Tag Archives: ReadAroundthePlanet

Read Around the Planet Day 4

It’s the fourth day of Read Around the Planet. Classes are still working hard on their presentations and asking great questions of their partners. Here are a few highlights of today:


Today we had some great examples of how to get the other class involved in the presentation. It’s nice to see classes move beyond the simple two presentation format, and build in more interaction.

  • One school had skits of fairy tales: the partner school had to guess which fairy tale the skit was based on.
  • Another school shared information about famous people, followed by a quiz question on what was just presented.
  • Another school had a graph of their favorite Dr. Seuss books, and they asked our students questions about the graph.

Community Pictures

Many of the classes are sharing great maps and visuals about their community. Here are some pictures shared from E. P. Clarke Elementary in St. Joseph, MI.


Today I had my first connection that took 20 minutes to solve the technical problem. While the class was waiting, I put on my hat to show the students. I showed them our snow out the window also. The students waited so patiently, and the interaction ended up being a great experience.

Hope your RAP connections continue to go well! Feel free to comment if you have additional insights!

Read Around the Planet Day 2 and 3

Read Around the Planet continues with some amazing connections, and great prep work by students and teachers alike! Here are some more highlights:


Usually I see the amazing backdrops or sets in the MysteryQuest sessions. But one of my schools is going all out for Read Around the Planet this year. It’s their first year, but the school has a Jazz grad, and a PICC grad, so they are well trained. Several of the classes are doing similar presentations, so they have the visuals incorporated into their back drop. Check it out:

Doesn’t that look sharp?! What tips do you have for visuals?

Encouraging Teachers

I have realized again that a very important role of the VC coordinator is the encourager for the teacher. Teachers doing a videoconference for the first time tend to be anxious about it. You can:

  • Listen to their great ideas for their presentation
  • Help them with visuals & testing the document camera / computer set up
  • Reassure them when they haven’t heard from their partner teacher (if the test call happened; they are planning on it!)
  • Let them know their preparation plans are great and that it will be a great learning experience

Rescheduling Etiquette

One of the fun challenges of Read Around the Planet is rescheduling. Snow days have knocked out quite a few connections this year, as well as the usual family illness, jury duty, etc. Here are some tips on rescheduling:

  • Give the Reason: When you need to request a rescheduling, be sure to tell the reason why you need to reschedule.  People are pretty frustrated about rescheduling if you don’t give a reason. However, if you have a legitimate reason like illness or a death in the family or jury duty, etc. then they are generally happy to accommodate you.
  • Be Specific: When emailing to reschedule, be really specific to speed the process. Tell all the dates and times that you can do within the next 3-4 weeks. Then they can pick a date from that list & you’re done!
  • CC everyone involved: Be sure to CC teachers, school VC coordinators, and any regional service staff involved in the connect so everyone knows what is happening. Use the Reply to All feature of your email program!

Double Classes

Sometimes your partner teacher might cancel on you. Frustrating for sure, but what can you do? This morning, one of our partner classes had two classes in the videoconference. They graciously explained the situation to us, and my teacher was totally fine with it. This way all three classes were able to participate in their RAP connection. If you do this, be sure to explain to the partner class so they aren’t stressed or anxious about the large number of students they see on their screen!

Your Turn

How are your Read Around the Planet connections going? Running into any issues? How are you solving them?

Read Around the Planet Day 1

Today is the first day of Read Around the Planet 2010! We have 70 classes participating. The total project participants is 1950 this year! The next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing some of highlights from each day.


We started the day by putting four of our ten videoconferences today in the reschedule pile. Snow days knocked out 3 of the connections, and family illness made another one necessary to reschedule. One of the four is already rescheduled. We still want to meet with our partners!

Snapshots of Sharing

Sharing an ABC book

In a third grade connection this morning, the teachers began by comparing today’s weather. It’s always fun to compare weather when we are loaded up with snow and it’s 70 degrees in Texas.

Both classes shared a state ABC book, which fits nicely into the communities and regions curriculum for both classes.

