Monday, October 12, 2015

So You Want To Participate In The Global Read Aloud

What Is Global Read Aloud?

Last May, Div1Edtech blogger Marge Kobewka mentioned learning about The Global Read Aloud (GRA). The tagline for GRA almost explains exactly what it is: one book to connect the world. GRA lasts six weeks. Teachers who participate read the GRA book(s) with their students and then use Twitter (#GRA15), Google Hangouts or Skype, Kidblog and other internet tools to connect their students to others reading the same book. 

As not all students around the world are the same age, or reading ability, there are actually a number of books that are a part of the GRA. For instance for older division one students there is The Year of Billy Miller. For division two students there is Fish In A Tree.  For division three students there is Fish. For division four students there is Yaqui Delago Wants To Kick Your Ass. While there are suggested ages for each book, there is no hard and fast rule for which book you pick for your students.

There is also an author study for picture books, so each week there is a different book you read. This year the author is Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Global Read Aloud nicely ties into Read In Week in Edmonton as both are in October. 

How Do You Participate?

This is my first year participating in the GRA. What I have done so far:

  1. Selected the book(s) I was going to read. This year I decided to do the author study.
    TIP: Do not wait until the last minute to locate the books. I did procrastinate. I found out that our school library only had two of the six books. So I went to the Edmonton Public Library (EPL). They had nine copies of first book, Chopsticks, but they were all loaned out. As a back up measure I looked to see if any Chapters in Edmonton had Chopsticks available. They were all sold out! Fortunately the hold I put on a copy at the EPL became available in enough time to have it for week one. In the meantime, I have had my school librarian borrow copies of the other books from other EPSB schools. We now have all the books! Phew.
  2. Filled out the form on the GRA website. This populates a Sheet.
    TIP: Do not fill out the form and hope you will be contacted. I filled out the form and forgot about it. Then during the first week, I was left without any "global" connections to kick off GRA. So I spent sometime looking through the Sheet for other people doing the author study. For my purposes, I wanted people who were also on Kidblog and/or wanted to do Google Hangouts. I sent out a number of emails. I heard back from three people and made two connections so far.

    There are other ways to connect with GRA participants. Facebook seems to be a popular way to connect this year.  I did not find using the Twitter hashtag #GRA15 helped for making connections yet. Regardless of how you try to make a connection, remember to be proactive. Do not wait for others to come to you.
  3. Planned how I will make my students' learning public. I decided to use Kidblog. I decided to get my student blogging earlier this year because of GRA. I felt that blogging was the best way to make my students' learning visible because it was a platform I was comfortable with. Also, it was a way to start participate in GRA without having secured connections. As well, it is an easy platform for others (even those without a Kidblog account) to interact with my students because of the comment feature.
    TIP: Test your settings for accepting comments from the public. I some how had turned that setting off initially.
  4. Started reading and writing.
    I explained what The Global Read Aloud was on Friday as a wrap up to Read-In Week and a kick off to the GRA. Then we read Chopsticks.  Students did a first draft of explaining their favourite part in their reading journals. As my students are still new to blogging, I am currently requiring them to do a paper draft first. When the recess bell went, some students asked if they could stay in for recess to work on their writing because they knew other children were going to be reading their thoughts! That's the power of having an audience and purpose for writing!

    Students will be typing their blog posts about Chopsticks this week. Stay tuned to Team Spectacular's Blog.
  5. Gave a shout out to the author on Twitter.
    We wrote a short tweet to Amy. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we'll get a reply. Students enjoyed the play on words in Chopsticks, so wanted to use the word "sweet" (said by Sugar in the book)  instead of awesome. There was much debate if the word sugary was needed. 

It's Not Too Late To Join!

As it says on the GRA website somewhere: it's okay to get behind, just don't get ahead. Do not worry if you are just getting started. Just start! You can make this as a huge event as you want, or, if you are like me, keep it simple. Check out how Shannon Pasma's class started: CTV Edmonton, Global Read Aloud.

Want To Know More?

There are a lot of resources for GRA. Here are just two: