Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Global Read Aloud: A High School Perspective

The following is a guest blog post from high school teacher, Ms. Beccy Ardiel.  Beccy tried out the Global Read Aloud with some of her high school ELA students this year.  Read below for her thoughts on GRA in the high school classroom!

Beccy's Reflection on Planning and Preparing
Global Read Aloud was a program I had never heard of but was excited to try out!  I couldn't decide which class to work with, so I decided to have my grade 9 Reading is Thinking class read A Long Walk to Water and my grade 11 ELA class read A Monster Calls. I was a bit hesitant on how to start, so I began by seeking out people to collaborate with on Edmodo. Finding people was easy - finding teachers who had classes at the same time as my two classes was not as easy! We began discussing ideas for collaborative activities and came up with some letter writing ideas, as well as posting to Padlet and Flipgrid - two apps I had never heard about before, but I am now very knowledgeable! Shortly before the program was to begin, we received a lengthy compilation of resources that had been created for each of our novels. This document was amazing! I sifted through, found things that worked for my classes or things that I could use/change to suit my learners and with that, we began GRA!

Global Read Aloud - Connecting and Learning
My grade 9 students were much more into collaboration and we made a video about our community/school/class. These students created a padlet post about themselves and we watched Flipgrid videos, and even made our own, as a way to connect with our penpals in New Jersey. We never did arrange a Skype, but that is ok. Once the program began, I realized that you can do as much as you want or focus on a few small scale tasks, in terms of collaboration, and you are still able to participate on a global scale. We had Mrs. Obach come in to help us navigate the Twitter page better and this was a good spring board for what we made our routine - posting to Twitter after we completed our weekly reading sections. A personal high point was having the author of the novel like a couple of our tweets!

My grade 11 students were less interested in the face-to-face collaboration. We created introductory padlets and invited other students in my collaborative partner's schools to join. It was neat to learn and read about fellow students all over the world. When it came to discussing their thoughts and feelings about the text, my students were more interested in posting to Twitter than any other suggested method. We commented on other classes tweets and initiated some conversations/lesson ideas with our own and this in itself was pretty fascinating! A few of our tweets sparked discussion with other educators and this feedback really was unlike anything the students have experienced - people outside of our buidling were giving them powerful feedback about their ideas and interpretations and it was an awesome to deliver this message to them!

Looking Ahead
I am curious to find out what texts will be a part of this program next year! I would also love to have the chance create the Twitter questions at some point in the future! If I was to do it all over again, I might suggest doing it with one class as it did take a lot of time to prepare for two separate texts. That being said, I enjoyed both texts so much that I don't think I could have picked one over the other, so I'll have to see what next year brings!

Thanks to Mrs. Obach for opening my eyes to such a worthwhile and engaging learning experience - for both myself and for my students!

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