Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Back to School Night 2018

Dear Parents,  
I am thrilled to be teaching your child in second grade this year!! As a former student of Catholic schools in San Francisco, I decided that I wanted to teach for a community that raised me and has had a big impact on my life. I even met my husband in grammar school.

My name is Mrs. Byrne. I am a San Francisco native that has been teaching special education for five years and general education for eight years. I have a BA in Psychology from Sonoma State, teaching credential from San Francisco State, and clear credential from UC San Diego. As a dual citizen, I also studied abroad at University of London and taught secondary school in Scotland. Thus I have a fun and challenging curriculum planned for the students.

More than anything else, I want your child to have a marvelous learning experience this year!  It is my goal that your child will LOVE coming to school each day and while here will gain new knowledge, skills, friends, self-confidence, and an appreciation for learning.  I will seek to foster and further a love for books and reading.  Moreover, I want each child to feel safe, loved, and appreciated in my classroom.  Such important expectations will call for much effort and time on my part as well as on yours and each child in the class.  I am certain that as a team we will be able to reach our goals during the upcoming year.

I invite you to email me with questions you may have about your child’s classroom experience. ( I will gladly discuss what we might pursue to better meet your student’s needs.  I have found that most concerns can be solved quickly if handled as soon as they arise. You can also send a note to school with your child. I will reply to all communication as soon as possible and within 24 hours.  It is my pleasure to be of help and lend support at any time.  
The information shared tonight is of importance to you and your second grader.  Please visit the web portal for the detailed BTSN packet and keep it for your reference throughout the year.

Thank you for all of your support to make this year a terrific learning experience for your child!  I  appreciate the opportunity to work with you and to teach your child!!

 Mrs. Kathleen Byrne

Important Information  

Mandatory Meetings & Sacraments
In second grade, there will be a mandatory meeting for 1st Reconciliation and Communion.
There will also be a Reconciliation celebration after the confessions in Carrol Hall. Please let me know if you can help organize it.

Mass Card
You will be given a Mass card. You must attend at least 10 masses with your child. After each mass, the priest must sign the card. All families are required to attend Back to School Mass.

Vacation/ Absences
There will be no classwork or homework given out ahead of time. There will be no make up tests. All missed work will be in the child’s desk for when they return to school.

Early Departure
Please do not take your child out of school early. If need be, your child is responsible for packing up for themselves. Homework may not be passed out and assigned yet.

Tardy/ Absence
Please bring your child to school on time everyday. It is imperative to your child's learning that they have time to socialize with friends at arrival, pray with the class, and unpack without disrupting the lesson. If your child is gong to be absent, please email both the office and teacher before school.

Blog and Student Planner
Please check the second grade blog and your child’s planner every night!

  • Homework will be on the second grade blog and on the whiteboard all week long.
  • We will have time in class everyday to copy the homework from the whiteboard to their planner.
  • It is your child’s responsibility to write down their homework and to ask questions if they don’t understand.  
  • Homework must be complete, correct, and have their name on it in order to receive full credit.
  • If homework is not finished or is incorrect, it will affect your child’s grade.
  • There will be a red homework folder in which it is the child's responsibility to bring homework to and from school using the "right back to school" side of the folder.

Wednesday folders
All Wednesday folders must be signed, read, and returned on or by the following Friday.

Birthday books
You must purchase a birthday book through the office before bringing in a birthday snack. Once you purchase a birthday book though the office, the office will contact the teacher. Only one birthday snack will be allowed. See the Saint Thomas More website and handbook for further information regarding birthdays.

Lost Items
Write your child’s name on everything. (sweaters, water bottles, lunch boxes, etc.)

I will try and respond to all emails within 24 hours. Please do not email me time sensitive information because I am probably away from my computer.

Be Courageous is our theme for this year.  Think is our school wide learning expectations. Please help reinforce this at home as well. There will be a Think Journal at school that will also help reinforce it.

Promoting Literacy
"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all."
— Jacqueline Kennedy

Fostering a love for literature is one of the best ways to help your child prepare for success in school and later in life. Studies show that when children pick their own books, their motivation and academic success improve.  We hope that together we can create that magic for your child this year!

