conferences, connections, Literacy, Reading, Reading Identity

An Update on Our Student Reading Action Plans

This is the form I use to keep track of my notes as I meet with students, to see the form and more details, go to the original post

A few weeks ago, I blogged about an idea I was trying in our classroom as a way to help the kids who seem to just not be “there” just yet. Who seem to just not have found a great book just yet. Who seem to just not be really reading more than a few pages a week. Who seem to be going through the motions rather than fully investing. Who seem to go from book to book without ever really sinking in. The idea was simple; do a daily check in for two weeks with just a few kids, ask them about the book itself but focus more so on their habits. It couldn’t hurt, right?

So for the past few weeks, this is what I have been doing. Taking a minute or two and checking in with just a few students, not ignoring anyone else, but starting with these few kids first to make sure we had a conversation about the book they were reading, as well as how they felt as readers.

What have we uncovered in these small conversations? Lots actually. Some things I already knew, such as how they felt about reading, but also some things I didn’t. How many of them don’t know when they should book shop, how many of them have a to-be-read list but don’t use it for anything, how many of them pick books that for whatever reason are the wrong kind of challenge for them at that time. And within these moments of revelation lies the entire heart of what I hope all of these incredible students will experience this year; a reading experience that is meaningful to them. And so these moments, based around a simple premise, it was exactly what I had hoped would happen; establishing a deeper relationship with these students as we unravel their reading identity further.

It turns out that almost all of them are having an incredibly hard time selecting a powerful book for themselves. That while they have had some positive experiences with books in the past, they don’t exactly know what made that book amazing. How many of them stick with the books, dreading every moment, rather than searching for something better. That they will “settle” on an okay book rather than pursue something better because they don’t think that better exists. That despite all of our conversations about book choice, book abandonment, paired with ample book access and book recommendations from their peers, from me, from our librarian, it is still not enough.

But these conversations; these few minutes we are having together every single day is helping them realize that there is more to reading than just going through the motions. That they deserve a great book. That they should demand for themselves to read incredible books and that that starts with knowing themselves better as a reader and also taking the time it sometimes takes to find their next read. So as the two weeks wind down for a few of the kids, some I am going to start seeing them every few days. Some I will continue to speak to every day, while some are ready for a trial period without me. New kids will be added, new goals will be set, new conversations await. And with that will come the continued reminder that all kids deserve our undivided attention, that all kids can have better relationships with reading, that all kids deserve to have outstanding reading experiences, even if they don’t know it yet. Some just need a little more attention to get (back) on the right path.

If you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page. If you like what you read here, consider reading my book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.   

being a teacher, connections, learning

Why I Would Love to Attend the What Great Educators Do Differently Conference

I seem to be aware to a lot of conference, I think it comes with the territory of being connected.  Many conferences catch my eyes and I dream of going but the reality is often that the days don’t fit, the price is too high, the location is too far away, or it is not quite what I am looking for.  Imagine my delight then when a new conference caught my eye and I, for once, realized that this one might just be something for me.

From the authors behind the great book What Connected Educators Do Differently , Jimmy Casas, Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul comes the What Great Educators Do Differently Conference – yes, that’s a mouthful, but completely worth your time! So why is this conference piquing my interest?

  • The presenters!  It is not often you get the likes of Todd Whitaker, Shannon Miller, Jimmy Casas, Angela Maiers, Dwight Carter, and even my friend Joe Sanfellipo at the same conference presenting. And the best part is that they are not the only ones, to see the full list of presenters go here.  I think what made me the happiest, though, was the mix of presenters.  From professors, to superintendents, to classroom teachers and everything in between, this conference promises to have many voices represented, not just that of professional presenters.
  • The location!  The great conferences are almost always far away from the Midwest but this one is right in Chicago.  A mere 2 1/2 hours from my house.
  • The dates!  Yes please to professional development on a Friday and a Saturday in October (the 16th and 17th) because by then I feel like i am ready to learn again.  I have gotten over the beginning of year craziness and am ready to be inspired.
  • The vision!  As much as I love being inspired when I got to conferences, I really want practical ideas that I can implement right now.  This conference promises to give me both; great inspiration and even an unconference in the middle of it to make sure attendee voices can be heard as well.  What more could you want?

