In the Lower School, kindergarten, first and second grades participated in a worldwide event called the Global Read Aloud. The premise of the project is simple; one book is chosen to be read aloud to students throughout a six-week period based on their age group. The classes then try to make as many global connections as possible through this shared text. Teachers get a community of other educators to develop a project with, and students get to connect with similar shared experiences from people their age across the globe. The goal of the project is to make the world seem just a little bit smaller.
There is no limit to the number of connections that can be made. Some classes may choose to communicate with only one other class, and some connect with many. Each year, teachers find pen-pals through Facebook groups and Padlet to share information about where they are from, who they are and how their class feels about the book. Some classes even send postcards to their connected pen-pals.
The students read A Boy Called Bat, a heartfelt and thoughtful book about a boy on the autism spectrum navigating life’s challenges. Bat has a lot of worries, worries that most students find they too have and can connect with Bat’s struggles. As the students make these connections, they write about their shared experience and develop an understanding that they are not alone. Their classmates and other children across the world have similar worries and experiences.
The author of the book, Elana Arnold, answered questions in a weekly podcast throughout the six week program, something the students particularly enjoyed. She will be releasing two more books about Bat and his adventures that each class will take the time to read and discuss early next year, continuing their global outreach and learning.