How to help your child over the summer… and beyond

All My Reasons
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Dear Parent,

This time last year, I put up three posts

which were very popular:

1. Helping your child with Reading

2. Helping your child with Maths

 and

3. How to help your child’s

‘higher order learning’

using Bloom’s Taxonomy

 

4. To these I am adding a recent post about coding

if your child is interested in learning how to code.

Reading during the summer to beat the ‘Summer Slide’

slide
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If you google the phrase ‘Summer Slump’ or ‘Summer Slide’

you will read about how research has shown that children

slip back academically over the summer holidays.

Children who don’t read during summer can slip back

by two to three months in their reading achievement.

Keeping up reading over the summer is one way

to counteract this.

 

The following link is a comprehensive post

from New Zealand on the subject:

Summer Slide and Holiday Reading.

 

As adults we read but that does not mean we read

books like ‘War and Peace’ all the time.

By the same token children benefit by reading

books that they are easily able for and enjoy.

Reading even five or six age appropriate books

over the summer can help.

What we are finding though is that some children

get stuck at a particular stage; and in 5th class is

reading the same books they read in 2nd.

Perhaps you could ask your local librarian for advice

about books your child might enjoy.

You can see books and authors

that the children in school enjoy here.

 89/365: Children
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jeremy Kunz via Compfight

Parent Request: How to subtract using the ‘renaming’ or ‘regrouping’ method?

308.365  Budget
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Sometimes parents say:

‘When we learned  how to ‘takeaway’ in school

we learned it a different way;

we ‘borrowed’ and ‘paid back’.

Could you show us how subtraction

is taught in schools these days?

 

This animation may be of some help:

How to subtract by ‘regrouping’ or ‘renaming’.

Click on this link to find out more.

Parent Request: How to help my child with Maths

What's In My (Dice) Bag?
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Parents have been asking how

to help their children with Maths.

Using ‘concrete objects’ as above is helpful.

Slowly but surely, from First Class up

you could teach your child

these mental maths strategies.

 

Tables are important too.

Click here to read about 

the importance of learning tables.

Quick Links; How To Help Your Child’s Learning Over The Summer.

Free Daddy and His Little Shadow Girls at The Skate Park Creative Commons
Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt via Compfight

 

Dear Parent,

 

I hope you find these links useful.

This post is intended to make finding

these three posts as easy as possible;

 

1. Helping your child with Reading

2. Helping your child with Maths

and ‘the honours course’;

3. How you can help your child’s ‘higher order learning’ using Bloom’s Taxonomy

My Heart is a Flower
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PS. 1. Greystones Library is running

a ‘Reading Passport’ promotion

to encourage reading over the summer.

Why not call in and sign your child up! 

 

2. Finally ‘Smart Futures’ are running

a technology project competition

which may appeal to your child’s interests;

Smart Futures.ie – Competition

‘Smart Futures’  is an enterprise

which aims to introduce students

to the potential of a future

working in the areas of

science, technology,

engineering or maths.

 

This project involves choosing an area to study.

It could be about a career in this area or about

someone, past or present who work in this area.

 

To present this project

you could design a website or webpage,

‘an animation or a PowerPoint presentation, a music video or a game.’

 

This project is aimed at students at primary or second level.

It may appeal in particular to any student involved in working with Coder Dojo.

 

3. How You Can Help Your Child’s ‘Higher Level Learning’ using Bloom’s Taxonomy

 

New Blooms Pyramid
Photo Credit: Andrea Hernandez via Compfight

This is the final part of three posts

on how you can help your child’s learning over the summer.

The first post was about 1. How to help your child with Reading

the second was about 2. How to help your child with Maths

This last one is ‘the honours course’

and is about how you can help

your child’s ‘higher level learning’ using Bloom’s Taxonomy.

 

Bloom’s Taxonomy is

a hierarchy of levels at which we learn.

There are a list questions 

you can make use of

to develop your child’s thinking.

 

You can ask your child these questions,

about their reading or just when talking to them.

 

This list of questions begin with ones

you have already been asking your child

when working on their reading comprehension;

who? when? what? and where? 

 

However you will see from these links

that the list goes on, the questions get more complex

so for example;

you are asking your child ‘to compare’ or ‘evaluate’.

 

You might like to download this chart

(from Enokson on Flickr)

and stick it up on the fridge as a reminder

of these questions.

 

To be asking questions like this

may seem artificial at first

but as time goes on asking

the ‘higher order questions’

will come as second nature to you

and will benefit your child’s

‘higher order thinking’.

 

After extensive practice at this level,

the next step in using Bloom’s Taxonomy

would be to encourage your child to ask the questions

and to encourage them to

move from the ‘lower order’ questions;

who? where? how? and when?

to the higher order ones.

 

I am hoping to do a short course about this

this later in the summer,

and will post again then.

 

In the meantime, these links are informative.

How Blooms Taxonomy Can Encourage Children’s Critical Thinking Skills from Exquisite Minds.com

How Parents Can Use Bloom’s Taxonomy To Encourage Higher Level Learning In Their Children

 

Critical Thinking Skills
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2. Helping your Child’s Learning; Mostly Maths (for 2nd Class going into 3rd)

Tirando Los Dados. / Rolling The Dice.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Gonzalo Barrientos via Compfight

Dear Parent,

 

A number of parents have asked for more details

than was contained in the end of year report

about how parents can help their child’s learning over the Summer.

 

I have already posted some suggestions about reading

Suggestions for Children’s Reading Over The Summer

 

This post relates to Maths.

There will be a third post about using higher order questions

to develop your child’s learning.

 illustrated math problem
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jimmie via Compfight

 

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

have several short videos for parents

about working on maths with your child.

Short Videos from National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA)

 

They appear to be still compiling resources for 3rd/4th class

For Parents of 3rd/4th Classes – National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

 

This post relates specifically to

students in 2nd Class going into 3rd.

It is a long post and you will find

the contents will help you

over the next school year.

 

In many reports I wrote that;

‘3rd+4th Class is the window of opportunity

for learning multiplication+division tables.

They are easier to learn than

the addition/subtraction tables from this year

because of the number patterns apparent in them.

Prioritizing these tables next year will

give your child a very useful life skill.

Tables are gymnastics for the brain.

Knowing them well is confidence building

and allows your child to concentrate on methodology’.

 

Multiplication is introduced as repeated addition.

Towards the end of 2nd class, we did this in class.

 

You may find the following websites helpful.

The two introductory videos here are useful;

Teach the Times Tables on Multiplication.com

 

This is a useful follow up game;

Carl’s Cookie Capers from Multiplication.com

 

The Balloon Popping Game from the School Hub

with which your child is very familiar will also be helpful.

 

Other online games that practice multiplication can be found here;

Multiplication Games from ICT Games.com

 

It may be that your child finds it hard to learn by rote.

So you may find this site useful;

Strategies for Learning Multiplication Facts from Olc.spsd.sk.ca

 

This  game also provides some gymnastics for the brain;

http://members.learningplanet.com/act/count/free.asp

 

Problem Solving is a skill that all students would benefit from practising.

I suggest an inexpensive purchase  Mad 4 Maths – 3rd Class

To start with your child could do a few of these with you

perhaps using the 3-step strategy highlighted below.

Once they master these steps they can continue on, independently.

 

How can you help your child with problem solving in Maths?

Problem Solving:

The following strategies are useful in relation to problem solving
• Discussing the problem
• Rephrasing to make the meaning clearer
• Using concrete materials where possible
• Using smaller numbers
• Setting out problem on paper using diagrams, drawings etc.
• Estimating

 

Some teachers use the mnemonic  RUDE 

to remind the children of problem solving strategies.

So the children are encouraged to 

Read,

Underline key words, 

Draw, 

Estimate (Answer).

This is the simplest approach.

‘Drawing’ the problem can be very effective.

It gives the child time to think and process the information.

 

Another approach is

We LUV 2 C word stories!

Look, 

Underline (the key word), 

Visualise(draw), 

Calculate and 

Check.