So you may be wondering whether I am getting paid to write this, but no I am not, this conference looks that great.  I hope you check it out!

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 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.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being me, connections

Where I Hit the Road

For a long time I have been known as a unicorn, or at least so the joke goes among many of my Twitter friends.  A magical creature that seemingly exists only on this blog and on Twitter but is actually not seen out in public.  Or at least not out at conferences.  It has not been for lack of desire, but when you have four small children, attending conferences and incurring extra expenses is not feasible.  So every summer for the past five years, I have followed from afar and hoped that some day, I would be able to meet all of the incredible people I connect with.  It appears that this summer my wish will finally come true.

This summer, I have been asked to speak at some conferences and others I had proposals accepted for.  Either way, I am humbled and excited for the places I get to go, the learning I get to be a part of, and the incredible people I will connect with. So if your plans involve any of these conferences, please find me and say hello.  I will be the tall blonde woman, probably hiding behind a book, too shy to approach but very, very eager to meet people.

So where will I be and what might I be doing?

June 15th, 2015 – Featured Speaker – USM Summer Spark, Milwaukee WI – I get to give three presentations on this day along with other incredible educators.  Topics include using assessment for good, global collaboration, and how to create passionate learners.

June 17th – 18th – Keynote and presenter – Oregon District Summer Literacy Academy.  Come discuss all things reading and writing along with other incredible educators from Wisconsin. This is open to outside districts as well, but a link is not up yet.

June 24-25th, 2015 – Workshop facilitator – MCP Summer Institute, Chicago, IL. I am thrilled to be co-facilitating a two day workshop with the incredible Diana Laufenberg.  (Seriously in awe of her as a teacher and a human being).  This workshop is all about constructing 21st century learning experiences and promises to be filled with incredible learning and a bundle of new ideas.

June 29th – July 1st, 2015 – Speaker – ISTE, Philadelphia, PA.  I am finally making it to ISTE for the very first time.  I get to present on three separate occasions and also take part in the GlobalEd day that is happening Sunday.   Sunday I will be the teacher representative on the Lead & Transfrom ISTE Town-hall Panel.  Tuesday I will get to co-present with the incredible Colby Sharp and Erin Klein where we will discuss “Set Their Voices Free: How Students Can Share Their Stories.”  And finally Wednesday I get to be a part of The Connected Educator panel with some of my fellow Corwin authors where we will discuss all things connected educators.

July 6-7th, 2015 – Featured Speaker – NERDcamp – Parma, MI.  I have wanted to go to Nerdcamp for the past two years and I am so excited to finally get to go to this FREE conference!  On day 1, I get to give a small Ted-like talk as well as do a session on integrating technology into our literacy programs.  On day 2, I get to just learn, I cannot wait!

July 9th, 2015 – Keynote, NNSTOY, Salt Lake City Utah.  I will be going to Utah for the very first time to do my third keynote ever in front of an incredible audience of teachers.  The keynote will be on how to create passionate classrooms.  ITo say I was shocked to be asked to speak is an understatement.

July 17-20th, 2015 – Speaker – ILA – St. Louis, MO.  Another first for me; The International Literacy conference and this time I am bringing my husband.  I have heard nothing but incredible things about this conference and cannot wait to go and learn from people as obsessed with literacy as I am.  I present Saturday sharing the story of the Global Read Aloud.

July 21 – 21st, 2015 – Featured Speaker – K-12 Learning Symposium, Arrowhead School District, WI.  This two-day workshop spearheaded by the talented Naomi Harm promises to be a hands-on learning experience, which is my favorite kind of conference.  The focus is about how we can help schools create the learning environments that they need.

