Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ideas for Keeping Your Child Reading Over the Summer

This is cross-posted from my professional blog.  Happy summer reading!

The beauty of summer reading is falling into the pages of a book and not having to come up for air until it is done. @pernilleripp
I know many of us educators (and those at home) have been working hard all year to try to cultivate or protect a love of reading in our learners.   Now with warmer temperatures and summer beckoning for the Northern Hemisphere comes the real test; will kids keep reading over the summer?  Is what we did enough?  Did we lay enough of a foundation, get them excited, get them hooked so that the next few weeks or months will not put them in a reading drought?  While time will truly be the judge of how the work might pay off, here are a few ideas that may help depending on the age of the learner.
Have a to-be-read list.  All year we have cultivated ours, trying to add as many titles as possible so that when the students leave our classrooms they have something to help guide them when they are either at the library or at the book store.  This is especially important for our “fragile” readers, those who have just discovered that books and reading may be for them after all and need a constant diet of amazing books.  But really all kids should have one, not just some.  Even if school has not created a to-be-read list it is not too late to make one!  Browse the displays at the library or at the book store and write it down somehow. Keep the list on you because you never know when you come across an opportunity to find more books.
Visit places where books are present.  We go to the library a lot; when it is too hot and the pool is not open, when it is stormy, when we are tired.  We also go to our local book store and browse.  Accessing book, touching books, getting excited about books and anything that we can read is vital to keep the desire alive.  If you are not able to go places where there are books, ask your child’s teacher if you may borrow a big stack of books from them if you promise to bring them back.  I have often lent books to families over the summer as a way to help them keep reading.
Make it social.  I love reading a great book and then talking to others about the book or even better passing the book on to them (as long as they give it back).  Make reading a social aspect of your summer; have reading “parties” where kids can discuss books, create a book swap with other families, scour garage sales for long-lost favorites.  Offer up yourself to read with your learner or get more than one copy of a book (if you have access to them) so that others may join in the reading.  Too often as parents we think we should read all of the books our child is reading and while that can be a fun bonding experience, it may be more powerful if you can get a friend of your child to be a reading partner.
Use audio books.  I love that I can borrow audio books from our library – the entire Harry Potter series has been the backdrop to our commute for the past 4 months.  When your children are in the car, put on an audio book.  Have a copy of the book ready if  anyone wants to keep reading and you have reached your destination.  With all of the research coming out correlating audio books with further reading success this is a winning situation.
Find great books.  Get connected online to communities like #Titletalk, #BookADay, or Nerdy Book Club to get ideas of what to read next.  I am constantly adding to my wish list due to these two places.  Use the professionals like librarians,booksellers and teachers.  Also, ask other parents what their kids are reading, create a Facebook page to share recommendations or simply use you own page, anything to find out what great books are available.
Create a routine.  We read every night and sometimes even in the morning (as well as throughout the day but then again we may be slightly book obsessed).  Helping your child create a routine where reading is a natural part of the day mean that they will create ownership over the habit, thus (hopefully) inspiring further reading.
Allow real choice.  I have seen some parents (and schools) require learners to read certain books over summer, but summer is meant to be guilt-free reading.  Where we reach for those books we cannot wait to read because they will suck us right in, where we fill up our reserves so we can perhaps finally tackle that really challenging book that we have been wanting to read.  Where we explore new books because we want to.  Too often rules and expectations infringe on the beauty of summer reading; falling into a book’s pages and not having to come up for air until it is done.  That also goes for reading things that may be “too easy” or “too hard” – I devour picture books, graphic novels and all thing “too easy” in the summer, as well as trashy beach reads and Danish crime mysteries.  I refuse to feel guilty about my choices in reading, because that is never what reading is about.
Have books everywhere.  Again, this depends on how many books you have access to, but leave books wherever your kids go.  I have books in the car, in their rooms, in the kitchen, living room, etc.  That way the books seem to fall into their hands at random times; stopped in traffic, quiet time before lunch, a sneak read before falling asleep.  It is a luxury to have books in our house and so we try to make them as visible as possible.
Celebrate abandonment, but ask questions.  When a child abandons a book, this is a great thing.  They are learning that this book is not for them and they can use their energy for a book that will be for them.  But ask questions so that they may think about what type of book they might like.  So they can think about what type of reader they are and want to be.  Make sure that there are other books they want to read as well so that they can keep trying to find great books.
Be invested and interested.  This does not mean that you ask your child to write reports about what they read, in fact, I would be very careful as to what type of work goes along with reading over the summer beside reading, but do ask questions.  Ask whether they enjoy the book or not.  What they plan on reading next.  Read along with them or beside them.  Make reading a part of your life so it can become a part of theirs.
Keep it fun.  Too often, especially if our child is not a well-developed reader, we can get rather nervous as parents and think that we must keep them on a regimented reading program at all costs.  That we must have them write about reading or track it somehow.  Have them read, yes, but keep it light and fun.  The last thing we want to do is to make reading a worse experience for them or adding more stress to your family.
What other ideas do you have?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Final Book Orders Due

