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    Sharing Books Across Miles: The Global Read Aloud Project

    By Terry Atkinson
     | Jul 21, 2017

    Global Read Aloud Some of Erin Kessel's fourth graders have never left their rural North Carolina hometown, or even ventured to the nearest beach just an hour-and-a-half away. This fact is a major motivator for their participation in the Global Read Aloud (GRA), which allows “Kessel’s Crew” to connect virtually with students in faraway classrooms to read and share their ideas about the very same book. Conceived by seventh-grade teacher, author, and blogger Pernille Ripp, the Global Read Aloud has grown from its 2010 start with 150 students to among more than one million K-12 readers in 2017. In her September 2015 ILA chat, Ripp discussed the project’s beginnings and its continuing evolution.

    Erin, a four-year GRA veteran, has connected her students with classrooms in three Canadian provinces and in Sunbury, Victoria, Australia to share their ideas about Marty McGuire, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Fish in a Tree, and The BFG. She and her students will join Global Read Aloud 2017 this October. After selecting a book study that's best suited for her students, Erin will connect with another teacher with similar interests through GRA’s Edmodo network. Together, they will decide how and through what venues their students will communicate. 

    As a tech innovator in her school, Erin’s early GRA interest was linked with a grant-funded 1:1 Chromebook project meant to integrate global awareness, digital literacy, and technology within her literacy block. However, one of GRA's strongest assets is that teachers can employ whatever tech tools fit their comfort levels. In fact, her maiden voyage relied only on Edmodo, Skype, and “old school snail mail” to deliver a North Carolina-style care package to their classroom partners.

    Erin and her students report huge payoffs from connecting with classrooms across the world, echoing benefits documented by expert sources such as the Center for Global Education. In addition to learning about tech apps and programs from other teachers, Erin signed on to GRA with the main goal of opening doors to the world for her rural students. “I want to ensure my students have an open mind about all people in our world and not just a stereotype based on what they see on TV or hear on the news. Allowing students to actively communicate and even see students from around the world and realize the commonalities that they share allows my students to create their own opinions of other's cultures and allows them to realize that although we may be different in some ways, we are all humans with the same purposes in life.”

     Autumn, a student who had not traveled outside of her hometown, said “The kids we talk to have the same interests as me…they even like Barbies and play video games! I thought since they spoke another language that they didn't do the same things as us.”

    As these examples illustrate, using literature to forge connections across cultures has huge potential to promote empathy and unity, foster cross-cultural friendships, and help students gain greater understandings about the global community by looking more critically at the world.

    Ready to take the leap? Erin encourages other literacy teachers by sharing her experiences and mentoring teachers who are new to GRA. Her first-time suggestions include:

    • Setting attainable tech expectations
    • Trying GRA with a small group of students before launching with the whole class
    • Partnering with another grade-level classroom in your own school
    • Being mindful of international time zones if you wish to connect live with international classroom partners
    • Collaborating with only one class partner (GRA allows collaboration with multiple classrooms reading the same book)
    • Considering the demands of adhering to the six-week timeline involved

    terry atkinson headshotTerry S. Atkinson is an associate professor in the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, and History Education at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.

     This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-
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    Digital Citizenship Among Students: It Takes a Village

    Kip Glazer
     | Jul 19, 2017
    Digital Citizenship

    As a mother, teacher, and administrator in charge of student discipline and safety, I cannot emphasize enough about the importance of digital citizenship among young people. I already wrote a post about the importance of personal branding. I wrote another post about the digital natives myth. This time, in light of the Harvard’s recent decision to rescind admissions offers to 10 freshmen, I want to talk about what adults can do to protect children from themselves.

    It surprises me that so many parents I work with tell me that they have no idea what social media accounts their children have. Having been a high school teacher for over a decade, I have seen so many of my students post and share inappropriate things online. Many of them have told me that their parents had no idea.

    I recommend that the parents learn what type of social media tools their children use. Just as you would want to know who your children’s friends are if they were to physically visit your home, you would want to know who your children are communicating with in the cyber space. Consider the case of Conrad Roy III (an 18-year-old who committed suicide after receiving texts from his girlfriend urging him to do so) and Michelle Carter (the girlfriend who sent the offending texts and is now convicted of involuntary manslaughter).This tragedy demonstrates the destructive power of words, as well as the need for parents and educators to maintain an open dialogue with young people about their digital presence.  

