global read aloud, projects

Top 10 Reasons You Should Join the Global Read Aloud #GRA14

Besides the babies we already have at our house, I have another baby; The Global Read Aloud.  The premise is simple; we pick a book to read aloud to our students during a set 6-week period and during that time we try to make as many global connections as possible.  Each teacher decides how much time they would like to dedicate and how involved they would like to be.  Some people choose to connect with just one class, while others go for as many as possible.  The scope and depth of the project is up to you.  In the past we have used Twitter, Skype, Edmodo, our wiki, email, regular mail, Kidblog, and any other tools we can think of to make these connections.  Teachers get a community of other educators to do a global project with, hopefully inspiring them to continue these connections through the year. 

So why should you join, well, let me count the ways:

  1. It is free.  There is nothing to buy besides the book, there is nothing you have to pay to be a part of it, and for free you get access to educators all over the world.
  2. It brings the world in.  Every year, educators who participate in it cannot believe how many connections they make, whether just in the US or around the world.  Having a common project provides you with a platform to start collaborating with others that you can then use the rest of the school year.
  3. You decide.  This project is great because of its simplicity, I don’t tell you how to connect or what tools to use, just which book you should be discussing.  Different teachers have different time to dedicate so this fits in with any curriculum anywhere.
  4. Students get it.  The reason I keep doing this is because my students cannot wait to hear what others think of the book we are reading.  They cannot wait to connect, they cannot wait to share, they cannot wait to reach out and learn with others.
  5. It is only 6 weeks.  We keep it short because we know how busy we all get.  6 weeks is just the right amount of time to discuss, elaborate and dissect a great book without getting overwhelmed by all of the to do’s.
  6. There is a book for your level.  Last year we expanded into two separate books, one for younger grades and one for upper grades.  This year we took it a step further and now span K through 12.  Now you truly get to pick which book you feel the most comfortable with for your students.  There is even a French version of the project for those who would rather do it in French.
  7. It provides a way to introduce tech tools.  I use the project to introduce students to Skype, KidBlog, Edmodo, Animoto and other tools.  This way I am not trying to reinvent the wheel but get to use the tools in a meaningful way with my students for their intended purposes.
  8. You get a voice.  I invite others to make it their own and share their ideas.  This is not just “my” project, it is for everyone to make their own.  I love all of the sharing and great ideas that come from being part of this project, it really sets me up for great collaboration and idea creation for the the rest of the year.
  9. You don’t have to be a techie to do it.  Sometimes technology is really overwhelming and the great thing with this project is that you don’t have to use a lot of it if you don’t want to.  You can email one other class, or even use regular mail to share observations and discussions.  However, if you are feeling adventurous, this is a great project to get your tech feet wet because there is a whole group of participants that would love to help you!
  10. It’s fun!  The biggest reason for why you should join, it is a great project!  Many teachers have embraced this project and made it their own, using it receive grants and propel their own teaching. The students love it, the books are always thought provoking and who doesn’t love a great read aloud.  So why not take something you probably already do and make it even better.
I could keep going, but I hope some of these reasons have at least sparked your curiosity.  So to get more information head over to the Global Read Aloud blog.  To sign up go right here.
I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, 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 Starting Today” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.
end of year, projects, students

The Learning Doesn’t Stop – Ideas for Maximizing Those Last Few Weeks of School

I don’t do end of year countdowns, I actually dread the last day of school because it means these amazing kids are not going to be mine any longer.  And yet, being in 5th grade means that graduation is near, middle school looms, and the kids know that our time is limited.  So they started asking me what we would be doing these last few weeks after math is done, memoir is done, all that stuff we had to get through is done (I never tell them that we are never done even if we aren’t).  And voila; a list of ideas for the remaining weeks.

  • The teapot project.  After we finish our math journals I don’t want math to end, so thank you Aviva for choosing us to receive your teapot.  This means that the last two weeks of school we will be busy researching, designing  and building our own packing material for the teapot that will go back to another classroom in Canada.  Math journals may have stopped  but the math certainly doesn’t
  • Our reading recommendation list.  My students love to read; they breathe books and many kids have already expressed fear that they will not know what to read over the summer.  We therefore decided to ask strangers for recommendations and will also be compiling our own.  In the end we will create Animotos showcasing our favorites reads, a list for students to access for recommendations, and probably a massive wish list of books for me for next year.
  • Book bins of our favorite books.  This was a great idea from a teacher at my school; have your students create personalized book bins for the incoming class.  My students will each create one with a favorite 5th grade book, a favorite series book, a book they never thought they would like, and a book that was too hard for them to read at the beginning of the year but now they have mastered.  What a wonderful way to get the next set of students ready to read.
  • Our favorite memories.  Students become movie producers as they sort of how to film students favorite memories of 5th grade.  This is a great extension of our memoir unit and also allows the kids to tell me what they loved.  A committee usually takes care of the actual filming and producing.
  • What I like about….I love this simple video project where every student is tasked with complimenting three other students.  Again a committee takes care of the filming and editing.
  • A thank you letter for all those other people.  I try to teach my students the power of a thank you letter and so we end the year compiling letters to all of those people that have made the school year wonderful; our specials teachers, our custodians, our lunch ladies and anyone else the students want to thank.  Since they are 5th graders they often ask if they can write thank you notes to their old teachers as well.  A committee take scare of the binding of the books but this is a great way to once again discuss letter writing.
  • Precepts for the new 5th grade students.  Anyone who has read Wonder knows what I mean by precepts but in essence they are words to live by.  I will therefore be asking my students to write precepts for my new students that I can use for my welcome display.  This is their chance to give them words to live by in 5th grade and it will be nice to have these reminders on the first day of school where I tend to miss those old students a lot.
  • Innovation Day.  We just had Innovation Day as a whole grade level on Wednesday and I cannot tell you how incredible it is for 60 students to just engage in their very own project for a whole day.  If you don’t know what Innovation Day it is not too late to do it at your school.
  • Dear Future Mrs. Ripp’s Kids.  Letters from my old students to the new ones offering them tips, getting them excited about the year to come, and of course trying to answer any questions they may have.  I hand these to my new students to read and discuss and then I take them back after that.  I save every year’s letters as a reminder of just how many kids I have been privileged to teach.
  • We also blog up until the last few days, do a government simulation, read one more book aloud, do an end of the year survey, present our biome projects, weed through our library, figure out how the classroom should be set up next year and just have a really great time with each other.  So yeah, I don’t do a countdown – we simply have too much to still do!
being a teacher, end of year, ideas, projects, students

