Information for Parents – January Updates

Letters sent home to parents during the month of January:

Re: 1st Confession

The Importance of Tables 


and Welcome Back after Christmas Break

Dear Parent,                                                                                                                               22nd January 2013

Please talk to your child and find out what ‘job’ they would like to do in the Confession and Communion Ceremony.

There will be as many opportunities at both ceremonies as there are children. I hope every child will see the importance of participating in this way on the day.

As I said before, children will work in pairs, so that they can give one another encouragement and support.

We will be well practiced at these jobs, so everyone should feel confident at the ceremonies.

At Confession.

There are 12 readers needed (6×2) to read about the Lost Sheep. Each pair has two short paragraphs to read.

There are 6 singers needed (3×2) where each pair sing a verse of ‘Where ever I am God is’.

There are 8 children needed (4×2) to say a prayer for example; ‘Prayer for Forgiveness.’

There is 3 children needed to lead their classmates in the actions for the ‘Our Father’.

Please mark as many as apply.

My child _____________________would be happy to

◊ sing

◊ do a reading

◊ say a prayer

◊ lead the actions in the ‘Our Father’ (non speaking)

◊ bring up the gifts on Communion Day (also non speaking)

This will act as a guide for me. We will talk about this in class and I will be asking the children to volunteer. Singing is a popular choice and I will try to be as fair about this as I can. There will be further opportunities at communion. I will try to distribute the jobs fairly between the two ceremonies.

With every good wish, Teacher


19th January

Dear Parent

Clarification re ‘Tables Races’

Some parents asked for clarification regarding the results in the ‘tables races’ that I sent home earlier in the month.

This is a sixty second test. There are sixty items.

I don’t think it is possible that anyone would get sixty answers done in the time.

In case anyone in the class, would find the pace involved physically impossible

I did a ‘speed test’ , where I asked each child to put a circle round the higher number in each sum,

and the average score for this was forty items done in the minute.

The average score when doing the addition and take away sums is 24 at the moment.

The ‘tables race’ is useful in that it shows a child’s progress in learning the tables over time.

Where a child’s score over time looks very random, with dramatic improvements

and then disimprovements, it shows what I have said to you before,

that assessments are a ‘snapshot in time’.

If your child is tired or distracted, they may not do as well as they did on a previous occasion.

It is exactly the same sixty sums each time .

If a plateau is reached and a child is getting exactly the same score under each month,

it may be that with approximately fifty per cent of the school year remaining there is plenty of time to improve.

This involves learning one’s tables every night.

The Balloon Popping game on School Hub is helpful for doing this. The link is here

So are the 5 minute adding frenzy drills Here is a sample which we will do in school

and I will also send home next week.

When a child has ‘learning off’ to do,

often times, they do not think that homework is as important as the written work.

The opposite I feel is true. The most important homework I am giving at the moment is the tables and reading.

I know it is challenging, but please encourage your child to do both.

Hopefully, having to complete a maths drill, with help the children

not to forget to do this very important maths homework.

In Third Class in September, the teacher may do a little revision,

but then for the next two years, the focus will be on multiplication and division.

Multiplication is introduced as repeated addition, so knowing the addition facts continues to be important.

Just before the February midterm, I will do this ‘tables race’ with the children again.

I will be happy if there is a steady, gradual improvement.

I tell the children that each of them is trying to improve on their own score.

I am playing down any competition within the class, as much as I can.

I see children who find ‘rote’ learning difficult, making good use of ‘strategies’

which I have mentioned in the past.

Click on this link for strategies

I set up the Balloon Popping Game for each child to play each morning

and I see children using the ‘strategies’ then.

Using ‘strategies’ means you won’t be as fast but one very heartening thing

about the ‘tables races’ is that where a child completed a dozen sums in the sixty seconds,  

the answers were accurate.

A group of children know their tables well and they are getting different homework,

preparing them for learning multiplication next year for example.

Reading Homework

Currently I am asking the children to read the last four pages of the chapter

that we have done in class that day from their class novel ‘The Owl Tree’ by Jenny Nimmo.

If I was to check that all homework was done by all twenty nine children in the class,

this would take me up to an hour.

We have so much to do, to cover the 2nd class curriculum,

I can’t afford an hour a day to do this.

Instead I do ‘spot checks’ with regard to the reading I have asked the children to do.

