is continuing.  We’ve still got some work to do before we are ready to announce the date of our Publishing Celebration.  We will let you know shortly.  Most of our students are beginning to work on their published pieces while some students are wrapping up the revision and editing process.  Some of our lessons this week focus on transitional words, such as “furthermore” and “in conclusion”. We also have been revisiting our brochures and thinking about our essential question “How can we make non fiction writing compelling?”  At home, look for persuasive writing around the house- from cereal boxes to book blurbs we are surrounding by writing that is written to garner our attention.  Your student should have some lovely ideas as to why the writing is eye-catching and persuasive.

In Math Workshop, last week ended with a fascinating Congress on Nicolas Masloppy’s subtraction trick.  Nicolas hypothesized that instead of taking away 5, you can add 5 and take away 10 from any number and get the same answer.  We asked the students if this worked and would it always work?  Your students are using algebraic reasoning to defend their answers.  This week we will be following up this Congress with a similar that involves Nicolas Masloppy and passengers on a subway.  

3rd Reading Portfolio project due next week!  And a friendly reminder, please don’t forget to take pictures, you will need them in June!

Warm wishes and thanks,

Ms. Wolfe and Ms. Durgin

Newsletter 3-18-13

posted Mar 19, 2013, 10:03 AM by

Dear Second Grade Parents and Families,

It was wonderful to see you all last week at parent teacher conferences!  Thank you so much for all that you do to support your children and their learning.  We’re all excited for the spring recess coming up and hope that you all have a wonderful vacation or restful relaxing time with your child ahead.  Please remember that it is so important that your child keep reading throughout the vacation.  Students will be coming home with a couple of extra ‘just right books’ in their book baggies so that they can keep reading throughout the vacation!  We hope you all have a good one.  Here’s what’s to come this week...

In our integrated social studies/reading/writing unit students are breaking into groups to conduct a focused study on one aspect of Dutch daily life.  Students will work with a group of 4-5 students to research topics like ‘a child’s life in New Amsterdam’ or ‘jobs in New Amsterdam’ and then create a presentation (a skit, a song, poster etc.) of their learning, and deliver it to their classmates.  As their classmates observe students presenting their material, they will take notes on what they learn from one another.  Later in the week, each child will begin researching all of the elements of Dutch daily life in depth to collect information for the brochures about New Amsterdam that they will begin writing after the break!  

In Math Workshop we are our time working for Ms. Sally’s car companies to a close.  Students have worked hard to create posters that display the work being done by their car companies, in replenishing supply, packing orders, keeping track of what they have in their warehouse, and, of course, calculating how much money they are owed for each order.  We will continue the conversations that we’ve had about the big ideas from this unit, such as place value and equivalence, throughout the year.  

Later this week,  students will be revisiting some of the practices mathematicians employ to grapple with story problems.  We will review concepts like visualization, where students envision what is actually going on within the context of the story, and using a number model (e.g. 56 + 78 = ?) to represent what is known and unknown in a number story as well as the action (operation) of the story.  As always, students will work to show their mathematical thinking clearly and independently check their work for accuracy.

Please keep the home-school connection strong throughout the break, whether it’s by using,, or  telling story problems in the car etc... it’s practice and it’s fabulous.

With warm wishes for a wonderful spring break,        

Ms. Durgin and Ms. Wolfe


PS.  If you could take a look around your house for our classroom library books, we’d really appreciate it.  Our libraries are looking sparse and we need students to have a variety of books to choose from!

Weekly Newsletter 3-11-13

posted Mar 19, 2013, 10:01 AM by

Hello Families,


        Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend!  We’re very excited to be seeing you all for Parent Teacher Conferences this Tuesday March 12th!  We look forward to discussing each of your wonderful 2nd graders with you.  


On Friday your child came home with their ‘Personal Best Portfolio’.  We hope by now that you’ve had a chance to read your child’s work and speak with them about their selections.  The benefit of this second round of the portfolio process is seeing the evidence of your child’s growth as a learner and their development of both new skills and understandings.  Please bring the portfolio with you on Tuesday with a signed copy of your child’s report card.  We welcome you to refer to the work in their portfolio with any concerns or questions you may have.  Thank you in advance!