What Do You Do in the Last Few Weeks of School?

Some teachers start a countdown, others do a lot of reading.  We instead have quite the to-do list to get through before my fabulous 5th graders get to graduate.  So beyond the culminating projects we have going on, here are some things that are keeping us busy:

  • Writing thank you letters.  This often overlooked skill is something I put a lot of value in so every year we take the time to thank all of the teachers and people that have helped us have a successful year.  I love slipping these into people’s mailboxes.
  • Write Dear Future Mrs. Ripp’s Students letters.  Every year I have my class that is leaving write letters to incoming students.  This is way for them to give them top insider information, get them excited and I get to peek at what meant a lot to them in the year.  I love handing these to my new students and seeing what they gain from them.
  • The Top 10.  We brainstorm all of the great things we have loved doing through the year and fill a white board with all of them.  Students then vote for the top 10 things of the classroom and a committee makes a huge poster for me to put on display for the new year.  Again, this is a sneaky way for me to see what really stuck out to students and incoming students cannot wait to figure out what the different things are.
  • Clean the library and review the books.  Not only do students help me get all the books back in the baskets they also get to rate all of the books.  If they would not read a book they place it on the carpet and other students can rescue it.  However, if no one comes to its rescue that books is given a new home.  
  • How to Flourish in 5th Grade videos.  My students have been busy writing scripts, rehearsing them, filming and soon editing videos for the incoming students on a variety of topics ranging from internet safety to how to transition to math (we switch classes).  I love seeing what the students wish they had known and also having them use some amazing Adobe software to edit their videos.
  • Give me your favorite memory… Another committee project where every student has to add their favorite memory to a video.  Again students are in charge of making this and I show it in the last days.
  • My favorite thing about…Every student has to a favorite thing about 3 other students on video.  We then edit it together to make a montage of all the things we have loved about each other.  This is always very secretive and students don’t know who has them.
  • Look at our time capsules.  At the beginning of the year we do a time capsule with our favorite things at the moment and we also see how tall we are.  At the end we remeasure and laugh about how much we have changed or not.
  • Give me your feedback.  Students do a survey rating all of our classes, ranking their favorite assignments and their least favorite.  They also give me advice and constructive criticism on what I should change.
So there are just some of the things we have to do.  Like I’ve said there is a lot going on in 5th grade and every day counts.  I used to have students write letters to their new teachers as well but it doesn’t work so well with the transition to middle school, however in other grades it probably would.

being me, happiness, projects

Won’t You Be Happy With Me?

Whip cream, a quiet classroom, students reading, my daughter crashed in the car, Amos Lee…all things that have made me happy in the last 13 days.  How do I know this?  I have been documenting all of these small moments on my new blog The Happy Streak.  This is not a blog to write on but one used for personal reflection through cell phone pictures.  By then posting pictures of all of those small, usually insignificant and quickly forgotten moments of happiness, I am making myself a happier person overall.

Had you asked me on January 1st whether I had ever gone 13 days in a row being happy every single day, I would have said probably not, after all, being a teacher, a mother, a partner, a friend, a daughter all causes stress.  And yet here I am, 13 days into my happy streak and every single day I have indeed been happy.  Every day I have found smile inducing, grin bearing moments that have taken over the mood of the whole day.

This new adventure lets me record those small moments that bring the smiles.  Seeing my husband come home from work, a beautiful sunset, needing sunglasses in January, even the first snowstorm – all part of my happy streak.  By doing something as simple as taking a picture of that moment they take over my life and become the focus.  I catch myself all day now finding happy streak moments, wanting to record them, smiling about them.  I am so lucky, I have such a wonderful life, I am glad I finally realized this.  So won’t you be happy with me?  How will you realize your happy moments?  When will you begin your very own happy streak?

projects, Student-centered, video, webinar

Let Them Film – Another SimpleK12 Webinar Presentation

I am thrilled to have been asked back to do another webinar for SimpleK12 entitled “Let Them Film – Promote Student Ownership in Learning with Video Cameras.”  The description is as follows:
How would you like to get rid of the packets and worksheets and offer students an interactive way to learn? Would you like to have students participate in the learning conversation, becoming more aware of their goals and challenges? Then join this webinar and discover ways to integrate video cameras into your curriculum. With this simple tool, students can go on grammar hunts, report their science findings, and teach other students how to do math. We will explore how to integrate the cameras without changing your learning goals, as well as discuss some meaningful activities that you can begin with.

This webinar will take place on January 12th at 12:30 – 1:00 PM ESt and is free!  All you have to do is register so to register just click on this link.  I hope to see you there.