The fairest thing to do I find, it to set a question in advance,

the answer to which the child will find in those four pages.

In this way, no child should be worried that I will ask them a question

that they have forgotten the answer to, having done their reading.


At the beginning of the year I spend time in September/October

encouraging the children to develop a ‘homework habit’.

During this time, I check that the homework is written done fully and legibly.

I do spot checks from then on as time once again is a concern.

Checking that homework is taken down and completed takes away from time we need to cover the curriculum.

I find now, half way through the year, that I will have to give time to checking homework is written down and completed.

Thank you to the children who always do their homework.

I know you all lead busy lives too but I am asking for your help in this matter.

Preparing for Confession and Communion

With five weeks to go to the Sacrament of Reconcilation, we are preparing for the ceremony.

I will be looking for children to volunteer to say prayers from the altar, do reading and sing.

At the Communion ceremony I will also need children to bring up the gifts.

This seems to be the job that children find easiest to do.

I assign volunteers from the class in pairs to do all these jobs,

so they can give one another back up and support.

Last year I was told that some parents felt that being asked to do this

put undue pressure on the children and this meant they were nervous at the ceremony and did not enjoy it.

For this reason this year, I am asking you to ask your child, what they would like and fill in the attached form.

If I am oversubscribed, say for volunteers to sing (and this often happens) I will put the names of the volunteers in a hat.

I will also do this to establish, at what ceremony, Confession or Communion a child would do a particular job.

I hope this is acceptable to all,

With every good wish,


This letter will be going home on paper, on Monday.

Dear Parent

I hope you had a very pleasant Christmas.

The children from 2nd Class, Room 6 have settled back really well,

so in terms of work, we have ‘hit the ground running’.

We are still working hard on our tables.

Know one’s tables make learning methodologies and computation in Maths so much easier.

In a typical long division sum for example (taught in fifth),

a child will need to divide, multiply and subtract several times.

Working with fractions your child will also need the ability

to add, subtract, multiply and divide.

Knowing tables make things so much easier.

Not all children find learning by rote easy so in the letter

I sent home after the parent teacher meetings.


I detailed the strategies we use in class to help

and also posted a link there to a useful website.

Follow this link

I having been recording progress in tables by giving the same

one minute ‘tables race’ at the beginning of each month.

I am sending home their scores to date on paper on Friday.

I will be giving this assessment again before midterm, Easter and the Summer holidays.

The first score you will see is that of a simple test on the very same sheet

that I gave to the children to check that there was no physical reason

that would affect their speed in writing down the answers quickly.


We all learn at different rates and what I really love to see

is an individual’s steady progress over time.

I encourage the children to improve on their own score

and not to concern themselves with anybody else’s.


Reading Homework

In case of any mix ups:

We are reading ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark in class.

We read nearly a chapter a day.

I leave the last four pages for homework,

and am asking the children to practice reading these with expression.

An adult reading every second page,

may help if you find your child doesn’t have the stamina to read all four pages.


Homework: In the run up to Christmas, the amount of homework

I gave became less on account of my hospital stay.

I feel I have not given a lot of homework this week.

I just wanted to ease the children back in.

I realise the little I give may take some children a long time.


By the same token sometimes when I feel I am giving a lot of homework,

I hear on the grapevine that some children finished it in ‘five minutes’.

To me ‘learning off’ homework and presentation of work is really important.

Also remember that there are suggestions for extra homework if you feel

that your child is not getting enough, on the blog

Suggestions for extra homework

For Reference:

From the archives: November/December Updates

From the archives: October Updates

From the archives: September Updates

November/December’s Updates!

Our Art work brightens up the walls of the school.

Problem Solving

Today in school we talked very briefly about how we might solve this problem.

Perhaps the children would like to experiment with finding solutions at home:

The River Crossing


For fans of Pokemon. This activity involves reading, comprehension and decision making:

A Pokemon Adventure from Woodlands Junior Kent

Today we were talking about newspaper headlines. Teacher used a headline generator from this website.

There are other novelties also on this site which the children found entertaining, so I am posting the link here:
Somethings that are fun to do!

Imagine there are just thirteen more working days until the children get their Christmas holidays!

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.

