Perspective-Taking Through the Global Read Aloud

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! 

220px-ALongWalkToWaterA 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.

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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?”

A Night Zoo Thank You

Dear @nightzookeeper,

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-9-05-18-amWow! What energy your recent visit brought to HSE Schools! We are so thankful that you were able to stay in Indiana for eight school days – inspiring teachers and young zookeepers to imagine, wonder and create via the written word.

To students already a part of Night Zoo, your visit was a chance to meet THE Night Zookeeper himself  (yes, you are a celebrity in these parts), and to wander through the Zoo along with you. For other children, tales of the Night Zoo have sparked creativity in writing as nothing before.

Thanks to you and your team for taking your creative idea (the Night Zoo) to the next level, and then the next…so that now our students have an opportunity not only to read a book about a night zoo, but to write and publish, and to share creative ideas with students around the world! Innovative Idea + Committed Teamwork = Children’s Creativity Unleashed!


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HSE Teacher Takes Integrated STEM Lessons Abroad!

Thank you to Sand Creek Elementary 4th grade teacher Holly Miller for graciously agreeing to share her recent experiences as one of ten International STEM Fellows. The instruction that Holly shared in The People’s Republic of China is HSE21 all over! Enjoy!

IMG_2817Ten teachers were selected as the first cohort of the International STEM Fellows program. We left October 20th and flew to Beijing. While in Beijing, we toured the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, the night markets, and a private elementary school.

When then flew to Hangzhou, where we spent the week in one of 3 elementary schools. The school my group worked with was called the Primary School affiliated with the Zhejiang Institute of Education Research. Each day, we observed many classrooms–IMG_2843specifically focusing on math and science instruction. Then we would debrief with the teachers and make observations and recommendations about the lessons we had seen. Dr. Enrique Galindo–a math education professor from IU, and Jane Cooney, a math coach for Washington Township, were the other 2 in my group. The other 7 teachers observed in other elementary schools.

IMG_2742The best day was when I got to teach an integrated STEM lesson to a group of 6th graders. I had them create a 3-D house and calculate the paintable surface area. The kids loved it and the Chinese teachers did too. They said in our debrief that they were inspired and wanted to try some of the cross-curricular STEM projects in their classrooms!

IMG_2852Every night we were hosted by Directors and government officials from the Department of Education. So much food! We were treated like royalty and were considered the “American Expert Teachers.”

We ended our trip in Shanghai and returned home October 31st. It was a life-changing trip. Some much learned about culture and education and kids!

Our next steps are to write a report to the INDOE about ways to improve instruction in Indiana, which we worked on over the weekend. We also worked on a proposal for an International STEM camp for students this summer. Next year the Chinese government would like to bring 4 times as many teachers over for the STEM Fellows program! I strongly encourage teachers to take advantage of the opportunity–it was AMAZING.

Changing Lives Through Global Connections

MURCH1Brooks School Elementary connected educator Amy Murch has always been a pioneer when it comes to bringing the world to her classroom. Last year, Murch’s fourth graders participated in the Skype 50 State Challenge – racking up a total of 45 states and 5 countries! Through forums such as Skype Education and Twitter, Mrs. Murch and her students have taught Irish students about Genius Hour, celebrated creativity on International Dot Day, learned principles of flight from a NASA researcher, and written a blog post for world explorer Justin Miles. Night Zookeeper has become the class’ portal for writing enrichment; and this week, Murch’s fourth graders are gearing up for the Global Read Aloud, in which students from over sixty nations will connect through literature.

All that to say, by becoming a global connected educator herself, Mrs. Murch has developed quite an expertise in connecting her students — and is now helping other teachers learn to connect their classrooms as well. Don’t miss Amy’s new article on using Twitter in the classroom at

Then download the Murch-inspired Twitter for Educators Infographic (shown below) here:  Twitter+for+Beginners+PDF

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Day 17 – Global Learning in Elementary School? Yes!!

King Mystery Skype
Imagine taking your class to another state or country on a field trip or having your favorite children’s author participate in a read-aloud or writing lesson. Teachers at Thorpe Creek Elementary are doing just that… and so much more without even leaving the classroom.

Many classrooms at TCE have been participating in something called a Mystery Skype. During a Mystery Skype one class connects with another class around the district, state, country, or even the world. At Thorpe Creek you may find a third or fourth grade class participating in a Mystery State Skype, which allows students to use critical thinking skills to guess another class’s state or country.  You may find first or second grade students participating in a Mystery Number Skype, where they are using problem solving skills to guess a number. Kindergarten students have even gotten involved by connecting with others to learn about letters through a Mystery Letter Skype.

Gibson Mystery Skype

Many Thorpe Creek Elementary teachers connect with others in a global community at or @SkypeClassroom on Twitter.  From visits to national forests and aquariums, to connecting with other classes around the world, teachers have found that not only are students engaged and excited about these global opportunities, but they are learning so much more than we can teach from a picture in a book or a problem on a white board. 

Submitted by Tina Johnston, Teacher Development Specialist, Thorpe Creek Elementary