    This week in our integrated social studies, reading and writing unit our young researchers will delve into the world of dutch daily life in New Amsterdam!  Students will explore how the Dutch began settling in what would be called New Amsterdam.  Before breaking into study groups to become experts on different aspects of agrarian, colonial life, students will examine the ‘$24 myth’ regarding the ‘sale of Manhattan’ by Peter Minuet in 1626.  Fun fact for you grown ups; the $24 ‘sale’ of the island of Manhattan is based on a series of time worn myths.  The murky deal was actually a document that Europeans wouldn’tp- have recognized as a legal document, but rather a bill of sale that certainly the Lenape would not have understood from either a linguistic or ideological standpoint.  The $24 was an estimated value of what 60 guilders (Dutch currency in the 1600s) would have been worth when that document surfaced in the 19th century.  Of course because the value of currency isn’t constant, the calculation was inaccurate even then, and is of course even more inaccurate today!  Please speak with your budding history buff about this interesting moment in New York’s past and encourage reflection upon how both sides of that ‘transaction’ must have felt about it.  Also, please ask them about their area of expertise on Dutch daily life in New Amsterdam!

In Math Workshop we are continuing with the sale of Ms. Sally’s Matchbox cars.  Last week our students broke into groups to either continue in the support of Ms. Sally’s inventory, sales and packaging of orders, or went into the vintage car business themselves!  To deepen their understandings of place value, ‘the zero trick’ and unpack what’s really happening with the traditional algorithm in concrete terms, students have been keeping ledgers.  Using these ledgers students get orders from stores, package them, calculate the amount of money they will receive (with each car costing $10) and then remove the amount ordered from their supplies ‘on hand’ in the warehouse.  

In addition to getting students to think multiplicatively with the monetary component, students are now exploring whether or not they need to ‘reorganize’ their supply to fill an order.  For example, if they get an order from Toys ‘R’ Us for 97 cars, but they have 194 cars in their warehouse, can they fill the order without ‘reorganizing’ their on hand supply?  This concrete visualization of regrouping and ‘borrowing’ is very powerful and it’s amazing to see our budding entrepreneurs grapple with this concept in a supported, student directed format.   

Thanks so much and see you on Tuesday!

Ms. Wolfe and Ms. Durgin

Weekly Newsletter 3-4-13

posted Mar 19, 2013, 9:58 AM by

Hello Families,

We had a wonderful time at Fairway on Friday.  It was great to see so many of you and we are really proud of the student’s performance.  The trip was also a great opportunity to check out the New York Harbor and discuss the importance of waterways in New York’s history.

Here’s what we are up to this week...

In our integrated Reading, Writing and Social Studies New Amsterdam Unit, we are continuing to delve into the history of New York City in the 1600s by examining primary sources and secondary sources.  So far students have looked at posters from the Dutch West India Company and ledgers from fur-trading ships.  We’ve used these primary sources to start some really deep conversations about the world in the 1600s.  Students will also learn about the early government of New Amsterdam as well as daily life in the early settlement.   We will compare the seal of New Amsterdam to the modern day seal of the City of New York.  If you haven’t seen NYC’s seal, check it out! We’ll make a seal for our own class using the elements we’ve talked about.   A great concept to review at home this week is the language of compare and contrast.  What do you do when you compare and contrast things.  What can be compared?  What can be contrasted?

In Writer’s Workshop our study of brochures progresses with our discussion of author’s purpose and persuasive language.  We could always use more brochures, so if you any around the house, send them in!

In Math, we are moving into a new segment of our investigation.  Our story revolves around Ms. Sally’s garage of Matchbox cars.  Like the T-shirts, she organizes them into boxes of 100, packs of 10 and loose.  She also sells them for $10.  Many students can see the multiplicative structure of 10 but don’t exactly understand why there is a pattern.  So if we ask the students how much money would she make if she sold $56 cars, many students will be able to say “$560 because you just add 0” .  What we are pushing them to think about is that they aren’t really adding a zero (56 + 0 equals 56!).  Ask your student at home to talk about the patterns they see in these problems.  Challenge them to explain their reasoning.  It’s fascinating watch their understanding of multiplication deepen as they recognize and defend “the zero trick.”

