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Ratheniska National School

Partnering Children on their Developmental Journey

That’s a Wrap!  Blog #5 24-01-15


Well, we have come to the end of another enjoyable T.S.I Cycle – a cycle packed with fresh vocab, exciting characters and fascinating discussions. Both 5th and 6th Classes participated in this cycle and it proved to be action-packed!

As mentioned previously, after the last cycle we gathered plenty of student feedback about what worked well and what could be improved in T.S.I. Some changes included: giving each group a choice of books, using new role cards and changing the Predictor Role to the Strategist Role. These changes proved very popular.

“Loved the new role!” Jack Brown 6th

“My favourite role is the strategist one because I like the comprehension strategies they manage.” Cian Aird 6th

“This year I really enjoyed the role cards” Tom Cranny 6th

“I really enjoyed T.S.I this year as there was more reading and less writing” Óran McGuirk 6th

“My favourite part of T.S.I this year was picking our own book and having the choice to read aloud or silently” Kate O’Connor 6th

5th Class joined Team T.S.I this year, for the first time and judging by their response to how it went, it won’t be the last. They had lots to say abut T.S.I and what it meant to them. Jack Spillane explained that to him T.S.I means “reading great books with my friends.” Hollie Delaney agreed, “T.S.I means that we have a full 40 minutes reading with our friends, discussing what we liked about the book and having fun.”  Dara Phelan discussed how he loved reading in small groups of two or three, as this allows you to be confident. For Rohaim Shaikh, T.S.I means having a better understanding of a book. Meadbh Dunne said it best by saying “T.S.I means learning in a new, fun way.”

Ella, Tomás & Séan with our book selection

Ella, Tomás & Séan with our book selection

So to sum up, how has T.S.I  helped us? ” T.S.I helps me to learn new words that I can use in everyday language. It also helps me to be more fluent when I am reading out loud”, according to Anna Bowe.  Ryan McEvoy commented on how T.S.I has helped him to use comprehension strategies such as declunking, while reading. Eoin McWey said “T.S.I is a great way to blend group work and reading together. It also gives a sense of freedom because we get to lead our own groups instead of the teacher telling us exactly what to do.”

So once again T.S.I has been a roaring success.  We marked the end of this cycle by throwing a Popcorn Book Review Party!  Go Team T.S.I!

End of cycle T.S.I Popcorn party

End of cycle T.S.I Popcorn party

Popcorn Party!

Popcorn Party!

A New Year! Blog #4  12-11-14


Hi everybody and thanks for checking in! Well, the new school year is well under way by now and we’re about to kick off TSI once again. Last year the girls and boys from 5th class dived into TSI with great enthusiasm (did you remember that it stands for Transactional Strategies Instruction?). This year they will continue on the good work in 6th and the new 5th class will join the TSI gang. As a result of their TSI experience last year, the children have become more independent workers whilst also improving their teamwork and reading skills of course.

We have gathered feedback from the students at the end of last term about what worked well and what could be improved upon and have tried to include these changes for the coming cycle of TSI. For instance, when it comes to arranging the groups, some children prefer to read aloud whilst others are silent readers, and some children like to be given an opportunity to choose the novel they’ll read. The teachers will look at these and other factors when arranging the reading groups.

So, what can we look forward to? Well, there will be lots of reading obviously and we’ll have some more novels from last year’s favourite authors, including David Walliams (Ratburger) and Michael Morpurgo (Cool). There’ll be some new authors also – Louis Sacher (Holes) and Walter Macken (Flight of the Doves). We’re hoping to get stuck in over the next week so watch this space for further updates and – Happy Reading! Go Team TSI!

TSI 5th 211114-001

Blog #3  – “Cool” – 18-05-14



Óran, Niamh and Josh enjoying their T.S.I novel "Cool" by author Michael Morpurgo

T.S.I is “Cool”

Niamh, Óran and Josh chat about their TSI experiences.

“We’ve been doing TSI now for the past number of weeks. When Ms Dempsey calls out that we are about to do it, we’re glad because we enjoy it,” says Niamh. “The books are very good and we have a laugh sometimes about some of the words in them. For example, in the book we’re reading right now – Cool by Michael Morpurgo – there’s this doctor in it and a boy in the hospital who’s unconscious. The boy calls the doctor ‘Dr Smelly Breath’ and we laugh every time at that!” “Especially when we read it aloud,” adds Josh.

“There are some sad bits too, though,” points out Óran. “In chapter five there’s lots of talk about turning off the life support machine. Robbie, the boy, can hear all this.” “There’s lots of misunderstandings too,” explains Josh. “Robbie’s parents are saying ‘You tell him’, ‘No, you tell him’. Robbie thinks they are talking about turning off the machine, but it’s actually that they are back together again as a couple.”

