Thursday, September 29, 2016


Global Read Aloud began six years ago with the idea of one book connecting the world. GRA has grown to bring over 1 million educators and students together. Global Read Aloud takes place each year beginning in October and runs for six weeks. The level of participation is completely up to you based on the needs of your students.

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To participate in #GRA16, follow these steps:
  • Step 1: Sign Up
  • Step 2: Make a Plan
  • Step 3: Connect
  • Step 4: Get Started

Step 1: Sign Up
Go to to sign up.

Step 2: Make a Plan
Global Read Aloud provides a plan for reading the book you select in six weeks. Follow the plan (below) to stay on track or follow along at the pace appropriate for your students. GRA has a large resource base for all educators at any comfort or participation level. To get started, go to If You Are New to GRA. Include your GRA read aloud in your lesson plans to stay on track.
BreakoutEDU is working to create activities with GRA. Check out the ideas here!

Step 3: Connect
  • Follow #GRA16 on Twitter
  • Follow hashtags based on each book:
    • Lauren Castillo: #GRALauren
    • The BFG: #GRABFG
    • Pax: #GRAPax
    • Orbiting Jupiter: #GRAOJ
    • All American Boys: #GRAAll
  • Reach out to the authors on Twitter. They may tweet back!
    • Lauren Castillo @StudioCastillo
    • Sara Pennypacker @SaraPennypacker
    • Brendan Kiely @KielyBrendan
    • Jason Reynolds @JasonReynolds83
  • Gain ideas and make connections on the GRA Facebook Group
  • Share ideas, connect, or ask questions at our GCISD GRA Padlet
Once you connect, you can decide with the group how involved you want your class to be. You could:
  • mail letters, pictures, or predictions to the class
  • Skype/Google Hangout to discuss the story or make predictions
  • create a Padlet to connect students
  • publish blog posts and have Blog Buddies comment
  • read the book/s and have rich conversations with your students

Step 4: Get Started!
Global Read Aloud begins Monday, October 3 and wraps up around November 11, however you can complete GRA at your own speed. For more information or for support connecting with other classrooms, contact your Liaison to connect with an Instructional Technology Coach.

Find what works best for your students and ENJOY!

The plan provided by GRA is a guide:

For any age Lauren Castillo:

Week 1:

Product Details

Week 2:
Product Details

Week 3:

Week 4:
Product Details

Week 5:
Product Details

Week 6:
Your choice!  You decide which of Lauren’s books you would like to end with.

Week 1:  The Witching Hour through The Cave
Week 2:  The BFG through Snozzcumbers
Week 3:  The Bloodbottler through Dream-Catching
Week 4:  A Trogglehumper for the Fleshlumpeater through Mixing the Dream
Week 5:  Journey to London through The Royal Breakfast
Week 6:  The Plan through The Author

Week 1: 1 – 5
Week 2:  6 – 10
Week 3:  11 – 16
Week 4:  17 – 23
Week 5:  24 – 27
Week 6: 28 – end

Week 1: One – page 45 stop at “That night…”
Week 2:  Page 45 “That night…” – Three
Week 3:  Four – 100 to “Joseph and Brian Boss…”
Week 4: Page 100 “Joseph and Brian Boss…” – Six
Week 5:  Seven
Week 6:  Eight – End

Week 1:  Friday  (p. 5) – p. 40
Week 2:  Saturday (p. 43) – 82
Week 3:  Sunday (p. 85) – Monday Quinn (p. 140)
Week 4:  Monday Rashad (p. 141) –  Tuesday (p.203)
Week 5: Wednesday (p. 208) –  (p. 267)
Week 6:  Thursday Rashad (p. 259) – End

Ripp, P. (2016, September). Global Read Aloud. Retrieved from

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Epic! Books

This is the second time we're throwing it back to Epic! books. They bring so much to your classroom that we're doing it again! Here is the 1st post & 2nd post. Epic! is a great resource that offers thousands of ebooks for K-5 students on their iPad app or website and is 100% free for teachers.

Some benefits:

  • Provides another way for children to fall in love with reading.
  • Many genres at all levels of reading.
  • Could use it for research purposes.
  • Allows for differentiation because you choose your books based on reading level/age.
  • Has Spanish & bilingual Spanish/English book options
Recently Epic! added a few new features, one of which is Collections. These are personalized book collections that a teacher can curate and push out to their class. There are also featured collections already chosen that you can pick from.

Epic! has also added some new teacher resources, like a parent letter, lesson plans, and teacher tips.