Here are some activities we will be participating in to help promote literacy:

  • Book Orders
I will be sending home Scholastic book orders with your student each month or so. This is a great way to get your child involved in reading and build their personal collection of books.  Books for all reading levels can be ordered online.  Book orders normally take two weeks to be delivered.  An added benefit to this program is that Scholastic gives our classroom free books depending on how many books are ordered by our students.  While you build your library at home, we build ours at school! Please let me know if you would like to help with book orders. Help would consist of putting together the packets and stapling.

  • Book Donations
If your child is outgrowing his/her books and you don’t know what to do with them, I  would love to include them in our classroom collection.

  • Library
We will visit Saint Thomas More School’s library each week to check out a book. Students may bring their library book home to read. Library books are due back at school on Tuesday. Students may not check out a new library book until they have returned the previously checked out book.  I encourage you to take your child to your local library too!  Not only is it free, but the entertainment lasts when you return home!

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Shop Online: One-Time Class Activation Code:(MWLYT  - 

Dear Families,
Encouraging reading is one of the most important things we can do to help your child succeed. Studies show that motivation to read increases when kids choose the books they read. It can be tough finding the right books to keep them interested, which is why we are so excited that our class will be participating in the Scholastic Reading Club this school year. There is no obligation to order any of the books. This is simply a service provided for our students in hopes that it will promote reading as a lifelong habit.
With the Scholastic Reading Club:
  • Every book you buy earns FREE books for our classroom library
  • You can choose from grade- and reading-level-specific books for your child
  • You'll find the best values on a variety of formats, including eBooks
  • Each month or so, your child will bring home Reading Club flyers. There are MANY more titles that can be found online at the website below. You can either order online or you can return the order form with a check made out to Scholastic Book Club.

If This Is Your First Time Ordering Online:
ENTER the Class Activation Code MWLYT 
CHOOSE from thousands of print titles, value packs, and Storia eBooks
SUBMIT the order to us by the due date listed on the website/ note home
EARN FREE books for our classroom just by ordering for your child!
WAIT approximately 2 weeks for the order to be processed and delivered to the school

I  am thrilled to have the chance to involve your children in my excitement for literature! Happy reading!

Strategies For Success
Here are some tips to help your child with their homework.  Please remember that your child should always initially try to do the work independently.  However, if he/she is struggling with a concept or the directions, these are some ways you can appropriately help.

  1. Ask them to sound out the word phonetically.
  2. They may look on their homework sheet for spelling help.
  3. When creating sentences:
    • Have them try to think of the sentence on their own.
    • Looking up the definition online or in a dictionary may help spark creativity.
* Have a student dictionary handy for reference.  The Scholastic Student Dictionary or Webster’s Student Dictionary are both excellent choices.  

    • If they are struggling, give them big ideas (e.g. swimming, birthday, basketball, coloring, etc.)
    • Give them sentence examples, but have them use their own idea.
    • Ask questions that guide their sentence making.
* What would you like your sentence to be about?
* Who would you like your sentence to be about?
* What are they going to do in your sentence? What’s the action?
    • Remember to let them try to spell words on their own first.
    • If they write a word and are unsure of the correct spelling, have him/her circle it.  After writing all the sentences, they can ask you or consult a dictionary for the correct spelling clarification.
  • Model a similar spelling word or sentence


  1. Read the directions.
  2. Ask them guided questions until they arrive at the correct answer.
  3. You can always “make a mistake” yourself, so that they may correct it (e.g. “Is this 2 animals?  They should tell you “no” and realize they need to change the answer.)
  4. Model the concept with a similar one.


Reading can be to or with a sibling (older or younger), relative, mom, dad, neighbor, etc.  It can be built into a routine (e.g. after dinner, after bath, before bed, in the car, etc.) and should last at least 15 minutes.  These minutes can be broken up into chunks throughout the day if your child is having difficulty staying engaged for 15 minutes straight.  If you are reading chapter books, pause and illustrate the words you have read. You can also take the role of a character and read all of the quotes that this character says.  Ask your child comprehension questions as you read and get them to “quiz” you as well!  Here are some examples:

  1. Who is the story about?
    1. What lesson can we learn from this?  
  2. Who are the characters?
    1. How are you similar/different to this character?
  3. What happened in the story?
    1. Why do you think the author chose this event to happen?
  4. What do you think will happen next?
    1. How would you have written this part if you were the author?
  5. What happened first? Second? Last?

