After the Global Read Aloud – A Letter From Me to You #GRA15

Good evening,

I started the Global Read Aloud with a dream, a hope, and a wish to connect my own students to the rest of the world.  I knew that books held a magic that we could use to create connections and I knew that my students needed ways to speak to others, a way to embrace technology and make it more meaningful, a way to bring the world in.  So one summer night, in 2010, the Global Read Aloud was born.  And boy, has it ever grown.

From it’s humble beginnings of less than 200 students all reading The Little Prince to this year’s project where I stopped counting after we hit 500,000 students, this project has become its own magnificent entity.  A “thing” that you do, a tradition that keeps growing and growing.  And so, it is at a point where I feel like I have to share a few things about being the creator of the GRA and what this project looks like from the back.  What it feels to be headquarters, creator, mastermind, email answerer, tweet reader, and every single person approver, or any other role that this project requires.  It is time I set a few things straight.

To all of you who have loved this project and made it your own.  Who have championed it, shared it, made it better than what it was; thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of me.  Thank you for seeing its beauty and taking the time to believe in it.

To the authors who have given their time, who have given up writing time, who have connected, who have recorded, who have been involved.  You have taken this project to a whole new level.  You have made it magical.

But to those of you who keep sharing all of the things that are wrong with the project, how it would only be better if this, first of all, I am sorry that it cannot live up to what you had dreamed.  Secondly, I am one person.  I am someone who has 4 children under the age of 6, who teaches full-time, who writes, and speaks, and reads so many books to keep this thing going.  Who needs to sleep and even sometimes not work.

I get your frustration at missed connections.  I get when an author is not involved enough.  When a book doesn’t fit perfectly.  When the project is ending and you have just found out about it and there is no other project this year.  I get when it falls over a break, or when the tool you use is not working.  I get that you get frustrated when I cannot buy the books for you, I am a teacher, I buy the books myself too.  I get it.  But I cannot fix it.  I cannot make this better.  I am one person, someone who is trying so hard to make this project the best project for those who choose to do it.

The Global Read Aloud is a beautiful thing if you make it beautiful.  The power of it lies in its simplicity; you make it into what you need.  There will never be lesson plans to follow.  There will never be everything that someone could want.  I will never be able to do all of the things that some wish I would.  That is not the spirit of the project, that is not my desire. This project remains at its core a way to connect students, and sometimes that involves figuring things out that we are not completely sure of how to do.

So as I look back at this year, it’s sixth, one thing is for sure; it was big!  And I am not sure it is meant to be.  I am not sure that we are meant to have as many places to connect, as many books to choose from.  I feel like the project is turning into something that is not about the connections but more about the size, and that was never my intention.  So for the next few months, I am going to be doing a lot of thinking.  I would love your thoughts as well, but please, only the positive ones, I think I have filled my quota for the year on the negative.

I don’t know how the Global Read Aloud will look next year.  I don’t know if there will be a next year.  There are so many incredible things, but for now it is time to scrutinize and decide; where will it go?  What will it look like?  How do we keep it about the books and the connecting, rather than the frustrations?  My ears are open, my heart is heavy, and yet, thankful for all of you who have loved it.  You are what make me do it year after year, you are what makes all of this worth it.

Best,
Pernille

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73 thoughts on “After the Global Read Aloud – A Letter From Me to You #GRA15

  1. This program is beyond amazing. I am so sorry that people complain. Today I had the opportunity to talk to kids that I had last year and did gra with. They did it this year with another teacher. It was so wonderful. My students love this. It is something they will carry forever. I as their teacher will always be grateful for this amazing project. Thank you and thank you.

  2. Pernille,
    Thank you for this amazing journey. This is my first year participating in global read aloud and it has been an incredible process. I have never enjoyed a read-aloud more– your choice of Fish in a Tree was a great one, and hearing from the author was so special. We kept it simple with just a few tweets each week. My students were completely engaged not only because of the quality literature you chose but also the connections to other readers around the world. Their level of learning, deep understanding and rich conversations were truly stunning. I totally understand your concerns about the amount of work it is for you, but, selfishly, I sure hope it’s not the last year! Thanks for everything you have done. Despite some negativity coming your way, please know that the work you do is appreciated.

    • This is my second year doing GRA, it has been truly amazing! I know as teachers in this imperfect world we are stretched so thin, yet GRA is something I look forward to. It gives me a list of books to read over the summer & add to my classroom, all purchased myself. This year I loved Fish In A Tree so much, I purchased copies for my team so they to would try GRA and see what it has to offer. I believe, like anything with teaching, it gets better each year. I was able to do more, write more/connect more this year. I know next year, fingers crossed, I know I will do a little bit better. You are a beautiful, amazing master mind that connects kids & brings the love of reading to all. Teaching isn’t easy, it takes time, grit, and hope for our students future. If people want easy, teaching isn’t the right place for them. Please know that so many of us are so thankful for all that you do. I know there are many of us out there who would be willing to help in anyway possible! Please let us help you, after you have taken time to breath, we will be here to help! Today is World Kindness Day, and I want to thank you for all you do!

  3. Hi Pernille,

    I love that the GRA is what each and every educator makes of it. It is beautiful in its simplicity & flexibility. I am a grade 6/7 teacher in Surrey, Canada. The One & Only Ivan got me hooked on the project with my class & I eagerly look forward to the announcement of the selections year. Each year since I purchase each GRA option & read it through my summer & present the options to my students. This year Fish has opened my students eyes to the lives of refugees and the huge efforts & humanitarian risks people take to support people in crisis.

    In recognizing that you are one person I am offering up my efforts/network & love for this project to support you any way that I can. I am @hughtheteacher on Twitter. I look forward to talking with you to see if I can be of any help to you.

    Thank you for all your efforts. Trust me when I say it is much appreciated!

