Rivendell Older Kids

News and Homework Menu October 1st-5th

Older Kids’ News

October 1st-5th


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

Homework
October 1st -5th

Monday

  • READ
  • Finish up section E of vocabulary book if you did not finish in class


Tuesday

  • READ
  • Spiral math home work on it for 20 mins.

Wednesday

  • READ
  • 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.


Thursday

  • READ
  • Prepare for vocabulary test tomorrow

Older Kids’ News

September 24th – 28th


Older Kids will be going to Denver on Monday, September 24th.  The bus will be arriving at school at 8:30 am and will be leaving Rivendell promptly at 8:45 am.  Please make sure your child wears appropriating clothing and comfortable shoes.  Each child must bring a disposable lunch, a water bottle and snacks with them for the day.  We would prefer that kids do not bring electronics with them for the bus.  These items can easily become lost.  If your child does bring an electronic item, Rivendell is not responsible for items that are lost or stolen.  

We spent class time this week assisting students in writing their expository and persuasive paragraphs for their cereal boxes.  They will be bringing their persuasive rough draft paragraph home this Friday.  Please have them use this as a springboard for the paragraph that is to be attached to their cereal box, unless one has already been completed.

We are excited to announce that our teacher, Ashley, is expecting her second baby!
She told the class on Friday and we are all looking forward to finding out if it’s a boy or girl!  She is due in February, and the Older Kid’s team is working closely with Kate to make the transition of Ashley’s maternity leave as smooth as possible.  
As soon as we have concrete plans figured out for the last few months of school, we will inform parents and students.

Please remember that recitations are due on Friday, September 28th.  Students have been working very hard on these projects, and we are excited to see what they have created!  Cereal boxes will be displayed in the Commons.  

Have a fantastic week!
Inta, Michele, Jane and Ashley

Homework Menu

September 24th-28th


Monday

  • Work on Recitation
  • Read


Tuesday

  • Vocabulary Cards for Lesson 2 – Due on Thursday
  • Work on Recitation
  • Read


Wednesday

  • Key Math: Work in your book for 20 minutes; begin with corrections
  • Vocabulary Cards – Due tomorrow
  • Work on Recitation
  • Read


Thursday

  • Recitation – Due tomorrow!!!!!
  • Read

https://www.rivendell-school.org/olderkids/134/

News September 17th – 21st

Older Kids’ News

September 17th-21st


After spending last week giving our students background information on gods and goddesses, we are now in the process of preparing to write our first creative, narrative story. Last week our students participated in mini lessons on the genre of narrative and the characteristics of a myth.They are now applying that knowledge to McPass. We use McPass as a prewriting activity or as an outline for narrative writing. McPass is an acronym we use for the essential elements of a creative story.

Mc=Main character
P= Problem
A= Action
S= Setting
S=Solution

Each and every element of McPass must be included in all narrative writing.  Once our students have finished their McPass outlines they will begin organizing and writing their own myth.  We will spend time in class: writing, revising and illustrating. They will publish their myths and share them with peers.

We will be going to Centennial Village this Thursday, Sept. 20th at 10:45. We will eat a very early lunch (please send a disposable sack lunch) before we depart and will have a snack before we head back to school. If you have volunteered to drive, please make sure Leslie has a copy of your insurance for liability reasons. Also, thank you in advance for making these excursions possible for our students. These excursions give our students a chance to do, to see and experience that which is unique and unforgettable in the learning process. If you have not returned the permission slip, please send it in ASAP. We will return to school by 3:20 for dismissal.
We are also going to Denver, Monday September 24th to see the Pompeii Exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We are going by bus and will depart at 8:45 a.m. and will return by 3:20 p.m. We also need kids to bring a disposable lunch for this trip. Students often ask if they can bring ipods or electronics on the bus and, we would prefer if that those gadgets stay at home. Thanks!

Have a wonderful first week of Fall!

Michele, Inta, Jane and Ashley

Homework


Monday-
~Recitation- begin putting your cereal box together
~Read

Tuesday-
~Purple (spiral math) book- 20 minutes
~Recitation- continue to work on your cereal box
~Read
~Spanish

Wednesday-
~Recitation
~Study vocabulary words
~Read

Thursday-
~Vocabulary Test- make sure you read and study your spelling words and definitions
~Read

News September 10th-14th

Older Kids’ News

September 10th-14th


The Older Kids were assigned their first recitation project on Friday.  Students chose a god or goddess that they will research and create a cereal box to represent.  Research and design of the cereal box will be done at home, and the writing requirements will be done at school.  Please ask your child to share the recitation information with you.  They are all very excited about this project!

