EPals Meets Global Read Aloud

There is a project called the Global Read Aloud Project. They select a book and during a four-week period they are reading the same chapters, writing in wikis and blogs, connecting through Skype, and posting and sharing student work.  You can read more about their project at www.globalreadaloud.wikispaces.com . You can also follow them on twitter at #GRA11. Grades 1-3 are reading Flat Stanley and Grades 4-7 are reading Tuck Everlasting. Their current project runs from this Monday, Sept 19-Oct 14, 2011.
I’m a 5th grade teacher in VA and I’m working to create a global classroom. Our school district has strict guidelines for technology, but I was given permission to use ePals and I can use Elluminate. I cannot generally make contact through Skype, wikis or blogs. I heard about the Global Read Aloud Project and wanted to find a way to get involved with this program. I spoke with ePals administrators and they were great to create a program that mirrors the program within the GRA blog and wiki. They are going to be monitoring the GRA wiki and blog and update activities and classroom suggestions within ePals.
If you are not familiar with ePals, it is a free service. ePals is the leading provider of safe collaborative technology for schools to connect and learn in a protected, project-based learning network. With classrooms in 200 countries and territories, ePals makes it easy to connect learners locally, nationally or internationally.
As a teacher, it is easy to open an account, setup a school profile, and add students to an account. They do require permission slips for students under 13 years old. Students are able to use student forums and create posts and comments on other students discussion threads in a variety of topics such as Arts and Entertainment, Sports, Current Events, Social Issues, Music, Technology and more. You can post in many languages and it has a translate button that will translate it into other languages. Epals also has partnerships with National Geographic and the Smithsonian, which I am still exploring.
For teachers, there are teacher forums where you can share ideas and post that you are looking for classes to connect with on any topic. There are prearranged projects you can link too. You can post your classes works like videos, pictures, or websites in the student media galleries and search through them by tags.
Once you open your ePals account, you can link to the GRA11 in project forums at:
There you can download the GRA11 calendar for Tuck Everlasting.
I’m hoping to have discussions on things like student predictions, new vocabulary, etc., share student work in the student media gallery, and connect with classrooms within ePals.
Anyway, if you have limited use of open technology with wikis and blogs but still want to participate in the Global Read Aloud, check and see if ePals could work for you.

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