Read Aloud ?


Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 8.40.06 PM

After we finished our reading of Fish for the Global Read Aloud, students were asked to share their thoughts about read aloud in general.  Was it something they valued and would want to continue?

In our district, students used to have 84 minutes of Language Arts each day, and with that amount of time, it was easy to incorporate read aloud into the curriculum.  Now that Language Arts classes are 52 minutes long (30 fewer minutes each day, or 2 1/2 fewer hours each week), it is difficult to incorporate and sustain a meaningful read aloud time.

Here are some of the student responses:

  • “I love read aloud because we get to talk about the book and the things we enjoyed.” –Thomas
  • “I really like read aloud because I understand more when someone else reads out loud.” — Briana
  • “I enjoy read aloud because it give the characters a voice.” — Zach D.
  • “Read aloud is a time that I can relax, and I enjoy that after a long school day.” — Anonymous
  • “I enjoy read aloud because our class actually knows what’s going on as a  group.” — Carter
  • “When someone else reads aloud, it helps make imagery.  We can also discuss our thoughts and questions, so we can opinions from everybody.” — Shamya
  • “Read aloud is a relaxing time to listen, think, and not work.” — Jedi
  • “With read aloud, I get to hear stories I never heard about before.” — Sebastian

Students definitely want to continue read aloud, and so do I.  Research backs us up:  among this study’s 13 reasons to use read aloud with older students is the fact that the practice improves student reading and writing, and reading and writing is what we are all about in English class!

It’s up to me as the teacher to make time in our curriculum for this valuable practice…and to develop the stamina to read aloud daily to five different groups of students instead of the three that I used to have 🙂


Image by Mrs. Kriese via Canva 

Our Bake Sale Success!


BeFunky Collage

For three days last week, our seventh period class held a bake sale to raise money for Heifer International. The students were inspired to help by our reading of the book Fish by L. S. Matthews, and they put that inspiration to work!

Our goal was to raise $120 to buy a goat for a family in need, and we are happy to announce that we raised far more than that! The grand total after three days of selling doughnuts, cupcakes, and cookies was $339.35. Wow!

Students browsed the Heifer International catalog of livestock gifts and voted on how to spend the remaining money after the pledged $120 goat was purchased. Our results? In addition to the goat, we gave a llama, a hive of honeybees, and two flocks of chicks. How cool is that?

Our project was a success thanks to the many West Ridge students and parents who baked items for us to sell, who worked the sale table each morning, and who purchased the treats so that we could make a generous donation.  Congrats to all involved!

Planning Our Project


On Friday, period 7 students made progress in planning their Heifer International Project. Realizing the importance of including their parents in their plans, they wrote the following letter to Mom and Dad:

Dear Parents–

We would like to inform you that our class has had an idea. We’ve been reading the book Fish, and we’ve learned more about what it is like to be a refugee. The main character Tiger helps refugees, and eventually he becomes one when all the helpers have to flee the village. This book made us think about all the people who have been suffering in the world. We feel compassion for them, and we are passionate about helping.

Our plan is to have a bake sale to raise $120 (or more) to buy a goat for a family through Heifer International. You can read about that organization and watch a video about them in this blog post.  We’ve learned how owning a goat can help a family that is struggling with hunger and poverty.

We would like your support in helping us make cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goods for the sale. Mr. Ramsey has approved our bake sale for November 17, 18, and 19. Next week, we will make a schedule of who is going to bring what items and who will sit at the table to sell the things.

Thank you for your support. We appreciate all the trouble you go through to help our cause!


Mrs. Kriese’s 7th Period

We’re excited to see how much money we can raise to help people!  Maybe we’ll be able to give the gift of more than one goat, or have money left over to donate to the United Nations Refugee Agency.  We’ve seen pictures of children sleeping in the cold. A gift of $150 would buy sleeping bags for three families.

Pixabay CC0

Pixabay CC0

The Gift of a Goat


Looking to me

For the past few weeks, our seventh period class has been participating in the Global Read Aloud.  Along with hundreds of other classes from all around the world, we are enjoying the book Fish by L.S. Matthews.

We’ve been moved by the experiences of Tiger.  The child and his (her?  Matthews never reveals whether Tiger is a boy or girl) family are aide workers in a country that has been torn by war.  When the fighting gets close to the village the family  has been working in, they become refugees along with the villagers.

As we discuss character, plot, conflict, and author’s craft, we also discuss the real world situation that this book parallels.  Although the current Syrian refugee crisis wasn’t happening the year that Fish was published, the story is much the same as those being told in today’s headlines.

These stories of refugee suffering have touched our hearts and prompted us to consider what it is like to be a refugee or a member of a family that is battling hunger and extreme poverty.  We’ve been talking about how we could help people in need, just like the family in Fish did.

One concrete project we talked about in class involves helping families like those that Tiger’s family was helping before they had to flee.  Through the tweets of other teachers whose classes are reading Fish, we’ve found Heifer International.   This organization provides a goat, a cow, chickens and other livestock to very poor, hungry families so that those families then have the means to feed themselves and, with guidance, turn their animal into a source of income.

We found out that the cost of providing a family with a goat is $120. We’re exploring fundraising options now, and we will post again when we have our plan in place! We’re very excited to start a project that will help people who are struggling with hunger and poverty.

Image credit: Cloudtail via Compfight

Poppies Grow, Row on Row…


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, British soldier
Poem composed in May 1915

Artist Paul Cummings had a vision: one poppy for every British soldier who died in World War I, each planted at the Tower of London as a tribute to the sacrifice of those men. The resulting imagery is powerful indeed.

What do you think and feel as you view the result of this artist’s work?

Take out your Writer’s Notebook and turn to the next blank page. Can you capture the sight with imagery of your own?

Read Any Good Leads Lately?



When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.  My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress.  She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother.  Of course, she did. This was the day of the reaping.

                                                            –Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games


The writer of an article, essay, story or book begins with a lead to draw the reader in–to make the reader want to read more.  Suzanne Collins opened her book with a lead that gave us information about the setting:  it was the day of the reaping, apparently a day that poor families had cause to dread.

In the comment section of this post, share an interesting lead to an article, essay, story or book you’ve read recently.  Be sure to include the author’s name and the title of the work.  See the first few comments for examples.  Try not to repeat a lead that has already been given.



Image Credit:  The Hunger Games, Scholastic Press, 2008

What We’ve Learned About British Columbia


We took out our iPads and started exploring Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada.  What a beautiful, interesting place!

Here are some of the facts we learned:
British Columbia is one of the world’s top three producers of blueberries and cranberries.
The provincial flower is the dogwood.

Fishing is essential to the economy.
Vancouver is home to one of the longest suspension bridges in world.

Forty per cent of Vancouver residents are foreign-born (in our home of Austin, that number is twenty per cent).
Vancouver Island the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand.
Some of the best caving areas in the world are in Vancouver Island.
The island was first colonized in 1861.
Average winter temperatures hover in the 40s; average summer temperatures are in the 70s.  We’re jealous!

We decided that the British Columbia flag is one of the most awesome flags we’ve ever seen!

Pixabay CC0

Pixabay CC0

 We also watched this video tour of Comox Valley, home to Mrs. Smith’s seventh grade class.  Looks like a great place to live!

After watching this video, we have to say that the scenery is beautiful!  Wow!