    I also encourage parents to teach their children what to post and what not to post. For example, I taught my children that they shouldn’t post anything online unless they are okay with it being on the homepage of Yahoo, Bing, or CNN. I ask them to consider whether the post promotes a positive and professional self-image. We talked about how every post contributes to a narrative of their own creation.

    Finally, I ask the parents to have a serious conversation about online humor. I taught my children that the humor doesn’t quite translate as easily on Twitter or Facebook as it does in-person. I showed them how I could take a screenshot of something they posted and forward something to another person. I talked about the possibility of someone starting an online conversation without them while using their own words against them. I asked them how defenseless they would feel if what they thought was funny was misinterpreted and misconstrued by others. I told my children over and over again that the freedom of speech doesn’t guarantee the freedom from consequence.

    So what can teachers and administrators do? First of all, we can educate ourselves better. We need to make sure we are setting good examples when using social media accounts. We can also educate parents about the importance of digital citizenship and social media literacy. I know of several districts that hold parent education nights on such topics, which is a great way for schools to partner with the community to keep our students safe. We can encourage all parents to establish common sense rules in their homes when it comes to digital device use. Finally, we can continue to help our students to take control over their personal digital brand

    Kip GlazerKip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. She holds California Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Social Studies, English, Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. In 2014, she was named the Kern County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate of education in learning technologies at Pepperdine University in October 2015. She has presented and keynoted at many state and national conferences on game-based learning and educational technologies. She has also consulted for Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning and the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge Program. Her Purposeful Tech column looks at how classroom teachers can think critically about today's instructional technologies.

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    Film Shorts: A Storied Approach to Literacy Development

    By Mary Moen
     | Jul 14, 2017

    Film and LiteracyTake film to the next level in your classroom by moving your students beyond comprehension through active viewing, to critical thinking through discussion. Thanks to digital technology, there is a stock of creative independent film shorts from all over the world that can be used support students’ development of multiliteracies.

    The resources and examples in this article will provide teachers with turnkey lessons on how to use film shorts as short stories for students to analyze, and discuss. These resources, along with tips on how to use video effectively in the classroom from Common Sense Education, will give you the tools you need to adopt this new approach with confidence.

    I learned about the world of children’s independent film through my work on the Media Smart Libraries grant, an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded project awarded to the Library School at the University of Rhode Island. The mission of the Providence Children’s Film Festival,  a partner on the grant, is to bring the community together to watch, learn about, and discuss independent and international cinema.  A great resource is the PCFF FilmHub, which includes a directory of films that can searched and filtered by subject area, film type, and age group. PCFF provides film discussion guides for specific films, as well as a generic guide that can be adapted to any film. The film guides give background information about the content and techniques, sample discussion questions, suggested follow-up activities, and lists of book tie-ins.

    One film I have used in class is Just Breathe, a documentary about kindergarteners learning how to control their anger. The film guide helps students analyze the film through discussion about the narrative, characters, and setting. Students also learn how film techniques such as close-ups and sound are used to create a message that has an emotional and physical impact on viewers.

    Another popular choice is PESfilm, a creator of stop motion animation films. Western Spaghetti is an entertaining way to get students thinking about story line sequencing and procedural writing as well as inference and symbolism. Fresh Guacamole, an Oscar-nominated short, and Human Skateboard, a 30-second commercial, will amaze and inspire your students to create their own stop motion films.

    Autumn Leaves is a story about an Iranian girl who stops to play with a leaf while setting off to school. The film warrants several close viewings to give students time to identify details from the text that support their interpretation. This is a great way to introduce or reinforce argument writing skills.

    Suzanne Jordan, an elementary school librarian, took film discussion a step further. She was inspired to develop the Francis School Fifth Grade Film Festival to give her students the opportunity to be film critics. She had minimal film background and will vouch that the PCFF FilmHub resources gave her the materials she needed to get started. 

    Not all of the films in the PCFF Film Directory are available for free. One solution is to work with school and public librarians to build independent short film collections that support the development of literacy competencies. Another option is to find free educational films on sites such as Global Project Oneness. Help your students actively develop their literacy skills by using film shorts in the classroom. “Enjoy the show” will take on a whole new meaning!

    Mary Moen

    Mary Moen is an assistant professor and coordinator of the School Library Media Program at the Graduate School of Library Information Studies at the University of Rhode Island.

