Friday, December 2, 2016

Global Read Aloud 2016

This fall was an exciting time in our library!  We had many classes participate in The Global Read Aloud.  This is a movement designed to have students around the globe read the same book at the same time.  There were a handful of designated Global Read Aloud books designed for different ages, interests, and reading level (the titles change each year).  By reading the same story, students have the opportunity to connect with other students around the world.  The reading groups at Pioneer Middle School used a variety of methods to share their experiences with students in other areas.

Here are some highlights from the participating classes:

Mrs. Proudman's Class - Lauren Castillo Book Study
Mrs. Proudman's students are frequent library customers!  We spent six weeks on the Global Read Aloud by reading the books of Lauren Castillo.  Ms. Castillo is both an author and an illustrator.  The class looked at six different Lauren Castillo books, including Twenty Yawns, Nana in the City, and City Cat.

Mrs. Proudman's class (and me!) posing with our homemade hats inspired by the book The Troublemaker.

The students used Padlet, an online sharing tool, to connect with Mrs. Jerabek's students in Carol Stream, Illinois.  Using Padlet, students posted "About Me" documents which gave us some insight into the students that were reading along with us.  It was especially interesting to learn about the different foods that Mrs. Jerabek's students enjoy!

A peek at the Padlet page we used to communicate with Mrs. Jerabek's class.

In addition to using Padlet, students also took the time to share information about our area and their own thoughts about the books by sending each other friendly letters.

Students were eager to write letters for their pen pals.


Mrs. Leavoy's Sixth Grade ELA Class - Book Study of The BFG by Roald Dahl
Mrs. Leavoy's sixth grade ELA students were so excited to read The BFG!  Their enthusiasm was contagious.  Much like Mrs. Proudman's group, these students used Padlet and wrote letters to communicate with other classes.  They were able to connect with Ms. Yandell's class in Wichita Falls, Texas and students at the Algonquin Public School in Woodstock, Ontario.

Mrs. Leavoy's class read The BFG for The Global Read Aloud.

At the beginning of The Global Read Aloud, students posed for pictures around the Pioneer campus.  These pictures, as well as personal book recommendations from each student, were compiled as a welcome video.  The video was shared with other classrooms reading The BFG.

Students also communicated with Ms. Yandell's class via a Skype visit.  This was a fun and interactive way to speak with other students about the book!

Mrs. Leavoy's students Skype with a classroom from Texas.


Mrs. Asquith's Fifth Grade Enrichment Group - Book Study of The BFG by Roald Dahl
 I was approached by our school's administrators about offering an enrichment option for select fifth grade students.  I could think of no better project than The Global Read Aloud!  This class enjoyed the audiobook version of The BFG and communicated with Mrs. Jenkins' students in St. Augustine, FL.  At the beginning of the book study, the students used items in our library makerspace to make gifts for Mrs. Jenkins' students.

Mrs. Asquith's enrichment students with their homemade gifts for our partner class.

Students shared information about our school and community.

Mrs. Asquith's group used Padlet and Skype to communicate with the St. Augustine classroom.  One item the students shared via Padlet was their own illustrated "dream jars" inspired by the plot of The BFG.

Working on "dream jar" illustrations.
An example of a completed dream jar.

The students also had the opportunity to participate in a Google Hangout session with a class in a mystery location!  After asking yes or no questions and getting some help from an atlas, our students discovered that they were speaking with a class from Ontario, Canada.  They shared some information about what life is like in Canada.

Participating in a "Mystery Google Hangout" session.
Students used an atlas to hone in on the other school's location.
Since Mrs. Asquith's group only meets for enrichment on two days out of a six day rotation, we are a bit behind!  We plan to finish reading the book in the coming days.


Mrs. Kamats and Mrs. Kline's Fifth Grade Enrichment Group - Book Study of The BFG by Roald Dahl
Mrs. Kamats and Mrs. Kline were also kind enough to send some stellar students to the library to participate in The Global Read Aloud.  This group worked on many of the same projects as Mrs. Asquith's class, with a few notable differences.  They prepared homemade gifts for Ms. Wismer's class in Omaha, Nebraska.

Students made "reading hats" for the Nebraska students!
The enrichment group used supplies from our makerspace to make gifts.
Students typed letters to our partner school in Nebraska.
A letter for the students in Nebraska.
Another completed letter for the Nebraska reading group.

The students also worked on contributing to numerous Padlets pertaining to The BFG.  They were excited to share what they were learning with other classrooms!  Like Mrs. Asquith's students, this group also created some amazing dream jars.


A dream jar that was posted to the class Padlet.

A pizza-inspired dream jar!
Students were dedicated to keeping the Padlet pages updated.

This group finished reading the book a bit earlier than Mrs. Asquith's group.  We still have some fun activities in store!  On December 6th, the students will participate in a Mystery Skype session with another class.  Meanwhile, the students are working on preparing "book trailers" about The BFG by using Voicethread.  These book trailers will include original artwork and voice recordings from the students.  The completed book trailers will be posted to the library website.