Summer is near and that means that we do everything in our power to combat the summer slide in reading.  All learners have long to-be -read lists that they should bring home next Friday to help them find great books for over the summer.  I have also told students that if they email me, then I can let them know when I am at OMS and they can come grab books.  I get many new books over the summer that I would love for students to read and review.

Book order catalogs were sent home today - the biggest pile yet - here are some of my favorite reads:
  • Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson - a new book from this master author
  • Surviving Bear Island by Paul Greci - for the nature/survival fans
  • The Trials of Apollo #1 - The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan - brand new series!
  • Roller Girl by Victoria Jameson - A great graphic novel
  • Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson - what if our world was really filled with magic?
  • Slacker by Gordon Korman - brand new book from this master author
  • The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer - fantasy and fairy tales
  • Love that Dog by Sharon Creech - one of my all-time favorite free verse novels
  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman - mesmerizing and a challenging read
  • See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles - a tear jerker for sure

There is a teen catalog included in the order so there are more mature titles.

I recommend shopping online, as there is a larger selection of books than in the fliers.
To shop online: scholastic.com/readingclub
One-Time Class Activation Code: GXJ8R

Thank you for your support of our classroom library as well.  With every book you order, I get points which I then use to buy more books for the kids to read.



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Our Final Project: This I Believe

This I Believe Project Breakdown
Goal:  To create a 4 or 5 paragraph speech and narrative writing piece modeled after the “This I Believe”  format.  See this link for examples.

Summative standards assessed:  
Standard 4:  Write narratives to share events, using vivid detail & ordered sequence.  
Standard 6:  Command the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and vocabulary.
Standard 7:  Present focused claims with support, using eye contact, volume, and elocution

Due Date:  June 1st

Day-by-Day Process:

Day
Goal
1
Reading and listening to This I Believe speeches - class discussion; what do you notice?  Individual exploration and listening - filling out inspiration sheet to understand structure?
2
Guided brainstorm - elevator activity to jog memories that carry significance
3
Filling in our timelines and listening to examples of the end product
4
Zeroing in on a personal beliefs - using the rough organizer
5
Handing out graphic organizers
Students will start to fill out graphic organizers
One-on-One conferring with “stuck” students using the breakdown organizer
6
How to write a strong introduction - conferring one on one with students
7
Revising for better introductions
8
Adding quotes to our speeches/essays - more rough draft working time
9
Adding details
10
Rough draft work time - conferring one on one with students.  
11
Revising for better word choice
12
Work time
13 (Friday)

Rough drafts all due to Mrs. Ripp

14
Hand back rough draft - Peer review and commenting
15
Types of conclusions
16
Work day for revising and editing
17
Work day for revising and editing
18
Work day for revising and editing
19
Speech practice

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Best Book of 7th Grade Speech

Our next speech should be a fun one; what is the best book you have read in 7th grade?  Use your persuasive skills to convince people to read your book or add it to their To-Be-Read list.  How do you do this?
You need to 

  • Use a catchy beginning to capture their attention
  • Give enough detail so that they know what the book is about but not give it away
  • Have the title and author in your speech
  • Use between 1 and 2 minutes for your speech
  • Practice!
You can
  • Use a visual behind you to help support your book
  • Use an excerpt from the book as part of your presentation
Due:  Friday, April 29th.