Greetings from 2nd Class, Room 6 this Christmas

For reference:

From the archives: October Updates

From the archives: September Updates

October Updates

Kila’s ‘Kind Words’

1.1 1st October : Paired Reading is entering its second week.
It may make better sense time wise if Paired Reading is done as Bedtime Reading rather than as part of homework time.
It is just important to ensure that the book is in the school bag each morning.
Please note:
An important aspect of the paired reading approach is that children choose their own books.
If the book going home is too easy, please note this on the coloured card that comes home with the reading.
If your child has chosen one of the longer books, you might read it with them over two or three nights.

Alternatively you could read every second page to them.
This will be a useful approach to adopt during the year,
particularly as the books your child brings home get longer and need more stamina for them to read.
The other second class teacher and myself will be swapping our paired book boxes half way through so that there will be new books to choose from.

If you haven’t had a chance to read about the yearly plan for reading and to see where ‘paired reading’
and the reading we have done to date, fits in with the scheme of things,
you might like to take a look at the following post
The Yearly Plan for Reading

1.2 Have a listen to our podcasts.
They can be found at the bottom of the right side bar.
We are only learning how to do this.
We are on a learning curve.
Check back in a couple of weeks and we should have become experts in podcasting!

1.3 Reminder: Communion meetings have concluded.
Enrolment Masses were this weekend 29th/30th.

Joseph’s multicoloured coat that his father Jacob gave him’ by Tadhg

1.4 We played this educational game in the last week of September.
The children tell me they played it last year and they enjoy it.
However their responses are rusty.
They might enjoy practicing this at home.
It teaches them the position of numbers on the hundred square.
100 Square Game – Give A Dog A Bone

Other good maths games here
Useful maths games

1.4 Annual Open Night in St.David’s 7-9 on Tuesday 2nd October. This is always an enjoyable and informative evening.

1.5 NB A change in homework for this month.

Homework is changing for this month, as follows:
1. Revising Addition/Take Away tables starting this week with adding 2/take away 2
2. Written work: Take two number facts from today’s homework and change them into number problems to be solved. The children have practiced this in school and there are samples of the number problems in the children’s copies.
3. Paired Reading

Click on this link to see examples of how to change number facts into problems to be solved.

You might also find this post of interest:
Follow this link to read earlier post about the importance of learning tables.

1.6 I read an interesting review of about Dyslexia Font on Seomra

and thought it might be of interest to some parents here.
Dyslexic Fonts

1.7 Attendance for the month of September in Room 6 was 98%.
Just nine school days were lost.
Let’s try to keep this great attendance record up.

Tom’s ‘Kind Words’

1.9 2nd October: As I mentioned: if you think your child would like to take part in the
Kilcoole Feis
they would need to be available to attend some time over the following weekends:
for Verse Speaking: November 9th-11th.
Song singing: from Thursday 15th – 18th November.

1.10 3rd October 2012 We are preparing for our First Holy Communion.
We are learning about the Bible stories in the Old Testament.

1.11 4th October 2012 Your child can vote for their favourite book
of the books we have read in class so far
on the poll on the side bar at the right hand side, underneath the bookshelf.
So far ‘My Naughty Little Sister’ is in the lead.

1.12 5th October 2012 Christmas Card Fundraiser.
To those of you taking part please return the completed templates by Wednesday. Thanks.

1.13  Parents Association AGM on Wednesday 10th October 2012 from 8-9.30 in school hall.

1.14 10th October 2012 The following website was developed for parents as part of the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy. See what you think: Help My Kid Learn

You may also find this one of interest:
Resources for Parents of 1st and 2nd class from the NCCA

The short videos about maths activities seem particularly good:
Helping your child with maths in 1st and 2nd Class – videos

1.15 Friday 12th October, 2012
We have swapped our box of paired reading books with the other second class.
To my eye, the new selection seem to have more substance.
They look interesting and perhaps in general slightly more challenging to read.

1.16 Today the children played recorder and for the first time,
pitched percussion instruments: bells, boomwhackers and chime bars.
You can hear how well they got on, on three short new podcasts.
The podcasts can be found at the bottom of the side bar on the right hand side of the page.
Here is a link to the first one.

1.17 Sunday 14th October, 2012
Just in case any child forgets to bring home their homework worksheet
They are asked to turn number problems into number sentences and find the answer:

Do two a night and there are some extra at the bottom:

Monday: 1. Twelve aliens in a spaceship. Four fell out the door. How many were left?

