Second-Grade Math: A Month-to-Month Guide


Planning math instruction demands that teachers have an overall sense of the curriculum for the entire year, a focus for each month, and a specific plan for each day. This guide makes it easy to plan all three.

Topics of study include addition and subtraction, basic facts, place value, data collection, geometry, measurement, and more.

This book is part of the Month-to-Month Guide, Complete Series.

Nancy Litton
248 Pages

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Review by Judith Ball, retired from School District U-46, Elgin, Illinois. From the April 2006 issue of Teaching Children Mathematics, copyright 2006 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).  All rights reserved. For use associated with the Math Solutions website at only. This material may not be copied or distributed electronically or in other formats without written permission from NCTM.

The author’s inspiration for this guidebook came from a teachers’ workshop that incorporated concepts of lesson study for professional development. Her purpose is to make planning for mathematics instruction easier for readers, to allow students to develop mathematics “in a learning environment that provokes thinking and encourages interest and perseverance.” Her essay in the afterword encapsulates the essence of her goal: to engage students in meaningful ways, with adequate time for making connections in their mathematics learning as they explore and practice skills.

Chapters are organized by mathematical strands, although much integration of concepts is evident throughout. All chapters address the topics of The Learning Environment, The Mathematics, Today’s Number, and Calendar Making, all in relationship to the chapter’s mathematical concept topic. Each chapter then continues to develop that concept through varied activities.

Although Patterns/Algebra concepts appear to be missing, they are incorporated into several chapters, such as October/November’s discussions of Getting to Know the Number 10, January’s discussion of Quilt Designs and Pattern Blocks, February/March’s discussion of Patterns on a 1–100 Board, and April’s discussion of data. Assessment is integrated, with special consideration given in February/March, in April with inclusion of standardized testing strategies, and in May/June with end-of-year integrated evaluation.

Blackline masters and references are included, making planning efficient and further study convenient. This book would be a very useful addition to any primary-level teacher’s professional library.

Review by David Chia, Principal at Rock Creek Forest Elementary School, Chevy Chase, Maryland. From the Fall 2006 issue of Intersection, a newsletter of the ExxonMobil Corporation and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Reprinted with permission from Intersection, © 2006, by ExxonMobil Corporation.

Every school district has a mathematics curriculum with a defined scope and sequence. Teachers follow and implement their mathematics programs, but they also look for supplementary materials to increase rigor, differentiate for student needs, or explore new approaches to age-old concepts. I believe both novice and veteran teachers alike will appreciate Nancy Litton’s Second-Grade Math: A Month-to-Month Guide and find it a useful resource.

Second-Grade Math: A Month-to-Month Guide is organized with a monthly focus to guide new teachers during their first year of teaching second grade. For the veteran teacher, fresh ideas help teachers reflect on their teaching practice, including new ways to introduce a concept. The unit concepts that are presented are developmentally appropriate for second grade students.

The text is organized by chapters to walk a teacher through the entire school year. The first chapter reviews preparing for the first day of school-organizing a mathematics friendly classroom, scheduling mathematics daily, a checklist of useful manipulatives for the second grade classroom, and most importantly, a reflection on the teacher’s role. Chapter two focuses on building relationships between the teacher and students while establishing the mathematics classroom during the first month of the school year. Classroom expectations, developing routines through the first week, and establishing components of the mathematics instructional block are clearly discussed. There are suggestions for mathematics center activities that integrate art, reading, and writing during the first month of school. The remaining chapters focus on a monthly mathematics concept presented in the following sequence: developing place value understanding; categorical data collection; geometry, addition and subtraction; and measurement. Each chapter has calendar ideas that could be part of the warm-up time, as well as a variety of activities that could be used as the focus lesson during the mathematics block or modified for independent student or small group centers. Many learning activities are illustrated and blackline masters are provided.

While Second-Grade Math: A Month-to-Month Guide is a good supplementary resource for any second grade teacher, it is not intended to replace a district’s mathematics program. The text does cover what most second grade teachers would teach during a school year. However, there is not a particularly strong emphasis on pre-assessment or differentiation within the classroom. A veteran teacher could develop these within the presented lesson plans, but the novice teacher may find it more challenging and need additional support in these critical areas.

Overall, Second-Grade Math: A Month-to-Month Guide is a useful resource for the second grade teacher. If you work as a mathematics specialist, mentor teacher, or staff developer, this text will provide you with additional resources as you work with classroom teachers. The format is well designed, the chapters are easy reads, and the ideas presented are useful to any reflective teacher who seeks to improve his/her teaching craft. Second-Grade Math: A Month-to-Month Guide by Nancy Litton would be a good addition to your professional library.

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