  • Texas: A is for the Alamo; B is for bluebonnet, the state flower; C is for Davy Crockett…
  • Michigan: A is for apple blossom, the state flower; B is for blue trout; C is for capital of Michigan: Lansing…

Student drawing of the apple blossom, Michigan's state flower

The Q&A part is always fun:

  • TX asked our kids: Do you go outside at recess? Only if it’s above 10. In TX, they don’t go outside if it’s below 30.
  • MI Q: What makes your community unique? A: Everybody knows everybody.

This pair of teachers had prepared questions and sent them to each other ahead of time. Students at both sides read questions and answers ahead of time, and even prepared some visuals to go with the answers.

Using the document camera to share snow pictures

In another connection today, we were also matched with a class in Texas. Our class shared pictures of putting on snow pants and coats to go outside to play in the snow; and then pictures of playing outside in the snow – on the swings, on the slide, and making snow angels.

Sometimes interruptions happen. During our 1st grade connection, one of our students lost a tooth! Our teacher apologized for the disruption and the classes kept right on going.

In that same connection, teachers had split up the lines of Green Eggs and Ham and traded off reading the lines back and forth in a choral reading format. Great interaction and involvement on both sides.

Favorite RAP Tweets

I’ve also been following the tweets about RAP2010 this year. You can follow the #RAP2010 hash tag, or check the twitter fountain. Here are some of my favorites from today:

  • Hairynomas: Just overheard our schools teachers setting up a Pen Pals collaboration between their classes. Gotta Lov RAP! #RAP2010
  • Hairynomas: Another RAP Pen Pal match between classes. The RAP project is like the cupid arrow of collaborations this year. #RAP2010
  • CherylTice: i’m in my office all day and have lots of books, so if there’s a class that needs a #RAP2010 partner & no one else can, i will do it 🙂
  • LColwill: Watching Q & A. Students from VA just asked if we ride horses to school? LOL! #RAP2010

It’s going to be a fun two weeks. Read Around the Planet weeks are my favorite time of year. It’s awesome to listen to all the great learning and sharing that happens in all the connections!

Day 4: Read Around the Planet: Managing the Registration Process

Now that you’ve decided to participate in Read Around the Planet, it’s time to tackle the registration process.

If this is your first year, it is a bit of a challenge. If you are having any problems at all, please email me at my Read Around the Planet email for this time of year: verification@twice.cc and I can help you!

Step 1: Verification

  • The first step is to take care of equipment verification, and soon! We’re trying to get verification done by Friday, January 8!
  • Verification lays the foundation of the matches for Read Around the Planet. It helps us find out if you have VC equipment, and how it connects (i.e. can you receive calls, etc.).
  • Verification instructions are online here as well as little online videos to explain the process for you.
  • There’s a chance someone is taking care of this for you. Double check: in CAPspace, click My Profile and see if you have the little IP icon. If so, you’re done with this step!

Step 2: Registering Teachers

Next, think about how you will organize your participation:

  • Will you have classes participate during library/computer time? or during teacher’s class time?
  • Will you prep the students for the session or will your teachers do that?
  • Will you register for your teachers or have your teachers do their own registration?
  • Have you checked your school’s calendar (tests, training days, etc.) for any potential conflicts?
  • Will you limit participation to make it manageable for yourself? If so, how many will you do? (We recommend 5 or less for the first time.)

Collect the information you’ll need when you register. You can do this while you’re waiting for the verification process to finish too.

  • Teacher name, email, work phone number
  • Grade level
  • Language (choices for 2010 are English, English as a Second Language, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Special Education)
  • All the times the teacher can do. Time choices are every half hour between 7 am and 7 pm your time.

Then, make sure you register by January 13, 2010! More tips for RAP Registration are online here.

The Challenge

  • Take some time to watch the Read Around the Planet coordinator and teacher videos if you haven’t already.
  • Get at least one Read Around the Planet registration step done today!

Your Turn

  • Please comment! How are you getting organized for Read Around the Planet this year?

If you are totally new to collaborative projects and/or would like step by step assistance making a collaborative project happen, from start to finish, sign up for Kid2Kid Videoconference Connections, a six week online course beginning January 25.

