Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Blog is Featured

One of the tools I use to get comments on our Kidblog is the hashtag #comments4kids.  So imagine my delight when Will Chamberlain contacted me last night to let me know that one of our posts would be his feature of the day on Comments4Kids.  

This morning I went over there right away and saw that jack's honest prediction post about the book "Out of My Mind" had been chosen as a great blog post.  Way to go Jack!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Littlebits Challenge

This summer I received a Littlebits starter kit with the premise of messing around with it.  Well, we I got it I knew I had to get it into the hands of the students, who else would have the most fun just messing around.  So today as a way to get the kids thinking about variables and team work, I presented them with the Littlebits challenge.

We only have 1 kit available to the class, so they took turns figuring out the components and then dreaming up something they could build using them.  Next Friday, they will share their ideas with the class and we will vote on our two favorites.  We will then try to build as many of them as we can.  There are not a lot of rules, they have to use some of the components and they may bring in whichever material they would like.  I cannot wait to see their creations come to life.

Newsletter September 27, 2013

Special Notes
* What a great week.  Highlights for me has been seeing the groups work so well together, being kind to one another, and being honest in their opinions. 
* Blogging is going really well and we now have gotten more than 600 comments on the blogs already!  I am in touch with several teachers across the world that are watching our blog for ideas and to see how the kids are developing in their writing. 
*  As we get ready to read the book “Out of My Mind” I asked students to work in partnerships to solve brainteasers but without speaking or writing.  They did for 20 minutes and will now be blogging about it for next week’s blogging challenge.  Our main character, Melody, has CP and no way of communicating with the world so I wanted the students to get a feel for that before we start reading.
* We did another Mystery Skype this week and it did not go as well as the first one.  This was a wonderful learning opportunity for us as we discussed what we could do better as we get ready for our next one.
* The State Journal will be here Wednesday taking pictures of the students and asking them some questions about the Global read Aloud, I am looking forward to seeing these awesome students in the paper.
*MAP testing is done for this round, if students need to make up missed tests I have sent their names to Mr. Macklem.
* Dates for your calendar:  Ripp sub all day for meeting October 3rd, PTO Fall Dance Party Night is Friday, October 4th 6 PM, Family Fun Night/Title 1 Night October 8th 4:30 – 6:45 PM,  Mrs. Ripp sub in PM for literacy meeting Monday, October 14th, Field trip to the Overture October 17th 11:30 to 2 PM,  Picture re-take is Tuesday, November 5th.

MathWe have just started the second unit which is all about numbers.  We have worked with adding and subtracting whole numbers with decimals and will soon start to work with multiplication of such numbers.  Students need to know their math facts so please have them practice if they are not secure in them.
Social Studies – We finished our zombie land regions project today and will present this Tuesday.  I am excited to see what the students came up with. We will then move onto Native Americans in the US with our next project.  Since this is something the students have studied before I will be asking them for ideas of what they would like to do.
Reading We finished our first unit of reading and did a reading reflection of how we grew as readers in September.  These are being sent home today for you to read.  There is also a reading survey coming home, please fill it out with your child and send it back in to me. 
Writing We are still blogging, the students know that they can ask to blog during recess and many are taking me up on that opportunity to not have to do it at home.  We have also discussed paragraphing this week and will start our next unit on essays and editorials the next week.  Most kids are finding enough time in the day to get their spelling work done, however, some are handing it in late.  They all have the option of bringing it home and work on it there if they feel they need more time. 

Science – We are working through variables and will start with lifeboats next week.  Students created hypotheses, tested them and then graphed their results to make predictions.  We are working on using our science language to show our understanding as well.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Thank You From Mrs. Ripp

Last night when we landed from Washington DC at 9:30 PM I knew I would be a little bit tired today.  After all, it had been quite a whirlwind of a weekend with many great events.  Yet, I could not wait to get back to "my" kids and tell them all about it.  So imagine my surprise when I walked in to the classroom this morning to be greeted by the awesome signs hanging on my wall.  Although I am pregnant and prone to tears,  I think I would have cried even if I wasn't.  When Lynne and Joanie then walked in and handed me roses, a balloon and more handwritten cards than I have ever received I started to cry.  I am so overwhelmed by your words, your support, and your kindness.

Every day I come to work with a smile because I know I get to be part of something incredibly valuable and precious.  The fact that you trust me with the learning of your child means a great deal to me and it is a responsibility I hold in great regard.  I don't ever expect anything extra from anyone so thank you for everything you have done and everything you do for me.  I am lucky to get to be your child's teacher and I know it.

