We hope this letter finds you well as we near the end of the school year. Summer has nearly arrived, and while we want all students to enjoy themselves with family and friends, we also know that it is crucial for students to read during the break, not only for enjoyment but also to keep their skills sharp.
In order to retain and/or strengthen reading and writing skills, we encourage students to take notes as they read. When we return to school in September, students will work on activities and assignments based on the book, so please make sure your child finishes it by the end of the summer and brings it on the first day of school. Students will be able to use their books and notes for all writing activities. See the sidebar for grade specific titles.
In order to build vocabulary, please have your reader keep a vocabulary log. This can be a separate document, or he or she can keep track of new, interesting or difficult words in the novel they are reading. We have included a Sample Vocabulary Log LINK.
Below is an acronym for note-taking (VIVA CAPS) that students may wish to use to help them focus their reading. While we do not require students to take notes using this system over the summer, we recommend it as a way to focus reading and increase comprehension.
V—Visualize. As you read, visualize the story and characters as though you were watching a movie. If you like, you can sketch a small drawing in the margin of what the story describes.
I—Infer. Sometimes when we read, authors leave us hints and suggestions that we have to think about in order to draw our own conclusions. Try to find places in the book that you think are hinting at something. What are your thoughts as you read?
V—Vocabulary. Find vocabulary words you don’t know and look them up.
A-Admit confusion. When you are confused by something or don’t understand what you have read, read the passage again (making sure you look up all unfamiliar vocabulary words). If you still don’t understand, put a question mark in the margin so that we can discuss it in class.
C—Connect. As you read, try to relate the text to your own experiences, things that you have learned about in school, other books you have read, or even movies you have seen. As you find connections, write them in the margins.
A—Ask and argue. Try to have a conversation with the book as you read. If a character does something that you don’t agree with, say so in the margin. If you are wondering why the author decided to make something happen in the story, ask! We will talk about these questions in class.
P—Predict. At the end of each chapter, make a prediction for what you think will happen next. Why do you think this?
S-Summarize. At the end of each chapter, write a brief, bullet-point summary of the most important events that have happened.
We wish you and your child a wonderful summer. Happy reading!
The GISNY English Department