Friday, November 23, 2012

My First Experience with the Global Read Aloud

This past October my class and I took part in  the Global Read Aloud organized by Mrs. Pernille Ripp.   Not really knowing what I was getting myself into, but having a huge sense of curiousity and desire to get my grade one class "connected", I jumped in with both feet.  As I look back I am pleased to report that we connected with six classes over five different projects. Here's a little bit about what we did.

Our first connection was with Mrs. Wideen's grade 1/2 class in Windsor, Ontario.  Before we even started reading the book our two classes skyped together. We made predictions about what we thought the story was going to be about.  You can read more about this skype call here.

For our second connection we shared the reading of the book with three other classes at the same time.  Once a week Mrs. Leech, Mrs. Sarchet, Mrs. Wideen and I would meet with our classes in a google hang out.  Each week one of us would read a chapter for the rest of the classes. We'd share predictions and ask each other questions.  You can read more about our first google hang out sessions here

When we finished reading the chapters together each class created a mural depicting their favourite parts of the story.  Our intention was to share these murals with one another through a google hang out, but due to a string of technical difficulties this never happened for us.   However Mrs. Wideen did create a Wall Wisher which we all contributed too.  You can see and read about our Wall Wisher  here.  

Our third connection was with Mrs. Madonna's grade one class in Manhattan.  After much discussion between the teachers we decided that we would create Flat Wilbur. We took photos with our Flat Wilbur and shared them with our friends in Manhattan.  You can read more about this here. We went as far as to add voice QR codes to our photos too so our Manhattan friends could hear us talk about our adventures with Wilbur.  You can read more about this here. They did a similar thing with their flat wilburs, using written words instead of voice.  You can see the photos they sent us here.

We skyped with this class too.  It was very interesting to learn that they have elevators in their school and that their playground is on the ROOF of their school.  We also learned that they come to school by taxi, or subway while we walk or come in a car.  It certainly showed my students a different way of looking at school.

One of the off shoots of this connection is that hurricane Sandy, and the storm that came with it, meant something REAL to my class.  Our Manhattan friends were caught right in the middle of the storm. We lost communication with them for about ten days.  We worried a lot about them.  Thankfully they are all fine, and their school is being cleaned up after all the water that was in it. Needless to say this was a very meaningful connection. You can read more about this connection on our class blog here.

For our fourth connection we have been working with Mrs. Fisher's class in Northern Manitoba on a voice thread.  Each of her students created a digital image showing their favourite character in Charlotte's Web and each of my students did too.  We then put the images together and added voice comments.  We have yet to meet them through Skype but that will happen shortly.  You can see the voice thread we created here.

Next we connected with Mrs. Tomessatti's class in Toledo, Ohio where we shared our favourites parts of Charlotte's Wed with each other via a skype call. You can read more about this here.

And finally we received a few voice messages because of our connection with the Global Read Aloud which you can hear here and here.  As we always do we left comments for those that left us messages.

The global read aloud was a fantastic way to get my students interested in knowing about children outside of our own school.  It opened up their eyes to the endless possibility of learning that is available  in this digital age.  My students now have some  geography because of who we connected with and where they live.  Overall they are more curious, and perhaps a little bit less self centred too because of they experiences they've had with this project.

Here are some of my take aways from the Global Read Aloud.

I love that it gave me an opportunity to connect with other teachers and classes around the word in an easy yet meaningful way.

I love that it provided hours of classroom discussion both in relation to the book itself, and the people we met because of it.

I love that there was a wiki and an edmodo group where I could make connections with other primary teachers taking part in this project.  It is here that I met Mrs. Fisher, Mrs. Tomessetti, and Mrs. Madonna.

I love that it strengthened my connections with other educators, some who I may not have met via twitter.

I love that I was in control of what my class and I took part in.  In many of the global projects I've been a part of I often find that I am doing something to fulfil a specific goal of the project co-ordinator, and that that is not always what  my students need at the time.  I LOVE that with the Global Read Aloud I was given a framework, but what I chose to do within the frame work was completely my choice.  For me this was a huge perk of the Global Read Aloud.  My students' needs dictated what projects we chose to take part in and the Global Read Aloud gave us that complete flexibility.

I love that as much as we were on a time frame because we were reading chapters with other classes, we could also work at our own pace.  Mrs. Fisher and I have been working on our voice thread for a while, but we never felt pressured to have it complete by the end of October, when we finished reading the book.   As I type this our students are still adding comments to the thread, and we have yet to skype.

If I ran this project I'd probably choose a different time of the year. While we took part fully in the Global Read Aloud and enjoyed it every step of the way, it was probably too early in the school year for my grade one students.

Thank you Pernille for providing my class and I with such a wonderful learning opportunity.


  1. Great post, you provide your students with so many unique ways to have that braoder, more authentic audience which I agree is so terribly important. I was struck with how resourceful you are in which techniques you use! I really liked how you weren't afraid to utilize "old fashioned" (my emphasis :) mediums like email and mail. As always, reading your post has given me many exciting new ideas to help my students!

    1. I am always excited to give new ideas a try if they work with what I'm trying to accomplish with my students. I don't want technology or lack of technology to ever get in the way of connecting with others. This project was perfect for this with so many different ways to connect. Waiting for their photos to arrive in the mail added a different level of excitement to the project. Getting a voice mail on our blog from the Head Master of the school in Manhattan was very cool too. Thanks for your kind word.

  2. Wow! You have achieved so much. Thanks for sharing it here. I also got my class involved and enjoyed the opportunity to share with others too. Hope to catch up with you next Global Read Aloud!

    1. Thanks Dani. I'm curious where are you located and what grade you teach? Just because the global read aloud is over doesn't mean we are done connecting. Perhaps there is a project we can do together too. :-)

  3. Great post. I love all the connections that you and your class have made with other classrooms. I loved the Global Read Aloud and doing Google Hangout with you, Mrs. Wideen, and Mrs. Sarchet. My students loved seeing the other classes own the Smartboard and finding out that they also practiced an earth quake drill on the same day. You are doing amazing things. Your class is very lucky that you are providing opportunities for them to increase their global awareness and to communicate with others.

    1. Thanks Niki. Learning with others is authentic and real. It helps my students foster their curiousity. As I read your comment my head spins. We have got to to do a project with some grade one classes in our school district with the intention to meet in person. Let's think about how we can make that look. As you are well aware Niki, I love learning with you.