 

In tandem with these approaches you could ask your child:

 

1. What do I have? (what info is given?)

 

2. What do I want to have at the end? (What am I being asked to do?)

 

3. How do I get there? (add/subtract/multiply/divide or a combination)

 

The additional website may be useful for some.

 

It teaches a visual strategy for problem solving:

 

Problem Solving with Thinking Blocks

 

Penrose Triangle
Photo Credit: gfpeck via Compfight

 I have checked out all these websites,

but please supervise your child online.

Letter homes during the month of April.

ARRANGEMENTS FOR COMMUNION PHOTOS ON WEDNESDAY, 22ND MAY, 2013

Homework for the week beginning 22nd April 2013:

1. We are continuing to practice subtraction

of double digit numbers with renaming.

There will be work sheets going home.

If these get lost,

this is where I where I sourced them:

Subtraction worksheets from Worksheetplace.com

This is a short explanation of the methodology:

How to do takeaways with renaming or regrouping

There is a longer explanation

including the above link already on this blog

Explaining renaming

2. We will continue reading ‘The Snow Spider,

no more than a page a night, from page 26.

Ideally your child should read this

at least three times, aloud with expression.

3(a) I have made a list of the spellings

that are often misspelled in the children’s work.

I will pretest this, so your child won’t

be ‘learning’ spellings that they can already spell.

The spellings that your child is finding tricky

will be for homework.

The children will be using the spelling charts

we used in the first term:

Really Useful Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check Template from The Spelling Blogspot.ie

3(b) For those lucky children who find spellings easy,

I will be asking them to do some ‘procedural’ writing

as that is the whole school focus at the moment.

I think the children will find this challenging

because it is a change in style from the wonderfully

descriptive writing

they have been doing for me.

I will send home a list from which your child can choose e.g.

How do you play your favorite game?

How do you make a snowman?

How do you care for a pet?

 

I find it useful to say to the children,

how would you explain this to an alien from outer space.

 

The full list is here in case the list is mislaid:

Procedural Writing Prompts from Worksheetplace.com

This is the worksheet that they will use initially:

Worksheet for Primary School Procedural Writing from Worksheetplace.com

In a nutshell, the homework is

1.FinishMaths worksheet – subtraction with renaming

2.Continuing to read one page of  ‘The Snow Spider’ (atleast three times, aloud, with expression)

3. Learn Spelling

or choose a procedure/a ‘how to’ from the list

and write down the procedure.

Tomorrow and the Next Day and the Day After That
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight

Letter going home today 22nd April, looking for volunteers

for the morning of Thursday 25th, to accompany the class

to the local football pitches

for the run offs for the North Wicklow Sports.

Dear Parents,

It is that time of year again when we hold the run offs

for the North Wicklow Sports.

We have been advised that for insurance purposes we need

extra adult supervision.

I need at least three parents to walk with us from the school

to the local football pitches

and to help supervise when we get there.

We are scheduled to leave the school shortly

after school starts.

No matter what the weather, there can be a wind chill factor,

so the children will need to bring a jacket; a rain jacket

if the weather looks changeable.

Sun screen may also be needed.

It is hard to guarantee when we’d get back to the school,

but usually it is well before school lunch time 12.30.

 

Letter going home on paper: 15th April, 2013,

Dear Parent,

Second Class Room 6 ‘hit the ground running’ last week and we got lots of work done. I am very happy with the work the children are doing, particularly the standard of the written work in ‘Away With Words’. Earning a Handwriting Licence was a great incentive for the children to give of their best.

Take aways with renaming is about the most challenging maths that is taught in second. I have done concrete, hands on work with the children in preparation for learning how to do these. We have worked on the sums themselves. Some children are finding them tricky.

It is interesting to analyse how this happens. Some are inclined to take the smaller number of units from the top, even if the smaller number is on top. Some children are making mistakes in their subtraction tables.

There are about fifty days left in second class. I will do a few of these sums each day until everyone is happy that they can do them.

May I also ask you to check if your child is coming to school with what they need to do their school work in their pencil cases. They do not need rubbers or pencil parers. If you have crayons or twistables at home, please you send them in with your child.

I love to encourage children to share but sharing colours can involve travelling the length of the room to borrow them from a friend and stopping to chat with other friends on the way back. So it isn’t the best use of our time.

We have had great fun reading our class novels. I had thirty of each book we read: for example: ‘Dog on a Broomstick’, ‘The Hodgeheg’, ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark,’ ‘Owl Tree’, ‘Bill’s New Frock.’ Some of these sets of books have gone missing. Any chance they would be at home. If you have any of these or class library books, I’d love to get them back.

With every good wish,
Teacher

Letter home at the beginning of the first week back after the Easter holidays.

With twelve weeks left in 2nd class, we have a lot to look forward to; most especially 1st Holy Communion.

From Wednesday, we will have a visitor from Junior Achievement for an hour weekly over six weeks. There will also be the school tour and Sports’ Day.

We have worked very hard this year and made good progress.

We will continue to be very busy in the next twelve weeks so it is important to come to school each day.

Maths
We have worked very hard at learning our addition and take away tables.

The class improved with an average score of 16.7 in a sixty second tables test in October to a score of 31.4 just before Easter.

Knowing one’s tables is important as your child progresses through the primary maths curriculum.

For children who find it hard to learn by rote, we learned ‘strategies’ to help e.g.
– using doubles to add near doubles,
– adding nine by adding ten, then taking away one.

Maths homework in the run up to Easter, practiced these strategies.

With twelve weeks to the end of 2nd class, you may decide to keep polishing the tables or you may decide that your child learns most effectively using mental maths ‘strategies’.

Here is a link to these strategies. You may remember I included it in the letter that went home after Christmas.

Mental Maths Strategies

We will take that one minute table test just one more time before the end of term.

We will also be preparing for learning multiplication in third class, by working on ‘multiplication as repeated addition’. This will keep addition facts fresh in our minds.

English

We did a lot of work on presentation and handwriting particularly in the first term.

In the next while the completed handwriting workbook will be coming home.

In some cases children were so eager to complete the book, that the quality of their handwriting didn’t improve. So I am putting some focus on handwriting again this term. The children will be working towards a Good Handwriting Licence.

Some children will be working on completing their 100 Book Challenge.

We will also continue to work on spellings. We have done a lot of work in this area and however some children are still mixing up ‘there’ and ‘their’, ‘to’, ‘too’ and ‘two’.

I am really looking forward to beginning the last class novel of the year; ‘The Snow Spider’ by Jenny Nimmo. This is a challenging read but we will take it slowly. The novel is serialized on Youtube

The Snow Spider – Part One ITV (1988)

Watching this may contribute to your child’s comprehension and enjoyment of the story.

Needless to say, the internet and particularly Youtube is a door to an outside world. It is advisable to supervise your child when they are online.

Irish
In the first term we did a lot of oral work. Last term we worked on reading and now we will be revising vocabulary and oral work and focusing on writing.

With the whole school emphasis on maths and literacy I find I haven’t got as far as I had hoped with regard to project work, but I am hopeful we will get more of these done in this last term particularly as project work can be integrated with literacy. We will also be doing a data project which will integrate with maths.

Homework
The most important homework is reading and ‘learning off’.

Children prioritize the written work which they may do at the expense of the rest.

It is very time consuming to check reading and ‘learning off’ is done nightly.

Please encourage your child to do all their homework.

If homework is taking much more than twenty minutes, drop me a note in the homework notebook.

If you feel your child is not getting enough homework here is the link I gave you earlier in the year, with some ideas:

Ideas for supplementing homework

This week’s homework:
Finish written exercises in ‘Away with Words’.
Maths worksheet: to finished for Friday
Practice reading one page of ‘The Snow Spider’ aloud with expression.

It maybe necessary to read the page up three times.

With all the work we have been doing, it may be that your child needs to restock their pencil cases; crayons in particular.

Needing to borrow these from other children can affect concentration levels and cause misunderstandings between children.

Thank you for your patience, co-operation and understanding in these matters.

With every good wish,
Teacher

This letter will also be going home on paper.

 

For those of you who may not have seen the coverage of the Junior Spider Awards

This is footage of some of the prize giving ceremony.