All my best,

Week 3 Spelling List

  • second
  • might
  • eighth
  • possible
  • enough
  • trouble
  • north
  • field
  • sound
  • however
  • young
  • tenth

Friday, September 20, 2013

Our First Class Mystery Skype

As reporters we were supposed gather info about the mystery skype. We called the other class at 10:10. Of course they did not answer, but at 10:15 they called us back.The first time we called the profile said what city they were from so now all we had to do was look up what state it was in but only some people saw it. Kevin, the greater did great job greeting the other class. First question was asked by the other class which was "Do you live in the U.S.A?". The think tank didn't have to think about that one. It was an easy yes. The next girl came up to ask the next question but she was wearing a South Burlington T- shirt. Almost every one saw that. The next question we asked which was "Do you live in Vermont?". That was a yes totally. Then they started asking us more questions. One question was "Is it hot or cold there?". We could not answer that question because it was not a yes or no question. So they tried again and asked " Is it hot there?". We couldn't answer that question because it wasn't specific. So They tried one more time and asked " Is it always hot there?". We said no. There was only one question that the think tank answered wrong. The other team guessed "Do you border Canada?". The think tank said yes and the other team got so excited! But then  We told them that we answered wrong and we could tell there hearts sank. The next question they asked was "Do you boarder a Great Lake?". That gave it away. As soon as they guessed us we all started to clap. We asked some more random questions then hung up. We had a wonderful first mystery skype as reporters and we hope you liked this blog!

Alli and Isabel

Newsletter September 20, 2013

Special Notes
* Channel 15 stopped by this morning to ask me some questions about the Bammys and also film the kids in action.  It will air tonight at 6 PM and then again on the weekend show. 
*Spelling lists may look very easy for some students, I have to test the 5th grade no excuse words every trimester and this is the easiest way to do it.  If you child gets all of them right they do not have to be tested the rest of the year on these.  We will get through them quickly, I promise, and then get some harder words.
*  Thank you for all of those who have signed up for fall conferences, here is the link again
* Speaking of the Bammys, thank you so much for your kind words.  As I said to a parent last night, “The reason I love my job is the kids and the reason I get to be recognized is the kids and the trust they put in me every day.  I always feel so fortunate that I get to be a part of their lives for a year and I hope they leave fifth grade knowing that they matter to me and to the world and that they too have power. 
* Thank you so much everyone for the book orders, they will be placed later today and will hopefully be here soon.
* Don’t worry if your child missed MAP testing, we will make up any missed test when they are here.
* We are doing our first Mystery Skype later today: I cannot wait to see how it goes.  Our reporters will be reporting after the call so a post will be up later.
* We found out early that we are expecting another little girl this February.  While Brandon certainly was hoping for another little boy to keep Oskar company, we just feel lucky that so far the baby is happy and healthy. 
* Picture re-take day is Tuesday, November 5th
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars:  Math test unit 1 Monday, September 23rd, MAP testing Wednesday, September 25th 10:45-11:45, New math unit starts Wednesday, September 25th, Mrs. Ripp sub all day for meeting October 3rd, PTO Fall Dance Party Night is Friday, October 4th 6 PM.  Picture re-take is Tuesday, November 5th.

MathWe will have our first math test on Monday, the results will then be sent home next week with a progress checklist for your child.  The next unit and shuffling of the kids takes place on Wednesday where we go into estimation and computation.  Kids are quickly realizing that if they do not know their math facts they are a massive disadvantage; please have them practice when you can.
Social Studies – We are halfway through our zombie presentations and I must say I am excited to see the results next week when the students present. 
Science – We finally started variables this week and realized that we need to be right on task with science; 35 minutes at the end of the day just flies by.  Due to the sub today we will continue with our science experimentations on Monday.    
Reading – Literacy assessments are ongoing and I am enjoying the reading conversations that I am having with the students.  We have partnered up with each other to have deeper reading discussions and have also been very honest with each other in how we feel about reading and how we can become the best readers we can be.   
Writing I cannot tell you enough how wonderful the blogs have been this week, if you have not checked them out please do Every Friday I will post the weekly challenge and then have it due the following Thursday night.  They can always stay in during recess to do it and we integrate times throughout the week to do it.   While I do check for spelling on the blogs, they are not graded; the students use them as a way to connect with the world and do receive feedback on them.  I will often leave a private comment to the student if they have major changes to make but otherwise the blog works as an electronic trail for me to see their growth as writers as well.  We have also been working on memoirs as we launch the writers workshop.  We will be wrapping this unit up in the next few days and then move on to essays.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Some Pictures from Zombie Presentation Work

Social studies has gotten to quite an exciting start and the discussions I have heard in here have been very interesting.  The knowledge the students are pulling together to see where they have the biggest shot at recreating civilization has been phenomenal.  Just a few pictures to share as they continue their research and start to work on their presentations.  All presentations will be videotaped and uploaded on here as well.

