As educators, we often ask ourselves big questions about how we can do what’s right for our students: How can we show kids what exists outside the four walls of our classroom? How can we teach them about different cultures? How can we build bridges to teach global citizenship? How can we help kids connect?
Last summer, I read about an amazing educational movement called the Global Read Aloud. With the slogan “One Book to Connect the World,” the Global Read Aloud helps students and teachers connect internationally to share a reading experience. I immediately felt that this project would answer many of my questions about how to teach global citizenship. After connecting with teachers at the Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda, our plan for the Global Read Aloud was set.
Over the course of a few months, students in our third grade classes and students in the Primary 3 class at AAH read The BFG by Roald Dahl. Students wrote letters back and forth discussing the book. They wrote about their favorite characters. They discussed scenes in the text and analyzed favorite passages. They deepened their understanding of the text through sharing their thoughts in authentic writing.
Along the way, students also shared about their lives in the US and in Uganda. Students discussed their families, their pets, their chores, their interests. There were many ways that the pen pals were different from one another. The students soon discovered, however, that they had even more in common.
Last week, our project came to a close with a Skype visit. After months of communicating through letters, our students saw each other face to face in a video call. The students asked questions about each other’s lives, shared thoughts on what they were learning in school, and wrapped up our discussion of The BFG. Finally, students sang songs to each other.
I can’t tell you how much this project changed the lives of my students, but I can show you. This photo shows the moment when my students saw their pen pals come onto the screen. The pure joy and happiness in this photo speaks volumes. I know this project will be remembered by my students for years to come.
Miss Magee’s class at Johnson made new friends in Uganda and we’re so thrilled to share about the experience.
As an educator, the day of our Skype call filled me with so much joy. Seeing kids share thoughts across an ocean renewed my belief in the power of education. We can create experiences for kids where they can see beyond the walls of our classroom. We can create connections. We can raise a generation of global citizens. Through literature and technology, we can change the world.