Tag Archives: St. John’s School Kilkenny

For Telling us how to Milk a Snake

On the day of the CBI Awards Ceremony I received this email from Ms. Mackey’s wonderful class in St. John’s  School in Kilkenny. My own children went to this school and I hold it dear to my heart.

I got the email while I was waiting, with trepidation, for the awards ceremony to begin. What more did I need than these 29 awards!? And then on top of this to get the Special Judges Award, my day was made.

Dear Paula,

CONGRATULATIONS!  You are the winner of 29 AWARDS. Emoji Ms Mackey’s Class would like to award you for the following reasons …  EmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmoji

Title of Award:  For Writing the Most Adventurous Stories

Presented by:  Nicholas Mullins

Title of Award:  For Being an Amazing Author and a Great Person in General

Presented by:  Louise Dullard

Title of Award:  For Writing Two Fantastic Novels and For Playing Games With Us

Presented by:  Tamas Sebok

Title of Award:  For Putting Us on the Edge of Our Seats

Presented by:  Leah Anderson

Title of Award:  For Writing the Best Children’s Books

Presented by:  Jamie Doran

Title of Award:  For Writing Books That Fill Children’s Hearts with Wonder and Joy

Presented by:  Laura Ryan

Title of Award:  For Giving Us Stories That Come To Life

Presented by:  Mark McBride

Title of Award:  For Writing Unusual and Funny Books

Presented by:  Courtney O’Dwyer

Title of Award:  For Writing My Two Favourite Books Ever

Presented by:  Nicole O’Leary

Title of Award:  For Writing Such Amazing Novels and Giving Us Such Enjoyment

Presented by:  Josh Curran

Title of Award:  For Writing My Favourite Books

Presented by:  Candice Keating

Title of Award:  For Being a Truly Magnificent Writer

Presented by:  Ayianna Piggott

Title of Award:  For Writing The Best Books in The Entire Galaxy

Presented by:  Marata Evelyn Sida

Title of Award:  For Being the Best Author in The World

Presented by:  Ryan Walsh

Title of Award:  For Being The Best Author and for Making us Feel Happy

Presented by:  Jordan Wall

Title of Award:  For Having a Great Imagination

Presented by:  Alex Molloy

Title of Award:  For Having the Best Books in the World

Presented by:  Anthony Walsh

Title of Award:  For Giving Away the Most Chocolates and Sweets EmojiEmoji

Presented by:  Tom Byrne

Title of Award:  For Writing Books that Our Class LOVE

Presented by:  Amy Hennessy

Title of Award:  For Coming into Our Class and Telling Us Amazing Stories

Presented by:  Sinead Hayes

Title of Award:  For Telling Us How to Milk a Snake

Presented by:  Niamh Hayes

Title of Award:  For Making Children Laugh

Presented by:  Orla Doheny

Title of Award:  For A Great Imagination and for Writing Fascinating Stories

Presented by:  Ioana Burghelea

Title of Award:  For Being My Favourite Female Author

Presented by:  Chelsea Comerford

Title of Award:  For Taking the Time to Come and Visit Us

Presented by:  Naoise Ryan

Title of Award:  For Making us Feel So Excited and Happy When You watched Our Plays Based on The Sleeping Baobab Tree

Presented by:  Stephen Power

Title of Award:  For Being Someone We Can Look Up To and Admire

Presented by:  Jack Brennan

Title of Award:  For Giving Us Chocolate Emoji

Presented by:  Daniel Valadkevich

Title of Award:  For the Best Writer in The World

Presented by:  David Kulaga

No one else has ever won these awards. That’s how special we think you are.  You have made a huge difference to our lives.  We have not met many authors.  You are the one that stands out to us.  We will remember you even when we are as old as Nokokulu.   We love that you always listen to us and take our questions seriously.  We love the ideas that you have and the way you tell stories to us in your books and when you’re in our classroom.  WE LOVE YOU!  EmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmoji

We began this morning by saying a prayer for success.  We would be so happy if The Sleeping Baobab Tree won an award.  Anyway we have decided that it doesn’t matter what the fancy judges think, you are definitely the best writer in our opinion.

Best of Luck, Paula.  We have all our fingers and toes crossed for you.  We hope to hear good news soon because we are getting very uncomfortable.  You will always be the best to us.  EmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmojiEmoji

Ms Mackey’s Class

P.S We hope to see you before school ends so that we can present you with your trophy!!!!!!!

Is it alright to do wrong, to do right?

Spent the morning with Orla Mackey’s 4th and 5th Split class (or should that be combined class?) It was a treat.

I was greeted with a beautiful rendition of Siyahamba – word perfect they were .. it sounded beautiful. I have videoed part of it and will upload. My camera ran out of space so it stops quite abruptly!