    Hugh

  4. Pernille, I have taught for 26 years. Last year was my first year of GRA and it was without a doubt the best thing I have ever done as a reading teacher. To have my students laugh, groan and cry as I read happens on occasion. But to have middle schoolers beg me every day to read was a first. Both the students and I were thrilled to be able to communicate in a variety of ways with classes all over the world. Some days it was skype, some days Edmodo, some days Writeabout. It didn’t matter if technology or schedules didn’t always work. That’s life. They were engaged for six weeks and learned wonderful life lessons. Thank you. I wish I had been part of this wonderful project from year one, and I look forward to another year where students share their ideas, hopes and dreams.

  5. This was the first year I participated in the Global Read Aloud, and my students and I absolutely loved it! We had such a blast today celebrating the end of FIAT by doing the Glow Ball Read Dahl Loud. Such fun, and an amazing way to celebrate reading. Pernille, I’m so sorry that you received any amount of negativity centered around something so positive and beautiful. I would like to reach out to you to let you know that I would be willing to help you with the “headquarters” end of the operation to help alleviate some of the stress. Let’s please keep the GRA going. It truly is a wonderful experience for the children.

  6. Pernille I am so grateful for your amazing work bringing GRA to the world. I can’t begin to imagine how you do all you do. You have given us a gift. I believe it is up to us as adults to work with your gift & experiment to make our connections. Thank you for your gift.

  7. I am shocked to hear that there has been so much negativity. This is my fourth year participating and I look forward to it every year. Please know you have way more supporters than complainers. You have enriched the lives of so many students and teachers. Thank you and don’t give up on the rest of us!! 🙂

    Angela

  8. You have no idea what this project has done for me and my classroom. The gra was a stepping stone to give me a chance to connect with others. It is what has made my read aloud authentic. The kids have learned about geography when I wasn’t teaching it. They learned about an appropriate way to connect with others and listen when I wasn’t Teaching it. They learned how to listen and really understand a text, ask questions, REAL questions and REAL wonders. the students pushed me to make the connections. To create projects based on what we read. Even when the connections failed, the kids had done the work already that they were okay with it. They were okay to try tried another time. So I also taught reliance and perseverance. I taught them how to learn from their mistakes, all, again, when I wasn’t planning on teaching that. All because of a book and a teacher with a dream. A dream that has grown and should continue to grow. Even though, the hard not to hear the negative but I hope this message helps you realize that you touched a teacher and changed my look at technology and the power of global connections and you changed my 25 kids that loved every minute. I would get a resounding “YES” every time we had a chance to do a read aloud. I call all of this SUCCESS!
    Thank you for what you created. I hope it continue.

    Best-
    Sarah Clausen
    2nd grade teacher

  9. Pernille,
    You are the reading warrior! You have planted seeds that are blooming and spreading across our planet. Please know that there are far more people singing praises for the project. Please know there are people all over the world gathered in classrooms shedding tears of joy for Ally, shouting out at Shay, and sad that the experience is almost over, but not really. We know the power of a book and characters that stick with you long after the end. Shame on the complainers! I was very sad to read this. Please don’t let this blurr the brilliance of the great GRA!
    Cheers to you, Theresa, fellow reading warrior from Chili, NY

  10. I think it is a real shame that you have received so many negative comments about the GRA. Even though my district restricts Google Hangouts and Skype, I can still participate with other classrooms through Edmodo, Kidblog, and just the thought that we are participating in a novel that so many people around the world are participating in. Why does there need to be lesson plans? What ever happened to just reading a book, discussing the events, and predicting what will happen next? You have chosen awesome books for this endeavor and I hope that you will find the strength and the passion to continue this into the future. You are an amazing educator, Pernille.

  11. Pernille,
    You are the reading warrior! You have planted seeds that are blooming and spreading across our planet. Please know that there are far more people singing praises for the project. Please know there are people all over the world gathered in classrooms shedding tears of joy for Ally, shouting out at Shay, and sad that the experience is almost over, but not really. We know the power of a book and characters that stick with you long after the end. Shame on the complainers! I was very sad to read this. Please don’t let this blurr the brilliance of the great GRA!
    Cheers to you, Theresa, fellow reading warrior from Chili, NY

  12. What has the GRA provided to kindergartners in Verona, WI? Tools to engage beginning readers in conversations that they make personal connections to; chances to share their thoughts globally and recognize that children around the world have similarities; inspiration to try new technology to share thinking. Thank you for the opportunity, Pernille!

  13. There will always be people that are unhappy. But I want you to remember the thousands of kids who you help inspire to love books! To try new things! To share their thoughts and opinions and that they matter! I teach kindergarten and was so excited to take on the GRA challenge but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the impact it would have on my students and myself as an educator. The GRA inspired us to get to know an author intimately, to learn what their style was and their messages are. It inspired us to read new books and make connections to them and work on writing responses to the reading! It inspired us to hear other people’s opinions and thoughts about the book and feel confident to take our stand as well. It inspired us to connect with classrooms across the country and blow my students away that we talked to them through a Smart Board. The first time they asked if they should make room at the carpet for their friends! Ha! So thank you For your vision and ability to think beyond text books and curriculum and to create something new, authentic and absolutely engaging for students and teachers alike! I hope you continue to offer this amazing opportunity to fall in love with books all over again for the 20 little readers in Room 9 at Riverview Elementary and for the thousands of other classrooms like mine all over the world!

  14. Pernille this is the third year I have participated in the GRA. As a reading specialist your program has afforded me opportunities to show my students how much fun reading is, which can be a difficult task with struggling readers. In the process the project has made me aware of so many new teaching tools. Some I feel at ease with and others, I’m still working on. You are an amazing teacher that should be praised. To have created such a remarkable experience for students all over the world is remarkable. From the One and Only Ivan to the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Billy Miller, my students are learning valuable lessons they will carry with them for a lifetime. Thank you Pernille for taking me outside of my comfort zone. I am hopeful you will find the strength to continue the project. Many thanks for sharing . It has been a wonderful experience for my students. If I can be of help, let me know.

  15. My class and I loved the global read aloud and the opportunity to chat with a class from Canada about Fish in a Tree! What a wonderful learning experience for everyone involved.