Assessed:  Summative on standard 7. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Standards Review Unit

Name:

My Plan for Reviewing the Standards

By the end of 7th grade you should have mastered the following things:

Standard
Official language
Student Language
ELA 1:
Determine/analyze development of central ideas/themes in a text.
Decide or figure out and add your own thoughts as evidence about the main ideas of the text and the theme.
ELA 2:
Analyze how story elements interact.
Interpret/analyze and put in your own words how things such as conflict, theme, tough questions, and other things affect the story.
ELA 3:
Write informative texts to convey ideas; select, organize, and analyze content; summarize.
Write informational text to show your ideas/thoughts, select, organize and interpret (put into your words) the information.  Summarize.
ELA 4:
Write narratives to share real events, using vivid detail and ordered sequence.
Write stories to share real events, using powerful details and an order of events that makes sense.
ELA 5:
Draw evidence from texts to support written analysis.
Pull out text evidence that supports the thoughts/topic you are writing about.

So for the next 8 days, you will be choosing how you want to review these standards.  That means that you create or select options for reviewing them.  Under each standard you will find several option to select from to help you review.  Think about where your biggest needs are and what you would like to do.






Pick one choice for each standard, every day you will hand in what you have worked on.

Standard 1: Determine/analyze development of central ideas/themes in a text.
Standard 2: Analyze how story elements interact.
Standard 3:
Write informative texts to convey ideas; select, organize, and analyze content; summarize.
Standard 4:
Write narratives to share events, using vivid detail and ordered sequence.
Standard 5: Draw evidence from texts to support written analysis. (will be assessed along with your standard 1 and 2 choices).
Choice 1
Create your own task - must be approved by Mrs. Ripp
Create your own task - must be approved by Mrs. Ripp
Create your own task - must be approved by Mrs. Ripp
Create your own task - must be approved by Mrs. Ripp
Create your own task - must be approved by Mrs. Ripp
Choice 2
Work in small group with a teacher.
Work in small group with a teacher.
Work in small group with a teacher.
Work in small group with a teacher.
Work in small group with a teacher.
Choice 3
Using picture books, write a MEL-Con to analyze the theme and how that theme is developed throughout the story.  2 paragraphs at least either typed or handwritten.
Create a video discussing the story elements of your independent reading book.  Story elements include: characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.  To see more get the handout from Mrs. Ripp.
Create a 10 slide presentation on a topic either studied in geography or science.  
Write your best draft of a short story.
Using picture books, write a MEL-Con to analyze the theme and how that theme is developed throughout the story.  2 paragraphs at least either typed or handwritten.
Choice 4
Using self selected poetry, write a MEL-Con to analyze the theme and how that theme is developed throughout the story.  2 paragraphs at least either typed or handwritten.
Write a short essay discussing the story elements of your independent reading book.  Story elements include: characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.  To see more get the handout from Mrs. Ripp.
Pick a news topic and create a current even write up.

Using self selected poetry, write a MEL-Con to analyze the theme and how that theme is developed throughout the story.  2 paragraphs at least either typed or handwritten.
Choice 5
Using your independent reading book, write a MEL-Con to analyze the theme and how that theme is developed throughout the story.  2 paragraphs at least either typed or handwritten.
Write a detailed discussion of how the conflict and resolution is developed throughout your independent reading book.
Pick a topic studied in geography or science and create an infographic with sources.

Using your independent reading book, write a MEL-Con to analyze the theme and how that theme is developed throughout the story.  2 paragraphs at least either typed or handwritten.


