GRA & Class Twitter & Reflections… Oh My!

Here’s a little bit of a different post. I am cross-posting my most recent post from my Grade 2 Classroom Blog… but I will be adding annotations and reflections throughout the post in order to document my professional learning and growth through the process of starting to participate in the Global Read Aloud & creating classroom Twitter accounts.

We have some exciting news…
We are participating in the Global Read Aloud this year! The GRA is a project where classrooms all over the world read the same book (over the same 6-week long period) and connect with other schools to amplify our learning through global connections.

As I am about to mention below, this is the first year I have participated in the Global Read Aloud. This summer, I was reaching out to my PLN on twitter about finding an age-appropriate novel for my Grade 2 class. Someone replied suggested that I look at the GRA contenders. As I searched the GRA blog and learned more about the project, I became very excited about joining in and participating this year. I ordered the book on Amazon, joined the facebook groups, and started making connections with teachers. At first, I was overwhelmed by the fact that so many teachers were making connections because it was only the beginning of August. I felt rushed to look through the posts and find other Grade 2 teachers reading the same book as me and make connections. I decided to pause and revisit the facebook group when I started work at the end of August. At that point, I found 2 new connections (one for each class) that I could focus on weekly activities with.

This is the first time I (Morah Lianna) have participated in the GRA and I cannot wait. Each class (2A and 2B) have their own connections. We met our classes last week through “Mystery Calls“. I was so impressed by the way all of our students became leaders in their jobs for the mystery call. We prepared ourselves for the call by refreshing our memories about what exactly a yes/no question is. With that, we created a list of preliminary questions that we wanted to ask to help us narrow down their location. Each student played an integral role through the video calls… We had researchers using iPads and atlases to help think of new questions as we found out more information, question askers to be on screen during the video call and ask our questions, assistants who were in charge of the communication between question askers and researchers, and of course our documenters to take pictures and document the experience.

I was excited to try a Mystery Call… but also worried that my students weren’t so prepared. We haven’t spent any time learning Geography yet, so I was pretty certain that they wouldn’t be able to figure out where our partners were located. A few days before the call, I started to go into panic mode… Are they too young to be doing a mystery call? Will they be able to figure it out? What do I need to do to prep the students and physical classroom for this activity? My head was spinning and I knew I needed some more information. A quick search (“Mystery Skype”) on Silvia Tolisano’s blog led me to this specific post, which I used to help set up me and my students for success. I used pieces of my professional learning on Alan November’s Digital Learning Farm to split my students up into groups for jobs (as mentioned above). This definitely helped with the flow of the mystery call and allowed my students to work together as contributors. 

I was so impressed by both classes! We were able to figure out that one class was on a video call with a school in Greenville, North Carolina and the other class was on a video call with a class in Williston, Vermont.

Relief! Yup. I felt relieved… and proud… and excited to do more activities like this again! My students are capable of so much and they are so eager to learn! I wonder what other doors this can open for us?

This week, we began our reading for the GRA. We are reading Stella Diaz Has Something To Say by Angela Dominguez. We have read the first 4 chapters of the book and we are loving it so far! Today, our class used FlipGrid to connect with our partner classes in Greenville and Williston. We will continue to connect with our partner classes throughout the 6-week long GRA project.

My students are familiar with using FlipGrid, as we used it last year in Grade 1 (yes, for those of you that don’t know, I taught these students in Grade 1 last year). It was easy to get them going on it; it was familiar and exciting for them… they love snapping the selfies and adding emojis at the end! While I have experience with FlipGrid in the classroom, this time it was a bit different. For the first time ever, I was added to someone’s grid (the teacher in Greenville) as a co-pilot and I added someone to my own grid (the teacher in Williston) as a co-pilot. It was neat having students from our partner class posting on our grid and having their teacher leave comments for us. My students enjoyed watching the other class’ responses. I wonder how I can continue to do activities like this after the GRA is finished? Should I look into the Disco Library? Grid Pals? Continue connecting with these classes about other Grade 2 content/curriculum after the GRA? Connect with new classes? It seems overwhelming… but I am just so inspired and excited! I feel like everyday I am opening new doors for my professional growth, my teach teaching, and for my students!

Speaking of connecting globally… Both classes started Twitter accounts this week! We will be using our 2A and 2B twitter accounts to share what we are doing in class (instead of on Morah Lianna’s twitter account) and to become globally connected learners! We have already started by participating in a Math Chat with other Grade 2 classes in the United States. We even found other classes that are reading the same book as us for the GRA and replied to their beautiful artwork. We will be using Twitter to amplify our learning, connect with Grade 2 classes, and maybe even connect with some scientists, authors, or mathematicians! Please follow us on our learning journey!

I have been using Twitter in an education context since my Bachelor of Education. I have connected with teachers, found blogs/articles, participated in (and even hosted) Twitter chats, regularly tweet out excited activities going on in my classroom and school…etc. But this is the first time I have taken the leap to create classroom twitter accounts. As I explained above, the purpose of these class accounts are to continue pushing out and sharing the amazing activities we are doing, but now having the students take ownership in how and what we share on the class twitter; rather than always having me tweet from my own account. We are using this as a springboard to learn about online safety and digital citizenship too (our first workshop is next week…stay tuned…). Many parents have asked ‘WHY?’ ‘Why do our children have twitter?’ ‘Why are we teaching them about being online?’ ‘Aren’t they too young?’ My simple answer, we are using these accounts to make incredible connections with other Grade 2 classes and people around the world to become globally connected learners. We have already been tweeted by someone in who works in a school in Argentina, as well as, the author from the book we are reading. The students are so excited about tweeting and making those connections. My not-so-simple answer, we need to teach our students all the skills in order to be literate in 21st century… yes, this still includes traditional or basic literacies like reading and writing, but it also includes being able to have an online presence and share our thoughts and learning on these online platforms. Which is exactly why Twitter will not be our only adventure this school year… stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have made it to the bottom of this post, thanks for sticking with me while I stumbled through my classroom blog post and added reflections, annotations, and more questions! I want to take a moment and briefly reflect on my reflections to make note of two little things that I have noticed…

1. this post names a lot of FIRSTS. Everything I mentioned (GRA, mystery calls, co-piloting a grid, class twitter account), I described as being ‘my first time’. I think that trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone is exciting… but even further, putting all of these ‘firsts’ into words is making me finally see that I really am a life-long learner (and that it’s not just a catchy thing that teachers say about themselves). 
2. I link to Silvia Tolisano quite a bit. While I was not directly part of the cohort that worked directly with Silvia in my school last year, she has become one of my go-to gurus and inspirations when it comes to anything related to 21st century literacies (ah, there I go again… linking to Silvia’s blog!). I am looking forward to using her book to guide my teaching practices as I dive deeper and deeper into documenting learning and the 21st century literacies.  

Lastly, I am not sure if this was the most effective and reader-friendly way to document my learning (flipping back and forth between my original blog post on my classroom blog and my own reflections), but this is what felt natural for this post. I wanted the ability to reflect on my learning from doing the activities piece by piece. So again, thank you for your patience as you flip flopped between my original post and my reflections/annotations/messy thinking (which was of course, highlighted in turquoise).

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