To get started with Epic!, visit There, you'll be able to create your classes and add your students! You can also view this slidedeck created by Becky Sporrer for a step by step instruction!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Chrome Browser

I remember when browsers were simply the place where you entered a web address but today they create digital magic as they streamline the work that we do. The Google Chrome browser is a powerful tool that is underutilized if you are only using it as a tool to reach your final destination on the World Wide Web. To write about all that Chrome can do for you would take a series of books so we will be highlighting different tools throughout the year. For this post, we I will be highlighting a few tricks that can make your life simpler (and that of your students as well!)
Multiple Google Profiles
Many educators and students have personal Google accounts as well as their GCISD Google account. There are times where I need to switch between my accounts without logging out of one account and into the other. I also prefer to have different bookmarks for each account and to keep these two worlds separate. You can create multiple Chrome profiles and easily switch between accounts without having to sign out of either account!  Below is a screencast (created by Screencasitfy extension that we blogged about last week) on creating multiple profiles.

Pin a Tab

There are tabs that I navigate to multiple times a day as well as tabs that are important to the project of the day. There have been many times where I have accidentally closed out of an important tab and had to go to the effort to navigate back to the specific tab I needed. In the Chrome browser, you can pin a tab that you want to ensure you do not close accidentally or that you will use frequently throughout your day. When you pin a tab, it moves to the left of all tabs and the “x” to close the tab disappears preventing you from closing it unintentionally. Below is a screencast to step you through pinning tabs in your Chrome browser.

Stay tuned for future posts on additional Chrome features!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Screencastify is an easy to use screen/webcam recording software for Chrome. With Screencastify you can save your recordings on Google Drive, or you can upload to YouTube for easy access.

This is very helpful when using Blogger for student Blogs.  Students can use the Webcam feature in Screencastify to upload their videos to YouTube, then easily insert in Blogger.

Add Screencastify to Chrome
through the Web Store.

Select the extension. (The first time used, you will setup Camera access and where to store your recordings. Tab recording setup is optional.)

Click STOP to end recording.

Select Tab, Desktop or Cam.
Select Microphone, Camera,
Check Show Preview Window.
Click Record Webcam.
Drag corners of Live Preview to
Enlarge window.
Click STOP to end recording.

The recording will play with options in the upper right part of the screen. Select Share.

Select Google Drive (Videos will be saved to a new Folder, Screencastify. This folder will be created automatically in you Google Drive) or YouTube, select Upload.  If selecting YouTube, make sure to select Unlisted.

Note: If saved to Desktop or Google Drive, videos are .webm files.   When uploaded to YouTube, files can be downloaded as MP4, then inserted into iMovie.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dot Day

On September 15, over 5 million participants will celebrate the 7th annual Dot Day from all over the world. Dot Day is an opportunity to connect your students, promote creativity, and build a positive classroom environment.

Based on the story by Peter H. Reynolds, The Dot, students find the author's hope is to inspire others to express themselves creatively and "make your mark" on the world around you. Dot Day began in 2009 on September 15th when a teacher by the name of Terry Shay shared The Dot with students. What started as a small, creative idea has grown to be a worldwide, collaborative event - the exact idea The Dot celebrates. FableVision and Peter H. Reynolds continue this tradition by inviting others to join in. The mission of FableVision is to support educators to inspire creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and compassion in students. 

After you register to participate, you will receive a free planning guide to assist you. The level at which you participate is flexible to meet the needs of your classroom. You could choose to read the book, have a conversation about the characters and the story, and create your own dot. Or, you could further enrich the experience by Skyping with other classrooms, connection with others on social media such as Twitter or Facebook, or view the LiveStream to celebrate with Discovery Education on September 13. 

Participating in Skype, viewing LiveStream, connecting with #DotDay on Twitter, and viewing augmented reality are options for integrating technology to enhance your students' learning experience. By selecting these options, educators are providing engaging opportunities for learning that are not possible without technology.
Quiver app - AR
Students can design a dot and watch it come to life using augmented reality. Students will create their own dot design using the downloadable page, then use the Quiver app to make their 2D dot appear 3D.

Other Ideas:
*Wear Dots (and provide dot stickers so all students can participate)
*'Dot Up' (Circle Up) - use a sentence stem "I will make my mark by __ ."
*Dot Search - take a Dot Walk and search for dots/circles inside and outside; document with photos and create a PicCollage to save in a class Google Slide so all can view
*Connect with another class using Padlet to share Dot Day creations
*Create a Dot Plot after forming a question and collecting data. Share your results with your peers.
*Reflect on how you will make your mark on your blog
*Read The Dot to reading buddies and partner up to make a Buddy Dot to display

Additional Ideas:
Dot Activities

The Dot Q&A from Peter H. Reynolds 
Search Pinterest for Dot Day ideas
Facebook International Dot Day for teacher connections, ideas, and resources
Another book to discover from Peter H. Reynolds is Ish. This is a great story about focusing on the process, not the product, and embracing a growth mindset. If your class is unable to participate in Dot Day on September 15th, consider having 'Dot Day-ish' on a day that is more suitable. 


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