Last week the grade 1 and 2 class from Busby School flew to Saskatoon.
Ok, the class didn’t actually fly to Saskatoon, but they did simulate a trip to Saskatoon as part of a Social Studies unit in their combined grade 1 and 2 class.
As the students came in from recess, they were each handed a boarding pass. They checked in at the gate (Mrs. H. was sitting at a table outside the classroom), and then they boarded the plane (the classroom had been set up to look like the rows inside an airplane). Once everyone was seated, they watched a safety demo on the SMART board and then they watched a video, shot from the cockpit of an aircraft, as they taxied down the run way and took off.
Once the video showed that the aircraft had reach cruising altitude, Mrs. Felske turned off the SMART board and the students enjoyed a snack onboard the aircraft. As they ate, they discussed the things they already knew about Saskatoon and what they might learn about the city’s geography, history, people, and businesses once they arrived.
In preparation for their trip, the class had researched information on the climate and current weather conditions in Saskatoon. They had also located Saskatoon on the map and discussed different modes of transportation that they could use to get there. They had created a list of things they would need to pack for their trip, and they had learned a bit about some of the attractions and sites that they might be able to see once they arrived.
When their snacks were done, they returned their seatbacks and tray tables to the upright position and prepared to land in Saskatoon. The SMART board came back on and the students watched another video, shot from the cockpit of a plane, showing their decent into the city. Upon arrival, the students exited the aircraft and made their way to a special classroom (their own room now reorganized to included work tables) where they will be spending the next few weeks learning all about the city they are visiting. While they are away, they will be sending letters and postcards back home telling their friends and family all about their experiences and the things they are learning. It sounds like such an exciting adventure.
The grade 1 and 2 class in Fort Assiniboine is also set to make a trip to Saskatoon this year. And I hear that both classes will visit Iqaluit and the community of Meteghan in Nova Scotia early on in 2016 as well. I look forward to reading the letters and postcards they write and hearing about all the amazing things they learn!
I heard of the Global Read Aloud a few years ago and thought that would be a great tool to connect my class with others around the world. The idea was simple choose one of the books to read aloud to your class and connect with others around the world who chose to read the same book. Pernille Ripp the creator of the Global Read Aloud picks new books each year. She sets a start date and schedule of readings to keep everyone together but if you fall behind that's ok too.
Since I have been out of the classroom the last few years, I have not have the opportunity to do the Global Read Aloud with a class of my own. This year, I sent out some information on the project to see if anyone was interested. Noreen Holt at RF Staples responded and shortly after she reached out to Mary Kaliel at Pembina North Community School and she joined in as well. Noreen decided to jump in and participate with her grade 8 and 9 classes, 3 classes in total. Mary decided to join in with her one grade 8 class. The grade 8’s read Fish by L.S. Matthews, and the grade 9’s read Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass by Meg Medina. It was a huge learning curve for both teachers as not only was the Global Read Aloud new to them, there were several technology tools they decided to use that were new to them too. They used Edublogs, Twitter and Skype to connect with each other, as well as other classes, teachers, students and even the authors.
Noreen used Edmodo and email to find some international connections for her class but in the end her best connection was the one she made with Mary’s grade 8 class. We used Skype to do Mystery Skypes between classes as an icebreaker activity . Mystery Skype is a game of strategic questioning to figure out where the other class is located.
Twitter was used to follow the slow chat happening each week. The slowchat was where a question or two per week were posted by a class that signed up to moderate that week’s chat. Our students followed the hashtags for the week and then tweeted out answers to the questions that were posted.
Through the project students learned:
-reading comprehension strategies and writing skills
-to give positive feedback that moves the conversation forward
-digital citizenship skills (citing images sources, creating a positive digital footprint, etc.)
-the value of making connections with classes outside of their own schools
In the end, I think Noreen, Mary and their students learned a lot through this experience but just to make sure I asked these teachers to respond to a few questions for me. Here are their responses:
What were the benefits of participating in the Global Read Aloud for you and your students?
The students were forced to think “outside their box” when they read comments and blogs from other schools. They also were very aware of their audience and always made sure that their writing said what they had intended. ~Mary
The biggest benefit was the larger audience for their thinking. In all of my classes, the author of the book visited their blogs, read a few, and commented. Additionally, they had partner classes in the United States, and the grade eights also partnered with the grade eights in Pembina North. They Skyped with their partner classes and also read their blog posts and responded. I think the authentic audience was one of the reasons my students were so engaged.
The books are about issues relevant to the students right now. It was easy to connect to both books.
For me the biggest benefit was my learning. Blogging will be a part of my class forevermore. I enjoyed learning how to Skype class to class, and I will definitely do that again as well. ~Noreen
Were there any drawbacks to participating in the Global Read Aloud?
It wasn’t always easy to stick to the schedule. We had to be very aware of the schedule and had to fit the reading in when we had many other things happening. Your time is not your own. You don’t want to read too far ahead, but you also don’t want your kids to read any spoilers in the other blogs. ~Mary
The only drawback for me was the timing. Because I hadn’t known about the GRA in September, I had started class novels already. It was tough to keep to the GRA schedule while finishing the class novels. ~Noreen
Any advice for those thinking about participating in the Global Read Aloud next year?
Next year, I would have the books read much further in advance. I would definitely do this again. ~Mary
Do it! I learned so much about Skyping and blogging. ~Noreen
Minecraft in the Classroom Teaches Reading and More
This is an excellent introduction to a wide variety of possibilities of using Minecraft in the classroom.
Ideas for using Minecraft in the classroom (Edutopia article)
Details about how learning to use Minecraft can help students develop useful learning skills can be found on this site: http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Minecraft_in_education (This page may be moving...read it now.)
Did you know there are different types of Minecraft? Due to its popularity, there is an educational version, Minecraft.edu which is available at a cost http://minecraftedu.com/
Read: Why educators should use Minecraft in the classroom (.edu version) http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/benefits-minecraft-classroom-students.shtml
Some examples of student work in Minecraft
This blog and resources website has been developed through the work of various AISI coaches in PHRD. The lead collaborative teachers for the 2015/2016 school year, Cheryl Frose, Christine Quong and Tammy Tkachuk will continue to update this site. If you have resources you would like to share or would like to contribute to the blog, please contact us.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.