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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    Ensuring Continuous and Ongoing Professional Development for Successful Technology Integration in Latin American Schools

    By M. Carolina Orgnero
     | Jun 30, 2017

    PD Latin AmericaI am a teacher educator and trainer in Argentina—one of the many Latin American countries where students are receiving laptops through the Conectar Igualdad (Connect Equality) program. According to a recent report, “Strategic Approaches on ICT in Education in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the program is working to bridge Latin America’s digital gap by increasing access to digital devices and providing training around these tools.

    Yet, sometimes this isn’t enough. Addressing the digital gap also requires the development of essential, 21st-century digital skills. When schools are not seeing results from the Conectar Igualdad program, I recommend the following three professional development practices:

    • Familiarize educators with important concepts. Technological changes in school settings are sometimes slow to gain traction. Consider Creative Commons; although it was founded in 2001, the resource didn’t become popular until nearly a decade later. Fast forward to almost two decades later, and most inservice teachers in Latin America are still not familiar with Creative Commons. Many teachers still operate under the notion that whatever is on the Internet can be freely used, as they did not learn about licensing concepts during teacher training. Helping all teachers to understand these important concepts is the first step in supporting their ability to model responsible digital citizenship for their students.
    • Increase purposeful uses of technology. There are no recipes or quick fixes to integrate technology in education; different strategies work in different settings. Sometimes educators attend training in search of the latest apps they can use in the classroom. As a trainer, I recommend first looking for pedagogical models, such as Ruben P. Puentedura’s Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) model, that guide teachers in designing, developing, and implementing digital learning experiences.
    • Encourage teacher networking and collaboration. Today, it is almost impossible to keep up with the pace of digital changes in education without connecting with other teachers. Those who are more familiar with online resources can help and encourage others to subscribe to blogs (such as Langwitches) or to join professional networks (such as ILA’s Special Interest Groups) to regularly exchange tips, resources, and information about promising practices.

    To sum up, continuous and timely professional development has always been considered a necessity. The value of high-quality professional learning experiences goes far beyond earning credits. The vast changes in technology demand that we make professional development for teachers a priority to ensure that all learners are prepared for success in their digital worlds.

    Carolina Orgnero

    M. Carolina Orgnero is a professor at the Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto and Instituto Juan Zorrilla de San Martín, and is the technology coordinator at Facultad de Lenguas at Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. 

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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    Too Much Screen Time? Develop a Summer Family Media Plan

    By Joan Rhodes
     | Jun 23, 2017

    Family Media PlanU.S. schools are out for summer! It’s summer time and the living is easy! Or is it? 

    Perhaps you have encountered the same challenge: From the moment our grandchildren wake up in the morning, they are clamoring for digital devices. From Peppa Pig to hours of texting and constant “selfies” during family vacations, children are using technology and social media more than ever.

    The Pew Research Center reports that 86% of 18–29-year-olds use social media, which is probably no surprise to most parents and educators. Another recent national survey by the Erikson Institute reports that 85% of parents allow their children under 6 years old to use technology at home. Television, tablets, smartphones, and computers are now part of the typical early childhood experience.

    A joint position statement issued by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College notes there is conflicting evidence related to the impact of technology on child development. Research indicates a strong relationship between passive media use and childhood obesity, delayed language development, behavioral issues, and irregular sleep patterns. However, research also suggests that digital resources, when designed to incorporate best practices for reading instruction, can be positive learning tools. So how do parents and educators proactively manage their children’s media and technology consumption?

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of their interactive Family Media Use Plan tool, which takes a step-by-step approach to creating a personalized media use plan for families. Users are asked to consider each family member’s individual needs as they work through questions related to screen-free zones and times, device curfews, digital citizenship topics, and more. Once a plan is completed, it can be printed and shared.

    The Media Time Calculator provides information on how much time each person spends on daily activities such as eating, exercise, sleep, and media use. While the tool is designed specifically for families, educators will find that working through the questions will help them address media use during the school day.

    After giving the Family Media Use Plan tool a personal test-run, I have made some changes in how our family uses media with our grandchildren. We have a media curfew at meals and are making sure to balance media time with outdoor and other physical activities. These efforts are helping to make our summer a time to “live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air” (as suggested by Ralph Waldo Emerson), with maybe a little dose of Peppa Pig!

    Joan RhodesJoan Rhodes is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning at Virginia Commonwealth University.


    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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