This year has required us to do things a bit differently, to say the least. Planning for World Read Aloud Day was no exception. This event has always been about allowing my students to gain a larger view of the world. In the past, we have been able to connect with other classes across the country. Our schedule this year would not allow me to do this in the usual way. Yet, I still felt like it was important to make connections to others.
So I decided to reach out to another librarian, Amanda McCoy, with an idea. Amanda and I have connected previously for World Read Aloud Day and follow each other on Twitter. Although we have never actually met I believe us to be like-minded in how we approach our school libraries.
I sent her an e-mail asking if she would be interested in trying out a project with third-grade students. She was brave enough to give it a try!
For World Read Aloud Day (and beyond), we want to expand our students’ understanding of the world outside the walls of our school building. The goal is to connect with others who live elsewhere. Amanda is located in Kansas and I am in Michigan. Our thought was that students could celebrate their differences while connecting to things that make them the same.
The students were asked to reflect on a book they would recommend to others, a place they like to read, and share a question that they would want to be answered. They shared their thoughts using Flipgird. They did all of this while applying the digital citizenship skills they had been learning about.
This was done during my fixed library classes, which are thirty minutes long. It took three library classes to complete.
Lesson 1: We shared the book How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander.
- The poem used in this book was written for World Read Aloud Day in 2010 but was not used for the event. Eventually, it was turned into this amazing book with the illustrations done by Melissa Sweet. Whenever I read this book it always gets kids talking about where and what they like to read. So it was a great introduction to this project.
- After reading the book the students wrote a script to identify a place they like to read, a book they would recommend to a new friend, and they ended with a question they hoped could be answered. We talked about what types of questions would be appropriate to ask and which would not.
- They saved this script for use during the next class.
- Students recorded what they had written on their script using Flipgrid.
- While they recorded they practiced using their digital citizenship skills.
- Additionally, we looked at Google Maps to see where their school was located. We talked about how long it took us to travel to their school and looked at the surrounding area and compared it to our own.
- We watched each other’s videos.
- Then commented on what they had shared and answered each other’s questions.
- Students made sure to share using their digital citizenship skills focusing on commenting in a positive way.
This year third graders have been talking a lot about digital citizenship. This project was a great opportunity to put some of the skills they learned into action. For digital citizenship for video creation, we teach four things: be safe, be positive, create a quality video, and respect others while they record. We use the images below to help students remember these concepts.
Fligrid Set Up
When we set up Flipgrid we had one grid with two topics. One of the topics was called Kansas Friends Share and the other was Michigan Friends Share. Amanda’s students shared in the Kansas grid and mine shared in the Michigan grid. Then the students commented on the opposite topic. We both had access to the grid so we could monitor the students’ videos and comments.
My school has a policy that says students cannot share their names with their faces on a web-based platform so we used our initials when saving our Flipgrid videos and connected this to the digital citizenship concept of being safe.
Tips, Tricks, and Takeaways
- This project went well! The kids enjoyed connecting and learning about kids in another part of the country. They loved that their new friends from Kansas asked them about their school uniforms, if we get snow, or if they have ever been swimming in a lake. These are all things that my students take for granted so it led to great conversations.
- One of the big things that Amanda and I needed to work out was the timing so that her students and my students would have their videos posted before the other set of students needed to view them.
- If I were to try this again I think I would show students where on the map the partner school was located as part of the introduction lesson. I think this would help them develop different types of questions.
- When students wrote their script, we had them fill out a form to help them focus and make sure they were able to share easily. Amanda then connected with another librarian, Wendy Garland, to do this project with another group of students. Wendy turned this script into a Google Slide that students could edit digitally. She has given me permission to share it with you!
Do you have any new ways of connecting? I would love to hear about them!
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).