2. Ten ducks on a pond. A fox came along and frightened away four of them. How many were left?

Tuesday: 3. Seven bats hunting for insects. Four went home to roost. How many were left?

4. Five fox cubs playing in the sun. Along came four more. How many were there then?

Wednesday: 5. Five swans on a lake. Five more flew in. How many were there then?

6. Mum carved six pumpkins. Then she carved five more. How many had she carved then?

Thursday: 7. Eight Smurfs are in a village. Five got taken by Gargamel. How many are left?

8. When Teacher was little she had a packet of ten crayons. She ate five of them. How many crayons were left?

And if you want to do extra…..
9. Eight children went to the playcentre in Zoom.
Half of them bumped their heads and went home.
How many children were left?

10. Nine fat sausages frying in a pan.
One went pop and the other went bang!
So how many fat sausages were left?

11. The Seven Dwarfs were working in the mine.
Sleepy fell asleep and Grumpy went off in a huff.
How many were left working?

The last two are trick questions:

12. If you had four apples and five oranges in one hand
and six apples and seven oranges in the other,
what would you have?

If there are ten cats in a boat and one jumps out.
How many are left?

1.18 17th October 2012

Today the boys and girls in Room 6 found this activity about data enjoyable.
Perhaps they might like to try it at home:

Jelly Fish Factory

For reference:
From the archives: September Updates

September Updates 2012


Nice work Matthew!

1.0 At our staff meeting today (30th August 2012) it was decided that children could have water bottles on their desks. Some children had been drinking from bottles of fruit juice and cordial all day. Prolonged contact with sugary drinks is know to be particularly hard on children’s teeth.

1.1 Two letters going home tomorrow (31st August 2012): A short questionnaire and the address of this blog, which I hope to be able to use to keep parents up to date with all we do in 2nd class.

1.2 from ‘Shop Times in the week from Monday 3rd September 2012‘.

Parents: 9.00-9.30

Children from 2nd Class, Room 6 11.20-11.30

Times are approximate. Classes will be called in this order by intercom or messenger.

The shop does not open on a Friday.

1.3  Dancing will be on Mondays. PE on Thursdays.

This year Dancing with the Dancing Teacher begins on17th September and PE with the PE teacher begins on the 20th, but there will be PE with me on Thursday. We are going to take the parachute out!

1.4 Teacher has collected up all copybooks, textbooks and recorders so that the school bags are not too heavy. I hope you are not too disappointed but all recorder practice will be done at school. At Halloween, by which time the children should know a couple of tunes, they will bring them home and hopefully amaze you with their progress 🙂

1.5 Letter going on Monday 3rd September. The contents of this letter can also be found here: A letter home about homework and at the end of this post: Re: When Teacher is available for meetings

1.6 Today, Monday 3rd September, we started learning our addition tables. Teacher was very happy with how fluent they were from last year. The children enjoyed this Table Game in class and might enjoy playing it at home:

Balloon Popping Game

1.7 Notes going home today:


1. Short Tennis.

2.  Athletics

3.  Swimming (for those who did it last year)

Also a short worksheet about ‘Myself.’ On the back of this A4 sheet the children in the class wrote positive comments about the child whose page it was. This was to encourage friendships and the class ‘feel good’ factor.

1.8 Note requesting parents not to include eggs, fish or nuts in class lunches also went home yesterday as two children have significant allergic reactions to these items. Thanks.

1.9 An activity that teaches about maps and plans

was used in class today. Perhaps your child might like to show you what they learned from it.

1.10 Tomorrow the Learning Support Team will be visiting to administer the NRIT Non Reading Intelligence Test. This will inform our teaching 🙂

We will talk about the results at the Parent Teacher Meetings. If there was any result of particular concern, I would mention this to you within the week.

The tests are two half hours in length. One will be given at 9.30 and the other at 11.10. Your child may be tired afterwards. I will be planning the rest of the school day to take account of this.

Though the following link does not mention the NRIT per se, you might find it reassuring when it come to the subject of testing children in school.

Information about Standardized Tests

The following short link gives a brief explanation of the NRIT:

What is the NRIT?

1.11 6th September 2012. Two notes going home: one about swimming enrolment and the other about preparation for First Holy Communion.

1.12 Good News!

I was expecting that revising Letter Formation would take at least a fortnight and perhaps even as much as six weeks. It took a week!

