Tag Archives: videoconferencing

Day 5: Learning through Read Around the Planet

Guest blogged by Roxanne Glaser
Our teachers and students love participating in Read Around the Planet. Do they really learn anything? YES! Here are some items from the National Educational Technology Standards for students and teachers that are addressed by participating in RAP.


  • Examine the geography of where you partner class is located.
  • Calculate the distance between classes and what time it is in different time zones.
  • Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
  • Develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
  • Develop critical thinking and problem-solving by planning and managing activities to develop a solution or complete a project.

Teachers and Coordinators

  • Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity by guiding and leading the students.
  • Engage students in learning with other students via videoconference
  • Manage time and effectively communicate with partner teachers and coordinators.
  • Expand your people network.
  • Develop ongoing partnerships with other educators and professionals from other states or countries.


Learn how videoconferencing works in different states and countries. Read Around the Planet is the best way to test interoperability among systems. I really wish that the manufacturers would each lend a video engineer to support RAP. I know that we use their equipment in ways they have not thought of.

  • How to communicate with personnel managing statewide bridges, provincial bridges, national bridges (JANET in the UK),
  • All the different ways that you can dial and receive a call.
  • How to connect outside your network(s).
  • How to best show what your classes are doing.
  • Best practice for using microphones, cameras, and visuals.

Your Turn

  • What are other things that students, teachers, and coordinators can learn during Read Around the Planet?

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 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 3: Preparing Yourself Mentally for RAP

Guest blogged by Roxanne Glaser

Participating in Read Around the Planet is NOT like signing up to participate in a program that is delivered by a content provider. It is a matching project where two classes present to each other. It is a simple concept, but you must approach it with a certain mindset to create success for your teachers and their students.

  • Know your capacity – For your first year, 5 connections is a good number to start with.
  • Know your equipment – Make a cheat sheet of your IP Address, contact name, phone and email for quick reference.
  • Check your school calendars – Double check the dates that your teachers say they want to connect. Make sure that it is not a holiday or testing day.
  • Maintain an organized approach – You are responsible for making sure that you have conducted a test connection with your partner site and helping your teachers prepare. Here is a chart you can use to organize your connections. Some coordinators use Google Docs or add events in Outlook.
  • Commit to your partners – Once your classes are matched, make sure that you do everything within your power to honor that commitment. Do not strand your partner class. Think about if someone did that to one of your classes.
  • Be flexible – Some connections will have to be rescheduled due to weather, illness, or other unforeseeable events. If you have to reschedule, be kind and understanding. I have heard some of the most wonderful stories of collaboration that come from a small act of kindness.

Students get really excited about meeting a class from another school and sharing their learning and we, as coordinators, are responsible for assisting to make that happen.

Here is a list of the top 10 reasons for canceled videoconferences. While a canceled connection might be a bit frustrating to you, look at this list. Life happens. And it happens to all of us, so as you go into Read Around the Planet this year, know that in the end, it will always work out.

Today’s Challenge

  1. Follow-up with the teachers that you think would enjoy Read Around the Planet.
  2. Double-check the school calendars.
  3. Download RAP organization chart and plan how you will manage your connections. Coordinators will also be able to get a .csv file of their matches.

Your Turn

  • What are some strategies you use to keep organized and calm when life speeds up?
  • How do you organize your test calls and connections for Read Around the Planet videoconferences?

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.

Day 1: 20 Days to Better VC Projects

This year for our 20-day challenge we are again writing for anyone who is supporting videoconferencing in their building or their district. 20 Days to Better Videoconference Projects will focus on how to increase your videoconference usage by scaling projects and managing your time. During this challenge we will share specific examples to get your 2010 off to a great start.

Schools that are using videoconferencing to enhance and support curriculum begin by connecting with content providers and participating in managed projects to introduce the technology to their teachers and students. Those are both highly structured and supported avenues to implementation. Two challenging aspects to them are content providers cost money and if someone else is running a project, it might not meet your timeline as you need it to. In addition, you may have more classes that want to participate in a project than the available spots.

A solution can be to scale a collaboration so that it can meet your teachers’ timeline and curriculum. How can you assist with this with all of the other responsibilities in a timely manner?

Our plan is to create posts around weekly themes and walk you through a step-by-step plan. To get the most out of this challenge, we invite you to share tips and management that you have found effective so that we can learn together. If you are unclear about anything that we share, be sure to ask questions.

  • Week 1: Getting Your Feet Wet with Read Around the Planet
  • Week 2: Managing Exploding Projects and Collaborations
  • Week 3: Designing and Scaling Your Own Projects
  • Week 4: Time Tips and Tune-Ups

We’re targeting school level coordinators as our primary audience, but we know district and regional level VC coordinators will benefit from this exercise too. We will be collaborating and cross-posting each day’s challenge on our respective blogs as we did last year.


  • If you missed last year’s 20 Days Challenge, be sure to review it!
  • Make sure you have an account in Collaborations Around the Planet (CAPspace), and that you have filled everything in under My Settings. Review this blog challenge from last year if you need more information.
  • Subscribe to either of our blogs in your favorite reader (Roxanne or Janine ), or via email. You can also follow both of us on Twitter: Roxanne and Janine.

Your turn:

  • What do you think is the best benefit of collaborative videoconference projects with other schools?
  • What do you think is hardest about making collaborative videoconference projects happen?

We’re glad you are joining us for another 20 Day Challenge!
Roxanne and Janine

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.