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?”

Day 55 – Learning About Authors Using QR Codes

In the library media center, the numbers we used to focus on were ones like 551.5 or 796.32 – the Dewey Decimal System numbers! Today we’re thinking a bit more outside the box! During the fall of 2014 we focused on these numbers: 1 goal; 2 grades; 3 months; 4 C’s; 5 W’s and a partridge in a pear tree. OK…no partridge, but QR codes and authors in the LRES LMC!

lrescollage2At Lantern Road Elementary School I have one goal for my students when they come to the library each week – learn something new! It might be a new story, a new fact or how to use a new piece of technology. Two grades, third and fourth grades, collaborated on a special project this fall to help students quickly reach that goal. It took us the better part of three months, but our goal was reached! We incorporated the four C’s, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, to introduce 560+ students and parents to some of our favorite authors and their websites. Once they were able to visit author websites via the iPad and QR codes, students were able to gain knowledge of the five W’s – who, what, when, where, and why!

lrescollageBenjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” I wanted the students to learn about authors and QR codes so they created and used them. Knowing very little about QR codes (Quick Response codes) myself, in August I took an online webinar through about QR codes and differentiating instruction using them. That’s all it took – I was excited to create with my students. In September the third grade students learned how to create QR codes using They created signs for the library media center that included an author’s name, a picture of the author, and a QR code linked to the author’s website. During October, fourth grade students used iPads and the QR Reader app to go on a scavenger hunt to find interesting information about authors and their books. Hopefully now when parents come in on our Family Reading Nights, they can use their devices to scan the signs for information also!

The numbers certainly add up to learning at Lantern Road Elementary School!!

-Submitted by Lori Silbert, Library Media Specialist, Lantern Road Elementary School