This past week I spent some time at MassCUE’s Annual Fall conference. The theme was about global education in a digital world, which caused me to reflect on the work we are doing in our classroom. Our students have been delving into the world of Pax in this year’s Global Read Aloud. Last year I did some Twitter slow chats with students, but this school year we have already done a Mystery Skype with a class in Connecticut and had two book talks with 7th grade students in Virginia. I am in a Google group with several teachers who have shared Padlet links to discuss the story. We have also shared Tweets about the story using our Fire off a Tweet template created by Suzy Brooks. I began to think about how these experiences have affected students.
My 5th grade students challenged 7th graders with their book questions. They saw 7th graders being reminded about connections, mood, and tone of story. They had insightful conversations back and forth with older students about a book, engaging with the literature in meaningful ways. My students had to hunt down answers by finding evidence in the story in order to answer the 7th graders’ questions. I watched as my most shyest students proudly walked over to the Skype call and discussed the book with students they have never met. I saw smiles on students’ faces as they had similar answers to 7th graders. What started out as a small idea has built confidence in each and every one of my own students. I have observed students getting better at crafting tweets to share out with their global audience. One student was giddy because Pernille Ripp, creator of the Global Read Aloud, replied to her Tweet. Over the moon does not even give justice to how this girl felt. It made this whole experience real for this child as she began to piece together how big the Global Read Aloud is. I also had a similar experience when I opened a padlet I created to find several student responses on there about symbolism in the text. I have no idea who responded but my students now have discussion points and can have conversations about their thinking.
The Global Read Aloud is not just about reading a book with other students. It teaches students about others. It helps us connect, collaborate, and learn together. We gain confidence skills, learn more about the power of digital tools, and explore new pedagogical techniques to help reach students. This experience has made me a better teacher and has empowered 23 students to want to read a book they might never have picked up otherwise. The tiny seed Pernille had has grown to encompass the passion educators have for building their community of learners and connecting them to the world.
Students responding to questions from our friends in VA!