New Routines

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been adding new routines to our classroom.  Setting up new classroom routines  takes time at the beginning – as students need to know why they are doing it, be aware of  how it is done and clearly understand what they have to do on a regular basis. Making instructions explicit and checking each step is time intensive at the beginning, but saves a lot of time in the long run.

Mental Maths


This week we started our ‘Mental Maths’ routine.

Mental Maths is a simple routine where the students answer 10 daily questions about number.  The questions can be answered by ‘thinking’ in their heads (mentally) without the need for paper and pencil.



This routine allows students to maintain and practice a variety of skills with number and numeration including (but not restricted to):

  • identifying counting sequences
  • identifying the missing number in a counting pattern
  • numbers before/after
  • one or ten more than / less than
  • various representations of numbers including 10’s frames, Base 10 blocks, number words
  • counting money
  • identifying missing addends or parts of addition

The routine requires students set up their books,  write answers to questions that are projected on the board and correct their book – but also be ready to discuss strategies they used. The most important part is  ‘marking’ or correcting the answers, as it is a valuable opportunity to discuss alternative ways of working out. At the end, they record their results on a graph.

Most students love doing this bit best of all!


Although the questions were ‘easier’ this week, this was a conscious decision as its important for the students to experience some success when learning a new routine.

Here is some of the feedback students gave:

  • ‘It makes me smarter’
  • ‘I like how you can see your results’
  • ‘Can we do this every day?’
  • ‘It helps me practice math’
  • ‘It helps me study’
  • ‘I like checking’
  • ‘This helps my brain’
  • ‘It’s fun!’
  • ‘I get better every time!’

Suggestions largely centred around:

  • ‘Can we do this every day?’
  • ‘Can we keep going?’
  • ‘Can we make the questions more challenging?’

So it looks as though Mental Maths is here to stay for a while in 2C!

Spelling Journals

In 2C we have been building our way up to using our Spelling Journals meaningfully over the last month!  Too often in traditional classrooms, students learn lists of words for homework for a spelling test on Friday, only to forget these words in their own writing!

As remembering and writing words in standard English in our writing is the ultimate goal – we have a few different components that work together to make up our spelling programme.

When drafting (or writing),  students are encouraged to get their ideas down on paper. Rather than getting stuck on mechanics that interrupt the ‘flow’ of ideas, students underline the word so it can be fixed up later. When editing their writing, students may find other words requiring closer attention.

Sometimes when editing,  students fix up their spelling errors on the page or they can use their ‘Have-a-go’ book. This is where they transfer the tricky word and have another go at spelling it. This puts the onus or responsibility for solving the word on the child, rather than relying on an adult or any other ‘walking dictionary’. After students have ‘had-a-g0’  the teacher then checks the word.

At the beginning of each week, the students choose 5 words from their have-a-go book, their high frequency word pre-assessment or even unit vocabulary to learn. Each list is specific to every child, and consists of words they have chosen to learn. This small step or consideration has a huge impact on motivation!

On the following days,  there are 3 main parts to our  ‘Spelling Journal Routine’. The students independently practice their 5 words  with:

  1. Look, Say, Cover, Visualise, Write, Check – students use their senses to reinforce the sequence of letters in the word.
  2.  Spelling Activity – students choose and complete an activity that focuses on various aspects of  the words eg vowel sounds, syllables, letter shapes, rhymes or repeated practise in a novel way.
  3. Buddy Test – the student is tested by a buddy on a whiteboard. Their buddy checks and records which words were correctly spelt.

After 3 days of practice,  the student transfers words that they’ve spelled correctly on all 3 occasions to their known word bank on a  ‘Words I know’ sheet.


Students are enjoying the security of a routine, but also the element of choice and working by themselves and with a partner. They are also learning a lot about word features through the activities. Ask your child about – Rainbow writing – it’s already a big hit!

Parenting for the Digital Native – workshop for parents

CDNIS welcomes Dr. Mark Gandolfi from the St.John’s Cathedral Counseling Team Wednesday, September 27 at 7pm-8:30pm in the LLAC Lobby.
This parent workshop will focus on how to parent children in a digital world. The Internet is a vital part of our world and an important tool in education and research shows young people are spending an average 44.5 hours per week online.
Do you have the skills to parent against that type of influence?

