Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Power of Connecting - the Global Read Aloud and Other Points

My Grade Fives and I have been rather busy this October; we are proud members of Global Read Aloud 2012!

Participating in this amazing project, thought up by Pernille Ripp, has been eye-opening for my students and certainly reinforced some very important ideas for me about the value of the Internet as a tool - a space - for teaching and learning.


Of course there's the thrill of connecting with students their age in other parts of the is the GLOBAL Read Aloud, after all!  For my particular class, we have been delighted to participate in the project with Ms. Sandler's class in Argentina; Ms. Rinker's in Illinois and Ms. Jones' in Connecticut; Ms. Boothby's Grade 5's way  over in Switzerland and shortly we'll be hearing from Ms. Bennett's class down in New Zealand (they've been on holiday)!  


And then's there's the book itself - The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate! It is a wonderful story about hope and friendship and art and so much more; it is sure to be a classic like the other selection this year, Charlotte's Web. The power of words, well-crafted as is so evident in this book, can move us all to places and feelings new and familiar.

Knowing that other grade fives are actually hearing the same story pretty much at the same time you are in so many places around the world is awe-inspiring for ten year olds! Finding out they have similar thoughts and interesting differences to students around the world is an added benefit of sharing!

Hundreds of teachers around the world signed up with the  Global Read Aloud2012 to plan for sharing sections of the book each week for the month of October and to participate in follow-up activities during the month using whatever means they were comfortable with or interested in trying: blogging, Twitter, Edmodo, a wiki dedicated to the book, to name the favourites.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the teachers, such as myself, are just as thrilled to be learning with and from our peers, too.  For weeks before the Read Aloud began, in the Edmodo pages open to the participating teachers, there was much sharing of ideas, lots of questions and answers about how to set up in the online communities chosen and just general conversations about who we are and where we teach!  It is truly something for all of us involved to connect about something we are passionate about - teaching and the love of a reading great books to our students! : )

It is easy to see the benefits that come from:
~Communicating thoughts and ideas, asking and answering questions, sharing emotions while writing individually or collaboratively on their blogs and Edmodo pages 

~Using Animoto and Audioboo, Photostory and Skitch, Wordle and Tagxedo - there are so many interesting ways for children to represent and contribute their predictions, their reactions, their pleasure!

~Contributing to a larger body of work on this year's wiki 

All the talk curriculum documents spout about authentic audience and purposeful technology integration is made visible when students and teachers participate in activities like the Global Read Aloud.

Upon hearing about the recent and tragic death of another young person, Amanda Todd, who had been cyber-bullied,  I feel the importance of teachers providing many and meaningful ways for our children to use the Internet such as the Global Read Aloud becomes even more imperative.


Our children need opportunities to participate in positive interactions - under the guidance of caring adults- on the Internet. 
They need repeated opportunities to discuss the power of their words and the consequences of their actions - on and offline.  
Our students need models of what to do online and how to do it.
They need to be able to participate positively  in the community of connected learners.
They need us to teach them about the power of connecting and of caring.

"Global collaboration is necessary to show students that they are part of something bigger than them. That the world needs to be protected and that we need to care for all people. You can show them pictures of kids in other countries but why not have them speak to each other? Then the caring can begin." 

from Pernille Ripp, creator of the Global Read Aloud

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