August 11th, 2015 – Featured Speaker – Summer Tech Splash, Portage, WI.  This two day event will focus on how we can use technology to create collaborative learning opportunities, as well as provide authentic experiences for students.  I cannot wait to discuss student blogging, global collaboration, as well as how to use technology to empower students.

August 19th – 20th, 2015 – Workshop facilitator – CESA 3, WI.  I end my crazy summer of learning by facilitating a two day workshop in one of the most beautiful parts of Wisconsin.  These two days will be all about student engagement, from how we set up our classrooms, to creating personalized learning experiences that excite students.

Just looking at this list shows me how much work I have to do as I prepare, and yet, I cannot feel anything but incredibly excited to finally get out on the road and meet so many new people.  There are many, many people I owe a great deal of thanks to and there are many more that I simply cannot wait to speak to.  If you happen to be on the road this summer, I hope our paths cross.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 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.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being a teacher, being me, connect, connections

There Is Not Just One Right Way to Be A Connected Educator

I am a connected educator, whatever you think that term means.  To me it means that at any given moment I have access to thousands, if not millions, of teachers around the world that can help me further my practice.  I got those connections because I chose to use social media.  I leverage Twitter every day to learn more about being a better teacher.  I blog to get further discussion.  However, I also work diligently on connecting with people at my school and in my community.  I use those people to further my craft every day.  So I get that being a connected educator is a great thing, but when we discuss what being connected means to teachers and use exclusionary terms such as saying that you have to use social media to be connected, we are doing nothing for the good of getting people connected.  Instead we sound like a bunch of jerks.  If we want people to get connected then we have to realize that while the way we are connected may be the most brilliant thing that ever happened to us, might not work for others.  And that doesn’t mean they can’t be a connected educator.

Yes, I believe in the power of social media, but no it is not the only way to be connected.  We cannot say teachers are not teaching well if they are not connected via social media.  Or that they are harming their students.  Or that their methods are antiquated.  You can be connected using non-social media tools, like Skype, like email, like texting, like meeting someone for a cup of coffee.Who am I to say that my way of connecting, using Twitter or another social media platform, is somehow better than that?  That my connections are worth more?  Yet, that is what I see happen again and again.  For what purpose?

If we are trying to get educators to be more connected, which I absolutely agree with, then we have to realize that those types of connections can happen in many ways.  I would even say that some of my best connections are those that happened without social media being our link.  Not all of them but some of them.  Why not give credit to those types of connections as well rather than only the ones that happen on social media?  I know several teachers who are connected on social media and they have not used it for the amazing things we assume everybody does on these platforms.  Somehow we have invented a fake reality where all teachers who use social media are amazing.

In the end, it doesn’t matter as much HOW we are connected but rather that we are.  I agree that teachers choose to be in isolation in this day and age, but we cannot claim that using social media to connect is the best way for all.  That simply isn’t true.  Connections help us grow when they matter to us.  Not because of how they happened.  Let’s not lose sight of what the greater goal is; to get more teachers to be connected.  Let’s not think we know how to do it best, but rather offer multiple ways for others to connect.  We need to stop saying there is only one right way, it doesn’t help our purpose.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 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.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being me, connections, PLN

Are We Really Connecting Anymore?

I cried this morning when I said goodbye to my family.  Not that I am sad to go to North Carolina, but more because the fear of the unknown, going to a conference to present by myself, is something that is hitting me hard.  You see, I am so used to going places where I know people, where I can quickly seek out those few people that I know will introduce me to others, that will hold my hand while I navigate the conference waters.  This time though, I am pretty much flying solo and so I had a decision to make; do I do what I was hired to do; present and then lurk around at sessions without much interaction but still learning, or do I push myself out there, get the most out of this amazing opportunity that has been afforded me, and do exactly what I tell others to do; connect.