When your child comes to unfamiliar words, please help them break the word down into manageable chunks instead of just telling them the word.  This helps give them learning strategies to have the confidence to solve reading “problems”.

If you have any questions, or would like more ideas to make the homework process easier or more fun, please feel free to contact me!  I would love to help!


Excerpts from:
Helping Your Child With Homework

A US Department of Education Document


Research shows clearly that children are more likely to succeed in learning when their families actively support them. When family members read with their children, talk with their teachers, participate in school or other learning activities and help them with homework, they give children a tremendous advantage. One important way that families can lend this support is by taking an interest in the homework that their children bring home and by finding the most effective ways to help their children with that homework.

But helping children with their homework benefits families as well. It can, for example, be a way for families to learn more about what their children are learning in school and an opportunity for them to communicate both with their children and with teachers and principals.

Your interest in your children’s education can spark their enthusiasm and lead them to understand that learning can be rewarding and is well worth the effort. We hope that you and your child find this booklet helpful.

How to Help

Set a Regular Time for Homework

Having a regular time to do homework helps children to finish assignments. The best schedule is one that works for your child and your family. What works well in one household may not work in another. Of course, a good schedule depends in part on your child’s age as well as her specific needs. For instance, one child may do homework best in the afternoon, completing homework first or after an hour of play and another may do it best after dinner. However, don’t let your child leave homework to do just before bedtime.  Your child’s outside activities, such as sports or music lessons, may mean that you need a flexible homework schedule. Your child may study after school on some days and after dinner on others. You may find it helpful to write out his schedule and put it in a place where you’ll see it often, such as on the refrigerator door.  

Pick a Place

Your child’s homework area doesn’t have to be fancy. A desk in the bedroom is nice, but for many children, the kitchen table or a corner of the living room works just fine. The area should have good lighting and it should be fairly quiet.  

Remove Distractions

Turn off the TV and discourage your child from making and receiving social telephone calls during homework time. Some children work well with quiet background music, but loud noise from the CD player, radio or TV is not OK.

Look over Completed Assignments

It’s usually a good idea to check to see that your elementary school child has finished her assignments.

Provide Guidance

The basic rule is, “Don’t do the assignments yourself.” It’s not your homework—it’s your child’s. “I’ve had kids hand in homework that’s in their parents’ handwriting,” one eighth-grade teacher complains. Doing assignments for your child won’t help him understand and use information. And it won’t help him become confident in his own abilities.

Give Praise

People of all ages respond to praise. And children need encouragement from the people whose opinions they value most—their families. “Good first draft of your book report!” or “You’ve done a great job” can go a long way toward motivating your child to complete assignments.  Children also need to know when they haven’t done their best work. Make criticism constructive, however. Instead of telling a sixth grader, “You aren’t going to hand in that mess, are you?” say, “The teacher will understand your ideas better if you use your best handwriting.” Then give praise when the child finishes a neat version.

Talk with Teachers to Resolve Problems
Homework problems often can be avoided when families and caregivers value, monitor and guide their children’s work on assignments. Sometimes, however, helping in these ways is not enough. If you have problems, here are some suggestions for how to deal with them.

  • Tell the Teacher about Your Concerns
  • Work with the Teacher - Continuing communication with teachers is very important in solving homework problems.
  • Talk with each of your child’s teacher early in the school year. Get acquainted before problems arise and let each teacher know that you want to be kept informed.
  • Contact the teacher as soon as you suspect your child has a homework problem
  • Request a meeting with the teacher to discuss homework problems.
  • Don’t go to the principal without giving the teacher a chance to work out the problem with you and your child.   

The full text of this report can be found online at:

Dear Parents,

Here are some ideas that will utilize your child’s strengths to help them in the area of spelling!  Please help your child have FUN with spelling!  Each of your children has unique areas of interest.  Use these ideas to help take advantage of this!