Vocabulary will be introduced to students next week.  We will begin by asking kids to read over words and definitions and then work on sections A and B in their first lesson.  For homework, kids will be asked to write words and definitions on index cards that will be sent home on Monday and due to the teacher on Wednesday.  The point of this is to help students learn each word and meaning and to also provide kids with flashcards to help them study for their tests.  Each vocabulary lesson will be completed over a two week period, and a test of both the spelling and the definitions of the words will be given every other Friday at 8:35 am.  

We have two field trips coming up in the next few weeks.  Centennial Village is on Thursday, September 20 and the Pompeii Exhibit in Denver is on Monday, September 24.  We need drivers for the field trip to Centennial Village in Greeley.  If you are available to drive, please provide a copy of your insurance to the office as soon as possible.  We must have that on file before you can drive students.  

The Older Kid’s teachers have planning time on Wednesdays from 8:00-10:30 am.  Teachers are not available during this time to meet with parents or students.  If you need to get a message to us on Wednesday mornings, please send us an email.  

Our new website will be launched this week.  As soon as it is up and running, we will email you the web address.

Have a wonderful week!
Jane, Ashley, Inta and Michele

Homework Menu

September 10-14

Monday

  • Vocabulary words and definitions.  Write your vocabulary words on one side of each index card and all the definitions on the opposite side.  You must write each definition, the form of the word and part of speech. The index cards are due to your teacher on Wednesday. Please hand them in with the bag provided.    
  • Cereal Box Rough Draft. Due Friday, September 14.
  • Read


Tuesday

  • Work on vocabulary definitions.  Due Tomorrow!
  • Work on Cereal Box Rough Draft
  • Read


Wednesday

  • Work on Cereal Box Rough Draft
  • Read


Thursday

  • Cereal Box Rough Draft due tomorrow!
  • German homework due tomorrow!
  • Read

Older Kids’ News September 4th-7th

Older Kids’ News

September 4th-7th


It certainly does not feel like the dog days of summer with days in the upper 90’s and humid, still nights, but as labor day officially ends the summer we must concede that Fall has begun as we enter our third week of school. After a harrowing summer of violence and fires we look forward to the new beginning that Fall affords us with our curious, bright older kids.

The beginning of the year means introducing our kids to our reader’s and writer’s workshop, non-fiction reading, novel study, math at the older kid’s level and topic work ( science and social studies)  that is integrated into the rest of the curriculum. We try not to move too quickly, so that our students have time to absorb our ways of doing things and the more challenging expectations of older kids.

Our reading program consists of novel study, non fiction reading of current events and science related articles and a reader’s workshop model. During novel study the whole class reads a book together and discuss the big ideas of life. An eminent English scholar, Kelly Gallagher notes when a whole class reads together, with a teacher as a guide, students engage in “imaginative rehearsals” i.e., students practice through reading issues and questions they will have in their own lives. In our workshop model kids read 40 self-selected books across genres. Teachers conduct mini- lessons and conference with students on how to apply these mini lessons to individual student’s reading. After every other book students are required to do an end of book response. Both response and genre lists are posted in the classroom and on our web site. This year we have added some new responses called one-pagers. The purpose of these responses is to check for comprehension. Last week our students read in small groups an article about octopuses. They were instructed to highlight ways in which octopuses are intelligent then teachers gave a mini lesson on the expository pre-writing skill of t-charts. Students created a t-chart for their octopus reading which they then used to write an expository paragraph on octopuses. Give your kids a big pat on back because as you can see they work hard in school. Their published or finished work is kept in the back of classroom in a bin entitled published work where you can see it whenever you want. These pieces will eventually be bound and sent home.

Our students engaged in metaphorical thinking last week, finding metaphors in their reading and creating ones of their own. Metaphorical thinking deepens our understanding of what we experience, read and see in a way literal thinking can not. Metaphors help readers make more complex connections when they read. Thinking metaphorically enhances the thinking process by encouraging students to seek out associations and connections that they would not ordinarily make. Please encourage your child to create metaphors daily.

At Rivendell we believe in learning by doing, experiential learning, if you will. We are committed to hands-on projects in our topic work, and we are redoubling our efforts to get our kids out into the world to experience first hand what they are learning at school. Older kids teachers would like to have at least two field trips a month, but we need your help. This month we will go the Pompeii exhibit at the Colorado Museum of Nature and Science and Centennial Western Frontier Days in Greeley. Renting a bus is very expensive, so we will be asking parents to help by driving to some of these trips. Please contact your teachers if you would be willing to help with driving this year for field trips.

