CP, CE1, CE2
The Basic Learning Cycle
Learning at school means questioning the world. It also means acquiring specific languages, acquisitions for which the simple fact of growing up is not enough. Cycle 2 covers the period from CP to CE2, thus offering the necessary duration and coherence for progressive and demanding learning.
In cycle 2, all the lessons question the world. The mastery of languages, and in particular the French language, is central. The acquisition of fundamental knowledge (reading, writing, counting, respecting others) is the priority. Teaching must be particularly structured and explicit. It is a question of giving meaning to learning, but it is also necessary to consider its progression.
Children arriving in cycle 2 are very different from one another. They have grown up and learnt in different family and school contexts which strongly influence learning and their pace. The class is therefore organised around constant repetition of knowledge being acquired and differentiation of learning.
It is also a question of taking into account the particular educational needs of certain pupils (newly arrived allophone pupils, those with disabilities, those experiencing significant difficulties in entering the written word, those entering school for the first time, etc.), who require appropriate educational adjustments.
In cycle 2, meaning and automaticity are constructed simultaneously. Comprehension is essential for the development of solid knowledge that pupils can reinvest and the automation of certain skills is the means of freeing up cognitive resources so that they can access more elaborate operations and comprehension.
All subjects are concerned. In mathematics, for example, understanding the various operations is essential for the development of this knowledge, which pupils reinvest. At the same time, immediately available knowledge (such as the results of multiplication tables) considerably improves ‘intelligent calculation’ skills, where pupils understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. In questioning the world, the construction of temporal reference points follows the same logic: their understanding linked to explicit learning gradually enables them to use them spontaneously.
The French language
In cycle 2, the French language is the central learning object. The construction of automation and meaning are two necessary dimensions of language mastery. Mastery of all grapheme-phoneme correspondences, from letters or groups of letters to sounds and vice versa, is an essential challenge in learning French.
Fluid reading, which must be acquired in CP, is the essential condition for good understanding of texts.
Reading is constantly linked to writing and gradually to vocabulary, grammar and spelling. Language is a tool for all learning. The versatility of the teachers makes it possible to encourage cross-fertilisation between the different areas of teaching, with regular feedback on basic learning. It allows for the development of projects in which pupils use the French language as a tool for communication, first orally and then in writing, with real people, reporting on visits, experiences and research.
In cycle 2, the concrete and the abstract are articulated. Observing and acting, manipulating, experimenting, all these activities lead to representation, whether analogical (drawings, images, diagrams) or symbolic, abstract (numbers, concepts).
In cycle 2, there is a significant gap between oral and written language. What a pupil is capable of understanding and producing orally is of a much higher level than what he or she is capable of understanding and producing in writing. However, oral and written language are closely linked and, from the first grade, pupils have access to written material, both in production and in reading. The gap between oral and written language is particularly important in the learning of modern languages.
Cycle 2 helps to lay the groundwork for the initial development of pupils’ competence in several languages, initially in oral language. The teaching and learning of a modern language, whether foreign or regional, should put pupils in a position to practise the language and to reflect on it. Work on language and culture are inseparable.
In cycle 2, intuitive knowledge is still central. Outside school, in their families or elsewhere, children acquire knowledge in many areas: social (rules, conventions, customs), physical (knowledge of one’s body, movements), oral language and culture.
This knowledge contributes to the foundation of learning. Pupils are encouraged to understand what they know and can do and to use their thinking during learning time.
In cycle 2, students are taught to carry out fundamental school activities. These activities can be found in several lessons and will be found throughout the schooling: solving a problem, reading and understanding a document, writing a text, creating or designing an object. The links between these various fundamental school activities will be highlighted by the teachers who will underline the analogies, for example: solving a mathematical problem, implementing an investigative approach in science, understanding and interpreting a text in French, receiving a work of art.
In cycle 2, we learn to justify rationally. Pupils, in the context of an activity, know how to carry it out but also explain why and how they did it. They learn to justify their answers and approaches. This enables pupils to question and criticise what they have done, but also to appreciate what has been done by themselves or others. Media and information literacy prepares students for the exercise of judgment and the development of critical thinking.
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