Sunday, October 2, 2016

First Week of the GRA

This is the first week of the Global Read Aloud. My 6th grade class is reading Pax by Sara Pennypacker and this is how we are connecting:

First, I don't have more than 20 minutes a day to devote to this read aloud. It is not replacing my Reading block. No one else from my grade level team is going to do the GRA, although there is still time for them to change their minds! I think most of the teachers who are doing the GRA are in the same situation as me. I have to keep up with teaching the regular curriculum, while trying to squeeze this project in.  I do it because I know how impactful the connections we make with other kids from around the world are for my students. I've been doing this for 5 years now, and the GRA always is one of the best things I do with my kids.  Even though I am tapped for time, I can't withhold this opportunity from them. So, I will make the time because it is important to me.

To start off this week, we are reading the book and completing this modified Hyperdoc from the PAX HD. I am planning to pass it out via Google Classroom. Then, my students will have 45 minutes in computer lab to learn about foxes, analogies, form an opinion and construct an argument about whether foxes should be kept as pets. Most kids probably won't be able to complete the whole thing in that time period (the extensions could take quite a while...).  So I am hoping to entice my students, excite them, and motivate them to complete the tasks outside of class because when they are finished, they can share their work with a global audience on their blogs.  It's all about motivation, right?

Speaking of motivation, I won't be giving a grade for the work they do for the GRA. Grades don't motivate kids anyway. I believe that the idea of sharing what they are learning and doing with others is motivation enough for students to want to complete the tasks. Kids are natural learners and when they know they have an authentic audience, they are excited to create and share their best work. The GRA provides the motivation for my students through the connections the kids make. Consequently, I've never had a problem with kids not completing the tasks I assign for the GRA. They just do them because they want to.  Why would I want to confuse that by assigning a grade?

Here is the modified Intro to Pax 3-2-1 I am using. Feel free to make your own copy if you want to use it with your class. You may need to change some of the collaborative links that are specific to my class, but I hope you find it helpful!

PAX 3-2-1 Hyperdoc Edited by Mrs. Diaz

Ways I Am Connecting for the GRA

I am connecting in a variety of ways. 
  • Kidblog - the students have their own blogs. We will be posting HERE at least once a week. Some students may post more often. If you would like to connect with us via blogs, please do so! If your students have blogs, we would love to add you to our connections.
  • Edmodo - I have a closed student group for Edmodo. I created it for 5 teachers whom I connected with on Twitter and/or Edmodo. Our classes joined and will be able to chat with each other there. Although we are not looking to add more kids to this group, anyone can start their own group and invite other teachers. This is a simple way to connect and moderate chatting about the book with select classes. My class will post on Edmodo as one of the activities on our PAX 3-2-1 Hyperdoc.
  • Twitter - I hope to have my students tweet at some point although I am not 100% sure how yet. Our twitter handle is @mrsdiazclass if you want to follow us. We will use the hashtag #GRAPax.
  • Skype and Google Hangout - I am planning to do a few of these during the GRA. If you would like to find someone to do this with, I suggest using Twitter to find people who would like to connect. If everyone who wants a live video connection were to use Twitter, we could find a partner class almost immediately.
  • The PAX HD - there are many embedded collaboration pieces in the activities in the PAX Hyperdoc. Anyone can view it at  Feel free to make it work for you - create a copy, and modify it for your class. You don't have to do it all -be choosy about which tasks you assign to your class. Pass out the smaller Hyperdocs (like the one above) to your class on Google Classroom. Encourage your students to click on everything to find the "hidden" gems hyperlinked to the Slide Deck/Hyperdocs.
Whatever you do, don't be overwhelmed. Be creative and try to make one connection this week to another class. If you do nothing else, read the book and view the Twitter feed with your class and look at what other people are doing. Have discussions with your students. Best of luck for an amazing first week of the GRA! 

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