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?!

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