From approximately 2 minutes 40 seconds 

you may see some children you know:

Junior Spiders Awards 2013 contd (Big Red Engine.com)

 

*******************************

In the following link 2nd Class Room 6

were lucky enough to get a Mega Spider Awards.

Our section is at 8 minutes 30 into the video:

More from the Junior Spider Awards.

 

Highlights from

Eircom Junior Spiders Awards

5th March, 2013

Highlights from Eircom Junior Spiders Awards 2013 from Big Red Engine.com

Well done everyone !

Working with a formal reading scheme in 2nd Class – Ginn – Advice for Parents

Dear Parents,

For the time being we are working on a formal reading scheme.

Many children have started the Ginn Readers.

Others are working hard on a separate scheme with Mrs. F 🙂

 

Advice about reading (Ginn Readers)

First of all don’t feel you have to read a full book in a night!

 

From Level 4, (Green cover) it is quite ok for you, the parent

to read every 2nd page to the child.

Reading these books takes quite a bit of  ‘reading stamina’,

so if you take every 2nd page, that will help.

 

Alternating who reads the story in this way,

also helps the pace and the ‘flow’ of the story.

 

But one of the most useful things about this approach

is that your child will ‘model’ their reading on yours.

This means that they will pick up on

how you use expression when you read

and how you observe punctuation.

Now that your child is reading more fluently,

it is important to check that your child

understands what they are reading.

For this reason, as you read with them it is a good idea

to check their comprehension by asking them

incidental questions about the story.

 

So you might ask;

‘What do you think might happen next?’

Or after you have read a story with your child you might ask

‘What happened in this story’ or ‘What was your favourite bit?’

Poems feature in some of the higher levels of the Ginn readers.

The vocabulary in them is a bit trickier.

Persevere certainly,

but don’t worry about getting them word perfect.

 

Throughout the Ginn series I have found that there are book/stories

that boys enjoy more than the girls do and visa versa.

e.g. ‘Helicopters’ (Level 4) and also in the later Ginns (from Level 6).

 

If your child is finding a story most uninteresting,

there is no need to labour over them.

In this way reading is enjoyable for you and your child.

 

PS. I have assigned the reading level according to the

Standardised Test results of last term.

If the level is too simple (or too hard) for your child,

not to worry; I will adjust this in a day or two.

 

I assigned a level that might be too easy rather than too hard,

as it is better for a child’s confidence in themselves as a reader

to be promoted up a level rather than demoted.

 

When we have finished Level 8,

we will read from Teacher’s box of ‘real books.’

In January we will begin our class novel

‘The Owl Who Was Afraid of The Dark’ by Jill Tomlinson.

 

If you want to see how we are getting along on our Reading Journey

please take a look at This Year’s Reading Journey

 

I can see from reading over the plan for this year,

that we are ahead of ourselves!

I am happy that we are making steady progess with our reading

and improving in fluency and comprehension every day.

This review from Amazon.com:

The GINN series of readers are commonly used in schools and is of a very high standard.

They are well designed, provide a wide variety of stories within each book.

Each book is dedicated to a theme.

The books can include fiction, non-fiction and poetry and cover different cultures.

The stories range from informative, factual, fantasy, amusing and educational both in facts and life.

They often have an amusing twist at the end.

Illustrations are excellent and the pages appealing to the eye.

On many occasions, children will chose to read further than requested by the teacher as they are caught up in the story.

The only slight criticism is that some of the poetry can be much tougher to read within a level than the stories within the same book….but then again, this is true in adult poetry too.

Each level steps up at a reasonable pace so the child isnt swamped at the next level.

Highly recommended.

Letter after the Parent Teacher Meetings


Dear Parents,

As the Parent Teacher Meetings draw to a close

I thought it would be useful to ‘recap’

on what was said at them.

 

At the PT Meetings you saw

our system of record keeping in the school.

We also looked at reports from other years.

We examined the recurring themes in those reports;

the positives,

and where we may need to focus with your child.

 

In many cases, this was in the area of

English comprehension

and tables and computation in Maths. 

 

We looked at standardized test results from other years.

The test results we looked at were from last May,

a time when children would not have developed ‘exam skills’.

 

A test is just a ‘snap shot’ in time.

For more information on Standardized Tests

you might like to take a look at

Information about Standardized Tests from elsewhere on this blog

 

Looking at your child’s copybooks and workbooks

give a much better overview of how your child is progressing.

We compared the children ability as indicated

in those standardized tests

with the day to day work that they do in class.

 

Many parents spoke about the difficulty

of fitting in time for tables.

At the moment we are also learning how to take away using

the ‘decomposition’ or ‘renaming’ or ‘regrouping’ method.

 

In class I note that children think

that they are not getting the sums right

because they aren’t ‘renaming’ correctly,

but more often than not it is that

they have made a mistake when they take away.

 

So we will continue working them.

You may find the following useful from

The Importance of Learning Tables (from this blog)

 

Ways of learning

In 1st and 2nd Class we practise tables,

in a concrete way, using lollipop sticks and unifix cubes.

We also use the table book.

 

In school we use Joyce O’Hara’s

Addition and Subtraction CD

from Ashton Productions

ADDITION AND SUBTRACTION CD

In class we say ‘one and zero make one’,

one and one make two’…

‘one from six leaves five’.

In this way we use the same language as this cd.

 

Children learn in different ways.

Many respond to working with concrete objects;

lollipop sticks,

cubes,

smarties.

Some children learn best by singing or chanting the table.

For some, keeping track of their tables on their fingers

(a kinaesthetic approach) helps.

 

Strategies to help your child with addition

At some meetings I spoke about strategies we teach children

to help them when they are adding up.

I said I would follow up with more details.

 

In class I say to the children:

1. Start with the larger number.

It is easier to add 11 and 2 rather than tot up 2 and 11.

 

2. When adding nine, add 10 and

take away one or to remember the pattern:

Adding 9 to a number the number in the unit place

is always one less.

When adding nine, add ten and then take away one.

 

3. If you are totting up three numbers,

spot can you make ten with two of the numbers

and then add the other.

 

4. If you know your ‘Table of Doubles’

and that 7 and 7 are 14,

then it is easier to work out ‘near doubles plus one’ 7 and 8,

near doubles take away one 7 and 6

or near doubles plus two 7 and 9

near doubles minus two 7 and 5.

 

The children have been revising the ‘Table of Doubles’

for homework this week.

This is so that they can use ‘near doubles’ to add up quickly.

 

You might find this more detailed link useful:

Strategies for Learning Tables

 

This may seem a lot and a bit confusing,

but each time we work through a page of sums

I remind the children of these strategies.

 

The other ‘hiccup’ in computation,

occurs when children are required to ‘take away’

across the 10.

Ask a child to take 7 from 10 and

they will say 3 with confidence.

This is because they are very sure of ‘what makes 10’.

 

However when one asks a child a sum like 17 take away 9,

they are less sure of the answer.

 

One of the solutions is for the child to learn

the ‘make up’ of 20 and be as sure of it as they are of 10.

 

The other solution is that the child learns to ‘bridge the 10’.

Take that sum 17-9 again:

The children are fairly secure in the knowledge

that 7 steps will bring them back to 10

‘Nine is one less than ten. So you add 7 and 1

and the answer is eight’.

 

Another question parents asked was

How do I help my child with comprehension?

When you read with your child check that they understand

what they are reading by asking them questions.

 

I have noticed that when children aren’t

observing the punctuation

on a page they lose the meaning of what they are reading.

 

Sometimes, in the early days when children are doing

comprehension exercises in school,

they attempt to answer the questions

without reading the piece!

 

To start with, the children are asked

1. to read the piece of comprehension.

2. To read the questions underlining

what they are being asked.

This means they will be reading the piece

with the questions in mind.

They will be reading with a purpose.

3. To read the piece again with the questions in mind…

underlining what they think would be useful.

4. Then to go through the questions one by one,

looking for the answers in the comprehension piece

and writing down the answers.

As they get good at this, there is less need for underlining.

 

You might like to TRY THIS WEBSITE FOR GRADED COMPREHENSION EXERCISES

You could even do them orally. Try the Second Grade Ones.

