Tag Archives: RAP2011

Read Around the Planet Lesson Plan

Finishing up my 21st Century Communication Collaborations class, with some great lesson plans created by the teachers. One of the participants, Kristen Dow, from Mars Elementary, Berrien Springs Public Schools, used her Read Around the Planet videoconference as her project in the class. Her lesson plan is a great example of how to tie the Read Around the Planet videoconference to what you’re studying in class! Enjoy:

Title: Read Around the Planet – Sharing the poetry process

Description: Students will share poetry and the writing process with a partner class. Students will increase awareness of the simple process of creating a free-verse poem by sharing their own writing experiences.

Grade: 2

Subject: Reading/Language Arts

Outcomes: To expose students to a variety of writing genre, including various ways poetry is written. Students will experience another type of writing as they go through the process of learning to create a free-verse poem. Students will be able to choose a subject, create a web, and place words appropriately to create his/her own poem.

Prep. Time: 3-4 weeks depending on how much time a day/week is devoted to writing.


  1. Poetry books
  2. Poetry notebook. (we make one with construction paper and lined writing paper.)
  3. Close Your Eyes poem. (attached)
  4. Poetry Suitcase take-home letter. (attached)
  5. Small bag or suitcase for items.
  6. Droopy dog poem, alligator poem, hamster poem.(attached)
  7. 2-3 favorite poems of teachers along with objects that represent that poem.
  8. 5 items for Poetry Museum.
  9. Goldfish or Fireworks poems (attached)
  10. Chart paper and construction paper.
  11. Crayons, markers, and/or colored pencils


1. Gather various poetry books from the library. Have books available for students to look through during independent reading time. Share poems, reading them and discussing the way they sound, do they rhyme, how do the words look on the page, etc. Do this for approximately one week. During this time have the students mark a poem they really like with a post-it note. Run these poems off. These should be placed in their poetry notebooks. Students should cut/paste them in and write why they liked the poem.

2. Begin to introduce three types of poems. Start with Droopy Dog and notice the way it has a rhythm to it. You can clap, or snap while saying it. Practice poem and say it together creating rhythm. (1 day writing lesson)

3. Introduce poems that help you visualize something. Read students Alligator poem. Have them listen a few times, closing their eyes once. Immediately send them to their seats to sketch what they “see” in their minds. Give only 10 minutes for sketching and coloring in. You can do this with another poem that sets up visuals on a second day. (1-2 days lesson)

4. Introduce poems that bring out a feeling. Read Hamster and talk about the way it makes the reader feel. Review the three types of poems. (1 day lesson)

5. Introduce the Poetry Suitcase. Share the items you brought in and read the corresponding poem. I always pretend I put on my “Poet’s Eyeglasses” for the first time that day. I tell the kids they help me use my imagination and see all the different possibilities in an object. They help me look at the objects I take out of the suitcase and think of lots of different things the poem could be about. (1-2 days writing lessons)

6. Introduce Poetry Suitcase letter. Students take home a copy of the poem they chose for their notebook and parent letter. Give 3-4 days for them to practice reading poem at home and to collect an item for the poetry suitcase. As students bring in items, the suitcase gets filled with their poems (I keep a copy of their favorite poem too) and their objects. Throughout the coming days we take objects out and talk about them through poet’s eyes and students read their poems.

7. Poetry Museum – during one of our lessons we set up a poetry museum of 5 different items (I used a small solo cup, a straw, salad tongs, a turkey baster, and a holder for corn-on-the-cob). I place each in a different spot and number them 1-5. We then use our notebooks and number 1-5 and walk around the room silently looking at each object and imagining what it could be; even if we know what it is we look at it through Poet’s eyes. We then come together and share. It is amazing the great ideas that they have! They get so creative! I end this lesson by having them circle the idea they like the best. (1 day lesson)

8. Copy Close Your Eyes poem in your notebook at beginning of lesson. Practice reading and talk about the way the words have been chosen to sit on the lines. It is the “music” that the poet chose. The way he/she wanted it be read. We look at the Goldfish poem and talk about it and how it sits on the lines too. Practice reading it. (1 day lesson).