The Older Kids will be going on a field trip to Centennial Village in Greeley on Thursday, September 20th. Centennial Village is an outdoor living history museum. Kids are able to become a part of history and participate in hands-on simulations that transports them back in time. We will be leaving school by 10:45 and returning by 3:00. The cost will be $3 per child. Everyone will need to bring a lunch to school that day. Parent drivers are needed to transport kids to and from Centennial Village. If you are available to drive, please let us know as soon as possible. You are welcome to stay and participate if you would like. Permission slips will be going home this week.

Back to school night is Thursday from 7:30 to 8:00. Please come and find out what is going on in your child’s classroom.

Have a great week,
Jane, Ashley, Inta and Michele

Homework Sept 4th-7th

Tuesday

  • Read
  • Key Math at least 20 mins. Show your parents what you are doing.

Wednesday

  • Find 5 new facts about Athens or Sparta. Make a list .
  • Read

Thursday

  • Read
  • No other homework. Back to school night. Please come!

Welcome back letter!

Dear Older Kids,                                                                                 August 1, 2012

Hi! We hope your summer has been amazing and that you are starting to get excited about being with us again. We  have been planning and preparing for another fabulous, enriching year.  As always, we have a few requests from you to be ready to learn and to be challenged. On the first day of school, please be sure to bring a good book to read, pictures that you can use for a collage about yourself, a water bottle, sunscreen and a lunch if you do not order from our lunch program. Other than that, bring your smile and your enthusiasm, and of course, your book reviews and books to share with your class.

We sent a letter earlier this summer to your parents requesting that you write two book reviews of books that you read over the summer. These reviews will be due the first day of school. You might ask what does a book review look like. Here are two sites that showcase book reviews written by children for children. www.readerviewskids.com and www.buildingrainbows.com.  

Please check out these sites, but remember we want your thoughts and words not ideas or words you might find on the web. We would like the review to include the following and, of course, be written neatly in correct and complete sentences. The books should be at least 100 pages.
Book Reviews should include the following:

  1. Quotes from book
  2. Quotes about book from famous writers and reviewers
  3. Cliffhanger questions
  4. Personal reactions and opinions
  5. Awards for book and author
  6. Recommended reading age
  7. Other books by same author
  8. Comparison with other books
  9. Do not reveal how the book ends


We look forward to seeing all of you for the start of another grand school year.  Please email or call us if you have any questions.

Jane, Ashley, Inta and Michele

Summer notes

June 28, 2012

Dear Parents,

We hope your summer is going well. We are all enjoying ours. This is just a reminder about summer slump. According to recent research at best, students showed little or no academic growth over summer. At worst, students lost one to three months of learning. Summer loss was somewhat greater in math than reading. Summer loss was greatest in math computation and spelling. National Summer Learning Association. See cited research

Several weeks ago several teachers attended a reading and writing conference in Denver featuring speakers Kelly Gallagher and Donalynn Miller. Kelly Gallagher, a gifted speaker, writer and English teacher just wrote a book entitled Readicide, in a word, his thesis is our public school system is killing the teaching of reading by focusing more on reading to take tests than developing readers to read to understand and struggle with text to create meaning for their own lives: meaning that turns them into life long readers who read for many different purposes.  Donalynn Miller, whose model of reader’s workshop we follow, was featured the last day of the conference. She believes that fostering life long readers should be a primary objective of all teachers.

We know that many of our students love to read and are prolific readers, but for those who are not we want to emphasize how important it is to read over the summer. This is also a reminder that we will expect each child to come to school with two book reviews of books they have read over the summer. They will present their reviews to class the first week of school, and hopefully with their enthusiasm encourage other kids to read the books that they have read. In Older Kids, not only do we want to teach a love of reading and writing, but also we want our students to become life long readers who read for many reasons.

On the Older Kids’ websites are models for the Book Whisperer’s book review and a traditional book review. Fifth graders should do one of each type of book review, and we would like the fourth graders to stick to the Book Whisperer, by Donalynn Miller, Book review format. It is a simpler format, and as we have not yet modeled the traditional format, we would rather do that before they embark on tackling the terms in it. Going to the library, participating in local reading and writing events, keeping a journal of fun events would also be good ways to keep reading and writing over the summer.

Our fifth graders were all sent home with their math books this summer, so as not to lose all they gained last year. Fun things like cooking together and analyzing recipes can also help with math. A word problem a day helps the brain keep mathematically fit. If your math facts are not strong working on those a couple of times a week would also be helpful. Getting on Khan academy and using their videos to review topics would be great too.

We will get in touch at the end of July beginning of August to remind you about the reviews, but we thought giving advanced warning of these kind of assignments is always a good thing. Examples and explanations of both of these types of reviews are on our website, but see attached example to this doc in case you have trouble opening website.

Have a great July.
Jane, Inta, Ashley and Michele