Monday, November 21, 2016

A Note on Our Spelling Work

The students received their very first spelling work today.  Spelling in English is a two-fold process.  We have a district mandated exploration of root words and definitions, this is what they were handed today, with more explanation to follow in a moment.  The other process is the work they do within their own writing; recognizing words that they do not spell well consistently and working on them.  There are never any quizzes attached to the work but instead (hopefully) a building awareness of what they still need to work on.

The district mandated program is based on the work they have done in previous years and there are two paths for them to choose from.  One is the regular path that consists of an exploration of 5 root words and 5 definitions, the other is the enriched which centers around 25 root words.   Students may choose either one every time.  They do not lock in with a path once they have chosen it the first time.

Today we discussed what analogies are as both paths include analogy work.  Students are expected to work on this word work on their own or with a partner.  Technology should be used to assist them in their venture and the purpose of the work is not memorization but understanding.

Spelling work will always be due two weeks after it has been assigned, but can be handed in sooner.

The actual pages and resources for spelling can be found in their Google Classroom accounts in case they need access to it again.

Monday, November 14, 2016

2nd Quarter in English - An Update

With the first quarter over, we now continue onward in our quest to develop as better readers, writers, and speakers.  With its particular challenge of the 45 minute class period, and how little instructional time it provides us, we now switch our focus from reading strategies in the 1st quarter to more of a writing lens.  This means that the students are starting their first writing project this week in class.  More information about this project can be seen here  The due date for this project is December 2nd, with work time given every day in class except for Tuesday the 22nd.

A major focus of this project is the individual journey that each child is on as a writer.  We therefore abstain from many whole class lessons and instead focus on small group and one-on-one conferring.  Students will be asked to set their own specific conventions goals for this project, as well as other writing goals.

Spelling is another component added in the 2nd quarter, unless a child is in Literacy Skills with Mrs. Tanner, then they are exempt from our program.  The very first spelling work will be handed out Monday the 21st of November and will be due Monday the 5th.  There is no quiz attached, only the actual work that goes into the district mandated program.  There are two choices for the program; a regular list or an enriched list.  Students may choose which challenge they would like.  

We continue to work on reading more and deeper.  Every child should be reading at least 20 minutes outside of English, and should be reading books that they like, but that are also stretching them a little.  We will continue to analyze text in class and work on group discussions.

Speeches will also appear again in second quarter, they will be solo speeches in December and another group speech in January.

Conferences with me and the other team members of 7-O: Ms. Stoller, Ms. St. Clair, Mrs. Manzeck, Mr. Spaeth, Mrs. Gratzl and Mrs. Bures, as well as all other teachers will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, November 15th from 4 PM to 8 PM in the cafeteria. Each conference gets to last 5 minutes.  If you feel you need more time than that please reach out so we may schedule a different time for you.  There are also conferences happening at OMS on the 17th also from 4 PM to 8 PM with all other teachers except for the ones listed previously.  The book fair is also happening at school right now, it is a great place to pick up some great new titles for your learner.  

As always, it is an honor to get to be a part of your learner's journey in 7th grade.  Please reach out with any needs, questions, or concerns you may have.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Refugee Crisis Assignment

The Refugee Crisis Assignment

To Do:
  1. Select three different articles to read from the choices provided - read them.  Also, choose one video clip to watch - take notes on this.
  2. Annotate each article - this is for you to use in discussion and they will not be handed in.
  3. Write a summary of one of the articles - to hand in to Mrs. Ripp.  A good summary has a main idea with supporting details.  Make sure it is written in your own words.
  4. Write an opinion piece answering; what is our role as Americans in the refugee crisis?  You must use MEL-Con format.  This is to be handed in to Mrs. Ripp and should be based on the three articles you read and the video clip you watched.  

Things to annotate for:
  • What surprised you?
  • What are the problems discussed?
  • What are the solutions discussed?
  • Anything else that you might want to discuss.

To hand in:
  • Your summary - due October 18th
  • Your opinion piece - due October 25th

What are you assessed on?

ELA 1:  Your opinion piece
Determine/analyze development of central ideas/themes in a text.

ELA 3: Both pieces
Write informative texts to convey ideas; select, organize, and analyze content; summarize.

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

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

This will be a summative assessment, practice and mini-lessons will occur during class.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Where is Mrs. Ripp?

Your child may have told you that we had a substitute teacher, Mr. Wink, today in English.  This does happen from time to time because I am asked to speak at education events about how to be a better teacher and I have the incredible opportunity to share the words of the students I teach.  While I am delighted at the honor of teaching other teachers, my main job is to be a teacher for your child.  I therefore have an agreement with the district that I am not gone very often and I always make sure that it fits in with what we are doing.

Why am I out speaking?
It is due to the education blog I write at and also the books I have written (and am currently writing) about how to make education better for all student, global collaboration, as well as better reading instruction.

I also created the Global Read Aloud, which students will participate in starting October 3rd, and so I get asked to teach others about global collaboration, great literacy instruction, and personalizing learning.  To see more information about the Global Read Aloud, go to

How is my child impacted?
Hopefully not in a negative way.  I am very mindful of my few absences.  We try to create a classroom filled with students that push themselves as learners and so when I am out, they are not just doing busy work, they are actively working on things that matter to what we are doing.  One of the benefits is that the students voices get to be a part of the worldwide education debate, meaning they are starting conversations on a global scale about what students need and want.  This also means that we do a lot with authentic audiences, so that students are not just producing work for me but for others to give feedback as well.  Students also get to connect with authors and other students around the world.