Students Do Paper Blogging

A way we introduce commenting on blogs every year is by having students do thier paper blogs.  Once they are all done, students move around the room leaving comments via post-its.  We then discuss whether they have left "highway" comments or "dead-end" comments by acting them out.  Just a few pictures from the students milled about and then please check out their blogs, they have been absolutely wonderful!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Little Bit About Mrs. Ripp

I get to be interviewed once in a while and in these I always get to talk about my amazing students.  If you want to listen in to the latest interview that discusses what we do in the classroom, the Global read Aloud, and a bit about me listen here. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 2 Spelling List

We are moving through our 5th grade no excuse words, so this week's spelling list looks like so:

  • Against
  • Paper
  • Morning
  • Often
  • Should
  • Special
  • Through
  • South
  • Complete
  • Country
  • Wrong

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Newsletter September 13, 2013

Special Notes
* I have been particularly proud of how well the class works.  It is quite a sight to see 27 students reading silently and getting their work done.  It is also quite a sight to see 27 students working together as a class to create a vision, to survive a zombie apocalypse, and to come up with great dance moves.  I love the balance we strike between quiet and noise and I cannot wait to see what else the year will bring.  
*  Book orders go home today and are due next Friday.  I have my eye on several new books for our library as always.
* Our first assembly is this Monday at 2:25 with a theme of team-wear,  so students should wear their favorite jersey, bowling shirt, or whatever else they may have.  I have a feeling Mr. Getz and Mr. Wicsher will finally get me to buy a Badger shirt.
* If your child is involved in any after school activities and have a big game, performance or something like that coming up – let me know.  I like to come and see and so do other kids in the classroom.
* My door is always open so if you are wondering what goes on in our room, feel free to stop by.
* This classroom is really buzzing with excitement over what we are doing.  I am thrilled to see the kids come together as a community and really representing us well wherever they go.  I have gotten countless compliments on how well they are behaved from the specials teachers as well.
*Map testing starts next week already!  We will test reading on Wednesday, September 17th and math on Wednesday, September 25th.  If your child is absent they will make it up when they get back.  
*  I have posted all orchestra and band dates on our classroom calendar up through November.  Please check here if you are not sure if they need to bring their instruments.
* Don’t forget to sign up for fall conferences.  Here is the link to sign up
*  Please watch the classroom vision posted on our website, I am so very proud of the students and the work they did to create this.  We have gotten compliments from all around the globe for it as well.
* Swimming dates have already been posted on our website, check them out if you want.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars:  All school assembly Monday, September 16th 2:25 PM, MAP testing Wednesday, September 17th 10:45,  Picture day Friday, September 20th, Sub afternoon only Friday, September 20th, Book orders due Friday, September 20th,  Math test unit 1 Monday, September 23rd, MAP testing Wednesday, September 25th 10:45-11:45, New math unit starts Wednesday, September 25th, PTO Fall Dance Party Night is Friday, October 4th 6 PM.  

