Wednesday, March 5, 2014

World Read Aloud Day

I got the most exciting Twitter direct message last evening. Erin Olson, who is a Technology Integrationist at Prairie Lakes AEA, had a last minute reading partner, NASA Goddard, looking for a class to Skype with. The chance for our students to Skype with NASA folks? Yes, please! While holding one phone with Erin's texts, I grabbed my other phone and started texting one of the teachers I knew I could probably still reach at school at 6:00 at night and who would be willing to go with the flow and change what was going on in her classroom even with such short notice, and Jacquie Drey said, "Yes, please!"

What a wonderful opportunity for some of our 4th grade students, both Mrs. Drey's and Ms. Fisher's. Karen Fox, a physicist and heliophysics writer, and Aries Keck, the social media team lead, not only read from their own book, Einstein A to Z, but they also answered student questions. They shared what they were personally reading with the students and told them to keep reading all kinds of different books. They told them to not be afraid to contact people in different professions or authors of books they really like, because those people really like to hear from students who are interested in the same things they are. They emphasized the importance of the network of people you connect with. You never know how they might even influence your chances at a new job someday. Then they encouraged the students to go to, to see all the wonderful resources there, including rockets taking off!

It was just a wonderful thirty minutes of sharing a love of science, reading, and learning.

Across the street at the Middle School, Caitlin Buchholtz's students Skyped with Denise Krebs, an American teacher who is now teaching kindergartener's in Bahrain. With a 14 hour time difference, Mrs. Krebs read two books to some of our 5th grade students.

Caitlin writes:

We discussed the characters' feelings & actions in the first book and talked about the lesson we could learn from the 2nd. The 2nd book was about a child's actions in Bahrain. A few students shared connections they made with the stories & also with Denise. Denise began by answering some questions we had for her. Some of them were: What languages do your students speak? What languages does she teach? What does school look like and how long is school where they are? Bahrain is a small island country by the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia, & Iran. The students were able to make great connections to her moving, language barriers, learning languages, and also the characters' situations in the story.

Thanks so much to the readers from NASA and Bahrain, to Erin Olson who made arrangements, to the teachers who participated, and especially to the students who asked such great questions. What a great experience! What a great way to show our students how much learning there is to be shared not only within the school walls but also without! Twitter was lit up with all the players involved live feeding the two events, and there were many more tweeps who passed on the good news.












  1. Sarah, thank you for being such an advocate for connected learning! I loved meeting Caitlin and her super troop of fifth graders.

    Thank you for being a leader in education in Iowa (and the world)!


  2. Thanks, Denise, for participating with us. Those involved are still talking about it! Taking part in things like World Read Aloud Day are not only learning experiences themselves, but they also show our students (and teachers) so clearly how learning at any moment is available to them if they will just avail themselves of it. Thank you! --Sarah