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Ratheniska National School

Partnering Children on their Developmental Journey

What is TSI?

TSI stands for Transactional Strategies Instruction.

This  means we use all our skills in comprehension such as predicting, visualizing, questioning, making connections, using prior knowledge, decoding and determining importance to help us improve our literacy skills.

How do we do it?

In fifth class we work in groups of three and we work on TSI three days a week.

Each session lasts for an hour. We read a variety of books. Teacher has picked a selection of books for us but soon we hope to pick some ourselves. Each person in the group has a role or a job to do. You are either a leader, a predictor or a questioner in  your group. You have to spend some time at the beginning of TSI learning how to do each role. Each person in the group has their own job to do.

Each new session we change our roles so in one week you get to have a go at each role.

Why TSI?

In fifth class we’re big fans of TSI because:
•    It helps train us to work as a team.
•    It gives us more confidence.
•    It helps our reading.
•    Reading is more enjoyable.
•    It helps you use new words in your writing.
•    It helps train your reading, literacy and vocabulary.
•    It helps you get through your reading better.

Read about our experiences below


Farewell to the Ratheniska’s T.S.I Pioneers Blog #7 17-06-2015


Hey guys,

This is Lale, Tom.C and Inez and we’re here to tell you about our journey through T.S.I. It all started in 5th class when Ms. Love came into the classroom and little did we know how easy and fun reading could actually be! This was the time when we first started learning T.S.I. We got to choose our own books so that was a good start and everybody liked their novel. The books from the first cycle were different as this year we got a wider range of material including books such as There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom, Holes, Ratburger, The Wildflower Girl, Flight of the Doves and Faraway Home. This wasn’t the only good thing this year though because we moved up a level, the paper work was cut down a lot and the main aim was discussion of the text which we all agree was way better than writing. This year was more enjoyable than last year because we were more familiar with the cycle and all our feedback was taken into consideration.

So a quick reminder of what T.S.I. is – T.S.I. is basically another form of learning how to read and understand a text. You start off in a group usually of three. We use some strategies like Coding, Predictions, Visualisations, Determining Importance, Connections and comprehension. Although this looks like a lot of work it is actually easier than normal English. In Lale’s opinion it is another more detailed way to read and take in text naturally. Tom adds “It improves your independent work as well as group work”. Inez thinks T.S.I. helps us to learn from each other and also it reminds everyone to read more often.

The challenges of T.S.I are small but have a big impact if you don’t address them. The first term of T.S.I was the hardest as we were just getting familiar with the cycle and we were assigned more paper work. However last year after T.S.I was finished the feedback we gave was all taken into consideration and was addressed well. Because of this we predict that T.S.I will become a main subject on the curriculum for schools and we have no doubt that T.S.I. will become popular.

When advising newbies, we would suggest to always remember to use your pencil to code and highlight the reading strategies you are using, work as a team but most off all have fun doing T.S.I !!!

The benefits of T.S.I are that you are taking in a lot more text and you are improving all your reading skills and strategies. We think that even if you are just filling in your vocabulary sheet you are actually  improving there and then because you do it so frequently and consistently you don’t notice yourself even doing it. Everyone has improved their reading skills and we hope that T.S.I will continue so other students can further their reading skills just as we have done

~ Lale, Tom and Inez

T.S.I Pioneers

T.S.I Pioneers

Blog #6 – TSI Tips – 17-06-2015


Fifth Class are coming near to the end of their second T.S.I cycle. Here Colin, Briony and Mae discuss their T.S.I experience this year:

“T.S.I is very important for all children at different levels as it covers reading and important strategies which help you understand the text more,” according to Colin. “It helps you learn many skills such as solving new words, dictionary work and how to communicate as a group.” Colin continues “there are many great things about T.S.I but what stands out for me is that instead of reading out to the whole class, which can be daunting, you’re able to read to your small group. This helps shy children feel more comfortable and encourages them to put some enthusiasm into their voice. This is a key factor as it makes reading more enjoyable for everyone.” Briony chips in “Another great thing about T.S.I is the books. To me they are much better than extracts from our English textbook”.

Discussing the challenges of T.S.I Mae says “the biggest challenge is when the paperwork – vocabulary sheets and question sheets, pile up. This can sometimes cause frustration and reading time can be affected although I can’t take anything away from T.S.I as it is very good overall”.

When quizzed about their favourite author, the children are brimming with enthusiasm. Louis Sachar, author of “Holes” and “There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom”, gets a huge thumbs up according to Briony he is “an incredible author”. Another author loved by the gang is David Walliams with Mr.Stink being his stand out novel. Colin raves “it is wickedly funny but also a touching story. I would recommend this story to children of all ages as it is an enjoyable read for everyone.” However Mae points out that the novel “Wildflower Girl” by Marita Conlon was by far the groups’ favourite. “Wildflower Girl” is the story of Peggy who travels to America to begin a new life after the famine. “We loved this book because the author is trying to communicate that life is worth taking risks and if you are offered an opportunity grab it with all your heart. It’s a very interesting story where Peggy shows great character.”

“If we were to give advice to a new class starting T.S.I”, Briony offers, “We would suggest keeping your T.S.I cycle sheet out at all times to guide you through the steps.” Colin adds, “This keeps you on track and helps you get used to when the worksheets need to be completed, when clouds of wonder and vocab sheets need to be discussed. Also make sure to speak up so everyone in your group can hear you read.”

To sum up Briony smiles”We can’t wait to get stuck in next year. We’re excited about the new books we’ll read and getting the chance to work in different groups with new people. T.S.I was fantastic this year…Bring on next year!”

T.S.I Fifth Class

T.S.I Fifth Class

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.