    Sent from my iPhone

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  16. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of this for the first time this year. It was an absolutely incredible experience for my grade 5 class in Ontario. We blogged with new friends in New Jersey, tweeted to Dubais and made. Wonderful connection on Google hangouts with a class in NC which I am confident will continue all year. Missed connections were an opportunity to problem solve and connect with others locally in our board. My class was thoroughly engaged in the book for the whole time which in itself is success! I was personally challenged to step outside of my comfort level with technology and have loved it Thank you Pernille for sharing your vision and letting us be part of it. Thank you for your love and passion of literature.
    Kelly Torrance, Hamilton Ontario

  17. Hi Pernille,

    This is the second year that we participated in the global read aloud. Last year as second grade teachers in an integrated class, we did the Peter Reynolds author study. We slumped with a librarian in Illinois and posted video projects weekly to connect to the books. We immersed our class in growth mindset using the books to promote diversity, kindness and growing as learners. Mainly using Edmodo as a means of communicating with other classes, we had a wonderful time.

    This year we looped to third grade with our students. We incorporated The Year of Billy Miller into our reading program, Reading Fundamentals, while using Jennifer Seravello’s books as a teaching mentor text. Over the summer, we made several international connections which didn’t go anywhere; however we did make very good friends with a class in Canada. We skype and will continue as snail mail penpals through the year. We shared ideas with 2 classes through kidblog and shared our own dioramas of our favorite places in New York through videos on Edmodo.

    Although our experiences have been different, both have been awesome for us and our children. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your Global Read Aloud.

    Gratefully yours, Marcia Sterenbuch and Jen Keiler Old Bethpage School Old Bethpage, NY

    Sent from my iPhone

  18. I had the best experiences this year with the Global Read Aloud. The books were great. The reading was awesome. The enthusiasm of the students was wonderful. I loved connecting to teachers in my district & with classes globally. We shared ideas & responses in Padlet, we made Vlogs (video logs). We made mystery Skype connections. I will miss it if this becomes the last year.
    I appreciate all the hard work that goes on the organize such an event.
    Also, I would be willing to help as I think others would be as well. We should divide and conquer this at Nerd Camp this summer.

  19. Please know that The Global Read Aloud has been perfect for our class. We kept it simple… read and discussed and connected with new friends across the nation. Thanks for facilitating such an incredible experience for us. It’s been fabulous.

  20. Pernille – this was my 1st year doing the GRA. I connected 4 Kindergarten classes in my school with other classes around the country. For some of the classes, we connected each week. For others, we only connected when schedules aligned. Regardless of how often we connected, the kids loved every single second of it. We made joint padlets, online books, did skype calls, connected through twitter, mailed letters, and any other way we could think to connect. Many of the classes in my school are planning to continue the connections with our partner classes all year! I cannot imagine how much work it must be on your end to coordinate all of this, but I want to say thank you very much. You opened the world up to my Kindergarten classes and I loved being along for the ride. I hope you decide to do the project again next year because I am already looking forward to it. Thank you!

  21. I thoroughly appreciate all the effort you put in- I love the flexibility and open ended nature of the project. I understand it has become too much but I want you to know how much toe work is appreciated.

  22. This was the first year I have participated in the GRA, and I believe it is the single-most important thing I have added to my teaching program this year. Teachers are a tough crowd. They always have been. I’d say, move on and don’t waste another minute on them. They are soul-suckers in a profession that can be tiring of it’s own accord. Thoe are the teachers who have lost their passion, and obviously have forgotten that the heart of a true teacher to be a creative thinker, problem solver, one who works on a team, and teachers are the ones who are encouragers, always spurring others on, to do their best and celebrate it when someone is doing something awesome. That’s you Pernille! You’ve done something amazing, and magical with the GRA! I give you an off the charts Level 4.

    I am also a mom of four little ones, working full time. Part of what I LOVED about the GRA was that I didn’t have to do more than I could manage, and the truth is, I might not have participated if there were must-do pieces to the project. I loved the freedom to make this my professional inquiry, and take my students along for the ride. They have loved the book, have made connections, have written and shared ideas, have CREATED! Boy, has Ally ever inspired their artwork! But the best of all, is that I have a room full of excited readers! Today was parent-teacher interviews, and I was overwhelmed with the positive responses from parents about their children’s new engagement with reading this school year. I totally believe that the GRA and FIAT should take the cake for all of that.

    Anyway, I am completely inspired. Whether the GRA continues as we know it next year, actually is okay with me either way. Mostly because good ideas shouldn’t ever be kept in one place. And so maybe it is time for it to be what spurs on new ideas, or others to take on a piece of it to help you keep it true to it’s original design. Over here in Barrie, Ontario, we have a crew of excited teachers who are going to begin our small version of this project, and do a Simcoe County Junior Readers Read Aloud. We are debating books already, and plan to launch our copy-cat version in January. I can’t wait!

    You are innovative. You’ve broken ground in new territory. Unfortunately, it often goes that those who bring about Firsts, are the ones who feel the most resistance. But through the GRA, you’ve opened many of us up to new ways of teaching, and even better, has helped me to develop new ways of thinking about teaching. You are a true teacher of the 21st century, and I am so grateful to have had a piece of the GRA this year. Congratulations, Pernille!