To see the official Google Doc for this, go here 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

An Update from English

Our room has been a cacophony of noise this week as students rehearse and prepare for their final speech of the 3rd quarter; our Elephant and Piggie plays.  These plays are filmed and then sent out to classrooms around the world so that younger students can give our actors feedback.  Videos are shared securely, however, if a child does not have permission to have their image/work shared over the internet, their video will not be shared and feedback will just be provided with me.  Most performances will be Thursday.

Our second to last book orders are due tomorrow.
Shop Online: scholastic.com/readingclub
One-Time Class Activation Code: GXJ8R To order books either send in a check or do it online.

Great books to read include:
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
New Mike Lupica Book called The Extra Yard
Babysitters Club graphic Novels by Raina Telgemeier
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
This Side of Wild by Gary Paulsen
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith
Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Jack by Liesl Shurtliff
Soar by Joan Bauer
Amulet Book 7 by Kazu Kabuishi

I so appreciate the orders placed as it allows me to buy more books for our classroom library.

Reading over spring break:
All students are expected to read over spring break and we have partnered with the Madison Mallards to give the kids a reward for their reading.  If they read 3 hours or more total and you sign their green form, they will be given 2 Mallards tickets for a game this summer.  This is a great way for students to get a little extra bonus from the reading they already do.

An update on my writing
​I have started writing my next book, this one is on literacy, and may feature student work and quotes in the book.  I will, of course, ask your permission to feature any work or quotes in it before it is placed in the book.  I am excited that I get to share the great thoughts of the students with a larger audience.



Monday, February 15, 2016

Alert; Rather than the Signpost Project

This morning I spent most of class checking in with students regarding their signpost project and realized that there was quite a bit of confusion.  After pondering and speaking to the students further,  we decided to change the project drastically to ensure that students knew what they were being asked to do as well as to make it more manageable.  So the following two projects replace the signpost project - please note the new due dates.  I apologize for any confusion this may cause but will definitely speak to the students about it tomorrow as well.

Both new assignments have been posted in Google Classroom for the students to see.

Rather than the signpost project


The goal:  To analyse a text with the help of the signposts and share your thinking in writing.


Process:
Step 1:  Find as many signposts in your book as possible
Step 2:  Try to find signposts that give you clues about the conflict and the theme of the story
Step 3:  Write the following assignments
  1. Conflict assignment - due February 23rd on Google Classroom
  2. Theme assignment - Due March 2nd on Google Classroom.

Re-take
If you receive less than a 3 or a 4 on either of those, you will have another project due later in March to re-check your understanding.


Conflict Signpost Assignment:
  • Write 1 to 2 paragraphs detailing the central conflict in your book club book.  
  • Make sure to use the evidence from the signposts you have found such as any tough questions or contrast and contradictions.  
  • Please write it with a main idea, evidence and link (analysis) of why this is the conflict.
  • Turn in on Google Classroom under “Conflict Signpost Project” by February 23rd.


Theme Signpost Assignment:
  • Write 1 to 2 paragraphs detailing the central theme in your book club book.  If you have more than 1, just pick the biggest one in your opinion.  
  • Make sure to use the evidence from the signposts you have found such as any Aha Moments or Words of the Wiser.
  • Please write it with a main idea, evidence and link (analysis) of why this is the conflict.
  • Turn in on Google Classroom under “Theme Signpost Project” by March 2nd.


Helpful Hints:
  • You can discuss the conflict and theme in your book clubs, this way you can check your own ideas for understanding.
  • Find the signposts that will give you clues to what the theme or conflict is; if in doubt ask questions to your group of Mrs. Ripp.
  • Use reflection time in class to work on the project, you can start analysing the signposts in class.


Standards Assessed - Both are summative:
Conflict Assignment:


ELA 2:
Analyze how story elements interact.

ELA 5:
Draw evidence from texts to support written analysis.

ELA 6:
Command the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and vocabulary.

Theme Assignment:


ELA 1
Determine/analyze development of central ideas/themes in a text.
ELA 5:
Draw evidence from texts to support written analysis.
ELA 6:
Command the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and vocabulary.