Very welcome . The class have settled in incredibly well and are getting used to any new routines and rules specific to our classroom and I hope they’re enjoying being back in school! This is a guide to the main areas of work and general classroom routines for the year. I’m looking forward to a happy and safe year, full of learning for all of us!
The aim this year is to have a caring classroom, where we will place a strong emphasis on respect towards others in the school community. In order for the class to be a pleasant working environment for everyone certain rules need to be in place. The children are very aware of these rules and reminded of them daily, for example listening to others without interrupting, raising a “quiet” hand to speak, moving about the classroom quietly, respecting each others right to have a quiet room during our silent reading period so that others can enjoy that time and so on.
We have a reward system in the class for good effort and good behaviour. This year I have started using the Class Dojo system. This is an electronic system whereby points are rewarded for certain skill development e.g. Helping others, working quietly etc. Children may choose extra timer on yard or a music video/ game as a whole class reward.
Most children are well behaved most of the time, some need occasional or regular reminders, while others need a more individualised approach. All of these are provided for within the policies of the school.
While we aim to encourage and reward positive behaviour, for example complimentary comments, extra playtime, note in journal etc the children must also learn to deal with the consequences of negative behaviour –verbal reminders, loss of playtime, comment in yard book, note or phone call home etc. It’s important that the children see fairness in how these rewards and sanctions are applied.
We will continue to promote understanding among the children and the whole school community that, just as some subject areas are easier for some children than others, there are children for whom behaving appropriately can be a challenge, for a variety of reasons. Every effort is made to deal with all the children through the regular School Code of Behaviour but sometimes a more individualised approach needs to be put in place to support these children.
We do our best to make sure all the children are happy and feel safe and secure in school. Please let me know if you have any concerns in this area as the sooner I know about these the sooner we can work on any problems together.
Equally if I feel anything needs to be brought to your attention regarding behaviour or otherwise, in or out of class, I will write a note in the journal or make contact by telephone.
These are unavoidable in most cases but I would ask you to call the secretary’s office or send an email if your child is absent as they form an important part of their attendance record.
8.30 am is school opening time and I am in the classroom from that time. Children are expected to be in the classroom by 8.40 am at the latest. The reason is that they will then have time to get their desk in order, take out and then hand up their homework, go to the toilet or have a drink if needed and basically get settled in before the formal part of the day starts. This is also an important time for them to socialise with classmates as well as with me, as I’m not so busy then.
I would really appreciate your co-operation with this as I generally start promptly at 8.50 and like to start the day on a calm, welcoming footing. The bottom line is that it is unsettling and at times awkward for the late child and the whole class if someone arrives after class has started. Which leads me onto my next topic…
In my experience the class can get quite wound up if birthday invitations are distributed in the classroom either before class starts or during school. I would really appreciate it if you could give them out out of the school building or maybe consider using texting which seems to be very popular.
Treats are not allowed for birthdays, but the child will be celebrated in other ways in the class.
Playtime/ Healthy Eating Policy
As you know we have a healthy lunch policy in school and it’s important that everyone sticks to it. The children are encouraged to have a drink of water at regular intervals during the day.
2nd class play in the main yard at small break and in Linear Park at big break 3 days a week ( Mon, Wed and Fri)
Special Education Needs and RMDS
You will be aware that the enrolment policy of RMDS provides for equality of access and participation in the school. We are committed to providing a holistic education to all of the children who come here, including those with special needs.
There are different areas of special needs, emotional disturbance and/or behavioural problems, speech and language, among many others. We are very lucky to have additional staff to help support these children and to ensure their integration in RMDS. Louise Ormiston is the Learning SupportResource teacher this year who will be supporting work done in the classroom.
Mix of Abilities
As you will be aware there is always a mix of abilities in a class. Some children need support in certain areas and others can be pushed and stretched to achieve their full potential.
Children have different learning style also, meaning they learn in different ways. I always consider this in my approach to planning and in teaching in class.
Pencil is always used in second class. It’s a big part of the school day so it’s important that you encourage them to use the right grip when writing ie tripod grip and you can encourage your child to take care with handwriting and to form letters correctly when doing school work at home. These are areas I am constantly reminding them of in class so reinforcement at hope would help.
You should have received an email from me during the first week in September detailing how we do homework this year.
It’s given every night, Monday – Thursday, and should take no more than 25 minutes. The children should have a sturdy homework folder to help them organise the books, sheets and copies they need each day going home. I would really appreciate it if you could check and sign homework when completed.
Spellings and Tables, given daily, should be learned using the multi-sensory approach of Look, Say, Cover, Write and Check. They use the “practise” column in their spelling unit to do the writing aspect.
A written exercise is given on Mondays and Wednesdays, which can be in any subject area, eg writing a review of a book, putting spelling words in interesting sentences, putting words in alphabetical order, finding out something that has made the news, writing a book report etc.
Reading should be heard each night, and the reading diary completed. A little reading done regularly is what develops the habit so it’s important to make it an everyday event at home. Their success in reading has a positive influence on other aspects of the curriculum and indeed it is the basis of many other curricular areas. Discussing the events of the story, character roles, likely outcomes and the illustrations will promote greater word recognition and develop language skills.
2nd class pupils need to be exposed to as wide a variety of texts as possible so encourage them to read fiction, non-fiction, comics, cookery books, football magazines, manuals, joke books, signs around us,the list is endless. Variety is so important as it will expose them to different forms of text and different contexts.
Second class is participating in the aquatics strand of the P.E curriculum in primary schools. The class have started receiving swimming tuition in Rathmines swimming pool. From a practical point of view I would ask you to ensure that your child is wearing their swimwear under their clothes when coming to school each Thursday. They need to bring a bag, which they can carry on their back and which is big enough for them to put in their towel ,togs goggles etc when they have changed, with a towel and their underwear in it. No shampoos please as there will only be time for a quick shower after the lesson.