  23. Thank you for such an awesome project, Pernille! I can’t imagine anyone saying anything negative about it! The amount of effort it has taken for you to put all this together is incredible! I’m very grateful! It was truly such a beneficial experience for myself, and most importantly for my students!
    I really hope you decide to continue with this project for next year (let me know if there is anything I can do to help). I have made an awesome new friend in Canada (which I hope to continue to plan with) as well as made many other Global connections for my students! I’ve utilized so much technology, was able to share and learn new ideas, and my class had such a wonderful time reading and learning! We also enjoyed participating in the Global Acts of Random Kindness Project (hanging signs around school, “booing” teachers with treats, leading a craft and reading our poetry to a self-contained class)! We enjoyed so many projects that went along with the book also (building Lego scenes, producing video trailers,decorating t-shirts, adopting a pet fish we named Ally with her own tree, creating narratives/podcasts, learning about Dyslexia, Padlets, Kahoots, recording our read alouds…)
    The book, Fish in a Tree, was also so incredible! It touched the hearts of my students! They made so many meaningful connections while reading. They could definitely relate to the main character and it has encouraged them in many ways and left all of us inspired! Lynda Mulally Hunt is also such a wonderful person and a true role model for my class! They loved her videos! I admire her a great deal too!
    Thank you so much for everything!! I think you are truly amazing!!! 🙂

  24. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of these comments, the project will continue in some way. It will come back in some way. It is not so much that I need help, I have most of that in a system, but when the negativity is what people focus on when they email/contact me it gets hard to keep seeing the positive. These stories that you are sharing here is reminding me just how many people have made this project magical and for you, it will continue.

  25. I am personally grateful to you for initiating this wonderful project. I look forward to it every year and it never disappoints.

  26. I am a teacher from Westlock, Alberta, Canada. I am in my 31st year of this amazing career, and I have truly never felt so energized! This year, out of all the things that I had to do to make this work–and yes, it was extensive–never did I have to motivate my grade 8s and 9s to participate.

    Thank you for a project that makes my students’ writing about reading authentic. Thank you for a project that reminds them that there is a big world outside our classroom walls. My students read two different books and, in both cases, the authors came to our class blogs and did some reading and responding. As a secondary teacher, I rarely see a look of wonder on my 15 year old students’ faces, but when I told them that they author had commented on our blogs, I saw it all over the room. When they realized how big their audience is, it motivated them even more.

    Thank you for choosing books that make a difference. We had many deep conversations about how we can make our world a better place. I know there are lots of great books out there, but these worked perfectly, better than I first expected. I am actually thinking that the particular book doesn’t matter as much as the opportunity to participate.

    I have 84 students who participated in the Global Read Aloud. I can tell you that this experience positively influenced each one of them.

    Sincerely,

    Noreen

  27. Hi Pernille,

    After coming back from maternity leave, I really didn’t know if I had the fire in me anymore. I love being home with my son so much. Thanks to the GRA, I have rediscovered my passion for teaching and for globally connecting. We read FIAT. Your choice was so spot on. Students of all levels are engaged in the text and look forward to listening and discussing. The text encourages empathy, and the connections we have made do the same. Given the tragic events that occurred today, the GRA is more important than ever. Encouraging connections across classrooms, nationally and internationally, is a powerful way for students to realize that they are more similar than different. My kids in New Jersey struggle just like the kids in their buddy class in Barcelona or Alberta, and they rejoice over similar things as well. Providing a forum to recognize these commonalities is an incredible gift, which may have an even greater positive impact down the line than anyone could have imagined.

  28. Thank you, Pernille Ripp, for your creation of GRA! You truly inspire me to become a better teacher. I stumbled upon GRA three years ago before taking a new reading position at a small Catholic school in Louisiana. Luckily, I have a supportive administration that has allowed me to take the time during the months of October and November to engage my students with heartwarming novels for these past three years. I love how it brings me and my class together when we discuss, laugh, and even like today cry while reading these novels.

    However, the real magic happens when we connect with other classrooms around the country and the world that are reading the same novel. This week one of my classes skyped with a Californian class. Unbeknown to my class and I, they attend an Islamic school. I am proud to say that we thoroughly enjoyed one another’s class and conversation. At the end of the Skype, my class was surprised that their skyping buddies were not only Muslim but regular kids like themselves, and definitely not the scary way the television portrays them. (I hate to put labels on our classes, but being from the South, hardly any of my students have ever seen or spoken to a Muslim person before Thursday. Their teacher and I have decided to continue this connection all school year long to teach our students about one another’s culture.) The best part of Global Read Aloud is making these connections and learning life-long lessons about respect and tolerance from them. The only way for our globe to peacefully come together is through teaching acceptance and respecting one another’s differences.

    Thank you again for coordinating this wonderful experience for me and my students. I will be sharing my experience of GRA next month with Louisiana educators at LACUE.

  29. Dear Pernille,

    When I stumbled onto the GRA website in June, I fell in love! I immediately started telling everyone I knew about it and how awesome of an idea it was (and is). I convinced two of my colleagues to do the book I wanted and we did. However, we didn’t know that we would soon be on a stricter Work to rule situation that severely limited our abilities to get consent for technology use. No matter! We did our own mini read aloud and are continuing to work on ideas found in the book. We love it! Being newbies was hard but we have tons of ideas for next time.

    Anyone who is whining, complaining, and sending bad vibes towards the GRA doesn’t deserve to participate. When we are teaching our students anything and everything, I am pretty sure that problem solving is supposed to be one of the ticket items. When things don’t work out, figure out another plan.

    I would like to say sorry to anyone I said I was going to connect with… It just didn’t work out for us. And I am sorry Pernille that adults would be so rude as to negatively impact something was created out of love and passion towards books/reading/new worlds!
    The books chosen were fantastic! I read three of them and plan on reading them all at some point.
    Thank you for your hard work and efforts!!!! ❤

  30. I just learned about GRA this year and have taken it and made it my own. I connected with other classes using Voxer. This was a new tool for many of us. It was anything but perfect, but I never got frustrated or worried. Whatever happened was good. Whatever didn’t happen was not an issue.
    I want to say that I never saw this project as anything more than something I had to buy into to make it my own and make it worthwhile for my students. I would never expect you to do that for me. I think to have reached as many people as you have is amazing for one person. I have no idea how you did it all.
    I appreciate everything you did to keep us informed and working toward connection. But like Dot Day which has grown by amazing leaps, this is a project that we either do or we don’t. You have a gift we can open and share. Please, please, please don’t feel guilty about the negative responses. I look forward to meeting you at NCTE and giving you a big hug. Thanks!

  31. Dear Pernille, My sincerest apologies that you have felt inundated with negative comments over this project. It hurts my heart to hear your disappointment and to know, given everything you have done, that you are not getting the support you deserve.