PJ’s and Pancakes

Coming up next week, on Wednesday 27th September is our annual Pancake and Pjama day at CDNIS.
On this special day, students and teachers can wear their pjamas to school, with no dress down fee.
At lunchtime, pancakes will be served in the cafeteria, with a sausage, a drink and dessert.
If your child would like to eat pancakes for lunch that day and they don’t order school lunches –  they will need to bring $37 (in exact change) in an envelope labelled with their name and class.
Students with school lunch will receive pancakes at no extra cost.

A little bird told me . . . .

This week we have officially started sharing the responsibility to keep our classroom running effectively and efficiently with our ‘Class Jobs Wheel’.

One of the many responsibilities is ‘Tweets and Photos’ in which a student records what is happening in the classroom using Twitter. The beauty of twitter is that we can instantaneously share photos of what is happening with a quick explanation using less than 140 characters. The students are using our class twitter account with guidelines to ‘document our learning and the happenings in our classroom.’

Although Ms Dora and I will still continue to tweet, you will know when a student tweets as the message will be followed by their initials.

Get yourself ready for lots of photos!

DDD September

Due to 3 Way Learning Conversations on September 29, our next DDD is this Friday, September 22.

The theme for this Dress Down Day is ‘Dress as your Favourite Book Character.’

The cost to dress down is $20, with donations being made Room to Read on behalf of Bear House.



Our busy week ahead.

Healthy Snacks are go!

Today we made another healthy snack – Hummus!  Many people do buy it ready made from the supermarket or from a restaurant, but today we had another Masterclass and made ours from scratch, using chickpeas, tahini, lemon, sesame oil, and a clove of garlic with some cumin to flavour.

We haven’t get a chance to eat it yet, but we will be sharing it tomorrow at snack time. Your child may like to bring some crudites or vegetable dipping sticks made from cut carrot, cucumber, bell peppers/capsicum, snow peas etc or even pita bread.



This week 2C students will go to the book fair as a class on Thursday afternoon.  They may be going at other times during the week to look at Chinese books during their Chinese lessons.

Final Date for Spotlight. 

We have confirmed our final date for the Grade 2 Spotlight. It will be on Tuesday 7 November 2017 around mid-morning between 9:30-10:50. The time will be finalised closer to the actual date.

Green Thumbs needed for the Green RoofInline image 1

Do you like green? Do you like getting dirty, working with soil? Come and join the Green Roof Gardening Club with Miss Koo, Mr T. Brown, and Ms Sandra on Tuesdays from 2:45 – 3:45. We will be weeding, planting, watering, and of course, enjoying the space and fruits of our labour. If you are interested and can attend every Tuesday, please send an email to or to, sharing your interest, your name and class.
Our first meeting will be on October 10th.
Please meet in the library and wait for either Mr Brown or Miss Koo by the MakerSpace.


Weekly Wrap-up.


Friday Fun in the Forum 

Our first Friday Fun in the Forum of the year is Friday, September 22 during lunch recess. Check out this post on Ms. Benusa’s blog for more information on this performing opportunity.



Mindfulness with Ms Rendina

This week we had our first mindfulness lesson with Ms Rendina. In this lesson students:

  • learned about the prefrontal cortex, and how it works together with other parts of the brain.
  • explored how we can train our minds to be more efficient
  • began training through practices focusing on the breath
  • recognised the choices we make each day and the impact these have on our lives


The ‘Paws b’ program on mindfulness is great as it makes connections to research on brain in a child-friendly way. In this lesson we learned that the pre-frontal cortex is used for making decisions, and thinking.

Learning about mindfulness through neuroscience promotes well-being and resilience and offers knowledge and skills that can be applied right away! In fact we applied our new knowledge straight away to think about eating for health.


Traffic Light Foods

We began reading the book ‘Eat Healthy, Feel Great’ which has an interesting way of presenting healthy eating habits and the role that nutrients play in the body.

It describes using the analogy of  ‘Traffic Lights’:

  • Green –  ‘Go for it’, eat as much as you would like
  • Yellow – ‘Slow down’ eat some, only some of the time
  • Red – ‘Stop’ these foods have no nutritional value and can harm you

From this book we’ve learned about why ‘junk food’ is considered junk. Preservatives, food dyes and hydrogenated oils are dangerous and offer little or no nutritional benefits, while green light foods such as fruit and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fibre.