9. Have students partner and use the Fireworks poem to take the words and place them on lines so that they make “poetry music”. Share all the various ideas and then read/share the actual poem. (1 days lesson)

10. Choose one idea from the poetry museum and put it on the chart paper. As a class, make a web of everything about that word that you can think of. Then take the ideas put them in phrases and place them on lines so that they make the poetry music! You have a class poem!(1 day lesson)

11. Now it’s time to write your own. In the poetry notebook have students take the idea they circled and make a web of ideas. Then take those ideas and using phrases make a poem! It’s amazing the poems that come out of that first day. It’s the prep. work ahead of time and the poetry examples that make this work so great. Teacher types poems and children illustrate their work!


As the video conference approaches, teacher and students plan who will share. The three types of poems, rhythm, image, and feeling will be shared. The class poem and 3-4 individual poems will be shared. Introductions about our community and weather and school should be put on poster board. Students can work in pairs. Questions for Q & A should be developed as a class and assigned to individuals. Students from other countries should partner to make and color flags that represent their country.

Students are responsible for posters and flags and questions. Teacher is responsible for poetry process and assigning parts.

Our media specialist tests the connection and gets all of the equipment ready for our use. We display the posters on a document camera and she gets presets ready so that we not only view the whole class, but also the speakers up close and their posters.


Debbie Bryant came up with the idea of the student’s from various country’s making the flag that represents his/her country. She used it for her VC and it worked out great.

The above lesson plan is far more than just what happens for the VC, but with this lesson it is really in the pre-work that poetry is taught. What we share in the VC is a culmination of this 4-6 weeks project. It is a fun writing lesson, very much enjoyed by the children. It is based off of the Lucy Calkins writing program that our school uses. The poetry museum and poetry suitcase are add-ons to the Calkins poetry book.

Poems used in lesson:

Close your eyes.
Don’t peek.
Close them tight,
tight so it’s
dark, dark
Till you see something
in sight.
Close your eyes
don’t peek.
and see a poem.

Droopy Dog
Drippy dog, droopy dog,
Sloppy, slurpy tongue,
Playing in the puddles
Just for fun.
Chewing all the people’s shoes,
Chew, chew, chew.
Watch your tinkly, winkly toes,
So it doesn’t chew you.

The Alligator
The alligator chased his tail
Which hit him on the snout;
He nibbled, gobbled, swallowed it,
And turned right inside-out.

My hamster died on Saturday
I touched him. He didn’t squirm.
He died without telling me.
My hamster died on Saturday.

Goldfish flash gold and silver scales.
They flick and slip away under green weed-
But round brown snails stick to the glass and stay.

Gold and silver scales;
They flick and slip away
Under green weed—
But round brown snails
To the glass
And stay.


Dear Parent(s),

Attached you will find a poem that your child selected as a “favorite” from a collection of poetry books we have been reading through. As a part of our study on poetry, we talk about images and visualizing. I put together a “suitcase” with items in it that represent some of my favorite poems. We then selected items from the suitcase and I shared the corresponding poem.

This week it is your child’s job to practice reading his/her poem and to select an item from home (or make one!) that he/she feels best represents what the poem is about. We will then put the object into the suitcase and take objects out, a few a day, and try to guess what the poem is about. It will be your child’s job to read his/her poem!

Please send the items in no later than _________________and have your child be prepared to read his/her poem by that date too. We will spend the week looking through out poetry suitcase! It is sure to be lots of fun!! Thank you for your help!

Mrs. Dow

Snippets of Read Around the Planet

It’s been a great couple of weeks with Read Around the Planet 2011! We had 63 classes participate this year; and only a few of those are getting rescheduled. It’s been pretty busy, so I haven’t been able to blog too much of it; but I did capture some pictures and little snippets to share with you.

This Michigan class had clues about explorers; our Texas friends had to guess! They got them all right! I loved their props – the boat and ocean in the background. The explorers stood behind it when giving their facts. Note the student in the front. Does that help you guess?

Did you guess Jacques-Yves Cousteau?

This was a great example of how during Read Around the Planet, we really do encourage classes to share whatever they are studying! I even had a high school class connecting to an econ class for their RAP today!

Here’s an example of what not to do with the camera. I didn’t get a chance, but usually like to encourage classes to move their camera to better show the students. It’s ok to ask your partner class to move their camera too!

This class was sharing the story of Mrs. Wishy Washy – and everyone had dressed up – including the teacher! See the cows in the front row! Love the use of costumes!

I love connecting up and seeing a room full of Cat-in-the-Hat hats! Nothing like a great visual!

Finally a comment from a coordinator at one of our schools – this year every teacher is participating in RAP!