Please make sure your student is reading independently at home and remember that our next Reading Portfolio Project is due 3-18-13.  We’ve seen great proposals.  Keep in mind that the student is creating the project as evidence that they understand the book, so as fun as it can be they should also include lots of information about the text.

    We will be putting out the PTC schedule soon and we are really looking forward to seeing all of you there.

All best,

    Ms. Durgin and Ms. Wolfe

Weekly Newsletter 2-20-13

posted Feb 20, 2013, 12:58 PM by

Hello Families,

Hooray!  We’ve got buses!!!  Thank you for all that you’ve done in the past month to get your students to school.  We really appreciate it and we will really miss seeing most of you at dismissal.  Because it’s such a short week we are sending out this newsletter to cover what’s happening this short week and all of next week.  Keep in mind that the proposal for the 2nd Reading Portfolio Project is due the last week in February.  Students should start thinking about the books they’d like to choose.

Here’s what we are up to for the next week and a half....

In Math Workshop, students will be continuing with the T-Shirt Investigation. Students will practice expanded notation, regrouping and will be introduced to the traditional algorithm.  Expanded notation is a great activity to practice at home with your student.  You can ask questions like “What number has 3 hundreds, 8 tens and 9 ones?”  or you can ask the reverse, “What does the 2 in 123 mean?”

Students aren't expected to master the algorithm but they should understand the underlying ideas of equivalence and regrouping (133 is the same as 100 + 20 + 13). This week and next week we will spend some time discussing why saying "carry the one" isn't correct and why the amount they are regrouping is actually a "10." You can discuss with your student why different amounts of loose T-shirts, rolls and boxes can equal the same amount. A fun problem might be "Is 1 box, 6 rolls of ten and 7 loose T-Shirts equal to 0 boxes, 16 rolls of ten and 7 loose?" Ask them to model their strategy and discuss their solution.

This week will find us doing some thoughtful reflecting on our Non-Fiction unit and some pre-assessment for the upcoming unit.  We are really excited to teach our integrated unit in reading, writing and social studies about a special time-period in New York’s history- a time when it was owned by the Dutch and called “New Amsterdam”.

During the next two weeks in Readers’ Workshop we will learn how to “read” a primary source by asking ourselves the following questions: What do you notice? What do you think this is? What does it tell us about New Amsterdam?  Our primary sources are going to be more than texts, we will also be studying paintings to see what they can tell us about life during that time period. At the same time, we will begin to research New Amsterdam, reading non-fiction history texts.  We will also review how non-fiction readers learn the meaning of new vocabulary words and notice the different ways readers think about different kinds of non-fiction texts.

In Writers’ Workshop we will immerse ourselves in the genre of travel brochures.  We will focus on what we notice about the genre in general and what parts or features the brochures tend to have. The end product will be a travel brochure written by your child, an employee of the Dutch West India company, trying to encourage Europeans to come settle in New Amsterdam.  So, if you live or work anywhere near a travel agency or tourist hot spot, please go in and grab a handful of brochures for our writers to analyze.

With our continued focus on reading and writing non-fiction, it is important for you to help your child keep an active fiction-reading life at home.  Most of our students have become quite fluent readers who now need to think deeply about characters and plot.  As a home extension, you may want to start a little book club with your child.  Read the same book and discuss it.  Help your child develop sophisticated language for describing internal character traits. Make connections between the book and your lives, or between the book and other books you have read.  Most importantly, help your child maintain the joy of engaging in a really good book.

Social Studies will be covered in both language arts workshops this month.  This week’s focus is the founding of New Amsterdam and its politics. We will learn about the beaver pelt trade, Lenape relations, and Peter Stuyvesant’s governance.  We’ll also examine an original map of all of New Netherlands, so the students will understand the scope of Dutch influence and power in the early 1600s.

Put on your time travel seat belts!  This is going to be some ride.