Mrs. Batt's  Seventh Grade Reading Class - Book Study of Pax by Sara Pennypacker
The seventh grade students in Mrs. Batt's reading class met bright and early during first period to listen to the audiobook version of Pax by Sara Pennypacker.  This is a wonderful book about a young boy named Peter who gets separated from Pax, his pet fox.  The story includes many powerful messages about family, growing up, and the effects of war.  Although there were some complex themes within the book, this led to some great discussions.  The students found ways to make powerful personal connections to the text.

First, the students sent an introductory video to other partnering classrooms.  This video introduced other classes to our school, what it is like to live in a rural area, and the reading preferences of the students in Mrs. Batt's class.

Mrs. Batt's class posing by a tractor made of hay bales.

Students sent letters to Ms. Taormina's students in Port Jefferson Station, NY and to Ms. Lidsky's students in Toronto, Ontario.  Both schools replied to our letters, which was very exciting!  It is always nice to hear from other people, but it was especially powerful to share our ideas about Pax.

Mrs. Batt designed wonderful activities surrounding this book.  Because the book included animals, students were invited to share their own stories about the animals in their lives.  Another portion of the story dealt with a sacred object found on a person during battle.  Mrs. Batt used this as an opportunity to discuss the concept of characterization within a text.  Students brought their own sacred objects into the library.  The classmates then visited the objects and practiced characterizing their peers by using words to describe the objects presented.  This activity helped students to understand the concept of characterization, while learning more about their peers.

The Pax reading group was also serious about keeping their Padlet updated!  This served as a space for the Pioneer students to communicate with the students from Port Jefferson Station.

A look at the Pax Padlet page.


Mrs. Batt's  Eighth Grade Reading Class - Book Study of Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
Orbiting Jupiter was probably the most heart-wrenching of all of The Global Read Aloud books.  This book dealt with difficult subjects in a thoughtful and gentle way.  The story follows Joseph, a teenager who moves in with a foster family.  Joseph has had a difficult life, which included an abusive father and time in a juvenile detention facility.  Readers also learn that Joseph is a father to a baby named Jupiter, whom he has never met.  This story discusses trust, friendship, and what it means to be a family.  The book is beautifully written and allowed for some thought-provoking conversations.

Mrs. Batt's Orbiting Jupiter reading group.

The students created an introductory video to share with our partner schools.  We received an awesome video from Ms. Dupont's class at Richfield Middle School in Richfield, Minnesota!  It was wonderful to get a glimpse of the other students that would be reading Orbiting Jupiter.  Ms. Dupont's students frequently updated the Padlet page that we shared.

A look at the Orbiting Jupiter Padlet page.

Mrs. Batt came up with a great activity designed to get students to put themselves in the shoes of the book's characters.  Students divided into teams of two, with each group containing an interviewer and a character from the book.  Together, the students devised three sets of questions and answers relating to the character's involvement in the story.  It was great to see the students really think about the motivations of each character.  It was especially funny when a student took on the role of Rosie the cow!

This class also had the good fortune to Skype with another class reading Orbiting Jupiter!  This class was located in Arlington Heights, which is a suburb of Chicago, Illinois.  Students asked questions about the area in which we live, as well as questions about Orbiting Jupiter.

Mrs. Batt's students are ready to Skype with a class from Illinois.
The Orbiting Jupiter group also wrote and mailed out two sets of postcards to students in Richfield, Minnesota.  It was exciting to read their replies!


Reflections on The Global Read Aloud
Participating in The Global Read Aloud is one of my most highly-anticipated events each year.  There are so many benefits to taking part in this FREE event, but I will just focus on a few:

1. Students are exposed to amazing pieces of literature, which facilitates rich discussions.

2. Technology is used to communicate and produce, rather than consume.  Students are provided with concrete examples of how to use technology in productive and meaningful ways.

3. Global Read Aloud projects can be student-driven and allow for creativity.  With the enrichment groups especially, students designed and implemented the projects they chose to share with their partner schools.  Students need to feel empowered to make choices.

4. The Global Read Aloud allows for a variety of modes of communication to be explored.  These modes include classroom discussion, writing friendly letters, exchanging ideas via Padlet, and participating in Skype/Google Hangout sessions.

5. The connections made during the course of the project help students to build empathy and attain a global mindset.  Although students learn about the differences in geographical places, they find out that the students in other areas are a lot like themselves!


Next Steps
This is the second year that Pioneer Middle School has participated in The Global Read Aloud.  During our first year, Mrs. Proudman's class was the only group involved.  This year, six different groups participated in the project!  I hope to add even more classes to this project next year.  I'll be looking for ways to incorporate Twitter slow chats and other student-driven technologies.

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