    As educators we are often hardest on ourselves and no matter how many “positive comments” we receive it’s the negative ones that sit in our minds and in our hearts. This is my first GRA and although I feel “I” haven’t used the opportunity to it’s full potential “you” have certainly, without a shadow of a doubt, provided us with an amazing tool and an unbelievable opportunity!!! Not only is the book we are reading amazing, it has pushed our learning outside of the four walls of our classroom in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, into the lives of students as far away as New Zealand…we got to Skype with a group of students who were literally a whole day ahead of us! Wow! Moreover, it is a connection we now hope to foster and continue throughout the year. Thank you for opening up that opportunity and for encouraging these type of Global Connections for our students. We can truly learn so much from one another!!!

    Honestly, thank you so much Pernille! My heartfelt appreciation goes out to you and please know this has been an opportunity of a lifetime for my students and I…if this actually turns out to be the last GRA, I am soooo glad I was able to be a part of it. Kind Regards and Best Wishes, Keri Cyr xxoo

    Sent from my iPhone

  32. Pernille,

    Three years ago a teammate encouraged me to sign up for GRA. I decided I was not ready to start blogging, but I love read alouds, and figured I would try it. It changed my way of teaching. Every day when we got back from lunch, I would turn the lights down, sit on the floor, my students laying around the room… some resting on my legs as I read… and we engrossed ourselves in Out Of My Mind. It became our favorite part of the day. When we reached the end of the book, we cried. Cried for sweet Melody who we had grown to love and for the simple fact that our special story time was over. Keeping up with chapters each week forced me to take time out of our busy day to read. To breathe. To relax. To connect with my students. To give my students a chance to connect with a fictional character. It is my favorite time of the year and quickly becomes my students’ favorite time of the year. Every book seems to be exactly what my students need to hear that year. The characters and themes are ones that we connect back to all year.

    It saddens me to read that you are feeling discouraged this year. Unfortunately, people who complain are often more vocal than the ones who are truly enjoying the experience. Probably because we are busy enjoying the experience rather than complaining… While there will always be critics, please don’t forget the classrooms that you have impacted.

    Enjoy your family time!

  33. I just want to say I am in awe of this project. It completely “befuddles” me that any educator could lose sight of the big picture of what this is and what it is meant for. The fact it was created (and maintained) by a mother (of 4!?) and a full time teacher is nothing short of amazing! I came across this by accident by last year and searched it out for this year and told whoever I could about it.

    People have to remember that what’s great about this is you can make it as big or as small as you want. It’s a cog in a bigger wheel – you decide how big you let it get.

    I truly appreciate everything you have set up Pernille – from the great books and authors you choose to the resources that have been shared. I made great connections this year that will carry on throughout the year.

    Thank you! Looking forward to ‘searching you out’ next year! 🙂

  34. Please don’t worry about those complaining. I firmly believe it is up to the individual to make it what we want. I have made the BEST connections and one of my colleagues said this is the most rewarding collaboration she has ever done. We continue our connection through the year. I’ve met new friends. I’ve seen such great schools and ideas. I think you’ve done a wonderful job giving us opportunity to create something meaningful. My students are being introduced to other students through writeabout and kid blog and skyping and google hangout. I have loved every minute of this and have been on board for the past two years. I really don’t want this to end. Thank you for all your effort 🙂 I believe there are many more teachers out there enthused than there are those unhappy for whatever reason. It hasn’t all been smooth for me either. I’ve spent hours planning, counting on some teachers who just dropped out, working through the technology challenges. But I never gave up and it has all been worth it.

  35. Pernille, If you could somehow be provided a with a bird’s eye view of planet earth, I would imagine you would see a global standing ovation for the Herculean effort, time, and talent you’ve invested in the Global Read Aloud. As educators we wonder what 21st Century Skills looks like – and here is a first rate example of the explosive energies and positive impact an authentic learning experience can bring to teachers and their students.

    Thanks to the GRA, I was introduced to an amazing author (Thanks, Amy), made Skype friends with Red Hill Elementary in Gardenview, VA, and experienced an ignited passion for reading amongst my students.

    Pernille, you’re a rock star and a hero – a genuine hero. Please, please don’t let those “Negative Nellies” taint such an amazing experience for you. My hope is that you look back and hear the thunderous applause of the tens of thousands of people who have enjoyed the past few weeks.

    Next year, maybe provide a disclaimer to people who enjoy whining to go find an alternate activity…maybe there’s a worksheet with their name on it that they could go do…Keep the GRA organic – that’s what makes it cool. I love that there are no tests, rubrics, nor rules – it’s creative and wonderful…exploratory – the way learning should be!!

    If I could send you a pumpkin spice latte – I surely wood (or other such frothy beverage).
    YOU ROCK.

  36. Thank you for all the love and effort you have put into GRA! The book choices were amazing, the author involvement took it to another level and the connections the students made with the students around the world is something they will treasure I am sure! In the words of the Lorax “let it grow”, this makes life long readers and learners!

  37. I have really liked this project and the connections I have made. Too bad that people are complaining – they shouldn’t be doing that. You are ONE person and your efforts have been magnificent.

  38. Thank you for bringing GRA to us! This was my first year participating in GRA, therefore we kept it simple. We connected with one other classroom via Edmodo, and followed the Twitter feeds. This was such an amazing process, and my students (and my partner teacher) are forever changed because of you. My students loved FIAT, and were able to connect with the characters on many levels. The students were all able in interact with the text at a much deeper level than in the past. The authentic thinking, wondering, communicating and reflecting that happened, every day, amazed me.

    I was saddened to hear that you received negative feedback. It is impossible to please everyone, and I hope you do not let those comments impact the future of GRA. If someone is disappointed, they simply do not need to participate next year.

    There are so many teachers, students, administrators and parents that are forever grateful for what GRA has brought to education. You should be very proud of what you have done and the impact you have had.

