Thursday, March 14, 2013

Read Around the Planet

  Read Around the Planet

The name alone is enticing to any literacy teacher.

Imagine, a video conference with another English speaking classroom somewhere on the planet in celebration of reading. This was a chance to give my students a global perspective and connection with other literacy learners.  Very appealing indeed!

In Alberta, grade three social studies students are introduced to global citizenship and this was the opportunity to build on that understanding.

Where to Begin

Registration for Read Around the Planet (RAP) opened in December and the event was held February 25 to March 8, 2013.  In order to participate, teachers create a profile on a site called: Collaborations Around the Planet or CAPspace,  a social networking tool for educational video conferencing. 

Once a profile is created on CAPspace, school video conference equipment needs to be verified and you are then ready to sign up for RAP.  I depended on our reliable technical support at Argyll Centre to help with the equipment details and verification. This process involves registering your equipment on the website; its not hard to do. Jocelyn Littlefair at the Education Society is a volunteer site verifier for Canadian teachers in preparation for Read Around the Planet. She was a great contact and very helpful in sorting out the details.

The Read Around the Planet website provides step by step instructions, a teacher training video and inspiring ideas. 

What Next?

Once verification of equipment and registration was completed we waited eagerly to find out who our RAP partners might be.  Would they be English speaking students in South Africa, or India or some other exotic and far away place? Would it be another classroom in Edmonton?  I have since discovered that this could have been a real possibility and not quite as exciting.

RAP Partners!

Our partners were grade four students at Carver-Lyon Elementary school in Columbia, South Carolina. Our students, home based learners from grade one to six at Argyll Centre, eagerly started preparing. To ensure that all would go smoothly on the day of the event, our preparation included a test video conference call with our RAP partners in South Carolina. 

Wednesday,  February 27 Reading Around The Planet

Excitement buzzed in the air as students arrived for their classes, an eagerly anticipated day had arrived. This was the day, Literacy Lift Off students in grades 1 to 6 would participate in, “Read Around the Planet”. (RAP)

 A happy group gathered in the music room ready to share, ‘An Alberta Alphabet’ with our RAP partners and at 10:30 we linked via a video conference call with grade 4 students in South Carolina. There they were….. our RAP partners, kids like us with a love of literacy and ideas to share.

We learned many things from our RAP partners that day, as they told us about South Carolina sweet tea, tea plantations, indigo, juicy peaches, baseball teams, their love of basketball, the peaceful Congaree River and their first female state governor.  

Our students shared beautiful posters carefully prepared with a wealth of information about Alberta’s geography, climate and culture.

During our question and answer time one of my students quietly asked if these children in the southern USA had ever seen snow, and in a moment of inspiration she dashed outside to scoop up a bowl of snow for our South Carolina friends to see.

The conversation became animated when we discovered that our new friends loved reading many of the same books we did.

After an hour of sharing and conversation we closed with a farewell song and waved good-bye to our fellow literacy learners. We discovered that when it comes to literacy it is a small world after all.


  1. Fun! I will add this to my calendar to remember for next year!

  2. What an excellent opportunity for your students. I love that the students in N Carolina liked some of the same books. You can't put a value (or a test) on the discovery that people in other parts of the world like some of the same things you do. A great experience for your class.