Reading, students

10 Chapter Books My Students Say You Need

Much like we love our picture books, reading graphic novels or chapter books is a big deal in our room.  All day, every day, there is an undercurrent of book recommendation conversation running through our room and so I knew this year’s top ten list would be a tough competition.  With many ties, and many books to even choose from, I am happy to reveal the 10 books my students say any middle grade classroom library should not be without.

Number 10:

We start off with a three way tie.  I love the range of these books and think they truly represent the range of readers and interest we have in our group.

A favorite every year for our Tangle of the Titles, The Giver by Lois Lowry always surprises kids with how great it is.  I love how fiercely the students debate the ending as well.                Flora & Ulysses by the amazing Kate DiCamillo was hit in our room with a diverse crowd of readers.  whimsy, fun, and yet thought provoking the kids loved passing this around.

I love the power of graphic novels and Smile by Raina Telgemeier is one that I have had to repurchase a few times, it always seems to disappear or get destroyed from so many reads.

Number 9:

Pivot Point by Kasie West is one of my all-time favorite YA reads and so I was thrilled when so many kids took to it as well.  With the perfect amount of action and love, Kasie West in this book and the sequel “Split Second” captivated many readers.

Number 8: 

A chilling tale of hope and survival mesmerized many of my boys and some of the girls as well.  They couldn’t believe the story told here and wanted to know more.  Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz is a must add.

Number 7:  

For the second year in a row, Adam Gidwitz’s tale of Hansel and Gretel in A Tale Dark & Grimm won the hearts of my students.  This is a perfect series for anyone who loves action, fantasy, humor and yes, a little bit of magic.

Number 6:

No classroom library at this age is complete without Divergent by Veronica Roth, I loved how many students discovered this book this year and how they discussed book vs movie.

Number 5:  

One of the official selections for Global Read Aloud 2013, Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper kicked our read alouds off in the best way possible.  all year, the lessons from Melody resonated through our walls, permeated our conversations, and changed the way we viewed others.

Number 4:

What can we say that hasn’t been written about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  There is a reason almost every child in my room has read it.

Number 3:

One of my all-time favorite reads, I am always excited to see when a new child discovers The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  The best part?  It usually only takes the first page to hook them.

Number 2:

The power of The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen never fails to mesmerize students, and this year marked the first time I read it aloud.  Students begged for me to read just one more page of this incredible tale. Our culminating Skype call with Jennifer A. Nielsen only made this book better.  This was one of our read alouds.

Number 1:

And what was the most beloved book in our classroom?

If you have not read Rump – The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff, please run out to your nearest book store or library and get it.  The kids have lived Rump’s tale, begged me to keep reading, pondered about the role of destiny in our lives and asked if there is a sequel. This book is a must read aloud, and was one of ours.

Many other books were on the list but these were the top picks.  We hope we have given you some suggestions to add to your library or summer reading, you won’t regret it.

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” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

Reading, students

Ten Picture Books My Students Say You Need – 2014

Anyone who has been in our classroom know that picture books are a big deal.  A hush falls over the room whenever one is read and we hold our picture books as sacred text that not only let us relive our younger  years, but also spark deep conversation.  We realized we wanted to share our ten favorite reads from the year and I can say, it was hard to pick!  The students shouted out beloved titles and then each voted for their own top ten.  So without further ado, these are the ten picture books we think every classroom should read and own!

A few runner ups:  These lost out by one vote to make it in the Top Ten but are still worthy of a read any day…

Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems

And now on to the Top Ten.

Number 10:

We love Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  This sweet story of a spoon trying to fit in and finding his place in the world was one that made us laugh and think about our own place in the world.

Number 9:

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, the story of a boy who feels invisible in his classroom was one that silenced the students.  The reflections that followed from them were some that I had to blog about right away.  have you had the conversation about the invisible children in your classroom?

Number 8:

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed is the story of an unlikely rescue mission and friendship , which was one that my students loved and gravitated toward many times.  This is one of my all-time favorite picture books and my students agree, this is a must read over and over.

Number 7:

I love when my students laugh out loud when I read aloud and Warning:  Do Not Open This Book by Adam Lehrhaupt  definitely did that to us.  Great illustrations as well as a fun story kept my students hooked.