When these are complete have a go at

some of the Third Grade ones.

 

PLEASE CLICK FOR AN EVEN MORE COMPREHENSIVE SITE ON STRATEGIES FOR COMPREHENSION

 

Question words like ‘Who?’ ‘Where?’ ‘When?’ ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ may help.

 

I found the Parent Teacher meetings very helpful.

I feel I know your child much better now.

I am very grateful for your continued co-operation

and support.

An edited version of this letter

will be going home on paper shortly.

Just a quick note about spelling for homework

Dear Parent,

1. First Teacher Pre Tests

We are starting with the Dolch List

of most frequently used words.

I am pretesting the children,

so that time is not taken up with spellings they already know.

I have stapled the Dolch List

into the Spelling/Free Writing copy.

 

I am also sending home an enlarged copy

of  list of the Dolch List  home.

You might find it useful to pop it up on a wall

somewhere at home.

 

Dolch List

I would suggest that the class levels at the top of this page

e.g. Pre Primer/2nd Grade are certainly American

and probably date back to the last century

when it was compiled by Dolch himself.

I don’t think it has any relevance to us.

2. Then she highlights the ones that need to be learnt

I have marked the misspellings from the pretests

on the photocopied page with a yellow highlighter.

I would like your child to learn five a night.

When they know them I would like them

to put them in sentences.

 

3. Then the children learn them

Understandably children often ask me

can they put their five spellings in just one sentence.

I would prefer them to write five sentences.

 

One sentence for each spelling helps practice punctuation

i.e. remembering that sentences begin with capital letters

and end in a full stop.

Also putting five random words in one sentence

can result in some very random sentences.

 

I would like the children to work

on the quality of the sentences they write

when they are practicing their spellings

and so avoid very simple sentences

like ‘I am funny,’ ’Where am I?’ or  ‘I am here’.

 

A post about developing the quality

of these sentences will follow shortly.

When a child completes the Dolch List

they can do ‘free writing’ at this time instead,

for a period of time.

 

Reading the ‘free writing’

will be a good starting point for me

for establishing words

that are frequently spelled incorrectly.

 

These are the words that we will work

on when we have finished working on the Dolch List.

 

Spelling Homework in a nutshell:

Learn five of the highlighted spellings a night.

Use the approach to learning spelling

that you were taught last year

i.e. Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check.

When you are confident that you know the five spellings

write five sentences using each one.

Remember capital letters and full stops.

Good penmanship and presentation is also important.

 

Other homework this week:

The other homework this week is Mental Maths as marked

and reading one comprehension piece from

‘A Way With Words’

 

Further information:

Scroll down this link for additional information

about a year’s plan for spelling here:

Class Plan for Learning Spelling 2012

When planning for spelling this year

I came across this very helpful blog:

Johanna Stirling’s ‘The Spelling Blog’

Thanking you, Teacher

 

And to finish:

a quote from Terry Pratchett:

 

“Nanny Ogg knew how to start spelling ‘banana’,

but didn’t know how you stopped.”

– Terry Pratchett, ‘Witches Abroad’

 

I found spellings hard at school and remember the feeling well 🙂

Teacher is available to meet parents by appointment at the following times.

1st September 2012

 

Dear Parent,

Thanks to all the parents who filled in

the attached questionnaire (see below).

I found the information you gave me very useful.

It certainly speeded up the ‘getting to know’

the children process 🙂

It also let me know what you feel

I should prioritise with your child,

in the way of learning.

This is very valuable information.

I feel the month of September is

a period of settling in and adjustment.

I don’t envisage needing any meetings

with parents until at least the end of the month of September.

 

However I am available for meetings by appointment

any day before school from 8.30 or earlier if you wish.

After school I am free

most Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

 

With every good wish,

Teacher

 

 

Child’s Name _____________________________________

Interests or pastimes______________________________

_______________________________________________

What he or she is good at ___________________________

_______________________________________________

What you feels they need help with this year

i.e. anything you would like me to prioritise e.g. reading fluency, tables, social skills.

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

Will your child be making communion this year? ___________

Any thing else you feel I should be aware of _____________

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

( I will be aware of medical conditions from school files)

Information for Parents of 2nd Class, upon the return to school.

Dear Parents

Welcome back . I am looking forward

to a happy and successful year ahead.

September will be a month spent revising

what has been learnt in 1st Class.

Revision will provide me with an opportunity

to assess the abilities of the children in the class.

Homework will begin on Monday,

when I will send home my homework policy.

We have a lot to learn and to look forward to this year.

 

In Maths we will be revising addition and takeaway tables.

Knowing these number facts thorough helps the children

when they are adding and subtracting using tens and units.

 

In English As well as working through our ‘readers’,

we will be reading ‘real’ books.

I have some enjoyable novels chosen for reading.

We will also be working on improving reading comprehension.

 

We will be revising the simple grammar that the children have

learned to date and will be working towards paragraphing by

the final term.

 

I hope to do the ‘Write A Book’ project with the class.

For more details about the plan for reading

please click on the following link:

Reading Plan for 2nd Class, Room 6

Early next term we will begin project work 

in the areas of Science, Geography, History

and the Natural World.

I am also looking forward to teaching

the children to play the recorder

Please Note: Dancing is scheduled for Mondays

and PE is on Thursday.

I enclose a questionnaire to enable me to get to know the

children, their interests and their needs more quickly.

With every good wish,

Teacher

 

This questionnaire will help me to get to know your child

and what makes them tick more quickly.

It will also help me with my planning for the year ahead.

Child’s Name _____________________________________

Interests or pastimes______________________________

_______________________________________________

What he or she is good at ___________________________

_______________________________________________

What you feels they need help with this year

i.e. anything you would like me to prioritise e.g. reading fluency, tables, social skills.

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

Will your child be making communion this year? ___________

Any thing else you feel I should be aware of _____________

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

( I will be aware of medical conditions from school files)

 

 

Homework Policy for 2012 – 2nd Class, Room 6

INTRODUCTION

This year we will work hard in class. This will include improving

– writing and presentation,

– reading and comprehension and

– maths; computation, tables and problem solving.

When the children work to the best of their ability at school, I don’t like to give the children too much homework.

If the weather is kind I’m sure you agree that it is preferable for them to be outdoors, getting some fresh air and exercise. In this way they have a balance in their lives.

That said, it will be very unusual if your child comes home and says that they have no homework. This is because I would like them to read every single day at home. I can’t recommend this highly enough. Reading assists your child’s language development and their writing style. It also helps your child with their spellings.

To my mind reading homework and number patterns/tables are the most important part of the homework at this time in your child’s school career.

READING HOMEWORK

This first week we will be doing ‘free choice’ reading from the school library.  There will be some reading of comprehension texts from ‘Away With Words’.

This will be followed by ‘paired reading’, with which you are familiar with by now. Homework may involve reading the class readers. Later in the year we will be reading a variety of ‘real books’.

Reading Independently

We are working towards your child becoming a fluent and independent reader with excellent comprehension skills. When that happens your child is more likely to be bringing home a ‘real’ book than the class reader. To help your child become an independent reader, I also recommend that as well as reading ‘homework’ your child should have a period for reading built into their timetable, perhaps the twenty or thirty minutes before ‘lights out’. I know this is a tradition in many homes already.

Even when your child is an independent reader, it is beneficial to spend some time reading with them. I still read with my fourteen year old. Reading the first chapter of a more challenging book with your child motivates and encourages children. It sets them up for continuing with the book. He or she come to associate these good times and closeness with a parent with books and reading.

Spellings

Initially spellings will be from the Dolch List. Plan for Learning Spelling 2nd Class 2012

MATHS

For the time being the maths homework will be from the Mental Maths book. I will be sending home tables as homework from the end of the month. This is because I want to make a good start on them at school, before sending them home. As is good practice initially we will be revising last year’s tables.

EXTRA HOMEWORK

Sometimes your child will be asked to finish something they didn’t get finished in school. This will be clearly marked by me. Hopefully getting extra homework like this will motivate your child to finish work in school. I have also found a small amount extra homework effective when a child is misbehaving repeatedly. Where this would happen the reason for extra homework will be clearly marked in the homework notebook.