I also thought that we might be starting at Square One with addition tables: that all that rain over the summer might have affected the children’s ability to retain their number facts.

Instead we are motoring through the revision of Addition Tables. By the end of the month when Addition Tables will be sent home as part of homework for polishing up, there should be very little hardship involved.

I have also started working through the Pre Testing Phase of  the work we are doing on the Dolch List and standards were very good.

Well done to the children of Room 6 for working so hard.

You might find this explanation of what we are doing for spelling this year useful:

Class Plan for Spelling 2012

1.14 Homework this week beginning 10th September 2012 is: Mental Maths daily

Reading a comprehension piece from ‘A Way With Words’. This is in preparation for doing the comprehension in school.

From Tuesday learning five spellings from Dolch List and putting them in sentences. When there are no spellings to be learnt from the Dolch List children can do ‘Free Writing’ at the back of the same copybook.

1.15 11th September 2012

A letter going home about homework today. Apologies it was meant to go home yesterday.

If you are finding homework challenging tonight, this post might be helpful:
Spellings for Homework

When your child has mastered the Dolch Spelling they will have ‘Free Writing’ for homework. If this work is causing any confusion perhaps

Story Prompts for Creative Writing

The first post on the classroom blog may also be helpful ‘Writing Good Quality Sentences’.  If  it is not immediately obvious to you click on the link ‘Home’ at the top of the page may help.

1.16 More Good News: We started learning the recorder today. The children made an excellent start and told me it was fun. I hope you won’t be too disappointed but the children won’t be bringing their recorders home to practice at this early stage. Instead they will bring them home at Halloween and play you all the tunes they have learned.

1.17 We are learning about ‘The Senses’ in school.

Today we met ‘Magic Grandad’. He took us to meet Louis Braille.

We heard about how Louis invented ‘Braille’ writing for the blind.

If you would like to see your name in Braille, click on this link:

See your name in Braille

12th September 2012 1.18
Today we practice the ‘Safe Cross Code’ Dance
RSA’s Safe Cross Code Dance

1.19 A Reminder: 1st Holy Communion Meetings for parents:
Wednesday September 19th or Wednesday September 26th at 8.15pm in the Kilian House Family Centre.

Enrolments for parish programme of preparation for Communion at the following masses:
Saturday, 29th September at 6pm in Holy Rosary Church, Greystones
Sunday, 30th September at 10am in St. Kilian’s Church, Blacklion
Sunday 30th 12.15pm in Holy Rosary

1.20 Apologies. I was meant to send the School Newsletter home today but forgot. You’ll receive it tomorrow.

1.21 Do take a look at our first podcast. It can be found at the end of the right hand column of this page. Today’s podcast features Fiona, Alice and Nicole reading from their ‘Free Writing’. As the year progresses, everyone can have a chance to broadcast!

1.22 Post going home: Did you receive:

1. School Newsletter with

2. an insert from the Parents Association re Class Contact List for Parents

(which went home to the ‘eldest or only’ children in the class.)

3. NB: A letter from the HSE re Dental check up

4. Swimming on Wednesdays/Thursdays: Terms and Conditions (not every one was due one of these) ?

1.23 If in any doubt …
This is the homework until the 24th September.
1. 10 Mental Maths sums for that day
2. Learn the next five words that you need to learn from the Dolch List and put these in five sentences or some children are doing ‘Free Writing’.
3. Read the next comprehension piece from ‘Away With Words’ (skipping the one about Halloween).

This pattern will continue until the 24th September, so homework should be predictable.
On the 24th September we will begin paired reading.

At the end of September, the revision portion of in Mental Maths book will be complete so I would like to work through this book in school for some time.

Instead we will be practicing our addition tables at home and perhaps doing a little written work based on these number facts. But this will depend on how far along we are with the spellings from the Dolch List.

17th September 2012
1.24 Letter going home about an Information Meeting on Tuesday 18th September re Paired Reading. I’m sure the parents in Room 6 are experts at doing Paired Reading by now.

1.25 Seating arrangement will be changed at the end of every month.

18th September 2012

1.26 Reminder: Communion meeting in Killian House Family Centre this Wednesday 19th or next Wednesday 26th at 8.15.

Enrolment Masses are on the weekend of the 29th/30th.