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Connecting the World Through Books

student with globe in classroom

A library media specialist outlines how she uses literacy activities to help students become global collaborators.

Thanks to the Internet, and our ability to connect with people halfway around the globe with just a few clicks, the world can feel smaller than ever. And when it’s applied in the classroom, the potential of a connected world can help amplify classroom learning. That’s where the ISTE Standard 7 for students, known as Global Collaborator, comes in. As the library media specialist at Orchard School in Vermont, here’s how I apply the standard and keep students engaged in global collaboration all school year long.

September

Celebrated every September 15, International Dot Day is a great way to mark the beginning of the school year. Peter Reynolds’s book, “The Dot,” about a student who takes risks and tries new things, can help make the occasion even more special. At Orchard School, we acknowledge International Dot Day for a full school week. We enjoy connecting with classes around the U.S., and share projects and stories for the entire celebration. This year, classes interacted with students in Argentina, Canada and London! Sometimes, we shared collaborative dots. Each class took a turn making a contribution to the artwork. We learned a bit more about each other along the way.

international dot day in schools

October

Connect the world through one book. That was the goal when Global Read Aloud began in 2010. This year, the project included four books and an author study, appropriate for students in pre-K through high school. For six weeks, beginning in early October, more than 2 million participants used Skype, Edmodo, blogs, Twitter, Padlet, and just about any other means, to make as many global connections as possible. Kudos to tireless Wisconsin educator Pernille Ripp, who organized the project! 

November

students working on projects for global read aloud day

During the month-long international literacy initiative, known as Picture Book Month, students of all levels evaluate and share their favorite picture books. They connect with authors and illustrators through Skype, Google Hangout, Twitter—even snail mail! The observance also gives educators around the world an opportunity to share their favorite books with students.

January and February

A few weeks before the American Library Association announces the winner of the year’s prestigious Caldecott Medal, which goes to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children, fourth and fifth graders at Orchard School participate in a mock Caldecott unit. Working in collaborative teams, students evaluate about 24 books that have been preselected through favorable reviews. First, they review Caldecott Medal criteria (in a version that is written in student-friendly language). Next, students post their thoughts in blogs, Padlets, Flipgrid videos, and Twitter. Students are always excited to read Twitter replies from authors and illustrators! At the end of the unit, classes select their Caldecot Medal winner, and then share their choices via Skype visits, tweets and blog posts.

February and March

students celebrating World Read Aloud Day

World Read Aloud Day, held in February, involves millions of people in more than 100 countries. At Orchard School, all of our 22 classes visit with authors and schools around the world. Students share books, which inspires them to learn about other cultures. And of course we participate in NEA’s Read Across America, the nationwide reading celebration that happens on or near March 2, the birth date of Dr, Seuss. The event calls on every child in every community to celebrate the magic of reading!

April

The month that is known for rain showers also brings Poem in Your Pocket Day—a time when poetry lovers are encouraged to carry a favorite work throughout their day and share it with someone else. At Orchard School, the observation is vitual, with students sharing happens virtually, with students sharing poems—some that they’ve written themselves. 

Year-Round

Skype in the Classroom is a great resource for speakers, virtual field trips, collaborative lessons, Mystery Skype, and more. Also, check out educator Shannon McClintock Miller’s Google Sheet listing teachers who may make connections with others.

Edcommunities Groups

Collaborate with educators on this topic in the groups below.

AU EC Reading

Illinois Education Matters
Illinois Education Matters is a network for all practitioners in education - IEA members and non-members. This effort is designed to serve as a repository for professional development, tools, resources, and information on grants, conferences / workshops, etc. Imagine this as your one stop for all connections. If you have joined our group, please message me - letting me know that you joined. I do not get any information telling me you joined. Our membership is so large, it takes me forever to go through and see our new members. Thanks for your help. You can also join other active groups on edCommunities. Several IEA members are facilitators for edCommunities. Check out and join their groups, if interested. Mary Ann Rivera - Illinois ESPs Greg Hobbs - Illinois Education Matters IEA Jillian Huber - Integrating Reading and Writing 9th-12th Jim Grimes - Higher Education Amy Kappele - Early Childhood Development & Education

Secondary Literacy
Do you want to inspire your students to think critically, to analyze works, and to use their imaginations on a daily basis? Do you want to explore ways you can integrate reading into writing curricula and writing into reading curricula in your high school classroom? Join us at the Integrating Reading and Writing 9th-12th group to share, explore, and discuss ways for teachers of all content areas to link these two important life skills together in order to help students get the most out of themselves every day.

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