Number 6:  

What can I say about The Dot that countless others have not said already?  The simple message of making your mark on the world and being good enough is one that left its mark on us.

Number 5:

Even though this book carries no words, my students could not get past the depth of the story.  The gasp of breath in “that” scene was audible as was the hush that followed when the book was done.  I love wordless picture books for the incredible imagination they possess, but this one downright shakes you awake to make you think about the world.  Bluebird by Bob Staake is a must add to any classroom.

Number 4: 

Another masterpiece by Peter H. Reynolds; Ish which is why he is the author study for Global Read Aloud 2014.  This book led to a deep discussion of what people’s words do to our dreams and how we can support others’ dreams.

Number 3:

Journey by Aaron Becker was used as the culmination of our first reading unit, which happened to be a lesson I was observed during.  I asked the students why I picked this book to share with them as our celebration book and their reasons blew me away.  “We are on a journey in reading like the girl.”  “we also can create what we want 5th grade to be like she does with her world” were among some of the things said.  Again a wordless picture book brought some of our deepest conversations.

Number 2:

Picture books do not always have to discuss heavy topics to leave a deep impression. Weasels by Elys Dolan was one my students loved because it was sheer fun watching the weasels try to overtake the world.  I love how picture books allows my otherwise cool 5th graders to just let go and laugh.

And finally, number 1 out of so many picture books read….

I pulled this book out after a recess incident that had really rattled my team.  Whenever I send my students out to play and be with their friends, I never think that they may not be friends outside, that they may say mean things about each other, that they may exclude, and yet that day they proved me wrong.  I knew we had to discuss what had happened but instead of another lecture from me about the power of our community, the sanctity of what we have built, and how we should all fit in, I let this picture book, Zero by Kathryn Otoshi do the talking for me.  The fact that this is the most favored read in my room tells me they may have been listening.

From our class to yours, we hope you add some of these to your collection.

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” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

reflection, Student-centered

This is What Learning Looks Like

This past Friday, my incredible students participated in the 4th Innovation Day I have done.  While it is a hard day for me because I tend to get bored, since I cannot jump in and teach, I always marvel at the energy and enthusiasm throughout the room.  The sheer driven desire to create something fueled by their curiosity and imagination never ceases to astound me, and this day is always a highlight for the students.    At one point, I tweeted out the following picture

photo (16)

captioning it, “This is what learning can look like…”  Immediately, someone replied, “This is what learning SHOULD look like!”  (Emphasis added by me).  At first, I agreed, nodding, yes, this is what learning should look like.  Then I stopped, thought about it, and I realized, no, this is not what learning should look like at all times.

If learning looked like this every day, I would go crazy.  The mess, the noise, the scattered projects and directions, where I barely took part in anything, no thank you.  And I wouldn’t be the only one.  My students would not want learning to be like this every day either, how do I know?  I asked them.

Instead, they told me that learning should look like this…

photo (6)

Like this…

Or like this…933a8-dsc_0060

Learning should look like this…

This is what Student-centered Looks Like

Or like this…

An Hour of Wonder

Or like this…

Ripp-tech-Photo

Sometimes learning even looks like this…

5254aa5c12f69.preview-620 (1)

In the end, learning looks the way our students need it to look.  Whether that means a teacher in the front setting up a foundation for exploration, students exploring their way through something, individual quiet contemplation and in-depth thinking, or even small groups teaching others; learning is many things, looks many ways, and feels many ways.  It has to because we all learn differently, we all process things differently.  We all need different things at different times.

If we run our classroom in one way, even if it is an incredible way in our eyes, we risk losing the love of learning from a child.  Every child should feel at home in our rooms, every child should feel like they can learn.  Every child should feel that the way they learn is right.  So there is no one way that learning should look like.  It should look however fits our kids best.  And that changes often, just like our students do.

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” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being me, students

They Are Someone’s Child

image from icanread

He walked away, tears in his eyes, shoulders down.  I called out his name but he kept on walking, mumbling, “Ill do it…”

I went home, knew what I had to do the next day, and yet, that walk away from me really made me remember.

