Classroom Tour 2014

I have never posted pictures intentionally to show off my classroom before, but since I am in a new room at a new school in a new district, I thought I would.  You see, my classroom isn’t highly decorated or super inspiring, it is functional, bare, and waiting for the students to make their mark.  So pictures from it don’t wow people in general, but I don’t mind.  This classroom is a shell waiting for students to fill it.  Bulletin boards will be made once they are here, things will be moved around, kids will enter and bring the room to life.  

 

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This sign greeted my students last year too.  It hangs on our door and represents my feelings about teaching.  Thank you Neil Gaiman for being so eloquent.

 

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Supplies are accessible to students, I would rather have them grab what they need then leave the room to go to their lockers.  There is more to the left of this picture.

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Every day, we make a choice.

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From the door this is what the room looks like.  Desks in pods, ready to be moved as needed, with awesome natural light spilling in.  Our library is my favorite corner.

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As always I am showcasing covers of what I read (students will be doing the same inside the room later in the year) but this year I am also showing what I am writing and why.  

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Books read this week counts too for the year, I really need to finish Stargirl.

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International Dot Day is September 15th.  My 130 students will be making their mark on our bulletin board that day and the rest of the year.

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Global connections and bringing the world in is what we do.  This year my map will have strings attached to the pins leading to explanations of what we did with the place marked.

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Our library awaits.  Two students have already borrowed books during locker drop in, that makes me so happy.  New books are below the green arrow for students to read and review.  There is no check out system to the library right now, that may change depending on how the year goes.

 

 

 

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Slightly messy desk area.  I got rid of the traditional teacher desk 3 years ago and have not missed it.  This table holds my computer and the stuff I need to teach with.  I need to get a lamp but otherwise it is pretty simple.  Letters from my former students hang next to the desk for me to share with my new students.

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The view from my table and out into the team area.  The round table is for conferencing or when students want to use it.  Most classes have more desks than students so they can work wherever they want.  We also have carpet for laying or sitting on which I love.  Above the door it says “Represent” a message I have used with my students for years.  The rainbow chart is voice level reminders since we are a PBIS school.

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More new books greet students as they leave the room.  Right now the book tree has some of my favorite new and old reads on it.  I love how students who have come into our room immediately start to look at what is on here; mission accomplished. Also a quote about reading is my final message to them as they leave, this will be changed every few weeks.

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We are the sharks so we each have a shark rug outside of our doors, but more importantly the whole team of students see the message “You matter” above my door.  We cannot say this enough to the people we surround ourselves with.  

There you have it; where I will be every day for the next 180 days – is it September 2nd yet?  I think I need some students to make this place come alive.

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

Pity Party in 7th Grade

image from dajon smiles

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.  That tends to happen when no one comes to your classroom and you see them run to others.  I can hear the shouts, the excitement the tales of summer being unwound.  I feel lonely, jealous even, knowing I used to be one of the rooms that kids would flock to.  Shouts of “Mrs. Ripp!!!!” would fill my ears, hugs and stories of books read, summer adventures, and hopes and dreams for the new year would surround me.  New students (finally mine), old students (still my kids), and parents would all stop by when they could, chat for a moment, just to check in.  But when you move schools, move districts, you lose that and you don’t know how much you will miss it until no one comes to your room, no one shouts your name.  So yeah, pity party in 7th grade English this afternoon.

But then; one kid entered, then a parent followed, unsure of who I was but assuming I was the English teacher.  Hasty introductions, more glances around the room and I could see the boy honing in on all of  the books on the book tree behind me.  His mom tells me he has read them all; Maze Runner, Divergent, Lightning Thief and the list goes on.  I ask if he has read The Testing, walk over to the library and hand it to him.  Tell him to see if he likes it, bring it back on Tuesday if he doesn’t.

“Should he check it out?”  Is there a system?” his mom asks.

“Nah, I trust him, just bring it back.”

She looks at me and smiles, turns to him.  “Look at all those books, there are many you haven’t read.”  And they leave, book in hand, smiles on their faces.

Being new is lonely, being new is scary, being new makes you realize how amazing it was being old.  But being new just means new beginnings, new connections, new parents, and new kids.

Being new may seem lonely, but really it is just waiting for the first kid to walk in to tell them your name.  Or that first kid to find something to connect with you through.  For that first kid to take a chance on you and let you in just a little so on Tuesday you may heare “Hey, Mrs. Ripp, I really loved that book., do you have another?”

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

Don’t Throw Out the Old

I have been waking up at 5:30 so that I can be to my new school by 7 every morning, drinking in the newness, as the school slowly wakes up.  I have plans and papers piled around me.  Ideas bouncing through my head, waking me up at night.  I have dreams, so many, and yet, I have to remember to keep the old.  To keep the tried an d true.  To keep the “me” in the new.  To keep what has worked as well.  That although new ideas seem like they will fix everything, or at the very least make it all even better, that our old ideas also still have value.  That although new is shiny, exciting, and oh so tantalizing, some of our old thoughts still works.

This is not to say that new is bad, but I think we get caught up in wanting to change everything at the start of every year, rather than focusing on a few things.  That we make these new year resolutions about how this will be the year we will be “that ” teacher, and then forget to give ourselves a break.  That to create new habits take a lot of work, take a lot of energy, and that we have to also preserve ourselves in the crazy life as educators.  

So while I stand in a new position; 7th grade English teacher (who would have thought) I know there are some of my old ideas that will work.  They will get tweaked, of course, they always do.  But the backbone of them, the seed, is still great.  The idea when it was first new was amazing, and that idea still has merit. 

So go ahead; get excited, dream up the new, but don’t forget about the old things that worked.  About the old ideas that were new once.  Some will still work.  Parts of you will still work, even as we start on a whole new year.

