Rivendell Older Kids

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