Using One Copybook

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Some of you may know that students are using just one copy at the moment.

This is very practical in terms of seeing student progress since September.


One copy ‘tells the story’ for student, teacher and parent of our time in school.

I find it is encouraging for student and teacher as a substantial’body of work’ builds up

and it is there to be seen all in one place.


You can see progress in terms of presentation and content.


Teachers and students can make connections between different subject areas

as links between topics and possibilities for integration are so apparent on the page.


It is good value. Instead of eight copies where some like English fill up quickly and need to be replaced

and others may only be half full at the end of the year, less copies will be used.

We are a Green School, so this is important to us.

We can concentrate on content and presentation instead of’Which copy do I use?’

There is much less of ‘I can’t find my copy’too. This means I have a happier class.

Earlier this term, I was reassured to read this blog post from an inspiring and encouraging blog

by the Imperfectly Honest Teacher  to find I wasn’t the only one taking this approach.

Click HERE to read his post


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


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’

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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
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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 – 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

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
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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


This is a useful follow up game;

Carl’s Cookie Capers from


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


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


This  game also provides some gymnastics for the brain;


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 


Underline key words, 


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!


Underline (the key word), 


Calculate and 



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 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


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,



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

When these are complete have a go at

some of the Third Grade ones.




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.