Day 2: Getting Started with Read Around the Planet

Yesterday in our 20 Day Challenge kickoff post, Roxanne suggested that an excellent way to start off with videoconferencing is to participate in projects managed by others. So this week, we want to spend a little time thinking about how best to integrate participation in Read Around the Planet with your curriculum and videoconference program.

What is Read Around the Planet (RAP)?

So what is this project anyway? Here are some basic facts:

  • Read Around the Planet started as a Read Across America celebration in Michigan, and it is still primarily U.S. schools that participate.
  • Read Around the Planet is like a dating service! TWICE matches the classes and provides teacher materials. It’s up to you to make the relationship work!
  • It’s open to K12 schools with access to IP or ISDN videoconferencing (H.323 or H.320).
  • Read Around the Planet targets language arts and world language classes.

A class acts out a story during Read Around the Planet

What do you do in a RAP videoconference?

The recommended Read Around the Planet format is very simple:

  • Introductions and sharing maps
  • My class leads an interaction/presentation
  • Your class leads an interaction/presentation
  • We ask each other questions about our communities, studies, and daily lives.

This format is easy for first-timers. Teachers can share anything they are currently studying in language arts. World language classes share games, skits, songs, and readings to practice the target language.

Targeting Teachers

Sound like fun? It’s a great whole school celebration of reading and videoconferencing. Some schools use RAP as the highlight and mainstay of their videoconference calendar each year. Some make a bulletin board with pins showing all the places their students have connected!

Today’s Challenge

So, now it’s time to convince teachers to participate. What should you do?

  1. Show the teacher training video in a staff or departmental meeting. It’s just under 13 minutes long.
  2. If it is your first year participating, pick 5 or less teachers to participate.
  3. Pick the teachers who are the most flexible and able to deal with surprises and glitches. Yes, ANYTHING can happen in a real-time videoconference!

Your Turn:

Please comment!

  • If you’re new to Read Around the Planet, what questions do you have?
  • If you’re a pro with Read Around the Planet, what tips do you have for newbies?

Reminder: If you are totally new to collaborative projects and/or would like step by step assistance (including for RAP), sign up for Kid2Kid Videoconference Connections, a six week online course beginning January 25.

Coordinator Demographics From My Study Part 2

This post is part of a series inviting discussion, comments and reflection on the results of my dissertation.

We continue an examination of the coordinator demographics of those who took my survey. Do these demographics include someone like you?

Country (Number of responses)

  • Australia (1)
  • Canada (25)
  • Greece (1)
  • Honduras (1)
  • United Kingdom (1)
  • United States (248)

U.S. States

  • Alabama (2)
  • Alaska (2)
  • Arizona (5)
  • California (5)
  • Connecticut (1)
  • Florida (1)
  • Georgia (1)
  • Hawaii (1)
  • Illinois (1)
  • Indiana (12)
  • Kansas (2)
  • Kentucky (1)
  • Maine (1)
  • Maryland (2)
  • Massachusetts (1)
  • Michigan (50)
  • Minnesota (4)
  • Missouri (2)
  • Nevada (1)
  • New Jersey (7)
  • New York (21)
  • North Carolina (1)
  • Ohio (12)
  • Oklahoma (1)
  • Pennsylvania (9)
  • South Carolina (1)
  • Tennessee (2)
  • Texas (87)
  • Virginia (4)
  • Washington (1)
  • Wisconsin (7)

Canadian Provinces

  • Alberta (17)
  • Ontario (1)
  • Saskatchewan (7)

Thinking & Your Turn

Is this close to representative of the states who are using videoconferencing to connect to content providers and peers for collaborative projects? (in 2007-2008). When I think of the states and provinces that participate in Read Around the Planet, it seems to be close. What do you think? Is a state missing that is using videoconferencing often for content providers and collaborative projects?

Do you think these numbers help explain why it’s hard to find international partner classes for projects and collaborations? Do you think there is more VC in K12 education in other countries; we just haven’t found the way to find them?