TIME

Children have different ways of working. Some have a longer attention span than others. Some are perfectionists and take great care in the presentation of their work. From experience I know that I can set homework that I would expect to take twenty minutes, and that for some it would take ten minutes and for others up to an hour. If you feel your child has worked to the best of their ability and the homework is taking longer than it should, please mark how long it took, sign this and allow your child to stop. I would suggest that in second, homework take between twenty and thirty minutes. Reading and memory work, especially tables are the priority. The written work is less important.

If the homework is taking significantly less than this, please note this in the homework notebook. Check that your child’s presentation of their work is all that it should be.  I can take it from there. For example if this is true of the whole of the class, I can give more homework. If it is just some individuals I can make suggestions as to how they might use the remaining time.

FINALLY

It is my intention that the homework is fairly predictable initially. Our aim should be to have the children able to work on homework independently. That is what I am working towards, though I do realise some children are doing this already. As the year progresses, and certainly by the last term, I intend that the children would do project work at home, but first I want to ensure that we have the second class curriculum in Maths and English covered.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CO-OPERATION & SUPPORT FROM HOME.

Information Update

First Communions for Room 6 are at midday on Saturday. We are well prepared 🙂 There is great excitement.

Both Standardized Tests i.e. Sigma T and Drumcondra Reading Test have been administered. I am in the process of correcting them. You will receive the results with the children’s school reports.

In a break from tradition and in line with new Department of Education guidelines, school reports will be going home before the end of June.

Please remember a test result is just a ‘snap shot in time’. You will get a better understanding of how your child is doing by also considering the work in the children’s copies and workbooks, that I have been sending home.

We had a very entertaining class with the lady from Junior Achievement today. She was teaching the children about the taxes we pay. The children’s outrage when a proportion of the money they earned was taken by the tax man was very funny.

However they also were given an understanding of how the taxes went to pay for necessary services.

The Passover meal was a great success. Our visitors remarked on how well behaved and interested the children were. I was very proud of all the questions the children could answer about the tradition of the Seder Meal.

An Incentive to Read

At the moment, in order to maximize the value the children get from the school library I have told them that if they read 10 chapters or 100 pages of particular books they can have a night off homework.

These books are;

any of the Charlie Bone series, by Jenny Nimmo,

any ‘Naughty Little Sister’ book by Dorothy Edwards

or any Roald Dahl,

Anne Fine,

Jill Tomlinson

or Allan Ahlberg book.

I have chosen these authors to encourage the children to try authors they haven’t tried independently before.

These books relate to books we have read in class during the year.

I have also included the Ben 10 books and Enid Blyton’s ‘The Naughtiest Girl in the School’.

Of course the wonderful new library and all the new books purchased by the Library Ladies and funded by you, the parents is a great incentive to the children to read.

 

Completed Workbooks.

I will be sending one or two completed workbooks home each day this week. To my mind these give a better indication of how your child is progressing in school that test results. I would hope that you would have a good look at them.

If pages haven’t been attempted…

It may have been that your child was absent on that day

or that they were attending Learning Support at the time.

But a page isn’t finished…

It can be an indication that productivity was low on that day for whatever reason.

Sometimes children can be tired or unwell in class.

On other occasions they can be chatty or daydreaming.

Most of the children in the class have finished all their workbooks except ‘Maths Matters’ by now.

Things to bear in mind when looking at the work that is going home.

Presentation can vary too. At this point I ask all children to complete their work using joined writing. This isn’t always the case.

I have also reminded the children that if a word is spelt correctly on the printed workbook page, when they themselves go to write down on the page, it should be spelt correctly.

The children know that sentences begin with a capital letter and end in a full stop. However you may see from their work that they don’t always remember this.

I was a bit dismayed to see that some children are getting words like ‘to, too and two’ mixed up as we did a lot of work on this during the year. I think, in theory, the children know the difference, but when doing an exercise involving them, some children seem to lose focus. I intend to keep revising them.

Having said this I feel the children in Room 6 have worked very hard and made excellent progress.

I feel all students are ready for 3rd class. Their listening skills are greatly improved.

I am very happy with the work the children have done memorizing their tables and number patterns.

I feel we have done a great deal of reading and language work.

You will see great story writing which the class did in their green writing copies.

You will note that these stories aren’t corrected word for word. This is accepted practice and is done so as not to discourage the children’s creativity.

If you are learning to read, you need to practice reading. When you are learning to write you need to practice writing.

Plans for the next six weeks

We will be very busy in the next six weeks. I want to continue the work we are doing on repeated addition as a preparation for learning multiplication next year. I intend revising addition and take away tables.

I have a little more work to do on the Dolch List and then I will be doing a ‘blitz’ on spellings that sound alike and are spelt differently. In this way I hope to iron out the difficulties children are having with words like ‘where’ and ‘were’, and ‘their’ and ‘there’.

We are also embarking on our most challenging read of the year; ‘The Snow Spider Trilogy’ by Jenny Nimmo; all 480 pages of it!

I am really looking forward to doing more recorder and knitting and project work.

There is also the school tour to the Chocolate Warehouse, Sports Day and a Seaside Scavenger Hunt to look forward to.

For that reason I would hope that the children come to school every day in the six weeks we have left.

With every good wish,

Teacher

 

 

Visitors to the classroom

I have been struck this year by the number of visitors we have had to our classroom. We love having visitors and making new friends. So far this year we have had Chris, Aisling and Madison visiting us on work experience. A number of Mums and a Grandmother came in to help us with our knitting. The Community Guard has been in to see us twice. Paul comes in to us regularly to talk to us about the ‘Do It In Memory of Me’ mass. We had two visiting teachers Ms.McN and Ms. H and a visitor from the Department of Education. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our visitors, who made our school year so much more interesting and enjoyable.

Beginning on the 3rd May we are having a visitor from Junior Achievement. She will be coming in to teach us about the world of business over five weekly, forty five minute lessons. This is a regular event in the school and I know the children will enjoy it.

Later in the month, Simon is visiting to present a Passover Meal. This is an annual event for 2nd class, which has proved hugely enjoyable in the past. I know you will hear all about it from the children at the time. I thought you would be interested in a little more information about what happens on that day.

The presentation takes about two hours. The desks are moved so that it feels like we are all sitting round a big table. There is a lot of singing and high spirits. The enjoyment of the celebration brings the children closer together.

Traditionally this special meal is a happy family occasion which is held in Jewish homes on Passover. Through this ceremony, the history of the Jewish people is told. Jesus was celebrating Passover at The Last Supper.

Simon will bring flat bread or matzah crackers, parsley or watercress, horse radish, haroset (applesauce mixed with nuts), eggs and juice.

The story of Passover is told in words and by the food on the table.
*Bitter herbs symbolize how bitter and hard these people found their lives as slaves in Egypt.
*Charoset, a paste made of apple and nuts represents the mud bricks which the slaves were forced to make.
*A hardboiled egg reminds the Jews of a New Life of Freedom.

On the table there is also flatbread, salt water and wine. The Bible tells us that when the Jews escaped from Egypt, they did not have time to bake proper bread and could only make the bread that did not have time to rise.

Salt water is a symbol of the tears which the slaves shed.

The meal ends with a search for a piece of flatbread which, earlier on, has been hidden.

The children do not eat much as the food is mostly mentioned is in small quantities and some of it is bitter or salty. But the meal is punctuated with several lively ‘toasts’ in fruit cordial.

Partaking is the Passover meal helps the children making communion to understand the links between the Passover Meal, The Last Supper and what happens at Mass, when at the Offertory, The Last Supper is revisited.

Hope you find this informative,
Teacher.

Information letter for parents 21st April 2012


Dear Parent,

Homework
As I mentioned in my last letter, I would like to vary homework somewhat depending on what I see as your child’s learning needs. I also like to vary the homework in this last term as a preparation for third class where there may be more variety in the type of homework given.

Having said that I am aware that it is the Summer Term and I understand the children will be out and about more after school. I think this is very important and makes for a healthy and happy child.

