Join Global Read Aloud

 Pernille-Ripp-120By Pernille Ripp

It’s not every day that we have a brilliant idea. In fact, I think I have had fewer than 10 in my many years of life and even then I may be stretching the truth a bit. Marrying my husband, respecting my mother, getting on Twitter, and yes, creating the Global Read Aloud.

Global Read Aloud is one of those ideas that is so simple and yet it continues to morph and grow year after year, providing children across the world with a chance to connect through the very act of listening to a brilliant story read aloud.

It also creates an opportunity for teachers to join a global network of fellow educators they can feel comfortable working with for the rest of the year. Best of all, GRA offers an authentic and integrated way for students to experience the power of technology and what it means to share life experiences and create memories together with new friends in distant places. The 2013 GRA dates are September 30 to November 8.

How it all began

I started the project several years ago, after listening to NPR and their tale of the One Book, One Twitter Book Club happening in the summer of 2010. As my husband and I listened to the radio, I wondered aloud why something like that did not exist for children. He suggested I might create it. So I did.

gra_200I wasn’t sure what would be needed to establish a global book club using technology to bridge the distance between our students. So I just tweeted out the idea and wondered aloud whether anyone might be up for such an undertaking. The response was immediate; strangers loved the concept and they wanted to sign up right then and there.

I knew little about networking on a global scale, but I plunged blindly into it, forging a path, and creating whatever we needed to collaborate along the way. That first year we had 300 students across the world all engage with “The Little Prince” and connect in some way. We used Skype, Twitter, Edmodo, KidBlog, and our Global Read Aloud wiki to share our thoughts, our inquiries, and our predictions as the tale unfolded before us. Too quickly The 4 weeks of reading and engaging flew by too quickly! We all knew that we had created something magical, something that needed to be repeated the following year.

And so it was. In the second year, more than 8,000 students shared and connected through two books. In the third year, nearly 30,000 students took part. Global Read Aloud grew by digital “word of mouth,” fueled by everyone’s enthusiasm and passion to make this a memorable experience, not just another reading assignment.

GRA Today

Every year the project reshapes itself to fit the need of its participants. But every year is still about connecting with as many people as you want and sharing your students’ thoughts with the world. Every year you make it your own while being supported by a large international community of passionate readers.

This year, as I write this, we have added a third book, one to reach upper middle school and high school (read about the 2013 books here). I hope that the upper level kids will have a chance to enjoy the art of the read-aloud, that their teachers will take the time required to discover the pleasure of reading aloud to older students who may have forgotten what it feels like to be transported to someone else’s world through a great book.

How to participate in Global Read Aloud

Younger readers - 2013

The project is still simple; sign up here and figure out which book you would like to read. There is no age limit on any of them. Then create an Edmodo account to start connecting with teachers now (it really helps to figure out how you want to connect before the actual kick off of the project). Then wait for September 30th, when you will begin reading to your students. (You can explore the archives of past years at the wiki – look in the left margin. More questions? See the FAQs at the GRA website.)

A calendar will be posted so that you know which pages to read. Students can share their thoughts inside the Edmodo web space (about Edmodo) or on our Wiki or wherever else thoughts can be made public. And the teacher? Your job is to facilitate the connections and read the book aloud to your own class in the style best suited to your voice and personality.

out-of-my-mind-cvrThey say that memorable experiences from our childhood weave through our later lives and allow us to go back to a time we otherwise may have forgotten. The Global Read Aloud is meant to be a way for students to create memories of global connections, to understand that world is much smaller than it seems, and to see that children everywhere are — in the most important ways — just like them.

I believe that global collaboration projects like this can help inspire children to change the world by seeing the possibilities for interaction with those in other places, and by discovering common interests and shared values. Read the book — show them how to connect — and I promise the children and the story will do the rest.

Won’t you join us?

Pernille Ripp is a 5th grade teacher in Middleton, Wisconsin, co-founder of EdCamp MadWI and creator of the Global Read Aloud Project. Follow her at Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension and on Twitter @pernilleripp. Her first book, The Passionate Learner: Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students, will be published in April 2014 by Powerful Learning Press.

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