Before I tell a student what they need to do right now, remember they are someone’s child.

Before I tell a child that their best could be better, remember that they are someone’s child.

Before  I raise my voice, before I yell for attention, before I call out a student for not doing what they are supposed to be doing, remember; they are someone’s child.

Before I tell a student that life outside of school may be tough but they still need to focus, remember; they are someone’s child.  And that someone may be trying their hardest to keep an illusion of normalcy going, but that child knows better.

Before I lecture, remember.

Before I punish, remember.

Before I pull aside.

Before I make an example.

Before I don’t listen to the whole story.

They are someone’s child and they deserve to be treated that way.

And that boy with the tears, I apologized the next day.  Not for the expectations but for the way they had been said.  I am not perfect, I forget too, that before I am a teacher I am a mother, and that child in front of me could be mine.  So treat them as such.

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 Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” can be pre-bought now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being me

I Didn’t Ask

Ida throwing a fit after she drew a mustache on her face

I didn’t ask to be the mother of a child who screams at the top of his lungs.

I didn’t ask to be the mother of a child who refuses to wear clothes and hits you when you try to dress her.

I didn’t ask to be the mother of a child who makes up every excuse in the book so that she will not have to go to sleep.

I certainly never asked to be the mother of a child who arrived 10 weeks early and has had to fight for her growth.

But they are mine.  And I love them.  Even for their faults.

I didn’t ask to be the teacher of a child who refuses to read.

I didn’t ask to be the teacher of a child who interrupts – every – 30 – seconds.

Or the child who gets so angry they throw furniture.

Or the child who sleeps in a closet.

I didn’t ask for them to be in our room.  But I would have.  I would have taken them all gladly.

For they are the children who change.  The children who need a chance.  The children we wouldn’t ask for but then cannot help but love so much that when they leave our classrooms at the end of the year, it physically hurts our heart.  The children we wake up over.  The children we fight for.

Not every child is perfect, I see that in my own children, but every child needs a chance.

I didn’t ask for children who needed my heart to be big and my patience to be bigger.  But it is what I got, and I am better because of them.

 

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 Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” can be pre-bought now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

Be the change, being a teacher, reflection

What Becomes of the Lonely Teachers?

image from icanread

“…Don’t worry about it, I will take care of it.”

So read the text message from my teammate Mark when he found out I was in the hospital trying to stop the birth of Augustine (in vain, I might add).  And with that little message, I could stop worrying about the 27 kids that rely on me Monday through Friday and start worrying about the baby trying to meet us way too early.

Mark didn’t have to write my sub plans, in fact, he didn’t have to do anything for me, he has his own classroom full of kids to work with, his own plans to write, his own family to take care of.  But he did, and he didn’t make a big fuss about it, it was simply what he does, and what we do as a team.

I often wonder about the teachers that shut their door, tired of trying to make connections, tired of trying to make their team work.  Did they ever have a team that took care of them?  Does anyone notice when their door is shut?  I know when I have shut mine, whether by choice or accident, someone has always knocked on it, concerned and just checking it.

Yet,we know there are teachers that come to school, teach, and then leave without many people knowing that they were even there, without many people reaching out to them to make sure they are having a good day.  We are so concerned with our lonely students, but do we share the same concern for our lonely teachers?  Do we reach out and go out of our way to make sure everyone feels included and welcomed?  Do we stop by and invite them to have lunch with us if they are sitting in their rooms?  Of for coffee after school?  Do we tell them that we will take care of them if they need it?

I know I forget to, I know I get too busy trying to catch up with the ones I already have established routines with.  I know I forget to include, to ask, to invite, but I try.  And it is in this trying that I find my own hope, that perhaps if I try and everyone else tries, that perhaps those teachers we let slip through the cracks will be caught by someone and for once they wont be the ones shutting their door, for once they wont be the ones that no one noticed that day.  For once they will belong.  But we have to notice first, so on Monday, please take the time to notice who is by themselves.  Notice who shuts their door, notice who seems alone.  Then stop, say hi, start a conversation, try.  No one should have to be alone in a building filled with happy children.  Everyone should have a Mark in their lives.

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 Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” will be released this March from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.