Our school policy on homework is that it should take between 20 and at the most 30 minutes in Second Class. I trust you know by now if homework is taking longer than that some parents have found it useful, to leave the reading part of homework until bedtime. If you are doing this, just make sure that the reading book makes its way back into school each day.

The Importance of Reading
At a recent staff meeting I was reminded of the importance of reading. Teachers agreed that reading is the key to being a successful student. Encouraging children to read has been helped greatly by the generosity of parents in the school. The recent Readathon raised two thousand six hundred euro. All school library books, including exciting new purchases are housed in the school hall, where over the Easter a most wonderful shelving unit was built. These shelves show the books off to their best and make it easy to see the selection. We also have an excellent classroom library, so we are very fortunate in the amount of reading material available.

Reading for Homework
For homework all children are reading the class novel ‘The Owl Tree’ by Jenny Nimmo. I am requesting that the children not read ahead in the class novel. I understand that if you are a ‘bookworm’, it is tempting sometimes to read ahead. However as we work through the novel in class we do a great deal of word analysis and also we are learning different comprehension strategies (e.g. prediction and visualization). If a child has read ahead, they may find this tedious.

Also there is great enjoyment in reading a book as a group; coming to humorous parts or developments in the plot at the same time and sharing in the drama or the fun. If a child reads ahead, they miss out on this.

I am asking the children to read a chapter a night. It will be the first time they are reading it … so they may be a little shaky. We will read it again in class and we will revisit the chapter to do comprehension. At that stage they should be very fluent reading it.

Homework Folder
I will be sending home homework in the black A4 folder that your child was given on Monday. All children will need to learn the number rap and thus the number patterns 2-12. Each child will work through these at their own pace. As they learn them, they can move on to the next one. As I explained knowing the number patterns really helps with learning multiplication table next year.

Spellings for Homework
For children who would benefit from spelling practice we will be working through a story ‘The Best Thing in The World. This clever story is based on the Dolch list of most frequently used words. Teachers find it is more challenging for a child to spell a word in context i.e. in a sentence, than as a list of words called out in a spelling ‘check up ’/test. I will call out a few lines from the story every day. We will mark any incorrect spellings and focus on learning these for homework. Today the spellings that tripped almost everyone up was ‘there’ and ‘their’.

Additional homework
As it becomes apparent that number patterns and spellings are progressing, there will be additional worksheets or other suggestions for homework in the black folder e.g. maths worksheets or projects (started in school) to continue with at home.

I understand that given the reading and learning off in maths already assigned, a child might need to do a worksheet over more than one evening. As I said I would hope no one would spend over the 20-30 minutes on homework, but I would also hope that everyone would spend at least 20 minutes doing their very best. Handwriting and presentation are important.

In a nutshell then;
1. Reading every night; One chapter from the class novel.

2. Each child needs to learn the number patterns 1-12
We also will learn 11&12 addition and takeaway tables.
We will do this piecemeal over the next ten weeks.

3. Some children would benefit from working on their spellings using the Dolch List story.

4. All children should do at least twenty minutes homework. If a child has finished their homework in ten minutes there will be a worksheet or suggestion in the black homework folder.

Feedback from you, the parent is appreciated particularly in terms of the time this is taking. If you have any comments, suggestions or difficulties, a short note in the homework notebook will alert me.

Standardised Tests
Standardised Testing begin in the first week in May. The results give a ‘snap shot in time’. Children of this age are relatively new to formal testing and have not yet developed ‘exam skills’. Children don’t realize that these tests have any significance and some may daydream or lose concentration after a while. I am caught between wanting them to give of their best and yet I wouldn’t like any child to find testing stressful, though I know they find them tiring. I will be referring to them as ‘check ups’ rather than tests. I was asked today when were the ‘May Tests’. Rumour had it that if one didn’t get ‘nearly all the questions right’ that one would have to repeat 2nd class. I explained that wasn’t the case and that the ‘check ups’ in May are so we can see what children do know not what they can’t.

I consider the copies and workbooks going home give a more rounded picture of how a child is progressing. For that reason please take a look at the workbooks, copies or worksheets that are going home in the bags between now and the end of the school year. I will send a short note home shortly about what you should look for when you are looking at this work.

With every good wish,
Teacher

Information letter for parents – 15th April 2012

16th April 2012

Dear Parent, I hope you had a good Easter break. There are eleven weeks to the Summer holidays and some very interesting times ahead for the children in Room 6. There will be Communion for those making it, the school tour and Sports Day to mention a few of the events up and coming.

I am hoping to make very good use of this time so as to ‘polish the diamonds’ in Room 6. The hard work the children have done since September has paid off for most in terms of reading, presentation and maths. I have re read the questionnaires many parents filled out for me at the beginning of September and reminded myself of what you saw at that time as priorities. I hope we are moving towards achieving these goals.

I think that one of the ways I could be most effective in the next eleven weeks is to differentiate somewhat when it comes to homework. If a child knows their tables and can spell well, it would be more helpful if I gave them extension work for homework. We will ‘find our feet’ this week and you will begin to see more variety in homework from next Monday.

I do see a value in all children doing projects or ‘reports’ for homework as it gives them a good opportunity to present their work well, to spell well in context and the observe correct use of punctuation. These projects will be in the area of
– historical people with links to our local area,
– countries that have a relevance to the class
– and authors of books the children have read.
We will be doing these projects in school and for homework.

Later in the month I will be sending some completed copies and workbooks home. You will see how hard your child has work and how much they have improved since the beginning of the year. I have observed that even though some children have excellent handwriting and a good understanding of punctuation, left to their own devices presentation and accuracy can slip back. So I would say that next year, when they start with a new teacher, they may need reminders to give of their very best.

It won’t be ‘all work’ this term. I am also looking forward to doing a Printing Project with the children in Art, to pick up on the knitting and to continue with recorder. Our school tour is at the end of May. We are going to the Chocolate Warehouse

This week for homework the children we are revising the Number Rap from before Easter i.e. ‘We’re the best, we’re number one, now let’s have some counting fun’ and working on learning the number patterns. In Second, we learn about ‘repeated addition’ in preparation for learning multiplication next year. If you think about it, learning the number patterns e.g. 3,6,9,12 etc. will make learning multiplication tables so much easier next year, as the children will already know all the answers!

So as you can see we have a busy and exciting term ahead of us.
With every good wish,
Teacher

Letter to Parents

30th January, 2012

Dear Parent,
Write A Book: For reading homework tonight, you are in for a treat! Could you please read your child’s ‘Write A Book’ with them? Please write a short comment at the end where it says ‘What the Critics said’. Your child will show you where. Please return them so I can send them into Blackrock Teachers Centre. They will be returned to you after Easter, for keeps.

Knitting: For the month of February, from this Friday 3rd, from two o’clock to half two, parents or grandparents are very welcome to come in, and help the children in Room 6 learn to knit. We will be knitting rectangles to add to St. Brigid’s Cloak.

As January draws to a close I thought I’d give you a quick update on how things are progressing in Room 6. You must feel like it is ‘Groundhog Day’ as we go over the addition and take away tables again … and again … and again.

Tables: However when I check the tables I find, with take away in particular, that once the numbers involved are over ten, some children are less sure. Even a sum like 11-2 can cause problems.

Children need to be able to rattle off their tables like they know their own name. Otherwise, though they understand the more complicated sums we are learning this year, they may make mistakes in simple addition or take away. This can be discouraging for them. Simple errors can make it appear that the children don’t understand their sums e.g how to ‘regroup’.

I suggest, you might take a look how your child does on mixed subtraction on
THE SCHOOL HUB TABLE TEST…

You may well see what I mean i.e. simple subtraction, once the first number is over ten are causing problems. So does your child need to practice more?

Tomorrow I will also be sending home the children’s maths copies. For homework I will be asking the children to write a number problem. We have learnt how to do this in school. Presentation and handwriting will be important. I find unless I focus on handwriting and presentation, it is inclined to slip back to a ‘default’ position. We have been working hard on problem solving and also on the layout of our work. In general I am happy with progress being made.

‘Forgetting’ Homework Since we returned after the holidays some children have not been taking down their homework. Some have been forgetting the books they need to do their homework. From now until Easter, I will have to monitor this. This is unusual at this point in Second Class.