It was really good!  The whole class was involved and I really enjoyed it.  The partner teacher also complimented her and her class at the end by saying hers was the best-behaved and quietest class she had done a project with, and she does a lot of these.  This was her 5th or 6th of this year.  Anyway, so far so good on our RAP!

New Read Around the Planet Packets

Note: This post is written from my role as a member of the TWICE CAPspace and Read Around the Planet Committee.

Are you participating in Read Around the Planet this year?

Have you participated in the past?

Either way, be sure to get the new packets for Read Around the Planet. They’ve been majorly edited and rewritten.

  • Teacher Packet 2011: includes sample agenda, tips for preparation, ideas for different types of interaction / presentations, ideas for preparing questions and answers.
  • Coordinator Packet 2011: ideas on promoting Read Around the Planet, explanation of the timeline and process of this huge event, tips for preparation and organization, and more.

Don’t forget also these training videos:

These resources can be very helpful for first-time participants, and even useful for past participants to improve participation. Hope you can participate in Read Around the Planet this year!

Top Five Read Around the Planet Pitfalls

Image by Warning Sign Generator

Note: This post is written from my role as a member of the TWICE CAPspace and Read Around the Planet Committee.

Yesterday (December 1) registration opened for Read Around the Planet 2011. As you prepare to register, be careful of these top five Read Around the Planet pitfalls.

5. Procrastinate until the last minute.

  • Verification ends January 7.
  • Teacher registration ends January 13.
  • Don’t wait till the last minute.

Especially if this is your first year, it takes a little time to get your account set up, get your equipment entered, have a test call with one of our faithful RAP Verification Partners. THEN, you can register teachers. Give yourself some time and get verification done NOW!

4. Don’t plan any time in February to make it happen.

Here’s what happens in February:

  • Test calls with each partner class. 20 registrations = 20 different places to connect with! Fun, but it takes time to test!
  • Teachers need to contact each other and discuss the interactive agenda.
  • Any problems or issues that arise need to be solved.

Plan some time for these activities!

3. Be inflexible.

Some connections will have to be rescheduled due to weather, illness, or other unforeseeable events. If you have to reschedule, be kind and understanding. Read more on preparing yourself mentally for RAP.

2. Enter only one registration for multiple sections.

Let’s say your 6th grade teacher needs 5 partners for her 5 sections. Then, you need five registrations. A common mistake is to only do one registration. Then you only get one partner.

One registration = one partner class.

Here’s how it could look:

  • Registration A: Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 8:00 am
  • Registration B: Tuesday or Thursday at 9:00 am
  • Registration C: Monday, Wed, or Friday at 10:00 am
  • Registration D: Tuesday or Thursday at 12:00 noon
  • Registration E: Monday, Tues, Wed, or Friday at 1:00 pm

You know your situation, but enter all the dates a teacher can do for that class period.

1. And the all time, most common and problematic pitfall: Enter only one date & time for your registration.

What’s the likelihood of an exact match when you only enter one day & time? What if there aren’t any other 4th grade classes that chose that time? You’d think with 1950 classes participating, it wouldn’t be a problem, but it still is! Situations that are particularly hard to match include:

  • Only one date & time late in the afternoon
  • Only one date & time and any language (only about 100-150 classes participate in a language other than English each year)
  • Schools that book the RAP dates solid, but each class has only one date & time (these are especially hard to match)

Trust the matching system to make sure you don’t have two RAP connections scheduled at the same time. It checks!!

Enter ALL the dates and times each teacher can do!

So, now, what are you waiting for?! Go register for Read Around the Planet!

Follow me on Twitter to get the daily totals of RAP registrations. Did you know that NY hopes to beat TX this year and AB is planning to beat ON again?

Why You Should Participate in Read Around the Planet 2011

Note: This post is written from my role as a member of the TWICE CAPspace and Read Around the Planet Committee.

Today (December 1) registration opens for Read Around the Planet 2011.

To prepare, let’s consider top ten reasons to participate in Read Around the Planet 2011

10. You want to celebrate reading!

Many classes participating in RAP are celebrating one of these events:

  • Dr. Seuss’ Birthday (March 2)
  • World Book Day (March 5)
  • March is Reading Month

9. You have new VC equipment and need help getting started.

Many first-timers use Read Around the Planet to kick-start their videoconference program.

If it’s your first time, though, don’t sign up 20 teachers! That’s 20 test calls! You’ll go crazy! Start with 5 teachers!

