Thursday, September 11, 2014

We are Bloggers!

I am excited to announce that the students have written their first blog posts today introducing themselves and their blogs to the world!  We would love for you to come by and leave us a comment as this is what makes blogging so special.

There are two different blog sites, one for the morning classes (Hours 1, 3, and 4) and one for the afternoon classes (Hours 5 and 7).  We will do blogging challenges every other week with time provided here in school, however, if a student does not use their time wisely in class it may be considered homework.

Morning classes, click here 
Afternoon classes, click here 

If at any time you have questions about our blogs, please ask.  This is a wonderful way for the students to develop as writers writing for an authentic audience, while displaying safe internet behavior.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September Scholastic Book Order

I asked the 7th graders if they still did book orders and they answered with a resounding  "Yes!"  So our first book order will go home tomorrow with interested students.  They are due back to me by Next Wednesday, the 17th of September.  Note that there is a teen catalog of choices too and that some of the books in it are more mature.

Shop Online:
One-Time Class Activation Code: GXJ8R To order books either send in a check or do it online:
  •  ENTER the one-time Class Activation Code (top of this letter)
  •  SHOP from a carefully curated selection of the best books, value packs, and Storia eBooks
  •  SUBMIT your order and earn FREE Books for our classroom
  •  All book orders will be shipped to our classroom so we can celebrate the joy of reading together!
Some recommendations for this month are:
  • The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare 
  • Sisters by Raina Teglmeier
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Doll Bones by Holly Black
  • Four by Veronica Roth
  • The Selction by Kiera Cass
  • The Eye of Minds by James Dashner 
  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Pollisner
  • Lunar Chronicles Pack by Marissa Meyer
  • See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles

Some recommendations for this month from me are:

How We Stay Safe While Blogging

As you know, we have been working on our paper blogs as we get ready to discuss commenting and how engage others in conversation.  Safe internet behavior is something I take very seriously and something we discuss throughout the year, but particularly here in the beginning.  So far we have discussed the rules for staying safe on the internet using the analogy of how the internet is like the mall.  We have also discussed how a public blog is different from a private journal and the types of posts someone may write.

Throughout the entire year as we blog, I am also a line of defense.  All posts have to be approved by me (there is no way around this) and all comments have to be approved by me (also with no way around it).  All links that get to a student through a post have been clicked on by me and viewed.  In the 4 years of blogging with students, I have never had an unsafe situation, nor any type of cyber-bullying.  The most we have ever gotten are spam comments, which I simply delete before they reach students.  I feel that Kidblog is an incredibly safe way for students to write for an authentic audience and engage in a  global conversation.

If a child does not have permission to have their blog open to the public, they will still blog.  Their posts will only be seen by me and not widely published.  That way no one sticks out and everyone still has the same chance at reflecting.

If you would like to see students blogs from previous years and where your child will be blogging this year, please go to

Friday, September 5, 2014

Information about Blogging

I introduced the students to blogging today as we started to discuss the safety as well as the purpose for our blogs.  Blogs provide the students with a safe way to communicate with people around the world and will be used extensively thought out the year.  All posts and comments are approved by me, which ensures the safety of the students, as well as the appropriateness of what they post and the comments they get.  This should be a very positive experience for the students as it is something I value.

While class time will be provided for blogging, students are able to blog outside of school.  Many students want to blog about their interests and I encourage them to do so.  Our blog is used is a model for student blogging globally so we discussed today how to best represent ourselves to the world.  Spelling, conventions, as well as the ideas we present matter, and they will used to assess the writing journey for the year.  Therefore, students are expected to only put their best out there.

Next week, we will continue our blogging introduction, as well as head to the library.

To see what blogs looks like, please go here

Our first posts will be up by the end of next week.

If you have any questions regarding this, please contact me.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

20% Time Explained for Independent Reading

In our independent reading class, hour 8, we have the opportunity to do 20% time for the quarter.  20% time is an opportunity for students to explore their interests, learn something new, and take their curiosity to a new level.

Every week, students in my independent reading section will be given the full 45 minute class period to work on their chosen project.  That means they will have 7 full 45 minute blocks to work on it.  We will present our learning at the end of the first quarter and self-assess then.

Projects can be anything that the students want to pursue, as long as they are learning something and it is doable.  Ideas range from writing a novel to building a push go-cart. Students can choose to work on this outside of school but it is not mandatory, nor expected.  Part of this project is also the ability to pick something that is doable for them within the time frame.  Every week the students will be asked to reflect on their blog (if they have one) or in a journal, this is a way for them to honestly assess how they are doing with the process.   If this goes well, we hope to do it again next quarter.

To read more about 20% time, please go here

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Microsoft Project

In spring, I was contacted by a media representative working for Microsoft in Education.  They were interested in creating a video showcasing my teaching and highlighting the wonderful things our students do.  This video is part of Microsoft's focus on education and showcasing the great things that happen in classrooms around the world.  After discussion with administration, we decided that this would be a positive for our students and our school..

Your child has therefore brought home 2 permission slips for you to sign that gives Microsoft the right to have them in the video.  The unfortunate thing about the slips is that these are the waivers that are used for everything, not student specific projects, so the permissions are very encompassing to say the least.  Please email me or call if you are worried about any of the wording.

The plan is for Anthony Scanga to follow our classroom next week either Tuesday or Wednesday with a video camera.  So if your child has me at any point that day they may be featured in the video.  I have added an example video of what they have done in the past for this project.

The 25 Book Challenge

The 25 (At Least) Book Challenge

Welcome to the 25 book challenge, yes, you are expected to read at least 25 books in 7th grade. If you already know you will read at least 25 books, I would like you to set a higher goal than that, we will discuss together.  However, there is a way to do this:
  • Books with more than 300 pages count as 2 books, books with more than 500 pages count as 3 books.  More than 800 - see Mrs. Ripp
  • Graphic novels count as 1/4 of a book.
  • Picture books count as 1/10 of a book - so 10 picture books are needed to count as 1 book.
  • Magazines/Comics - check with Mrs. Ripp for fraction value
  • You pick the books you want to read.
  • You have until the end of the year
  • You are only competing against yourself as a reader (and Mrs. Ripp if you want)
  • 15 of the books must be actual chapter books
  • This is meant to push you as a reader, if 25 is too little of a goal for you, please set a higher goal. My goal will be 80 books.

How do you record it:
There are many ways to record your 25 books, here are a few examples:
  • On your "My Reading List" - this would be the easiest place to do it
  • Book buddy discussion
  • Blog a review on Kidblog of each book.
  • Share your best reviews on Mrs. Ripp Reads blog
  • Film a review.
  • Stick the cover of your finished books up in your locker
  • Recommend the book to a friend and have them write whether they would like to read it.
  • Skype book recommendation call
  • Your idea?