But now for some Good News. As a class the children’s receptiveness to learning has improved greatly. Their attention level has much improved.

Project Work: The children have been very successful in their mini projects. They will be doing some project work for homework in the week beginning 6th February. They will be given the project on Monday and the date for completion in Friday. Meeting a deadline is an important life skill. Your child should do a little of the project each night. They shouldn’t be tempted to get it all done on the Monday night or leave it all until the Thursday night.

We are also preparing for 3rd March at twelve thirty when twenty three children in the class will be making their First Confession.

That is all our news for now. Thank you for all your continuing back up and support.

Teacher

Letter home at the end of the Autumn Term.

Dear Parents,
Just a note as promised at the Parent Teacher Meetings. We have made good progress in Room 6, particularly in reading. We began a ‘reading blitz’ at the beginning of November and the net result was that everyone made excellent progress through the reading scheme and many children are now reading ‘real’ books for homework. In the new term I am planning to start a class novel with the children ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark’ by Jill Tomlinson. This will mean we will all be reading ‘real books’. This is good for your child’s self image as a ‘reader’ and is motivating for them. I am sourcing a child-appropriate newspaper online as in passing I happen to say to the children ‘When you are finished the readers, you will be able to read the newspaper’ and they are holding me to this. Jill Tomlinson’s ‘The Aardvark Who Wasn’t Sure’ is also on our reading list. This book is a good starting point for a number of projects on African animals which we will be doing. I have both books in stock in school.

I find a focus on a subject e.g the reading blitz very effective. Up to midterm one of the things we concentrated on was handwriting and presentation. In the new term you will see I will be encouraging neat penmanship once again as good presentation isn’t always consistent in workbooks and copies. In the earlier part of the term too, I gave more attention to making sure homework was written down and the books needed for homework were put in the school bag. However at this point in 2nd class this really does have to be something your child does for themselves. Monitoring this would take me away from other areas I feel we should focus on e.g reading, tables, maths, projects, music etc.

As well as reading I have been putting a lot of emphasis on addition and take away tables. Assessment in the class shows that while a lot of hard work has been put into learning the tables, subtraction or take aways still need work in some cases.

Towards the end of this term the children’s supplies of pencils and crayons began to run low. They will need to be restocked for January. If over the holiday you accumulate any shoe boxes or colourful wrapping paper, we would find these useful for art. The children will be learning how to knit and I will be asking for volunteers for the last half hour or so for a number of Fridays from late January.

We just have to put some finishing touches to the books that we wrote for the ‘Write A Book’ project. I will send these home in the new year before I send them off and will also display them in the class room some Friday afternoon. We will also be preparing some entries for the Texaco Art Competition

Thank you for your co-operation and support this term. I look forward to working with the children in Room 6 in 2012 and all the interesting things we are going to learn.

With every good wish for a Happy Christmas.

Teacher

As the Parent Teacher Meetings draw to a close…

Dear Parents,
Your child just has reading homework tonight as the ‘Library Ladies’ have requested that the children are rewarded for all the reading they are doing at the moment. We will do Thursday night’s homework in school so as to maintain continuity.

As the Parent Teacher Meetings draw to a close I thought it would be useful to recap on what was said. At the PT Meetings you saw our system of record keeping in the school and reports from other years. We examined the recurring themes in those reports; the positives and where we may need to focus with your child. In many cases this was in the area of English comprehension and problem solving in Maths. Certainly I will be attending to both areas in school.

We looked at standardized test results from other years. The test results we looked at were from First Class, a time when children would not have developed ‘exam skills’. A test is just a ‘snap shot’ in time. Looking at your child’s copybooks and workbooks give a much better overview of how your child is progressing.

As your child progresses in school, the ability to work independently becomes more and more important. I also rely on the children to work independently so I can hear reading. If possible you should encourage your child to do their written work for homework independently. The Spelling Workbook is so repetitive; this should be possible.

Many parents spoke about the difficulty of fitting in time for tables. At the moment we are learning how to take away using the ‘decomposition’ or ‘renaming’ method. In class I see that not knowing take away tables (‘as well as they know their own name’) is slowing up many children. They worry that they are not getting the sums right because they aren’t ‘renaming’ correctly, but more often than not it is that they have made a mistake when they take away. At the moment they are using number lines in school to help them with their computation. Ideally I would like them to know their addition and take away tables ‘up side down and inside out’. Until Christmas we will have a ‘blitz’ on addition and take away tables at school and for homework. To enable this, there will be no Mental Maths for homework.

Where reading homework is concerned
– one approach that seems to work is to do the rest of the homework and save the ‘reading’ homework for bedtime.
– Another approach is to continue ‘reading homework’ over the weekend.

The difference between what boys like to read and girls was also discussed at many meetings. Research shows whereas girls prefer fiction that many boys have a preference for non fiction. Though girls might like these too boys like graphic novels, information books, adventure, humour/joke books. The Guinness Book Of Records and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not are popular. Roddy Doyle ‘The Giggler Treatment’ and ‘Captain Underpants’ though not ‘politically correct’ do encourage some boys to read.

The ‘Beast Quest’ series by Adam Blade is popular with independent readers.
MORE INFORMATION ON THE BEAST QUEST SERIES HERE

Then there is Irish author Kieran Fanning’s Code Crackers series. These books are not read from beginning to end. Children reading these books have to solve clues, codes, problems and other puzzles to continue with the story.
SEE HERE FOR INFORMATION ON THE CODE CRACKERS SERIES

The staff in bookshops and your local librarian can also be very helpful if you ask them about books that are popular with boys or girls of this age.

My last parent teacher meeting is tomorrow 25th November, which leaves us with approximately a month to the Christmas holidays. I will sent home an update at that point about how your child is progressing.

Finally three small matters under the general heading of ‘housekeeping’. If your child is not tidy in the bathroom at home, it is possible that the same is true at school. If you feel it may be necessary I would be very grateful if you could talk to your child about leaving the bathroom tidy after themselves.

The children are allowed have their drinks bottles on their desks and they drink from these at any point during the day when they feel thirsty. If the drink is sugary, this means that their teeth are in contact with a sugary substance for some time each day. Perhaps you might like to review this.

Most of the drink bottles have ‘sports lids’ but we are averaging about five major ‘spills’ a week where the top of the bottle is an open one (i.e. no sports lid). Inevitably a spill like this destroys copy books and text books. So I would be grateful if bottles coming to school had the kind of lid that minimizes spills.

I found the Parent Teacher meetings very helpful. I feel I know your child much better now. I was more than pleased to hear how hard the children are working on their reading at home. I am very grateful for your continued co-operation and support,

Teacher

You may find the following useful…Answers to questions asked at the P/T meetings

I was asked these questions at parent teacher meetings to date, and thought parents in general would find the answers of interest.

Are the children sight reading when they play the recorder?
I am teaching the children to sight read and read the ‘lines and spaces’
but generally, at the moment, I feel the children are playing ‘by ear’.

Could books be sent home more regularly for parents to see progress?
Certainly.
As you know the ‘Mental Maths’ and ‘Spellbound’ go home almost daily.
Occasionally I have sent exercises in ‘What A Wonderful World’, ‘A Way with Words’ and ‘Modern Handwriting’ home for homework. I have sent Alive-o home too.
The difficulty has been that the next time we go to work in a particular book, a number of children may be without it because it is left at home.
Certainly I will send home textbooks from time to time. Just don’t forget to send them back!

How can you help your child with problem solving in Maths?
Problem Solving:

The following strategies are useful in relation to problem solving
• Discussing the problem
• Rephrasing to make the meaning clearer
• Using concrete materials where possible
• Using smaller numbers
• Setting out problem on paper using diagrams, drawings etc.
• Estimating

Some teachers use the word RUDE to remind the children of problem solving strategies.
So the children are encouraged to Read, Underline key words, Draw, Estimate (Answer).
This is the simplest approach. ‘Drawing’ the problem can be very effective. It gives the child time to think and ptocess the information.