With warm wishes and thanks,

Ms. Durgin and Ms. Wolfe

Weekly Newsletter 2-4-13

posted Feb 3, 2013, 1:41 PM by

Dear Families,

We are very excited this week to launch the 2nd Grade Post Office!  Every student will get a chance to work at the Post Office over the next few weeks.  If your student would like to send mail, postcards cost 1 cent and letters cost 5 cents.  You can send the money in their Home-School Connection Folders.

In Math Workshop, we will begin to help Nicolas Masloppy organize his family’s T-shirt business.  Nicolas devised a system of making rolls of 10 T-shirts whenever possible.  Students are practicing their habits of mind by doing some metacognative thinking about how they solve Nicolas’ organizational problems.  They will then communicate their process with clarity and precision by making posters that show how they came to the answer. All of this work reinforces place value and equivalence.  Within the context of the story, students are learning that the number 73 actually has many equivalent expressions, such as 5 tens and 23 ones.  This work will lead to some very deep thinking around the concepts of splitting and regrouping next week.  If you want to practice at home, play the equivalence game with your student.  You can ask is 189 equal to 18 tens and 9 ones?  What about 16 tens and 19 ones? Yes/No? How do you know?

In Readers’ Workshop, we will continue our work with recognizing the thinking we do to find the Main Idea.  We will try to differentiate between the main ideas of two paragraphs on the same topic, but obviously with different subtopics.  Throughout this work, students will gain a deeper understanding of words such as specific, general, details and support. The simplest way to support this work is to ask your child what the thing they are reading is about.  If they simply repeat the title verbatim back to you,  perhaps say, “No, not the whole book, what is that part about?”  Then ask them how they came to figure it out.  In addition, we will be teaching some strategies for figuring out the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary words when reading non-fiction.

In Writer’s Workshop we are working on turning our excellent notes into a draft of our final project.  Our focus is twofold.  Instead of just rewriting their notes in paragraph form, we’d love to see students really synthesize the main idea of their chapter and write paragraphs with topic sentences and details.  Those pesky notes that are outliers, or just really cool stand-out facts can become fun facts!  Along with Main Idea, our other focus is to encourage students to use the elements of Non-Fiction in their books.  Talk to your student about how they are planning to organize their information. Do they have lots of information that would be easier to read if charted?  Do they have an idea for a picture and a close-up?  What are their captions going to say?  

These Non-Fiction books are great and we can’t wait to have a publishing party.  We will try to let you know by the end of next week when our parties will be.  If you can’t see the work at the party, you’ll be able to see it soon because Parent Teacher Conferences are going to be here before we know it!

Lastly, our wonderful Science Teacher, Ms. Mallery, would like you to know that directions to the zoomers and ooblek that the students have explored can be found here:

Have a wonderful week,

                                                    Ms. Wolfe and Ms. Durgin

Weekly Newsletter 1-28-13

posted Jan 28, 2013, 6:38 AM by

Dear 2nd Grade Parents and Families,

We hope that you’ve all had a wonderful (albeit incredibly chilly) weekend and perhaps even got a chance to play in the snow a bit!  These second grade teachers are thrilled to have a solid week of teaching time with our students this week and there’s much to do!  Let’s take a look at the full week ahead...

In Readers’ Workshop, we continue our Non Fiction research by asking the question, “What thinking do we do to recognize the main idea?”  We’ll be not only identifying the main idea, but also thinking metacognitively about how we came to that understanding.  By the end of the week, we will compare and contrast the main ideas of two similar passages.

You can help your child with both reading and writing this week by making comparisons together. How is our house the same and different from your aunt’s house? What does that tell us about them? How does Brooklyn compare and contrast with Manhattan? (A lively topic!) Comparing characters, books or even series is always good practice, too! You can also support their work by reading about and discussing their research topics with them. Support their expertise.

In Writers’ Workshop this week, we continue our Non Fiction note taking and information gathering in earnest!  Later this week we will finally begin drafting our non-fiction books. We will look carefully at our notes and try to discern which facts can be grouped together, which we can say more about, and which aren’t really worthy of our books. We will consider our reading audience and try to write in a “teaching voice,” giving our readers enough information to really understand our topics.