They then had a bag of curiosity containing all their questions and we went through those. Very thought provoking questions, some of which I am still thinking about. For example, ‘is it alright to do wrong to do right?’ A hard one. We discussed it in the light of the struggle against Apartheid. When Madiba died Ms Mackey and her class spent the entire day talking about him, his work, his history and they have done lovely work on the subject. That’s teaching and learning that is lovely to witness.

After that the 4th Class were pitted against the 5th Class in an epic battle. There were a series of pictures held up and they had to identify the connection between each picture and the book (they have started with The Butterfly Heart and are moving onto The Sleeping Baobab Tree next). It was a draw – and the plans were to finish the competition before going home to see whether a winner could be found. I would not have got all the answers … their knowledge was brilliant!

Finally, each member of the class had brought with them an item that related in some way to the book – this included Djembe drums, melted candles (from a description of HIV/AIDS in the book) a little house made of cardboard that resembled Winifred’s house and included a mulberry tree for Winifred as she had expressed a wish for a tree, a beer tankard, a snake (stuffed.. not real), a diary, a rosary, a branch of a tree, a twin sister (!)  and many more. Hugely inventive!

So, all in all a great visit – a mega thank you to Ms Mackey and to everyone in her class. I loved the time I spent with you!

St. John’s and The Butterfly Heart

As mentioned in the last post I spent a while last week in St. John’s School, Kilkenny. Below you will find some examples of the work Ms. Mackey’s class has been doing on The Butterfly Heart.

One of the groups did an Alphabet Book – they used every letter of the alphabet in words relevant to the book. I cannot scan the whole thing in so have just put in two pages to give you an idea. That group was Patrick, Katie, Lenka, Tony and Liam. The other groups have their names on the pages.

Thank you again, all of you, for the effort you have put into reading and understanding the book. I hope one day some of you might get a chance to visit Zambia and see it for yourself.

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Ms. Mackey’s Fifth Class and €1,000 !

Yesterday I received this letter from Ms. Orla Mackey’s class at St. John’s in Kilkenny (Orla of Teaching Notes fame..!)  They gave me permission to reproduce it.

Today I visited the school to show them the trophy and collect the wonderful cardboard paintings they did, and then I visited all the classes which was great.  Thank you St. John’s for all your effort on the book.

Dear Paula,

We all had our fingers crossed for you.  We couldn’t wait to hear the results of the Bisto Book Awards.  We had the CBI webpage open all day expecting to see your name.  We are delighted that you won a trophy and 1,000e.  We spent some time dreaming about what we might do with that money if we were lucky enough to win it.  Here are a few suggestions as to how you might invest your winnings – Niall says you should buy a chocolate river, Lucy suggests buying all the Oreos you can afford, Szymon thinks you should consider opening a sweet shop, Krystian would buy lots of astronomy books if he were you, Jamie would buy pens and paper, Conor would buy soccer balls and a Liverpool kit, Liam would buy a monster truck, Ben would go to Euro 2012, Kate Marie would buy a ticket to the Olympics, Joanna would buy a house in Dunmore East, Gavin would go on holidays to Italy, Alicia would have her garden landscaped, Aaron would buy a laptop, Jody would buy a horse, Jordan would take a trip to America, Rebecca would help poor people in Africa, Jennifer would go on a trip around the world, Denise would save it for a rainy day, Success would buy a chocolate cake making machine, Maríosa would buy her own computer, Cillian would buy a chocolate factory, Shane would buy lots of dogs, Zoe would go on holidays, Hamedah would buy art materials.

We hope you have fun with your prize money and we all agree that you should be very proud of the award.  We know that you are coming to collect the cardboard paintings we made of ‘The Butterfly Heart’ characters and we would love if you brought along your trophy so that we might see it.  We know that you are very busy, so whenever you get time is fine with us.


Ms Mackey’s 5th Class

Me, the Eilis Dillon Trophy and Ms. Mackey’s Fifth Class – photographer: Ms. Mackey

Seomra Ranga – Classroom

I was searching on the web the other day for sites that offer support and resources to Primary School teachers. I was doing this as I wanted to find a suitable home for the brilliant teaching guide that Orla Mackey of St. John’s School, Kilkenny had developed with her Fifth Class when they were reading The Butterfly Heart.

One of the first sites I came across was Seomra Ranga which means classroom in Irish. It is a site set up by Damien Quinn, a Primary School teacher in a rural school in Sligo and he set it up, as he says himself, ‘to share practical resources for the primary school classroom on the web.’  These are mainly resources he has developed and used in the classroom himself, with the addition of resources submitted by other Primary School teachers. It is a fantastic site and when I emailed Damien to ask whether he would be interested in seeing this Teaching Guide he came back immediately and said he would. The upshot of all of this is that the Teaching Guide is now available for download on Seomra Ranga here and this week they are also running a competition with five of the books to give away.

Seomra Ranga for me illustrates the positive power of the web – here is one individual, a committed teacher, who has set up a website, a twitter and a facebook page and through this other teachers are able to share resources in a way that can only enhance the experience of the children in the schools. Just brilliant.

Ms. Mackey and some of her students