MathWe are in the midst our our first math unit of the year that is part review, part new concepts.  We have been discussing factors, arrays, and divisibility rules.  We have also started testing our math facts every morning with our 3 minute timed tests.  If your child is at less than 50% on any test this should be a major priority for them.  Math facts are essential for 5th grade math success, as well as in the coming years.  The first math test is set for September 23rd at the moment.  After this unit, we will start pre-testing and then grouping students.  
Social Studies – We have started our surviving the zombie apocalypse in land regions and I must say that I am pretty impressed with some of the conversations taking place in the room.  Students are looking at the biomes of their regions, as well as national forests and other geographical variations that can possibly shield them and provide a place to recreate civilization.  they are also studying natural resources as well as supply lines.  So far, this has been wonderful to be a part of.  The presentations by the groups will be September 27th.
Science – We started science by not doing science this year and instead discussing how to do a basic constructed response.  This is a skill the students will need for when they need to explain their scientific thinking, as well as in general literacy.  We then tear apart our responses and evaluate them together to grow from ourselves.  Actual science experiments will start next week.
Reading I have loved the honest reading discussions happening in the classroom including those discussion how reading can be amazing, how we can get through confusing part and also about our reading attitudes.  We have also started planting the seeds for rich literacy discussion by practicing building off of each others’ comments, connecting our comments to the text and introducing new questions spurred from the discussion at hand.  I love seeing how the students are growing as discussion participants.  
Writing This week was all about memoir and paper blogs.  We finally started blogging today and will from now on have a weekly blogging challenge.  Please visit the students’ blogs here and leave them a comment.  Memoir is what ended 4th grade and it is what begins 5th grade.  We therefore take this opportunity to really focus on our writing skills such as paragraphing, formating our text, as well as controlling our handwriting.  Most of September will focus on memoirs and then we move into essays.  We also got through our first week of DLR which is a great relaxed way to discuss grammar and had our first spelling test.

September Book Orders Go Home Tomorrow

September Book Order
It is time for book orders!  Look for the Scholastic catalogs in your Friday folder tomorrow.

·        Please consider ordering online, it gives the class coupons for books every time you do. 
·        If it is your first time ordering online, please follow these steps:
o       Register at
o       Enter this code : GXJ8R in the class activation code
o       Choose your books
o       Submit the order to me by September 20th.
·        You may write 1 check, payable to Scholastic, to cover multiple orders.
·        In addition, with each order our class earns points, which allows us to collect a wider variety in our classroom library.
·        There is no obligation to order but I do believe this is a great way to encourage reading by building your home library.
·        The due date for the September book orders is Friday, September 20th.
·        Some of the books I am excited about this month are”  Seeing red, The Nazi Hunters, Ghost Hawk, New Diary of a Wimpy Kid, New Rick Riordan – The House of Hades, Enchanted, and The Missing Book #6
·        Please disregard the grade levels, reading levels, and lexile levels printed on the catalogs.  You child can choose books based on interest, not on a grade or level.  I feel it is important that each child does not feel confined by their grade or reading level.

Thank you and happy reading!

Mrs. Ripp

5th Grade Swimming

The dates have been set for 5th grade swimming:  November 19, 21, and 25th as well as December 2nd and 4th.

The bus will leave around 9:30 and then return at about 11 AM.  Permission slips will go home in October.

Students will need to bring a suit and a towel those days.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Spelling Week 1 List

Here are the words for week 1

  • America
  • Atlantic
  • Pacific
  • Ocean
  • Awesome
  • A lot
  • Antarctica
  • Friend
  • Europe
  • Comfortable
  • Opinion

Our Spelling Program Explained

Today I explained the spelling program to the students and how we have specific tasks each day with the test on Friday.  I expect all students to get 100% on the test.  At the moment we all have the same list with no excuse words, I have been getting these from journal entries and other work.  Soon we will switch to differentiated lists.  

Here is the  explanation of the days that were given to the students today.  

Weekly Spelling Morning Work Routine
All work should be in your spelling notebook

Monday Morning: Sentences
Write five sentences using at least 1 spelling word per sentence. Underline your spelling word in each sentence.  Make these sentences good quality

Tuesday Morning: Making Connections
  1. Choose 4 of your spelling words. For each word, make a connection to four NEW words (that are NOT your spelling words) based on sound, spelling pattern, etc.
  2. The connection can be about beginning sounds, ending sounds, how many syllables, short vowels, long vowels, or words that rhyme with your spelling word.  See the sheets in this packet for examples of good connections you can make with spelling patterns!
  3. Staple the sheet to your notebook.

Wednesday Morning: Short story
All work should be in your spelling notebook.
Write a story using at least 7 of your spelling words. Underline your spelling words in the story. Make this story at least 7 sentences long.