  39. Some of my teacher BFFs joke about my philosophy of teaching. Instead of focusing mostly on content, as they do in the older grades, my goal is to make my students feel unique and confident enough to try. I understand the importance of curriculum, and I DO teach it, everyday. But in second grade making memories of epic fails and major accomplishments is what should be most important to a learner.

    With that being said, the GRA did just that. I gave my students something to remember from 2J. Yes, I could have explored more Skypes and Hangouts and Padlets, etc but it didn’t matter. Coloring on a map, reading comments on twitter, and reading a pretty awesome read aloud had my kids hooked! Yesterday, all 15 students came in dressed up, put glow stick bracelets on their hands, and held the homemade Drop Sisters I made (of course, the night before) and actively listened to the ending of The Year of Billy Miller. It was an unforgettable day in my classroom and I am looking forward to this journey again and again.

    Don’t allow the negative to get into your head. With every great idea comes many naysayers. Embrace what you did for teachers around the world–and more importantly for the kids.

    Thank you for such an amazing opportunity. It will not be forgotten by 2J.

  40. This was our first year participating, we are ever grateful. The experience has been amazing, we did combined literacy with another class in our school and had 39 students reading, discussing, loving Fish in aTree. We eagerly watched every video put up my Lynda M H . We also have been exploring and absolutely loving WriteAbout! What a fabulous resource.

    This project is world changing. If it comes down to not happening I am positive I am not the only teacher willing to jump in and help.

    Thanks for all you do.

  41. Pernille,
    This is my first year to participate in the GRA (Fish in a Tree), and I’ve really appreciated the opportunity.

    I’m sorry to hear that your experience has been negative. I understand what you are struggling with as your “baby” is being pulled and stretched in a thousand unintended directions. I was surprised to see discussions about worksheets, quizzes, comprehension checks as teachers seemed to be missing the point of just sharing a good book.

    Hopefully, I can make you smile by sharing with you that one of my students was reading and responding on a Padlet, and he found his cousin’s comment from Washington state (we are in Texas). It was such a cool moment. Thank you for making it possible.

    gratefully yours,

  42. I am in complete awe of what you have done with this project! A colleague shared it with me last year and this has become my favorite part of my year! The students absolutely love it, and it brings such joy into our day. FIAT this year was incredible. Please do not be discouraged; you have reached people in ways you cannot even imagine.

  43. GRA is a beautiful dream and had reached and touched so many! If folks are unhappy, they don’t have to do it; haters are going to hate. In the meantime, thank you, Pernille, for your vision and the deep sacrifice of time you have given to manage, guide and share your awesome dream with the world. Enjoy your time away from this and enjoy your little own little people.

  44. This was my first year participating in GRA. It was perfect. Everything I wished for. No expectations. Participation is to read the book. My students absolutely LOVED Fish in a Tree. We worked at a good and steady pace. We connected with a classroom on the east coast. We connected with the other 4th grade classes in our building. Most importantly we connected with a text. We made connections, we practiced comprehension skills and we learned about our own weaknesses that make us vulnerable to others. We gained more than I ever imagined. We made it our own. We made it simple. It was perfection.

    Thank you for your passion and vision. It impacted 23 4th graders and their teacher.

    Regards,

    Megan Jones

  45. Dear Pernille,

    I am new to Global Read Aloud this year. What a wonderful program! Thank you! I made one good connection with a class in Texas. While we didn’t share every story, I have made a connection that I feel will remain throughout the year. I am hoping we will be able to stay in touch for other projects, read other books together, and perhaps become pen pals. I appreciated the weekly updates you sent.

    Now that I have one year under my belt, I feel that next year I will do a better job utilizing the connecting tools that are available.

    Thank you, Meg McMahon Lynnfield, MA

  46. As a newly minted GRA participating teacher, I will begin by simply saying, “Thank you.” Thank you for your vision, for your creativity, for your enthusiasm, for your willingness to take a risk. I went into this experience with a simple expectation, “Find out what this is all about.” The past six weeks have been nothing short of wonderful. My students and I got to share a story we’d likely never have discovered on our own (Fish by LS Matthews), got to learn how to participate thoughtfully and responsibly in digital learning communities and got to think about the real world through the lens of literature. Some time within the next week, my students will be completing a writing/art making project on Fish and they want to share their work with the GRA Fish-reading community. (If anyone has a suggestion for a platform for sharing widely, please let me know!) On Wednesday, we will be Skyping with another class to think about how kids can support refugees. Through communications with other teachers, I’ve been exposed to many resources and ideas that I can continue to use and share, and I have challenged myself to take risks in using new learning tools. Alll of this, simply amazing! I believe this is the spirit of the GRA. Thank you again, Pernille, for letting your spirit shine and for planting a little seed in all of us so that it can continue to shine on across the US and around the world.

  47. Dear Pernille,
    This was my second year with GRA. The positive effects for students can’t be expressed in one simple comment section. I want to express how much GRA has changed me as a reader and teacher. I can’t believe how much I’ve grown over these two years. The learning and connecting won’t stop now. Even when the GRA ended last year, I found myself thinking how I could apply things I learn about through GRA in other areas (Padlet and Edomodo) and what I could use this year for GRA (class Twitter account) to connect with others.

    Over these past two years, I’ve found teachers who think like me and have a network to share students and ideas. I have technology tools that I didn’t know existed. I found teachers who are passionate about books and kids.

    Please don’t dwell on the negatives or the things you feel you should have done. For every one of those, there are hundreds of positives and accomplishments. You have my up most admiration and appreciation. I know that’s not your goal, but that is one of the many unintended outcomes of GRA.

    With sincere thanks,
    Sue Grodek

  48. Thank you, Pernille, for all that you have done. This has been an amazing experience for my students that past two years. As a teacher, I cannot even imagine dreaming something so wonderful for my own students AND others. I am in awe of you as a teacher and creator. I feel saddened to know you had even one negative response. Please know there are many, many more of us who love what you do and are in awe of what you do. Try to let the negatives wash over you and focus on the positive- just like we tell our students. Enjoy your family and students – I know they are all lucky to have you in their lives.