Shadow Puppets for Read Around the Planet

Still continuing our Read Around the Planet connections this week. Today two classes from River Valley Middle School are connecting to South Carolina and Virginia. The 8th grade students have been studying the book Anne Frank. Recently they did the Anne Frank program with the Center for Puppetry Arts.

Shadow PuppetsBased on that inspiration, they shared two shadow puppet plays that the students wrote. The play came across really well in the videoconference. In addition, a couple of groups also shared their rap written about Anne Frank. Our partner class really enjoyed the puppet shows.

Still another 23 Read Around the Planet connections to go!

ESL Read Around the Planet

After the first week of so many Read Around the Planet connections along with other VCs, I finally was able to actually watch a full session today. We have 63 RAP sessions this year.

Read Around the PlanetToday’s session was an ESL Read Around the Planet. We started by our 7 students saying their name and hello in their native language (Spanish and Korean). Then our friends in TX also said their names.

Our friends in Texas shared a song with us. Then our students taught the kids in Texas the alphabet using ZooPhonics with actions. Our class sang about the animals that live at the zoo.

Read Around the PlanetOur friends in Texas shared the beginning of a book about an animal in the zoo. Then they shared a song about colors, with each student representing different colors.

Some of the questions the students asked each other were:

  • What is your favorite food?
  • What is your favorite book?
  • What is your favorite toy?
  • What kind of weather is it there?
  • Why aren’t you wearing blue? (one class had uniforms and the other class didn’t)

The students enjoyed a great conversation and learned about each other. Reminds me why I love this project!

Notes to my RAP teachers

Now that I’ve made it through organizing my 63 Read Around the Planet connections, I sent an email to my teachers on preparation. I haven’t done this before. Usually I trust to the email and my coordinators to make sure everything goes well. But this year I wanted to check up on the process a little more carefully. Here’s what I sent. Feel free to use it with your teachers if you want. (The interaction ideas are copied from the teacher packet.)

Greetings teachers,

By now you should have received an email with your partner information and date & time for Read Around the Planet. It came from admin@twice.cc. Please let me know if you didn’t receive it!

Communicate with your partner teacher
Please take some time in the next week to email or phone your partner teacher to let him/her know what you are planning.

Preparation Information
The teacher packet is online here: http://www.twice.cc/read/RAP-TeacherPacket.pdf
If you printed the one from the match email, please get this one instead because it’s newer and has more lesson ideas.

In particular, these ideas below can be used to increase the interaction – so it’s more than just two presentations and then Q&A.

Increasing Interaction

  • Ask your partner class questions related to your presentation as you go through. I.e. presenting state symbols: “What are your state symbols?”
  • Ask your partner class to guess something (i.e. who do the biography dolls represent).
  • Make statements about your class and have your partner class decide if they are
  • true (touch nose) or false (touch shoulders).
  • Share riddles for your partner class to solve.
  • Give the other class something to print and fill out (i.e. lyrics to a song and fill in the blanks).
  • Have your students dress up as a book characters and have the other class guess whom you represent.
  • For middle or high school students, have your students perform with the other class acting as judges.
  • Create a Mad-Lib for your partner class to complete.
  • Teach the other class something – a local saying, a local dance, how to make some local food, how to draw a book character, etc.
  • Research your partner class’ town and create a presentation about similarities and differences that you learn. Prepare questions about facts or news items that you find interesting or are curious about.
  • Play Wheel of Fortune with phrases, nouns, or sayings from your town or school. (This one should be 3rd grade or higher and watch the time!)
  • For older students – middle or high school – write a story about characters who journey between your town and you partner class’ town. Share it during the RAP connection. (If you really want to get creative, use a wiki to write collaboratively and then meet in the videoconference to present it.)
  • Play twenty questions. Be sure to review the rules of the game before you begin and give a clear idea of what they will be guessing. Example: You will be able to ask us 20 “yes” or “no” questions in order to figure out our mystery Dr. Seuss’ character.

As always, you can get assistance from me or your school videoconference coordinator.

What are your tips for keeping organized for Read Around the Planet and supporting your teachers? Please comment!