Using Skype, GPS technology and their own intuition, grade 6 students identified the location of their mystery guests in Ms. Padberg’s geography class.
The class is participating in the Global Read Aloud, an annual project that encourages global collaboration through a simple goal: students in classrooms all over the world read and discuss the same book. This year’s middle school selection is “Refugee,” by Alan Gratz. It is the story of three refugee children from three different historical eras, 1930s Germany, 1994 Cuba and 2015 Syria.
Ms. Padberg’s students have just begun reading the book out loud. So have students in another classroom in another country. The two groups came together via Skype this week, but didn’t know each other’s locations. They asked each other a series of questions to narrow down the possibilities; one group sought out clues from the responses while another group used Google Earth on their laptops to zero in on locations.
Ms. Padberg reminded students to use their geography skills to think broadly, then narrow down the focus of their questions:
“Does it snow where you are?”
“Do you live along a coastline?”
“Do you have a professional sports team?”
“Do you speak a different language?”
As time ran short in the class period, both groups were able to locate each other. Barstow students were connecting with peers at Hawthorne Village School in Milton, Canada. They will continue to have conversations as they read “Refugee” together. Since its creation in 2010, more than four million students have connected around the world to share literature.