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Second Grade Content Connection Sample: Strategic Tool Use

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Strategic tool use is the ability to distinguish which instruments or tools are the best for a given situation in order to maximize productivity and success. Mastering strategic tool use builds the foundation for the concepts of claims and evidence and reasoned argument found at later grades. Strategic tool use is a concept that is used throughout an individual’s life in evaluating information, making decisions, and generating arguments for effectiveness and efficiency.

Strategic Tool Use can connect all 10 content areas as detailed below.

Comprehensive Health and Physical Education

In comprehensive health and physical education, strategic tool use focuses on one’s ability to use physical and technological tools For example, in order to improve one’s own physical and cognitive performance, the student must be able to strategically distinguish and discern between their body’s feedback (e.g., hunger, heart rate, thirst, fatigue, enjoyment), their self-reflection, their instructor’s feedback, technological output, and environmental cues. Developing healthy behaviors requires mastery in differentiating between the variety of tools available to support students in making healthy decisions.

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Comprehensive Health

Physical Education


In dance, strategic tool use involves the use of dance elements as tools to produce a dance work as well as accompanying tools such as media, music, words, costumes or symbols. Choosing tools that are needed to create a dance requires forethought and a basic understanding of compositional skills. Connecting dance elements as tools of a dance or outside stimuli as tools to enhance a dance builds foundational skills needed for inventive and analytical thinking.

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Drama and Theatre Arts

For drama and theatre arts, strategic tool use involves creating new elements from existing works, such as literature, movies, and television to create new plot twists or sequences. Using knowledge of basic tools, such as literature, and redesigning the outcomes requires critical thinking, inference, and analysis skills.

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In mathematics, strategic tool use involves choosing the most appropriate available tool when solving a mathematical problem. Second graders choose the appropriate measurement tool based on the situational requirements for precision. For example, using a yard stick rather than a ruler to measure the length of a room.

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In music, strategic tool use involves determining which tool or instrument, including one’s body, can be used to perform various musical pieces. Developmentally, second graders may be able to demonstrate two-part rounds through movement in their body, hands, or feet. Making a decision on how to most effectively demonstrate musical passages builds a foundation for discernment and critical thinking.

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Reading, Writing, and Communicating

In reading, writing and communicating, strategic tool use is demonstrated by determining which comprehension strategies and organizational tools enhance the communication and understanding of ideas. In second grade, this includes the use of self-monitoring comprehension strategies, questioning skills, and knowledge of text features to clarify understanding. Students decide which reference and organizational tools to use when organizing ideas for writing and communicating.

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In science, strategic tool use involves selecting and using the best tool to make observations or measurements, record data, or communicate results. Elementary students are acquiring the skills to choose the best tool for a task, such as when it is best to use a beaker versus a graduated cylinder.

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Social Studies

In social studies, strategic tool use involves choosing the appropriate tool to achieve an intended result. In geography, students are deciding if a political, physical, or other type of map or chart is the most appropriate to communicate a particular intent or idea. In economics, strategic tool use refers to the tools of financial goal setting and planning. In civics, strategic tool use includes the ability to implement conflict resolution techniques. In addition, all social studies disciplines use the tools of technology to investigate, support, and create.

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Visual Arts

In visual arts, strategic tool use involves choices about what materials should be used to create a piece of art. Deciding what media or tools will be needed to create a piece of art requires forethought, an understanding of the impact of various artistic tools and types of media, and an understanding of safety. For example, water colors are used for muted effects while clay stamps are used for patterns and textures.

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World Languages

In world languages, strategic tools include authentic resources (such as texts, art, and music produced by the target culture) and media (such as audio, video, and the Internet) that provide information about the target culture. When reading a book in the target language, basic ideas and key words are more fully understood. Knowledge obtained from authentic resources can be applied to new topics. For example, understanding food, clothes, and transportation in one culture helps the understanding of these concepts in another culture.

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Summary Document: All standards pages for strategic tool use