HANDS ON - Most children are very tactile at this age.  Have your child form letters using clay, play dough, pipe cleaners, yarn, spaghetti noodles, or anything else you can find!
- Let your child make alphabet flashcards.  Keep them for later use.  Arrange the cards to spell the words.  Start by giving him/her the correct letters put in order.  As familiarity increases, let him/her choose the correct letters independently.

ART - Paint the spelling words.
- Illustrate pictures for each word or stories to help remember the letters. (Ex: “steer” draw two e’s steering a car down the road.)
- Have him/her write the letters in the word that are easy for him/her to identify.  Draw each tricky letter to look like something with the same beginning sound (Ex: S is formed like a snake, O looks like an octopus.)   

READING/WRITING   - Identify root words or chunks of other words inside each word.
  - Write little stories/rhymes about the chunk or order of letters. Ex: For the word “friend” -> I am a friend to the end.  For the word antonym -> Why (“Y”) is the “ant” “on” him (“M”)

MATH - Graph the spelling words according to the number of syllables, letters in the word, vowels in the word, etc.  Use bar graphs, pie graphs, Venn diagrams, etc.  
- Make addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division problems using these #s.  
(Ex: costume (7 letters) + youth (5 letters) = 12).  

HISTORY - Look up the word’s origin

MUSIC/DANCING - Have your child think of an easy tune to a familiar song (ex: London Bridge, ABC’s) and spell out the word using this tune.  
- Have child shake hips back and forth saying a letter at each side.

SPORTS - Kick a soccer ball back and forth while saying a letter for each kick.  You can also throw or roll a ball back and forth.  
- Write each word on a piece of paper.  Sort each paper into “correctly spelled” and “need to be edited” piles.  Let him/her edit the words necessary and karate chop or kick the papers that have the correctly spelled words.
KINESTHETIC - Set out pillows/t-shirts/etc. to correspond to the number of letters in the spelling word.  As each letter is said, hop to the next pillow.  As soon as an error is made, return to the beginning and start again.  
  - Use arms, fingers, or full body to bend into looking like each letter of the word.
  - Move body in different ways as break words down into syllables.

COMPUTER   - Type the words out
- Make graphs on the computer to list words by # of letters, syllables, vowels, etc.
- Sort the words alphabetically
- Find definition/pictures of each word on the internet.  Copy and paste them to make a Spelling Dictionary.

NATURE - Grab a stick and write spelling words in the sand or dirt.
- “Paint” words on the sidewalk using a paintbrush and water.
- Use sidewalk chalk and write spelling words outside.

GAMES - Hangman- take turns being the ‘guesser’ and the ‘hanger’.
- Pictionary- one person draws out the word, the other has to spell the word to guess it.
- Make flashcards of each word and play “Word War” by each drawing a card, quizzing the other person on the spelling, then deciding which card ‘wins’/ has the most # of letters (or syllables, etc.)  The person with the most cards at the end wins!


Allow your child to hang his/her spelling art, graphs, or other creations in the bedroom or bathroom each week so they are constantly being exposed to the words.

* HAVE KIDS CORRECT THEIR OWN SPELLING!  Have them read the word they wrote by sounding out each letter.  This will help them analyze their own spelling areas to improve and increase their ability to self-correct in the future.

* Begin by telling your child how many letters are in each word.  Have them write lines for each letter and then go back and fill in the correct letter.

* IDENTIFY SYLLABLES- Remind them that each syllable will have at least one vowel.  Consider quizzing them by breaking down the word by syllable and correcting after each one.  Ex: instead of having them write “museum”, you say “mu” then check, “se” then check, and last “um” and check the complete word.

* Point out patterns of other words that they have learned or are trying to learn.  Ex: value, rescue, avenue

* Keep the spelling words on the fridge—make a tally mark next to each word every time you use it, read it, or hear it throughout the week.  See which word is used the most.  Try to set a new record every week!  The more familiar your child is with the words the more he/she will remember them!  
Consider using these ideas to help them study for any subject area!  The more they are engaged in their learning process, the more apt they will be to remember the content!  

We’d love to hear what is working well for you and your speller and will continually add to this list on the web portal and include ideas from you!


Mrs. Byrne

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