    All the best, Tara Kramer

  49. Pernille, I am sorry to say that I am shocked to hear of the negativity that you are receiving. We are out here experiencing such joy from the GRA, while you, without whom this would not be happening, are receiving complaints. DISLIKE! I thought you would be feeling like the ROCK STAR that you are! Beyond all the joy that the Global Read Aloud has brought to me and students at my school, you have been the HOOK that has brought me into a whole new world that has revitalized and honestly, changed my life. I had not been on Twitter but decided to take a peek this fall and stumbled upon you and the GRA, I feel I am forever changed by discovering this whole new world of professionals to connect with about literacy. Don’t let the turkeys get you down. Haters gonna hate–move on and know that there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of us out here appreciating the gifts that you share!

  50. The Global Read Aloud is great! This is my second year doing it and it was great fun both years. You’ve provided plenty of opportunities for connections and, like everything, let the participants make it their own however they see fit! I go into it with big expectations, but many don’t pan out. Just being a part of it for 6 weeks is a great activity for so many reasons. Please keep it! Everything will become refined with time. Like teaching, you’ll have 99% amazing parents; Don’t let the small percentage be louder than all of them.

  51. What in the world are teachers COMPLAINING about!!?
    A FREE way to connect and celebrate literature with others!?

    You are amazing; I appreciate you!!

    Keep it up, (…and I’d love to help at “headquarters” if you’d like some help!!)
    ~Kiley
    Library Media Specialist
    Belleville, WI

  52. This has been such a positive experience with my first grade class!!! I We read the Billy Miller book and we skyped with a second grade class. Both classes came up with such wonderful questions and discussionsthat related to real life experiences. We are continuing to skype and became email pen pals. I can’t say enough positive comments about GRA. I will continue to do this next year and refer my colleagues.

  53. Pernille, I love how simple and yet how big the Global Readaloud can be. This was our first year participating, and it was so much fun to look on Twitter and see who was doing what in regards to the book. We had our first-ever Google hangout …with Fish author Laura Dron…and it was so invigorating! Makes teaching so much fun! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU – we get out of it what we put into it! Fish (as a previous poster said) opened our eyes to the refugees around the world who need our help. Our class will be doing some sort of Heifer Project (probably Read to Feed) as a result. Without the time and enthusiasm you put into the book selections and GRA in general, this would not have been possible. God bless you!

  54. Pernille,
    Thank you for your vision, your passion, your hard work, your fortitude and most of all for conceiving the idea of GRA. I’m sorry small minded, selfish people have diminished your spirit. Think only of the thousands upon thousands of children who have been impacted positively by something you created for us. Turning students on to reading though the wonderful books you select, allowing a means for students and teachers to connect through the book is something you should rightfully be so proud of. GRAis what you make of it. Those negative people don’t have the right to take away from all you have done for all of us. Stay the course. God bless you.

  55. The GRA is truly inspired. Five years ago, a colleague from another state and I met through the GRA and have stayed connected ever since. She has become a colleague, a friend, a mentor, a part of my Professional Learning Network, and we have met only through the telephone and Skype/GoogleHangout. The depth of our connection inspires us and enriches our students’ learning. And it is all thanks to your vision.

    This year, I learned even more about the tech tools available in order to broaden and deepen my students’ experience. You are the one who searches, learns, and presents us with possibilities. (How you do it all, I don’t begin to fathom.) Each year, while the GRA enriches my students’ education, it teaches me a great deal as well.

    The people with whom I have connected this year–the knowledge that there are so many generous, creative, and thoughtful educators in our world–is a blessing for all of us who choose to see it as such. Perhaps in the future we all need to sign a contract. Perhaps the contract outlines expectations for what we will bring to the experience. Perhaps it reminds us to stay positive and enthusiastic for the growth of our students. There is no mandate to sign onto this phenomenal project, and yet teachers who do not commit to the work it takes to engage with all that is offered are missing a chance to improve their craft. Let’s keep it positive. Let’s keep the GRA in our students’ lives as they are, after all, the ones who need to learn the skills and the treasures that can be found in GLOBAL connections and the literature that speaks to our shared humanity.

  56. First of all, I was dumbfounded to read that you have received so much negative feedback. That rendered me speechless….unfortunately I feel like our world has become so very negative. I have taught 30 years and have seen this happen slowly over time and spend 100% of my day being about the positive! And helping kids to do the same. We must be the change we all need to say. So I apologize FOR the naysayers and will pray for them.
    On the flip side…I LOVED the global read aloud!!!! It was my first year and we read “Fish in a Tree” one of my new favorite books and the favorite of many of my students. We didn’t connect as much as I thought I would, but knowing that kids all over the world were also reading this novel was enough for me and my team of 30 fantasticos. So, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for seeing this vision and then doing what it takes to play it out. I truly don’t know how you do it with all you have on your plate!!!
    You are one amazing FANTASTICO yourself and I thank you very much.
    Teri Keusch
    Portland, Michigan

  57. Dear Pernille,
    I understand your frustrations and it is a very sad world we live in where people who are fortunate enough to be a part of this, still find reasons to complain. I’m sure these complainers are the same negative colleagues we’ve all encountered in our buildings. I like to call them the “Yeabuts”. The name is derived from the statements they make regarding anything, new, positive, creative, or forces them to move out of their comfort zone. As soon as they are presented with a new idea, the first words out of their mouths are, “Yea. But…….” Please know that the silent majority loves your passion, hard work, and brilliant creativity. This was my first year participating and I can’t wait for next year. Please know that the work you put into the GRA has influenced hundreds of thousands of students and that is the real reason we do what we do. Don’t let the “Yeabuts” get you down and know that you are appreciated beyond words!!

  58. I absolutely loved being part of this project for the first time. Our connected team worked out all the details. We are ending by sending mystery boxes to one another with things that are unique to our cities and schools. Thank you for your time and effort. I hope this is not the last year for GRA. “The haters gonna’ hate,” but for the rest of us, I hope you consider another year.