8.You want to expand your videoconference network.

Random matches with lots of different schools means you meet lots of people! The more people you know, the more videoconferences you can do! From your RAP partners, you’ll find some great VC buddies that you can continue to collaborate with in the future.

7. You need a free videoconference.

Participation in Read Around the Planet remains free thanks to sponsorship from Polycom. You do not even need TWICE membership! Anyone with standards-based (H.323) videoconferencing can participate!

6. You want your students to practice another language.

This year’s languages are: English, English as a Second Language, French, Spanish.

Note that language matches may not be at the same grade level.  You have a high chance of matching with native Spanish speakers in Texas; and a pretty good chance of matching with another Canadian French class.

Another option is Special Education, which isn’t another language, obviously, but allows us to match Special Education classes with each other.

5. You don’t want the hassle of finding your own partner.

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s really a pain to find a partner class. What if you need 20 partner classes!? RAP manages all that for you. Just sign up! When partners are announced in late January, you’ll have all their contact information, a date & time, and even their IP address!

4. You want to connect to more schools outside your district/region/state/province.

There are lots of schools from different places participating in RAP. The highest participation is consistently from MI, TX, and NY, with PA not far behind.

We match automatically outside your state. You’ll only get an in-state match if we cannot get a match for you any other way. Last year only 26 (out of 1950) classes were matched with their same state. The way to reduce this possibility is to make sure you register with as many dates & times as you can possibly do. The more dates & times you give, the less your chances of being in the “leftover” hard-to-match pile! But we work really hard to match those too!

3. You want to learn best practices in videoconferencing.

From last year’s survey, participants learned a lot from their partner classes!

Participants learned from each other:

  • new ideas for presentations (79%)
  • new ways to interact via videoconferencing (52%)
  • new ideas for using videoconferencing in their curriculum (34%)
  • and new ways to use their videoconferencing system with camera presets and visuals (25%).

Sometimes, also, you learn what NOT to do! But be patient with your partner; they might be new to VC!

2. You want to address the 21st Century Learning Skills of Communication and Collaboration.

What better way to practice presenting, communicating, speaking slowly and clearly, than with another class! An authentic audience is very motivating to students!

Some classes extend from communication to collaboration. How about writing a collaborative story via email or wiki ahead of time? Then act it out during the VC!

1. It’s fun and exciting to be part of a huge event!

Last year, 1950 classes and 45,000 students participated from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, United States and United Kingdom. Will you help us hit 2000 classes this year?! Maybe 2010 classes for the 10th year of RAP?!

Are YOU ready to participate in Read Around the Planet 2011?!

RAP / CAPspace Tips for Bridge Operators

Note: This post is written from my role as a member of the TWICE CAPspace and Read Around the Planet Committee.

Did you know Read Around the Planet registration opens tomorrow?

With that in mind, here are two hidden or new features of CAPspace that are very helpful if you run a videoconferencing bridge and have lots of endpoints.

Super Fast Self-Certification

  • Already have a verified MCU and endpoints from last year?
  • Haven’t self-certified them yet for this year?

Here’s the easy way to self-certify:

  • Login to CAPspace
  • Go to My Equipment
  • Find your MCU in the list and click on it
  • Self-certify it
  • Automatically, ALL your endpoints will self-certify also! New as of August!

Then, of course, be sure to update any IPs or tech contacts that have changed for the endpoints.

Indicate the Test Call Contact

Ever connected to a RAP partner that has 3 or 4 or 5 tech contacts listed? Annoyed that you don’t know who to contact?

Start fixing this by marking the test call contact for your own units. This feature is new this week!

These instructions assume:

  • That you have multiple tech contacts listed on your equipment profile(s)
  • That those tech contacts have CAPspace accounts
  • That you created the equipment profile
  • That one of the other tech contacts on the equipment profile is the person who really does the test calls & connections

Ok, here’s what to do:

  • Login to CAPspace
  • Go to My Equipment
  • Click the name of an endpoint where you know the test call contact isn’t the person who created the equipment profile
  • On the left under Administration Tasks, choose Assign Primary Test Call Contact
  • Select the right person and update!

By default, the person who created the equipment profile is the Primary Test Call Contact. Use this new feature only if you need to change it.

For example, in my area, some of my coordinators do their own RAP registration, test calls and connections. In these cases, I want to mark that they are the main test call contact, not me.

Now, are you ready for Read Around the Planet registration to open tomorrow?!