Each year we looking forward to celebrating the joy of reading aloud during LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day. This year’s official date was February 16, but we celebrated the entire week.
It takes a lot of organization to pull off a week full of Skypes and Google Hangouts. Planning began back in December. Shannon Miller and I created a Google doc where people could share their World Read Aloud schedules. Kate Messner also did a great blog post with a list of authors willing to do Skypes during the week.
I got my teachers to sign up for slots, and then I started looking for connections on the Google doc. Other librarians also signed up on my schedule. Once all of the slots were full, our connecting authors and schools started communicating to decide which books to read. I made a separate spreadsheet for myself to keep times, books, Skype names, and email addresses organized.
Of course, weather and illness was a factor and caused a few cancellations during the week. Even with some cancellations, we still had a full week of connections.
We also experienced many technical difficulties with our internet filter and I had to communicate with our technology director on a daily basis to make sure that Skype and Google Hangouts was not being blocked by the filter. A growth mindset and perseverance really helped push through the issues.
Over the course of the week, we connected with schools in Georgia, Washington state, Missouri, Vermont, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, Kansas, Texas, and Illinois. We also connected with authors Dee Garretson (Boxcar Children), Hannah Barnaby (Bad Guy), Paul Fleischman (Seedfolks & Joyful Noise), and Jason Chin (Gravity & Grand Canyon).
The week was filled with many special moments. Students were able to ask one another questions about their lives and make connections to students in another location. Each connection helps us realize we are all part of the same world and have more in common than we realize.
We wove in a lot of map skills my looking at Google maps to see distances from Athens, Georgia to our connecting schools. Students were able to talk directly with authors and ask them questions about the writing process.
Authors like Paul Fleischman turned around and open his filing cabinets to show us the original version of poems like Whirligig Beetles. We had fun performing stories with students in two schools and hearing special songs performed by PreK students.
We were entertained by middle school students reading Ballet Cat and chanting out the text of Yo! Yes! with students in Seattle. We also got to connect with Caitlin Ramseyer who was a teacher at our school last year and moved to Maryland. It was fun to reconnect with her and her Kindergarten students.
If you’ve never tried Skype or Google connections, I highly encourage you to do it. These events lead you to collaborative partners around the world and help our students step outside the bubble of their everyday lives.