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

10 Picture Books I Cannot Wait to Share With My Students – Take 2

Another summer has passed and in it was the discovery of even more amazing picture books that now beckon my 7th grade students to read them from my shelves.  Some are new and others are just new to me, but all should solicit some sort of reaction when they are read and shared.  (And these are in no particular order).

  1. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley SpiresI will be using this book to introduce 20% time with my students, thank you Chris Lehman for the recommendation.  I love the message of not giving up but also of finding use in other people’s mistakes.
  2. Froodle by Antionette Portis This seemingly silly book packs a powerful message; everyone should be allowed to experiment with their own voice.  It is one I hope to read at the beginning of the year.
  3. Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea Thea has this book and I have the book in my classroom as well.  This book has such a great story about not judging, wrapped up in whimsy, and every time I read it aloud I laugh outloud.
  4. Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb Every time I read this book, I think of another way to discuss it’s theme.  Wrapped up in a simple love story it is a great book to discuss perspective and the lens with which we view the world.
  5. My Teacher is a Monster – No, I Am Not by Peter Brown From the title to the illustrations, think of the discussion this book will elicit.  I loved the message, but also the nuance with which it is presented, and let’s face it; many students think their teachers are not quite human and this is a great book to discuss just that.
  6. This Is a Moose by Richard T. Morris The first time I read this book, I didn’t love it as much as I do now.  I thought it was fun but I didn’t stop to think about what it was really trying to say.  Then Thea and I started to talk about it and her 5 year old perspective really made me think.  This book is about being allowed to be whoever you want to be, no matter what others think; what a great message to send to kids.
  7. That Is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems We often think we know the whole story but through the storytelling of the magical Mo Willems, we find can discover how wrong we are.  Even after you know the twist, this is still such a great book to hand to students as they write their own stories.
  8. Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson What an incredible history lesson wrapped up in the pages of this book.  My former librarian Deb told me to get it and boy does she know me well.  Students will marvel at this true story of one person’s character.
  9. Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dreams for Me by Daniel Beaty So often we need books that mirror the harsh realities some of our students face, this book is one of those books.  Hauntingly written, this is sure to start a discussion on how the boy views his own life.
  10. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce This book is beautiful, magical, and oh so on point for what books do for us.  And even better; there is an Oscar winning short cartoon of it as well.

There you have it, a few new ones I cannot wait to share.  However, did you know there is a picture book coming out about the story of Ivan?  I am counting down the days to read this to my students.

Have You Included Parent Voice in Back to School Planning?

image from alexandremdesigns

On Wednesday, Theadora gets to meet her kindergarten teacher.  We get to show up, me with all 4 of the kids, drop off her supplies and asnwer any questions the teacher may have.  You would think I have a mile-long list of questions, but I don’t.  I don’t know what to as at this point, that will come later, once school has started.  And yet,  I do have hopes and dreams for Thea and I hope I get to express that to her teacher.

This realization made me remember that I need to include my 7th grade parents’ voice in my back to school preparation.  That yes, I may be planning awesome things for my first days of schools, and that yes I may be teaching students at an age of more independence from parents.  But parents still need to have a voice in our classroom.

So I created my hopes and dreams survey.  One simple question to get their feedback, to guide me as I prepare.  Don’t forget to tap into parent knowledge.  Don’t forget to reach out, even if you think their child is too old for you to ask.  I don’t think any parent ever stops dreaming for their child, don’t forget to ask.

PS: In 5th grade, I used this

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

Just Add One Thing

image from icanread

“….Mom!  I’m booooooored….”

Thea is five and yet she seems to be figuring out all of the rites of childhood just fine.  This summer she squarely handled the “I’m bored” stage.

I could have ignored it.  I could have given her “the speech” on boredom.  I could also have orchestrated an afternoon of fun, hoping my inspiration would rub off on her and lead her to figure things out on her own.  But I didn’t.  Instead I looked for one thing to jolt her out of her mindset, one little thing that would snap her out of it.  Whether it was a book, a pencil, a sparkly princess dress, or something else that caught my eye.  One thing, that’s what I handed her.

At first she thought I was stupid.  You know how five year olds can give you this look of disgust that even a 13 year old would be envious of.  But then she got an idea.  She told me about it and off she went for a bit, using the one thing to not be bored.

What Thea teaches me over and over again is that I don’t need to have a whole activity planned out but just one good thing, one idea that will spark something in her, leading to new and grand adventures.  Sure, she reaches the “I’m bored” stage again but every time we try this her ideas get better, her ideas gain life.

Earlier this summer she got to pick the sparkliest, pinkest, biggest princess dress from Just Pretend Kids.  They had asked me if I would have her pick one and then write something about her experience with it (thus this post).  At first, I wasn’t sure how much she would use it, after all, there are only so many days that you can pretend to be a princess, right?  Except Thea wasn’t confined by my thinking.  Sure, she may have been in a princess dress but that didn’t stop her from being a pirate princess, out on an adventure in the backyard.  That dress didn’t stop her from staging a huge performance for us creating songs on the spot and complicated dance routines.  That dress didn’t stop her from running with the ball trying to escape from the evil babies chasing her.  That dress only made it better, sparked her imagination and sent her off.  So I shouldn’t have worried.  I should have realized that although she may claim boredom, often it just takes one thing.  That although she may be the girliest girl I know, that doesn’t sop her ideas from growing.  It only enhances what she does.

So sparkly princess dress, yes please.  For Thea it turned out to be the one thing that made a day better.  It didn’t hold her back, it just upped the ante.  After all, if you look like that, then you need an even grander idea than your first one.  If you are dressed like a princess, adventure is sure to come, even if you have to make it yourself.

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Thank you Just Pretend Kids for making Thea’s summer and sending us the dress.

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

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