As a connected educator, I am so quick to tell others to reach out, ask questions, and connect, yet how often do I do it myself?  How often do I sit down with someone I don’t know?  How often do I attempt a conversation with a stranger?  How often do I open myself up to the chance of learning something new and not just seeking out those people that I know already?  We get so stuck in our circles of educator friends, people that were strangers once, that we forget to expand those same circles.  And we become stagnant, and we perceive our own importance as something larger than it is because everybody already knows who we are and what we stand for.

While the introvert part of me is yelling rather loudly to spend the next few days as quietly as possible, the tiny adventurous part of me is actually winning.  And I am letting it.  So these next few days I am going to connect.  I am going to seek out.  I am going to introduce myself.  I am not going to hide behind a book or a computer, but instead greet every new adventure with a smile, reach out to others who may be sitting alone just like me.  Go to sessions where I don’t know the presenter, where I am not an expert already on the topic,  but just want to learn.  Yes, I may make a fool out of myself, I may reach out to people who don’t want to be met, and yes, I may find myself alone at times.  But I will be having a great time wrapped up in my incredible nervousness.  I will be connecting, going back to how it used to be before people started to read this blog or started to ask for advice, establishing new ways for me to become a better teacher, and maybe even have some great conversations along the way.  Wish me luck, I am pretty sure I am going to need that or at least some courage.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 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.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

aha moment, being a teacher, connections, PLN, trust

Voxer Takes Connections to the Next Level If You Let It

This summer I, along with many other educators, got on Voxer and started discovering just how powerful of a PLN tool it could be.  Although I wrote a post extolling the virtues of the app then, it is not until now 5 months into using it that I have truly witnessed the incredible power it holds for me.  Voxer is not just for collaborating, it is for connecting, and those connections are changing my life.

As educators, and especially female educators, there seems to be a weird phenomenon surrounding us; the seemingly overabundance of highly connected male educators, whether administrators, teachers, or tech integrators.  (Yes, this is a simplification, but bear with me).  I have often wondered about the apparent “mens/boys” club that seem to exist on Twitter, at conferences, and on blogs that list who people must follow, and have even written about it in the past.  Don’t misunderstand; I don’t feel the need to be a part of a male club, instead this realization made me long more for my own female version that could share the same camaraderie that seemed to exist in these groups, the ease with which they communicated and had each others’ backs.  I wanted my own group of women that would inspire me, support me, and actually become friends.  Enter Voxer.

5 months ago a few acquaintances and I started a Voxer group.  I didn’t think much of it, after all I was in about 8 different groups at the time all discussing various things related to education, and loving it.  The group consisted of 5 women from different parts of education that all had a few things in common but were nowhere near being close friends.  At first the Voxes were funny, little slivers of our lives and thoughts being shared.  Yet with time those Voxes grew, sometimes spanning more than 5 minutes, and as they grew so did our bond.  I never knew how much I needed this group.  I never knew how much I needed a group of women to grow with.

Yet, this group is not the only one I go to every day hoping for my heart to be filled, for my inspiration to be renewed, and my thoughts expanded.  Another Voxer group is between a few female educators I greatly admire and am lucky enough to call friends.  These two women have inspired countless blog posts, helped me make huge life decisions, as well as made me laugh.  Every week we check in, we update, we share our thoughts, making sure that we all feel supported, that we all feel cared for.  How powerful is that.

So if you are in need of a tribe like I was; don’t be afraid to reach out.  Use Voxer a s a way to connect to others in a deeper way and don’t be afraid to ask others to be in a group with you.  If you are a female connected educator but feeling alone sometimes, Voxer is your place.  Start a group, take the plunge, reach out tot those that you maybe only know a little and see what happens.

The groups I get to be a part of, those that really matter to me, weren’t planned. We didn’t set out to create these bonds, but they happened because we tried.  They happened because we realized that by having this tool to bring our voice together, we grew stronger as a group, we grew because we trusted each other.  You don’t have to feel alone even if you are a connected educator.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 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” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.