I sometimes use pictures from my classrooms or words from my students in presentations.  I will ask for permission if this involves your child. 

Questions or concerns?
Please contact me.  My main responsibility is to be a 7th grade English teacher, not a speaker, or a writer.  Traveling to speak is a bonus but not my ambition and I want to make sure that I am the best possible teacher for your learner first.

Friday, September 16, 2016

1st Quarter Speech: Create Your Own Superhero or Your Choice of Topic

1st Quarter Speech:  Create Your Own Superhero or Your Choice of Topic
Goal:  To create a 1 minute speech discussing what type of superhero you would be or invent your own topic such as introducing yourself to the class.

Summative Standards Assessed:  
Standard 7:  Present focused claims with support, using eye contact, volume, and elocution.

Timeline & Due date:  Time will be given in class to work on this Tuesday, September 20th.  September 23rd, 2016 - all speeches will be performed in class live.

Detailed description:
Students will write and perform a 1 minute speech discussing what type of superhero they would be if they had to invent one,or a speech introducing themselves to the class, or on any other self-chosen topic.  

If you are introducing yourself here are suggestions for things to include:
  • What does your name mean or how did you get your name?
  • Where were you born?
  • What are things you are great at?
  • What are things you are passionate about?
  • What is your family like?

If you are doing the superhero here are suggestions for things to include:  
  • How would they become a superhero?
  • What would their superpowers be?
  • What would their name be?
  • What would they look like?
  • What would their main purpose be?
  • Would they be good superheroes or villains?  Why would they choose that?
  • What would their superhero gadgets be?
  • Where would their lair (hideout) be and what would it look like?

Students should:
  • Use their time wisely in class so they do not have to work on it at home.
  • Time their speech to make sure it is right around 1 minute, not too short and not too long
  • Practice their speech to make sure they feel comfortable.
  • Have a way of supporting themselves through their speech, meaning they can use notecards or a manuscript, however, they may not read their speech but need to deliver it as best as they can.
  • Content does not get assessed, only speaking skills.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Very First Book Order of the Year

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 today with interested students.  They are due back to me by Monday, the 19th  of September.  Note that there is a teen catalog of choices too and that some of the books in it are more mature.

If you at all are considering ordering books for your child, please make it from this one, because if we receive $300 worth of orders our classroom gets 10,000 bonus points, which I then use to get us more books.

Shop Online:
One-Time Class Activation Code: GXJ8R 
To order books either send in a check or do it online.

A few recommendations:
All American Boys - in the teen catalog, the very first book I book-talked this year.
Ghosts - the new graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier.
Loot - A fast paced page turner about a jewelry hesit gone wrong.
Sting - the follow up to Loot.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - the hotly anticipated play script.
Rad Women A to Z
It's Not Me, It's You 
Walk on Earth a Stranger - Historical fiction with a fantasy twist (series)

Thank you so much for considering.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Letter About Our Classroom Library

Dear Parent(s) or Guardian(s),
Think back to the last time you were trying to find a book to read; which book did you choose to read? Why did you want to read that particular book? All of us have different reading lives, and all of us enjoy reading different genres, titles, or authors. I find that to be true with my students as well, which is why I have an extensive classroom library with 1,000’s of books available for them to check out.  Since loving reading and books is one of the major goals of our year together in English, our classroom library plays a major role in the pursuit of that.

One of the things I love about teaching seventh graders is just how unique they are. The differences in student interests, maturity levels, as well as learning goals are vast and varied.  These kids are not only different ages; they arrive at school with different reading levels, different backgrounds, and different experiences that have shaped their lives in both positive and negative ways. They therefore have different needs when it comes to reading. As a teacher, I have a responsibility to serve all of the kids who come to me, and a responsibility to offer literature choices that speak to all of them.  

Kids, in general, do a fantastic job of self-selecting books, and when they find they’ve picked up something they’re not ready for, they’re usually quick to put it down and ask for help choosing something else. (In fact, I encourage my students to abandon books that are not right for them at that time.) As a teacher, I’ll offer recommendations and steer kids toward books that are age and individually-appropriate, however self-selecting a book is a pillar of our reading community.

As a teacher, I respect your right to help your own child choose reading material, and ask that you respect the rights of other parents/guardians to do the same. If you object to your child reading a particular book, let me know, send it back, and I’ll help your child find another selection. I’ll put the first book back on the shelf because even though you don’t feel it’s the right book for your child right now, it may be the perfect book for someone else’s child.  I would also encourage you to speak to your child about what types of books they feel comfortable reading so that this becomes a part of their selection process as well.  If I can ever be of help to you in recommending titles for your family, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Our library will have a wide range of choices for kids – to meet all of their varied needs and help them all develop an appreciation of reading. This includes our picture book selection that spans many social and historical issues.  These are used for mini lessons throughout the year as a way to garner discussion and reflection on our role as human beings.  Through the use of these shared read alouds, I hope for students to love reading and storytelling.  Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would like to visit our classroom library.  Finally, thank you for your involvement in your child’s education and helping to encourage reading growth and engagement.

Mrs. Ripp

Thank you to Kate Messner and Jillian Heise for sharing versions of this letter.