“You really want to tell Robbie not to worry because it’s all ok and to kind of be in the story yourself! Also, it’s full of suspense because we don’t know everything that’s going on either,” Niamh explains. “This is our fourth Morpurgo book and I think he’s a great writer. Sometimes he can be really funny and sometimes really sad,” says Óran. “He keeps me on the edge of my seat always.”“I love him too. I got Farm Boy and Born to Run off Santa and I loved them. I’d read Farm Boy again,”says Niamh.

“So stay Cool!” laughs Óran, “as Robbie in the book always says.”

“Now let’s get back to it again,” says Josh.

“Can’t wait!” says Niamh.

Blog#2 1-4-14 (April Fool’s Day!)


This is Tom C. here. I’m in a group with Ciara and Eoin. Everyone has a different role each day in TSI and I love when I’m the leader – not because I’m bossy but because I get to choose how we read and my favourite is silent reading. I think it allows me to take more in from the story.

Hi, I’m Eoin and I feel that sometimes it’s really annoying when you’re reading a very mysterious part and you’re just about to find out what happens when teacher calls that time’s up and ‘aargh!’ you have to put it all away. It’s like a cliffhanger on TV when you have to wait till next week to tune in again. I suppose it’s good though to have it to look forward to for the next day.

Yes, I feel that too. This is Ciara by the way, and I thought that the Butterfly Lion by Michael Morpurgo was really enjoyable. We’ve just finished it and started a new one now (Mr Stink by David Walliams) but Mr Morpurgo definitely kept us reading all the way to the end. It did however take me a while to get into his book at the beginning because it spent a long time just introducing the characters before the actual story got going.

Eoin here again – my first impression of Mr Stink is that this one is witty and gripping from the very start and I think I want to get back to it right now in fact! So that’s us signing off. . . So long and happy reading.



Blog#1 25-03-2014 Butterfly Lion


Watch this space as our 5th class students are going to write all about their TSI experience here…

Here’s our first blog on TSI. This is from Gary, Noah and James. We have a few thoughts we’d like to share with you.

Butterfly Lion

We have been doing TSI now for around four or five weeks. It’s something to look forward to in the afternoon.It was a bit confusing at the start and we needed to look at our prompt cards a lot but now it comes naturally to us.In fact you could  call us experts but we still have a bit to go yet.

At the moment we’re just about finished our first book, “The Butterfly Lion” by Michael Morpurgo.

It’s always surprising us. For example you could have read three chapters which are completely different and then the fourth brings it all together. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and you can’t wait for the next instalment.

As a group we’ve  always been great friends. A teacher might think that if  you’re put with your best friends in TSI  you might spend the time messing, but that’s not the case here because we think we work better together when we are with our friends.

We’re looking forward to the books we’ll read in the coming weeks, especially “Mr Stink” by David Walliams.We’re proud of the fact that we’re one of the first schools to do TSI and hope it catches on.

Get Fit 2016!


4th, 5th and 6th Classes are jogging and running their way to fitness this term as they undertake their Class to 3K. Under the guidance of Ms. Dunne, Ms Stapleton, Ms Sugrue, Ms, Dempsey and Mr Conway they are well on their way to improving their overall health a little at a time.

Class to 3k

Anyone for Pizza?


6th Class thoroughly enjoyed their lunch of pizza and chips today thanks to the Parents’ Association. This was, of course, their prize for collecting the most coins for the recent fundraiser.




We welcomed our Junior Infant Class for the coming school year to their Induction Day today. Filled with anticipation they made their way into the classroom where they will spend their first year of formal schooling. They quickly got to work building houses and roads, setting up the farm,  selling gardening tools in the role play area and having tea and cake in the pretend café. As they played and got to know one another, the Parents’ Association treated all the  Mams and Dads to real tea and cake!


Green Schools, Rocks and Water!


Water is the third theme of our Green-Schools programme. 3rd and 4th Classes recently had a visit from Michèle Costiaux, courtesy of the Environment Section of Laois County Council. Michèle, who hails from Belgium, spoke to us about the connection between water and geology. She talked about where we get our water from, where our waste water goes, how to conserve water etc. When she went on to talk about rocks, we discovered that chalk will float on water and lava can cool to solid rock in 30 seconds! The Green School Committee would like to thank  Mrs Stapleton and Mr. Conway for hosting the workshop and Michèle for sharing her knowledge.


Induction Day


We were delighted to meet all the parents of the incoming Junior Infants for September 2016 today. Tea, coffee, cakes and chat were the order of the day. We look forward to meeting many of them in the coming year.

Tea, coffee and cakes