Tag Archives: ReadAroundthePlanet

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?!

Read Around the Planet Inspires…

Read Around the Planet Participation from 2009

I love it when Google Alerts sends me interesting Read Around the Planet notifications. Here are a few little tidbits to tantalize you as the last moments of summer slip away and you start to think about videoconferences for the 2010-2011 school year.

Read Around the Planet inspires Reader’s Coffeehouse

This little clip is from a teacher whose inspiration from Read Around the Planet last year inspired a “Reader’s Coffeehouse” to involve parents.

In 2008, I considered having a Coffeehouse after remembering a snippet from Debbie Miller’s Reading With Meaning where she discusses twinkling lights, poetry, and a coffeehouse setting. After researching the history of coffeehouses, it made perfect sense to me.  I wanted to host a parent night, but I wanted it to be simplistic and sophisticated. After all, the students were maturing as readers and writers.  I suppose what set the idea in stone was our participation in Read Around the Planet.

Read the whole post here. Has Read Around the Planet given you new ideas by talking to students and educators in another location?

Community SlideShare for Read Around the Planet

Cheryl Morin recently posted online her slideshare with pictures her class shared with their partner class for Read Around the Planet. Great examples of how to capture community experiences to share via videoconference!

So, what ideas do you have simmering in your brain for the 2010-2011 school year?

MACUL's Phenomenal Support of Videoconferencing

Cross-blogged with the Official MACUL Conference Blog.

Today as I was riding up to the 2010 MACUL Conference, I was thinking how lucky we are in Michigan to have consistent support for the TWICE videoconferencing sessions at our ed tech conference, year after year after year…

Sometimes I listen to VC buddies in other states and I can’t think of very many (any?) that consistently and annually plan to have a videoconference session at every single breakout time slot during the conference.

So this is a thank you from a long time TWICE board member, and videoconferencing fan, who loves to see this particular technology supported and promoted every year. Thank you MACUL!! And thank you to the MACUL support staff and volunteers who sometimes stand on their heads to make VC work on the conference network!

A MACUL Conference Success Story

Selection from Read Around the Planet Image Gallery
A selection from the Read Around the Planet photo gallery.

Sometimes it’s nice to know the results of the conference. And once in a while, it even gets in the paper! Here’s a story from Owosso, MI:

  • Computer teacher attends MACUL conference.
  • Stops by the TWICE room, learns about videoconferencing and CAPspace (TWICE’s social networking site for videoconferencing).
  • Gets access to videoconferencing (Polycom PVX)
  • Signs up for Read Around the Planet
  • Luckily gets one of the 13 (out of 1950) UK partners
  • Gets written up in the paper.

And it all started at the MACUL conference!

Cool, huh?!

If you’re at MACUL this week, don’t forget to stop by the TWICE room for a videoconference session! Gallery Overlook G!

Read Around the Planet Day 10

Rural Hall kids teach their partner class in MI about the rainforest. Photo Credit: Linda McDermon.

Well, it’s the last official day of Read Around the Planet, a bitter sweet ending. I’m sad because RAP is an amazing two weeks, but I’m glad because now I can rest a bit!

As usual, it’s not really over! I had 70 Read Around the Planet sessions, and 56 of them are finished successfully. But I still have the reschedules:

  • 9 between now and the end of March (remember March is Reading Month!)
  • 5 that are still working on rescheduling

Here are some tips for rescheduling:

  • Reply to everyone involved!
  • Start by suggesting some dates and times.
  • Texas has spring break March 15-19 (I only mention because there are 400+ classes from TX doing RAP this year, so your odds of having a RAP with TX are pretty high.)
  • If you have a UK connection, don’t forget about daylight savings time! During March 14-28, US EST is only 4 hours off of UK time; not the usual 5!
  • Be patient and persistent! March is Reading Month! We’ve even had some RAP connections all the way into May! It’s ok. Just follow through with your partner!

And of course, don’t forget to do the evaluation!

Read Around the Planet Day 9

Day 9 of Read Around the Planet and I had 13 connections today – we went to NY, TX, PA, VA, and Alberta, Canada.


Here are a few snapshots from today’s connections.

A skit about red riding hood. Lots of great props and costumes in the VCs today.

I love this background. It says: We (heart) Michigan.

One of our partner classes couldn’t hear us. So I switched to my computer (which was hooked up from MysteryQuest last week) and started writing to them to trouble shoot. It got solved in time!


Did you get the email about the RAP 2010 Evaluation form? Please make sure you complete it! This data helps provide continued support for the project!

Preliminary Report

The final RAP report will include the evaluation data, but an initial report of numbers is now posted on the TWICE Read Around the Planet website. Check it out here.

Read Around the Planet Day 8: Evaluation Strategies

RAP picture posted on Flickr and tagged RAP2010 by Linda McDermon (also in the Kid2Kid class).

So, how are you evaluating your Read Around the Planet connections?

One of my RAP teachers is also taking the Kid2Kid Videoconference Connections class. In this class, participants end by evaluating the experience. The teachers tell how they evaluated the students’ learning, and how they evaluated the VC with the students. Here is an answer from Nichole Dohm, Eagle Lake Elementary:

Monday morning was my videoconference with Moorhead Minnesota. The conference went well and the students really enjoyed themselves. Today I passed out a quiz on the information presented at the videoconference to evaluate what exactly my students learned from the videoconference experience.

The second activity I gave my students was a self evaluation rubric. We had discussed during our planning the expectations I had of each group before and during the videoconference. This rubric went along with the expectations discussed. My student did very well on the quiz that I gave them with simple recall of facts presented by the other school. A large part of my preparation was focused on “active listening”, so the recall of facts was a quick way to check if they were engaged.

I also asked students what they would like to do next for a videoconference. I was amazed by the enormous amount of feedback this question elicited. I had suggestions ranging from author studies, monster books, Tall Tales, and connecting with new and different schools. I was so excited to see their enthusiasm shine through the project.

Are you evaluating your RAP connections? In what ways?

Read Around the Planet: Celebrating Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

We’ve had so many Read Around the Planet connections in the last few days! How about you? To celebrate, I’ll share some pictures and favorite RAP tweets.

Some Pictures

Some Favorite RAP Tweets

  • @jodie_tech: New York school just asked us “do you eat a lot of beans” haha. #RAP2010
  • @mcdermon: RAP – Rural Hall, NC & Dallas, TX – photos @ http://moourl.com/RAP #RAP2010 — it’s Dr. Seuss’ birthday!
  • @amindthought: 12 RAPS down and 4 to go…thanks so much to TWICE for making this all possible! #RAP2010
  • @lcolwill: My group is an afterschool group and they are so excited. They are doing a skit about a Guatemala news event. #RAP2010
    Our kids just asked the Guatemalan students “Do you watch American Idol?” LOL #RAP2010
  • @lcolwill: My school is doing a cheer after every student presentation by the remote site. Very cute. #RAP2010

A Great Question

  • @lcolwill: Tchr communication btwn partners is such a challenge. How can we make it better? #RAP2010

What do you think? Have you had teacher communication issues this year? How are you solving it? What would help make it better?