Kelso’s Choices. 

Thanks to Ms C (Shelly Chutke) who visited 2C this week  to review Kelso’s choices with the students. This programme has been in use at CDNIS for a few years now, and provides continuity and consistency across the younger grades in the  lower school.

Using Kelso’s choices is a way for students to become more independent in solving small problems in the playground and the classroom. The students have a range of choices to choose from including:

However if students encounter a BIG problem, then they are encouraged to  report it to a teacher or adult. Here is how students can distinguish between a big problem, and a small problem that they can deal with.

This is the first of a series of lessons that Ms C will be leading as our counsellor.


International School Library Day

On Tuesday the students discovered books and stories from around the world. A big thank you to all the parents who organised the day and spent their time chatting with our inquisitive students.


Curriculum Night. 

Thanks to all the parents who attended Curriculum Night last week. It was wonderful seeing you all again.

If you would like to see the slideshow: Here it is!

Friday Fun in the Forum 

Our first Friday Fun in the Forum of the year is next Friday, September 22 during lunch recess. Check out this post on Ms. Benusa’s blog for more information on this performing opportunity.

Wellness Friday

Today the Grade 2’s got to try out some new experiences to help with ‘Wellness’.

The choices were:

  • Vegetable taste testing
  • Body movement and stretching
  • Relaxation with nature
  • Positive Games and Fun
  • Sensory Art Play
  • Calming Colouring

The students reflected on how happy, content and alert they felt before and after the experience and possible reasons why they felt that way.  Your child may talk to you about some of the things they did and maybe something they would like to change or do at home that helps them relax.


BrainPOP Junior

BrainPop is a great resource that we’ve been using during our unit.  You can access BrainPOP with your child at home – they know the school user name and login. Here is how we’ve been using it this week.


 We have been exploring some of the health topics on BrainPOP and using routines to uncover student thinking and wonderings. As you can see from the example above, the student made connections with their own knowledge, heard some new information that extended their understanding and has questions or wonderings that are challenging what they previously knew. From these we have compiled a list of questions the students are wondering about and can be explored with other sources of information.

One of the latest topics they’ve been interested in has been headlice – judging by lunchtime conversations, 2C seem fascinated with the little creatures! Luckily BrainPOP has an informative video (you can watch it here) which is useful for myth-busting. When looking at the diagram of a louse, we noticed they don’t have wings – so they can’t fly, and they don’t have long, strong legs like grasshoppers – so they can’t jump long distances from one head to another. But we do know that they like healthy, clean hair and even if you take preventative measures,  most children do get them at some point. We know that if you get them, you can treat them with special shampoos and combs, and it is good to let others know so they can check as well.

So now we also know why our classroom isn’t a hair salon, everyone should bring their own hat to school and we don’t lie down on cushions in our class!




There was quite a bit of excitement in the room yesterday as Ms Ross put on her apron and we had our first ‘Masterclass’ of the year. For the non-Masterchef viewers, Masterclass is a fancy name for a cooking demonstration.

As our unit is about choices for health and wellness, the recipe was ‘Banana Smoothie’s’.


Instead of writing out and sharing the recipe with the students, they had to listen and observe closely. When armed with their notebooks they were responsible for recording the ingredients, quantities, equipment and the instructions during the demonstration.

At the end all students got to try out the delicious and nutritious concoction.

Today we followed up with recipe books. The students loved browsing through cookbooks to find old favourites and new recipes. Many were highly motivated to try out some of the recipes. To capitalise on this enthusiasm – they had an opportunity to copy out a recipe they would like to try at home this weekend!

Don’t be surprised if your child comes home with a recipe to try out today!  I don’t think they could wait till Monday for the next Masterclass.

Our link to literacy

As our writing focus is ‘writing to instruct’ the students are being exposed to a variety of procedural texts such as recipes, instructions for games, instruction manuals, etc.  Yesterday’s Masterclass was a sneaky way to see what the students knew about how recipes are written and structured. Today, students were exposed to a variety of recipes and we began to identify the organisational structure, which helped some when writing out their recipes. As we progress and begin to write procedures of our own students will be made aware of specific language and structural features.