In Math Workshop we’ve finally closed up our unit on measurement and are now on to some computation work in preparation for our next big investigation into place value and multiplicative thinking in The T Shirt Factory!  Students will explore place value through skip counting and the structure of 100 in terms of groups of 5s and 10s.  To support this practice, students will work to identify how many nickels and dimes it takes to make different amounts (ex. How many nickels are in $0.70? or How many dimes are in $2.20?)  It might be a fun support to practice these kinds of problems at home with your mathematician using piggy banks and change jars.    

In Social Studies, our New York historians will begin moving forward in time from the time of the Lenape in Manahatta, to some of the first explorations of this region in the early 1600s.  Our social studies scholars will begin this journey by designing some time machines that will whisk us back to a time when this New York was verdant and wild!  This study will lay the groundwork for our scholars beginning to understand the strong pull that this place had upon early Dutch settlers.

Finally, just a reminder from Ms. Donna to please let your children know the latest version of our song is now posted on the Music class page here:  Encourage them to listen to the song and practice their dance moves!

Also, please remember that the first portfolio project is due next Monday, February 4th.

With warm wishes and thanks,

Ms. Durgin and Ms. Wolfe

Weekly Newsletter 1-14-13

posted Jan 14, 2013, 6:29 AM by

Dear 2nd Grade Families,

This week Ms. Wolfe’s class will attend the trip to The Old Stone House on Thursday the 17th.  Also, thanks to the fabulous TA pair of Mr. Rory and Ms. Belliard, last week we began our exploration into communication, letter writing and the history of the US Post Office system, in preparation for the Grand Opening of BSI’s 2nd Grade Post Office!  Details and dates about the grand opening soon to follow!  Let’s take a look at the week ahead:

In Readers and Writers Workshop, we are continuing on with our non-fiction unit!  Last week we examined types of non-fiction books and their purposes.  Through our discussion, students discovered how non-fiction books are organized and written to make them compelling to their audience.  This week we will begin to apply that understanding as students choose their own topics and brainstorm how they will organize and present their research.  

One of the ‘Sophisticated Vocabulary Words’ of this week is ‘credible’.  This term is defined for students as ‘trustworthy; believeable based upon the expertise of the experts offering the information’.  The reason for teaching students this important word is to give them language for describing when something is from a legitimate, knowledgeable source and when it is not.

An important support that you can offer to your child is to reinforce the fact that just because something is on the Internet, or comes up in a Google search, does NOT mean that it is necessarily factually accurate.  To support our writing, we will mostly be using classroom books, BSI library books and public library books, though students can and will look to the Internet for additional support.  Just help them to check their sources, noting that a site like National Geographic for Kids is more credible than say, a website created by a middle school class as a project.  Also, please feel free to ask your child about their topic and to assist them in getting library books etc that will support them in their non-fiction reading and writing.

In Math Workshop we continue with our work understanding constant difference through measurement and computational explorations.  We are working through and discussing number strings in which constant difference can be used to make the numbers ‘friendlier’ or easier to compute mentally.  By the end of the week we will be exploring the relationships between inches and feet, feet and yards and the differences between the US Standard system (a system that interestingly enough is still used only by the US, Liberia and Burma) and the Metric system.  Students will discuss the prefixes centi- and milli- as we discuss meters in the metric system.  We encourage you to talk about measurement with your second graders at home.  When you’re in the kitchen, have a conversation about the marks on a measuring cup, or join them in  measuring things around the house using both centimeters and inches and comparing them!

In Social Studies this week we are wrapping up our discussion of what the land of New York was like during the time of the Lenape Native Americans.  Students will be learning that the Lenape were a hunter-gatherer society because of the reciprocal nature of land use and its impact on society.  We’ll also discuss the first interactions of early explorers like Henry Hudson and the Lenape, and see what transpired as these different cultures met.


Wishing you a wonderful week ahead,

                                                                        Ms. Durgin and Ms. Wolfe

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