Older Kids’ News
At Rivendell we are constantly trying to meet our students’ needs and to connect to their individual learning styles. The last ten years has seen a tremendous evolution of the older kids’ curriculum. We have gone from book reports to the writer’s workshop model of teaching writing. Several years ago the entire staff at Rivendell participated in the Colorado State University Writing Project workshop where all teams at Rivendell learned how to better present and teach different modes, genres and traits of good writing to their students.
Three years ago we replaced reading textbooks with the reader’s workshop model, the 40 book challenge and an in depth literature study. In both workshops: concepts, theories, figures of speech, word attack strategies, etc.are introduced in a mini- lesson to the whole class. These mini lessons do not usually exceed 10 mins, as most recent research points to the fact that the more teachers talk the more students disconnect. Kids need to be actively engaged in their learning by doing and discussing with their peers or pondering on their own that which has been presented. After mini- lessons kids apply whatever was presented to their own reading or writing, then they confer with the teacher about how that process is working.We feel that the workshop model with the conferencing component is the perfect vehicle to deliver a more truly individualized education to each and every one of our students.
The background knowledge we share before launching into a literature study is more extensive; our discussions surrounding these novels, more in depth. Determining how these books connect to and are important to our students’ lives is a focus that helps our students make more connections. We believe that our energy spent to make novel study better and better has resulted in a richer experience for our students.
Our 40 book challenge across genres has resulted in our students reading more and reading more widely. Some kids end up reading 20 books and some 80 depending on their reading speed, but we can assure you that most of our students are reading more than they did in previous years. The self selected aspect of our challenge gives more ownership to our students. The ultimate goal here is to create lifelong readers who read for a variety of purposes.
Our math program continues to be strong and has always included a conferring piece. Over the years, we have noticed that kids can easily follow a pattern working in their individual math books, but then they do not seem to grasp the greater concept or skill when conferring with their teacher. In response to this disconnect we have added more mini-lessons to our math work sessions. We use these mini-lessons to introduce and reinforce skills and concepts that need to be practiced in small and large groups. This has enabled teachers to check for comprehension while students explain what they are doing and why. Please talk to your child about their math. Recent research emphasizes the importance of students talking about math and being able to explain both abstractly and concretely what they are doing.
Several years ago we switched from a spelling program to a vocabulary program. Now we are using the best aspects of both by taking the grammar and word study from the spelling book and combining that with the rich vocabulary study in vocabulary book.
Our topic work , both science and social studies, has always been a strong unifying element of our curriculum. It so varied and rich; we continue to use elements of topics that we have loved and worked well, while constantly updating and adding new knowledge to the mix.
As older kids’ teachers we have put in a tremendous amount of time, energy and research into these curriculum modifications and updates in order to better serve our students. We view ourselves as teachers and as researchers constantly reinventing and tweaking our curriculum to better serve our students. If you have a desire to better understand your child’s curriculum please plan on attending the first in a series of curriculum meetings entitled Cupcakes and Curriculum designed by Carol McLean and Teresa Russell to better explain our vision, our goals and our curriculum to parents. The first meeting will be October 2nd from 6:30 to 7:30. There will be special activities for children while parents get an overview of the literacy curriculum with teachers.
A new recitation will be assigned this week as we turn our attention from Ancient Greece to Ancient Rome. Our students will immerse themselves in the food and literature of Ancient Rome. The culmination of our next recitation will be a toga party where students serve food that they bring in and present plays to each other. With Sarah, our computer teacher, they will create a powerpoint presentation of an important person, place or event in Roman history. Our students are finishing up their myth writing and will begin to focus on creating a suspense-filled Halloween story that we hope to have on display by the time Fun Fest comes around.They will also begin their final project for the Gregor the Overlander novel study which will be creating a world much like the underland in our novel. We think the kids will have great fun with this project.
Leaves are falling off the purple ash in my front yard. As leaves accumulate around my front porch I am reminded of the dichotomy of Fall. On one hand we have just started a new school year full of fresh faces and promise and on the other hand our natural world is sending us harbingers of the winter, so we prepare our home and ourselves for the changes to come.
Enjoy these colorful Fall days,
Jane, Ashley, Inta and Michele
October 1st -5th
- Finish up section E of vocabulary book if you did not finish in class
- Spiral math home work on it for 20 mins.
- Study for vocabulary test
- Create an outline for your Gregor the Overlander setting exploration. Keep in mind that this project is the culmination of this novel study, and you should use the notes and ideas you have put together during the study to create a world of your own.
- Prepare for vocabulary test tomorrow
Rivendell Older Kids