  59. I heard about GRA at an ISTE convention in Atlanta Georgia a couple of years ago. I missed out on it the following year but got to be part of it this year. I did not participate in a huge way. I am a new librarian with a crazy schedule ( no flex time). I was not able to schedule any skype sessions or connections due to my lack of organization and my schedule. I did however post to blogs and padlets and I read to my students what others around the world were doing. It was amazing just on my little scale of participation, to see the faces of my students when they saw other children were doing and thinking like them. This has been a fantastic experience and I hope I get to do it for many more years.

    Thank you for all of your hard work. You are an inspiration to others. Some of us bring about change in small ways. YOU brought about change in a big way! Thank you! It was a beautiful experience for our school.

  60. Dear Pernille,
    Here is how much my class has enjoyed GRA this year…. I just couldn’t finish Billy last week. I couldn’t! I didn’t want it to end! So instead, we blogged, we tweeted and wrote poetry and watched videos about Kevin Henkes and his writing process. We are connecting Billy with characters in other books, like Cam Jansen and The Littles. It’s fabulous. I know at some point… I have to read the end. They won’t let me wait any longer!

    Every year, I say I am going to skype… I haven’t yet. Maybe later this year, but the connections we have made through twitter and our blog, fill a map in our classroom and the students are so proud!

    Please… don’t prepackage. Don’t plan for us. Don’t connect for us. I think the beauty of this program is its simplicity. Like you say, do as much or as little as you wish. An example I think was the slow chats. You worked to organize this, and it didn’t work out for me, for many reasons. But, no worries. We blogged and shared with students in another states and countries and I think it turned out better than I possibly could have imagined! You are not going to hear me complain. If someone wants to take those on next year, let them. If someone wants to organize twitter chats, hangouts or skypes, let them. We make, build, design what works best for us.

    Selfishly… I want you to keep the picture book and primary chapter book, since that is where my students’ interests lie. 😉 Keep these wonderful books coming! I have adored Kate Messner’s books because of GRA and I share them with my students every year! I welcome your choices and wise guidance!

    Most of all, I have to thank you for brining blogging to my classroom. That never would have happened without finding GRA and your expertise! Thank you, thank you! I can’t imagine not blogging with kids now! The engagement and purposeful work is just amazing!

    All the best to you! And have a great time at ISTE! Would have loved to be there for your panel! Alas, progress reports and parent conferences this week!

    Thank you!

  61. I am sorry people complain. I make it what I want and I thank you for all the work that goes into choosing books and helping make connections. I love the books! My students love the books! I have many frustrations with computer programs but that is certainly not your fault. I certainly hope this continues!!!

  62. Hello Pernille,
    Never feel that you have failed in any way with GRA. It’s an amazing opportunity for us all. My kids loved the readings so much that we read 2 books. Think of yourself as the parent who opened doors for us, your children. You inspired us, gave us opportunities, and provided guidance. Like any other “parent” you sent us off to be as successful as possible, but it is our job to make it all happen. This year some of my connections fell through, but it is not a reflection on the GRA. It is up to me and my fellow teachers to make it work.

    Please know that you have succeeded beyond expectations in offering teachers an amazing program that knows no limits!

    Barbara

  63. Pernille,

    Thank you so much for setting up an outstanding program. This was my second year participating and I will continue to do so! Keep moving forward as many are willing to follow you in this incredible journey.

    Alejandra

    P.S. My kids loved “Fish in Tree”.

  64. Pernille,

    This was my fifth time participating in GRA and I have always loved it. I will keep loving it. I love the opportunity to make connections with other classes, share our thinking, our work, and our love for books.

    You are one person and you have done an AMAZING JOB. You are an awe-inspiring teacher – you inspire me often!

    Keep doing what you are doing, and what makes sense to you. I will keep being a part of GR A as long as it is around! I am happy to help out in any way that I can!

  65. Oh my, I’m shocked that anyone would complain. I teach 2nd grade in a very small school in Wisconsin. I found out about this from a friend, went online and found a teacher in Canada that was going to do it for the first time also, and we had FUN! My students and I read some books that we might not have otherwise, we started writing letters and Skyping to our new friends, and we LOVED it! Please do it again next year. We are already looking forward to it, and honestly, I can’t think of anything that needs to be changed!!!

  66. Thank you for your vision, for your gift of facilitation, and for sharing that with us so that we all have the opportunity to do something grand. I enjoyed the experience.

  67. Hi Pernille,

    My thoughts echo the sentiments that others have so beautifully expressed here. My class have adored the GRA for so many reasons – the sharing of a quality book, the collaboration with their peers in the classroom as well as the virtual world, the connection to a story as well as the authentic audience with whom they are participating and writing for.

    I shared the gist of this blog post with my Year 4 class and they were horrified that people would criticise your vision. They decided to take action and have some messages to send you! I’ll DM you on Twitter to ask for your address to send these to.

    Thank you for all that you do!

    Anna.

  68. Pernille, you´ve succeeded in many ways on a small scale and on a big scale in making a change in my stds´s and my own mind. The connections and the rest should be just the teacher´s decision – I never felt it as a must. Think big, start small, so the proverb goes. And that´s what counts. Please, feel encouraged to carry on making a change in kids´lives with the reading and sharing. That´s all from here Buenos Aires.

  69. Dear Pernille, The idea behind the Global Read Aloud project and it’s unquestionable success is amazing. I really appreciate the time you have spent on this, as do the majority of teachers who embarked on this journey together because of you, your idea, and your hard work. This journey would not have been possible without you giving up your own time, away from your life… your family… So thank you. You are an inspiration and I cannot wait until GRA16!

  70. Dear Pernille,
    It makes me so sad to read that any kind of negativity is attached to this project. The GRA is about love- love for story, love for connecting a kids who love story and love for the authors who share their stories with us.
    I selfishly hope it doesn’t end. This was my 4th year and while I might not do everything, we enjoy it just the same. The beauty is the simplicity of the project. It’s free to make our own and participate as we can.

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