Another approach is
We LUV 2 C word stories!
Look, Underline (the key word), Visualise(draw), Calculate and Check.

In tandem with these approaches you could ask your child:

What do I have? (what info is given?)

What do I want to have at the end? (What am I being asked to do?)

How do I get there? (add or subtract or a combination)
From next year this will include the options to multiply or divide

When I am teaching addition and take away number facts, the children will have opportunities to compose problems based on the number facts. The children choose one number fact and express it as a number problem. These problems can be turn expressed as number facts by their class mates.

1. Number fact 10-7=3
Turn this into a problem
Problem: Ten ducks on a pond. A fox came along and frightened away seven of them. How many were left?

2. Problem: Seven bats hunting for insects.
Three went home to roost. How many were left?
This can be turned into a number sentence.

When children get used to doing these, they find word problems much less daunting.

This is a good website. It teaches a visual strategy for problem solving:
Problem Solving with Thinking Blocks

4. How do I help my child with comprehension?

When you read with your child check that they understand what they are reading by asking them questions.
I have noticed that when children aren’t observing the punctuation on a page they lose the meaning of what they are reading.
Sometimes, in the early days when children are doing comprehension exercises in school, they attempt to answer the questions without reading the piece!

1. To start with, I ask the children to read a piece of comprehension.
2. To read the questions underlining what they are being asked.
This means they will be reading the piece with the questions in mind. They will be reading with a purpose.
3. To read the piece again with the questions in mind…underlining what they think would be useful.
4. Then to go through the questions one by one, looking for the answers in the comprehension piece and writing down the answers.
As they get good at this, there is less need for underlining.

TRY THIS WEBSITE FOR GRADED COMPREHENSION EXERCISES
You could even do them orally. Try the Second Grade Ones. When these are complete have a go at some of the Third Grade ones.

PLEASE CLICK FOR AN EVEN MORE COMPREHENSIVE SITE ON STRATEGIES FOR COMPREHENSION

Information Letter for Parents – 14th November 2011

Dear Parents

Reading:
I am very happy with the start we made last week on the Ginn Reading Scheme.
I am most appreciative of the thorough way in which reading is being done at home.
I heard most of the twenty eight children read, for a couple of minutes, each day, last week.
To do this effectively I rely on the children to work independently for ten minutes at a time.
Though we are following the same routine since September a significant number of the children find this challenging
and the quality of the work done during this time is not their best.

Time wise hearing every child read daily is a challenge.
Even reading with each child for two minutes can take up to an hour of the day.
For these reasons from next week though I will ‘check’ reading daily, I will ‘hear’ each reading group reading once a week approximately.
However I will read with the children that need the most help (at the moment) daily.
I am confident that a reading ‘blitz’ like this will really benefit these children.

It would help me greatly if you could all write down on the reading sheet the page to which your child read at home.

If it takes even thirty seconds for a child to find the page they are on, this could use up to fifteen minutes of the day.

Pencils: Children are much better at bringing in a number of sharpened pencils every day. The one day that this doesn’t happen is Monday.
I think that this is because we don’t have Friday homework when the children would have a chance to ‘stock up’ on pencils for the next working day.
So
I am asking that the children remember to bring in pencils to write with on Mondays.

Parent teacher meetings
have begun.
Please don’t feel that this is the only chance you will get to talk to me or hear about your child’s progress all year.
I will update parents with a short note before the Christmas as to the progress made in the month between the end of the P/T meetings and the holidays.

For those of you whose children are making their First Holy Communion the next ‘Do It In Memory of Me’ mass is next weekend.

Thanking you,

Teacher

Formal Reading beginning on Monday 7th November, 2011

Dear Parents,
Advice about reading (Ginn Readers).
First of all don’t feel you have to read a full book in a night

  • From Level 4, (Green cover) it is quite o.k. for you the parent to
    read every 2nd page to the child. Reading these books takes quite a
    bit of ‘reading stamina, so if you take every 2nd page, that will help.
    Alternating who reads the story helps the ‘flow’ of the story.
  • But one of the most useful things is that your child will ‘model’
    their reading on yours. This means that they will pick up on how you
    use expression when you read and how you observe punctuation.

Now that your child is reading more fluently, it is important to check that your child understands what they are reading.
For this reason, as you read with them it is a good idea to check their comprehension by asking them incidental questions about the story.
So you might ask;

  • ‘What do you think might happen next?’

Or after you have read a story with your child you might ask

  • ‘What happened in this story’ or ‘What was your favourite bit?’

Poems feature in some of the higher levels of the Ginn readers.
The vocabulary in them is a bit trickier so don’t worry about
getting them word perfect.
Throughout the Ginn series I have found that there are book/stories that boys enjoy more than the girls do

e.g. ‘Helicopters’ (Level 4) and also in the later Ginns (from Level 6).  If your child is finding a story most uninteresting, there is
no need to labour over them.

In this way reading is enjoyable for you and your child.

PS. I have assigned the reading level according to the Standardised Test results of last term. If the level is too simple (or too hard) for your child, not to worry; I will adjust this in a day or two.  I assigned a level that might be too easy rather than too hard, as it is better for a child’s confidence in themselves as a reader to be promoted up a level rather than demoted.

This review from Amazon.com:

This review is from: Ginn New Reading 360: Set of six readers, Level 5 (Animal tracks/ In the town/ Dogs and whistles/ All for fun/ Old tales/ Faraway tales) (Paperback)

The GINN series of readers are commonly used in schools and of a very high standard. They are well designed, provide a wide variety of stories within each book. Each book is dedicated to a theme. The books can include fiction, non-fiction and poetry and cover different cultures. The stories range from informative, factual, fantasy, amusing and educational both in facts and life. They often have an amusing twist at the end. Illustrations are excellent and the pages appealing to the eye. On many occasions, children will chose to read further than requested by the teacher as they are caught up in the story.

The only slight criticism is that some of the poetry can be much tougher to read within a level than the stories within the same book….but then again, this is true in adult poetry too.

Each level steps up at a reasonable pace so the child isnt swamped at the next level.

Highly recommended.

Homework Policy

Dear Parent,

Homework will begin on the Monday of the

first full week of September.

For homework this week your child has the following:

 

Mental Maths:  For this month only, each night

please do the corresponding sums 

for that day of the week

from the Mental Maths textbook.

e.g. Tonight do the work for Monday.

To start with these sums are revision of 1st Class work.

 

Learning Spellings: will begin next Monday

For more information on the Plan for Learning Spelling

this year please check the following link:

Plan for Learning Spelling 2nd Class 2012

 

Reading: For this week only your child will bring home a book

from the class library to  read.

The Plan for Reading this year is here: 

Reading Plan for 2nd Class, Room 6

 

At the end of homework each day,

your child should get into the habit of paring

three pencils for use in class the following day.

In doing this your child is taking some responsibility

for their own learning. Preparing for school the next day,

like this, is a valuable habit to get into. 

 

The children will also write down the homework they get

in their new homework notebooks,

but this letter is a ‘back up’ just in case they forget to bring it home.

 

At the end of September I will add learning tables to this homework.

Paired Reading also begins at the end of September.

 

School Policy is that homework in Second should take 20-30 minutes.

This week is a gentle introduction to homework.

After this week if homework is taking significantly less time,

and the work is well done, neat and presentable

you could note this in the homework notebook for me to see.

 

There are details of  websites

and supplementary work that might be of interest on this blog.

For example:  Supplementary Maths

For more suggestions click on the keywords ‘Educational Websites’

on the right of this page.

 

If homework takes significantly more than

30 minutes uninterrupted work,

please ask your child to stop

and sign their homework notebook to this effect.

 

If your child attends Learning Support

I would ask you to prioritise the work

given by the Learning Support teacher

as that work is carefully chosen by the LS  

for your child’s specific and individual needs.

 

For the time, being homework will be very predictable.  

This helps develop the ‘homework habit’

but can also help your child become

more and more independent when doing their homework.

 

Ideally by the new year your child should be doing

their homework independently.

 

To read some practical advice about homework

click on this link: Homework

 

Good presentation and handwriting

is an important part of the homework given.

 

Thanking you for your support and co-operation,

Teacher