Monday, September 29, 2014

Vocab Work Explained

Throughout the year, students will work on 50 vocabulary words or roots to broaden their language skills.  In the chosen weeks of vocab work, we will

  • Introduce 2 words on Monday
  • Introduce 2 words on Tuesday
  • Introduce final word Wednesday
  • Review on Thursday
  • Test on Friday
Students will be tested on the words/roots of the week and also some of the previous words/roots.  This helps with memorization as well as utilization.  This is part of their summative grade for standard 8.

All vocabulary words can be found right here

Some students are given a different list of vocabulary words, the words for this group can be found here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Dog Assignment

Your assignment is to do a MEL-Con on the text My Dog by Kevin O'Neall.  You may use the graphic organizer provided in class to gather your thoughts, but the final product should be written as one succinct paragraph.

Please interpret this: Why did the author end with Mrs. Barney saying “My dog.”?  (What does that mean?, where did she get the dog from?)

Due:  Monday, September 29th.  Time will be given in class Wednesday and Friday to work on this.
Length: One paragraph or more.
To Submit:  Paper copy, or submit your link to your Google doc here 
Assessment:  Student and teacher will assess using the rubric found here
Text used:  My Dog by Kevin O'Neall
Graphic Organizer:  Can be found here 
To see a sample:  Go here 

To Submit Your Mel-Con

Please fill out the form below to hand in your Mel-Con due Monday, September 28th.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

MEL-Con's Explained

Tomorrow in English we will start  our work writing about reading in the MEL-Con (Main Idea, Evidence, Link, Conclusion) format.  I will work through this with students as they write their first one due this coming Monday.  We will use the shared text My Dog by Kevin O'Neill to construct our response and a sample MEL-Con will be modeled with the students tomorrow.  

This is a way for a reader to respond to the text by using evidence to support their inferences.

What am I looking for?
  • Shows evidence of making meaning from the text (Can you tell I read?)
  • Responds to the question (Did I answer the question?)
  • Provides text-based evidence to support the response (Did I include proof from the text that relates to the question?)
  • Provides extension or clarification in relationship to the question to show enhanced understanding of the text (Did I make an interpretation?)


  • Introduction (List title and author)
  • What is your main idea? (1 sentence)
  • What is your evidence? (3-5 sentences)
  • Conclusion (1-2 sentences)

Name:   Section:

Main idea/conclusion
Topic sentence and conclusion sentences are clear, well-stated
Topic or conclusion are unclear
Focus unclear, topic sentence or conclusion not evident
Includes quotes from the source
Evidence is specific and detailed
Evidence is not specifically related to the essential question
No specific evidence described or evidence described is unrelated
Sophisticated interpretation of non-literal evidence
Explains what evidence means or connects evidence to main idea
Evidence is not clearly explained of connected to main idea
Links missing throughout paragraph, no explanation,of how evidence supports or connects to the main idea

Sample response:
Mrs. Ripp Sec. 1
Interpretation of My Dog
In his text My Dog by Kevin O’Neall, the narrator is frustrated because Mrs. Barney doesn’t make any sense.  First, Mrs. Barney claims that her dog would be 38 years old.  This is not biologically possible as the narrator says, “I have one client with a dog that’s nearly twenty, but no dog lives to be thirty-eight.” The world has not seen a dog that has lived to be that old, thus Mrs. Barney is a lunatic. Also, Mrs. Barney claims to have seen her dead dog.  In the eyes of the narrator that does not make sense, since she says that her husband shot the dog, therefore the dog must be dead.  Finally, the narrator is frustrated because Mrs. Barney won’t listen to him.   She, therefore, keeps repeating herself which shows that she is not listening. When you have to repeat yourself, it is obvious that the other person is not listening or understanding.  In the end, the narrator never believes Mrs. Barney and thinks she is a crazy person.  I believe that he has a right to not believe her because she does not seem sane.    

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?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Writer/Reader Reflection Survey

Class Syllabus 2014-2015

Welcome to Seventh Grade English.  My name is Mrs. Ripp, and I am looking forward to a positive and productive school year.  In this class, students will have the opportunity to explore and practice their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.  To stay up-to-date on homework or current projects, please check our class blog

Materials Needed Daily

  1. 1 pocket folder
  2. 1 spiral notebook
  3. Pencil/pen
  4. Loose leaf paper
  5. Device if you have one
  6. Reading book - or something to read
  7. *on a given day, students may be asked to bring supplies such as scissors, glue/glue stick, markers, or color pencils.

English Assignments

There are two types of assignments in English this year:

  1. Formative Assignments—the purpose of formative assignments is to practice new skills and concepts.  Formative assignments will not count toward a student’s final grade.  However, these assignments will appear on Infinite Campus—with a weight of zero—so that parents and students can keep track of progress.

  1. Summative Assignments—summative assignments allow students to show mastery of a skill or concept.  This work will be the basis for a student’s overall English grade. Examples of summative work include, but are not limited to, projects, written work, quizzes, and tests.

Formative/Summative Rubric

Formative and Summative work is assessed on the following scale:
Exceeds expectations/exemplary
Fully proficient (this is the expected level of performance)
Partial mastery/Still progressing
Minimal effort shown/Insufficient evidence

Standards to Be Assessed

Both formative and summative work will be geared toward gaining proficiency on the following Common Core Standards.  

The learner will:
  1. write informative texts to convey ideas; select, organize, and analyze content.
  2. write narratives to share real events, using vivid detail and ordered sequence.
  3. use technology to produce writing, interact with others, and cite sources.
  4. draw evidence from texts to support written analysis.
  5. command the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and vocabulary.
  6. determine and analyze the development of central ideas/themes in a text; summarize.
  7. evaluate claims in a text; assess and express the soundness and relevance of reasoning.
  8. analyze how story elements interact.
  9. express ideas clearly in collaborative discussions; build on others’ ideas.
  10. present focused claims with support, using eye contact, volume, and elocution.

**Not all standards will be assessed every quarter.

Letter Grades

At the end of 2nd and 4th quarter, students will be assigned a letter grade for English.  This grade will be based on teacher and student judgment of a student’s overall proficiency within the grading period.  Students will be assessed on the following scale:

Exceeds expectations/Exemplary
Meets expectations/Proficient
Meets some expectations/Partially Proficient/Progressing
Some gaps in proficiency
Significant gaps in proficiency

Please look over the syllabus with your child.  If you have any questions regarding class work or student progress, do not hesitate to call or send an e-mail message.  My school number is 835-4874, and my e-mail address is