Thursday Morning: Buddy Check
1. Find a buddy at school
2. Tell your buddy to read each word to you. As your buddy reads each word, write it down in your notebook – see template for how it should be set up.
3. After your buddy has read all the words, they check them over.  If the word is correct, put a star next to it.  If a word is spelled incorrectly, circle it. Have your buddy read the incorrect words to you again. Write those words in the second column labeled “Try Again.”
5. For any words you misspelled on the first try, write them correctly (you can look at your word list) in the third column labeled “Correct Spelling”.  Circle the parts of the word you need to remember.  Write your scores at the bottom of each column.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Our Classroom Vision 2013-2014

The students have been working on what they want to get out of 5th grade these past days.  Since I love the song "Brave" by Sara Bareilles, I asked them "How would they be brave?'  I am so proud of what they came up with.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bloxes Challenge 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse - A Lesson in Land Regions for Social Studies

I have been obsessed with zombies for a long time, not that I can watch many movies with them in it because I am wimp who gets nightmares, but books, art, and the whole concept has fascinated me for many years.   This year as I try to get my students invested in social studies and the study of the United States history we always start with land regions, so what better way than to get them researching these with the help of a zombie apocalypse?

While this is meant to be a hook, it is not meant to be a study of zombies, but rather a new way to get to know a certain land region.  Students must prepare a presentation to the citizens of their land region suggesting two possible safe places for them to go.  Before they can present they therefore have to research major cities, climate, elevations, major transportation routes, main bodies of water and anything else that can aid them in defending their citizens and riding out the attack.  I will also ask the students what else they should be researching and adding to their presentation.  Because this is our first presentation of the year I want to see which tools they have and also how they research.  Students will pick partners and then I will pair up the partnerships, this way I can also study the group dynamics.

This will be our social studies project for the next few weeks.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Students Working on Paper Blogs

As part of our introduction to blogging, students worked on their paper blogs today.

Newsletter September 6, 2013

Welcome to our first weekly newsletter!  This should give you an idea of where we have been and where we are going in our classroom.  What a journey we are on!
Special Notes
* We have had an amazing first week together and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am over being this class’ teacher.  They are working hard as a group and are already creating a welcoming and exciting learning environment.  We have spent some time on procedures and getting to know each other, and I am confident that this is going to be an incredible year filled with growth for all of these students.
*  Check out our website for great pictures from the classroom as well as other information.  From now on the newsletter will be posted there every Friday.
*  If you have not received an email from me, something is not working.  I have sent group emails a few times so please contact me if you are not getting the emails.
*  Please let me know if you would like to receive this newsletter as a paper copy rather than an email. 
*  The classroom calendar is continually updated; please view it on our website to see when there is a sub, parties, orchestra, band or anything else going on.  Also, if your child has a cool event you would like to invite others to, let me know and I will put it on the classroom calendar.  I try to go to these things as well whenever my children allow it.
*  Many of you know this, but Brandon and I are thrilled to be expecting our 4th child at the end of February.  I will be on a short maternity leave then until April 14th.
*Orchestra will be on day 5 of our 6 day rotation and band will be on day 1.  I will try to get the dates posted on our classroom calendar when I have them. 
*  I am headed to Washington DC on Friday, September 20th where I get to walk the red carpet with Brandon for the Bammys.  I am a finalist for Elementary Teacher of the Year, which I will not win, but I am looking forward to going out there and meeting some of the big names in education.  The students will have a sub that Friday afternoon and I will be back Monday morning with pictures.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars:  Picture day is September 20th this year,  Sub for afternoon Friday, September 20th. .  

MathWe will start math this coming Monday.  All of my 5th grade math students will stay with me for unit 1 so that I may to get to know them as problem solvers.  Advanced math kids will start with Ms. Weber on Monday as well. 
Science Science starts on Monday with some liquid experiments and then we start variables, which is a great unit that allows us a peak into controlling experiments as well as how to write a research paper.
Social Studies – Social studies start next week with our first unit on US land regions.  We will be studying the best possible places in our land region to survive a zombie invasion.  Students will have to look at available resources, elevation, major highways etc to decide where they should go.  More information will come.  We are also trying to set up our first Mystery Skype of the year; I am excited to see how they work on this as a group.
Reading We have slowly started building stamina for reading.  It is quite a sight seeing 73 students all sitting quietly and reading and often I get protests when I ask them to return to their seats.  We have had very frank discussions about fake reading, why reading can suck, and how to make reading amazing.  I have also introduced the 40 book challenge, which is ongoing for the year.

Writing We have started paper blogs this week to get us ready to start blogging.  We had our first discussion on internet safety – the results can be seen on our website.  We have also started dabbling with our writer’s workshop and I asked the students what color is 5th grade. The Global Read Aloud starts on the 30th, and we have more than 90,000 kids signed up. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sign Up For Fall Conferences

I know it is early but you can sign up already for fall conferences taking place in November.  I use Volunteerspot to make it easy to sign up, so click on the button below and it will take you right to the sign up page.