The children will first go to the classroom where they will quickly leave their schoolbag, then collect their high-viz jacket bringing their swimming bag with them to the yard where they will line up. We will be leaving promptly at 8.40am as the lesson begins at 9am.
Please keep an eye on the classroom door for the “sign-up” sheet which I will be putting up throughout the year.
We include a short session of physical activity each day in school, mainly to break up the morning, so it’s important that your child always wears comfortable clothing and footwear. This can be anything from skipping, games or yoga stretches.
Individual parent/teacher meetings will be held in November. However if you would like to discuss any matter with me before then please ring the office or jot a note in your child’s journal to arrange an appointment with me at a suitable time.
The curriculum for second class is wide and varied. Some areas of particular importance for your child’s class are as follows:
In Mathematics the first class curriculum is revised and built upon. Number, Money and Time continue to be important areas this year. Terms like” borrowing” and “paying back” are no longer used as subtraction using “renaming” is taught early in the year.
It would be helpful for you to know if you ‘re helping with homework. I will stick an explanatory note into each of the homework copies when we start this.
There are lots of ways that you can support your child at home with Maths. Letting them take part in everyday activities like going to the shop, setting the table, pouring, baking with you which could give them a chance to do measuring, working out how to share something evenly, telling the time or measuring how much paper will be needed to wrap a present.
The hearing of Reading is essential to reinforce your child’s ability to read and also increases confidence as well as fluency. In 2nd class incidental reading takes place regularly throughout the day in many subject areas. There is a short period of “silent reading” time each day also and each child is expected to have a book for this time. Even the most reluctant of readers like this quiet 10/15 minute period each day as they are incredibly influenced by what’s going on around them, so seeing their friends reading encourages them to do so. They are expected to have a book either from the class library or from home for this time each day.
Your co-operation in hearing your child’s reading is essential to their progress in this area. Your role is to focus on sharing the story in a quiet place, having as much fun as possible. While the Oxford Reading Tree scheme will be continued this year the children I will be putting a big emphasis on encouraging them to read a wider range of material.
The ORT has 12 stages in all and it’s good for you to be aware that there are stories which are not on the main “trunk” of the tree, which include robins, jackdaws and treetops. These books provide extra reading practise at different stages.
I ask them to record both the names of the ORT books and also any other book they are reading in their Reading Diary. We have a good class library but I would encourage you to use your own local library too.
The Oxford Reading Tree guidelines do not recommend racing from one book to the next. This interferes with the core objectives of increasing comprehension and building on higher order thinking skills, such as making a judgement or analysing a character.
I have decided to continue the system that Marguerite Ryan used last year where various parents from the class kindly give of their time to listen to reading, in the mornings, and chat about the books. Keep an eye on the class door where there is a timetable on which you can slot your name in if available.
Writing, both clearly and expressively for different audiences and purposes and in a variety of different genres will be continue in 2nd class and good penmanship will be encouraged also.
In Gaeilge we will work on both oral and aural lessons, continuing to use the communicative approach. The text book, Bua na Cainte, is both child friendly and engaging. The series also has an interactive element which is useful to help reinforce words and phrases we’ve learned. We also use Irish informally throughout the day in school. For eg I ask them “Cé atá as láthair inniu?” instead of “who is absent today?” and they reply in Irish. In 2nd class we will be moving on to formal reading and writing in Irish and this will eventually become part of their weekly homework. They are already taking to it really well and quite serious about it!
We will be focussing on several world faiths in Core Curriculum, including Judaism and the Bahai faith while continuing to explore the themes of Myself and Others, the Environment, as well as Development Education where we hope to look at how other children of their own age and live around the world.
The SPHE programme includes looking at self-identity, how to take care of our bodies, our local and school communities and the important topic of decision making, to name a few areas.
We will continue the practice of Mindfulness which was started in RMDS about 4 years ago. The aim with this practice is that it will help the children in their ability to focus and pay attention as well as being an enjoyable intermission to our busy daily schedule. So we all benefit from it and enjoy the time!
Drama is a subject area which is easily integrated into other subject areas and we do so on a daily basis, whether it be with an Irish story or a story from the past. But we also have a formal drama lesson which takes place here in the seomra spraoi.
The Music programme will cover the strand units of listening and responding to music, performance, whether it be singing or playing the ocarina, and also composing, where they will be given a chance to improvise and create rhythms and simple tunes, perhaps to accompany a story or poem.
In the area of theVisual Arts I plan to give the class opportunities to express themselves through drawing, painting, modelling with clay, construction as well as giving them the chance to look at and respond to each others art and that of famous artists.
The concept of Forest Schools was piloted in 2nd class years ago and was very successful in terms of outcomes for the children. Our class will start learning in an outdoor setting in January which will be a once a week activity. It will be led by our qualified Forest school leader, Caroline Carroll. They will be going to the Iveagh Gardens and the children will walk there and back.
A meeting will be arranged where we will give you much more detail, in early January. It’s something that the class can really look forward to in the New Year.
A final word about Assessment. This happens on an on-going basis in class, both formally and informally. We do have spelling and tables tests each Friday and regular Maths assessments to see if they have grasped a new concept. I will send these home in the folders, to be looked at and signed by you. And then the more formal Drumcondra tests which will take place in May 2015, assessing the areas of reading and maths.
To finish I would like to say how much I’m looking forward to the year ahead and you can rest assured that I will do my utmost to make second class a happy and positive experience for your children!
Thanks for all your support so far!