The Diversity Committee at Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate & Junior High recently led their entire community (teachers & students in grades 5-8) through a common book study that became a powerful perspective-taking experience for all. A big thanks to Media Specialist JoyAnn Boudreau for sharing their story!
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, a Global Read Aloud selection for 2017, was chosen for our book study. It was the perfect fit for our students, as it is accessible to all four of our 5-8 grade levels. A Long Walk to Water would provide a forum through which to address our Diversity Committee goals of global thinking/awareness and empathy-building. The book also lended itself to other HSE21 learning goals such as collaboration and inquiry.
We wanted the whole school to be on board! Our Diversity team leader worked persistently to figure out a way to make this work! Global Read Aloud officially kicked off October 2. When students came to the library, they got the chance to collaborate and work with others around the globe, activities encouraged by the Global Read Aloud. Students participated in global Flipgrid boards, Twitter chats, and global Padlet boards. They asked and answered questions of other students from around the world and shared information. They took virtual reality field trips to refugee homes and camps. They used water calculators to see how much water they were using and considered how they might use less!
Though the ‘official’ Global Read Aloud wrapped up on November 10th, HIJH’s journey isn’t nearly over. We’re still developing next steps, exploring options for a water walk and for a fundraiser to help build a water well in Africa. Students are passionate; they want to help and make a difference. A few students have already begun bracelet sales to raise funds to go towards a water well. They told us, “This book raised our global awareness, and now we’re trying to raise money for a well.”
By reading in community — a few chapters each week from the right book — and with teacher support, students’ eyes are a little more open to the world around them than they were before.
Here are a few other favorite quotes from student responses:
- “It’s fun to have the whole school reading the same book and everyone in the same chapters.”
- “I have enjoyed so far in the book that all the characters have something different about them.”
- “People take many things for granted, but we take our everyday needs for granted the most.”
- “Do you have any books like A Long Walk to Water in the library?”