Looking Up: Updates from near and far

There are a variety of updates I want to address in this post, some of which you may find more interesting than others. In no particular order:

  1. The World Bank has stated that extreme global poverty rates should decrease for the first time to less than 10% by the end of 2015. Investments in education is an attributing factor to this good news. However, there is still a long way to go before the World Bank reaches their goal of ending poverty by 2030.
  2. Project Explorer reports that:
    -98% of students are curious about other cultures
    -98% of students claim that understanding history and world events is important to global problem solving
    -90% of students wish their classes had a more global approach

    However, only
    -23% can identify the three most populated countries in the world
    -12% report that their teachers incorporate a global perspective in their lessonsNevertheless, this is good news to me. It means improvement upon the latter statistics is desired by our students and worth working towards. To do so, teachers need more and better resources to help them educate their students for the global workforce. That is where sites like Project Explorer  and other cultural education resources come in to play. Project Explorer offers lesson plans for teachers and student-friendly educational material on various countries around the world.

    If you like statistics and data like me, check out how Project Explorer explains America’s current state of global education through pretty infographics here.

    Have your students take this quiz to see how much they know (or if they’re like me, don’t know) about the world. I’ve yet to see anyone get a 100%!

  3. I begin my student teaching in less than two weeks. I am a confusing mix of terrified, excited, nervous, eager, and apprehensive. There is also a sense of dread because this is the end of my college career as I know it. This is what I have been working toward for years and I should be eagerly counting down the days until this culminating experience, but instead I seem to be fearful of losing what I am familiar with and successful at: college. But change is natural; change is good. Once I start my student teaching in a mere 13 days, this uncertainty will pass. I’ll be too preoccupied with teaching and learning how to teach to dwell on mixed feelings. Now, let’s hope I don’t mess up 8th grade algebra and geometry too badly!
  4. Currently, I have no idea where on this great Earth I will be teaching next semester, and I am way too calm about it. Something about not even knowing what country I will be in makes it seem unreal or at least a loooong way down the road. In reality, it’s less than three months away. Despite turning in my student teaching abroad application in March, the student teaching office still does not have my placement for my 16 week session starting in January. Other students have been getting their placements over the last few weeks, so it’s possible I could hear good news any day now. In the meantime, we’ll just have to hang in there (I’m looking at you, Mom!), and hope that when I do find out where I’ll be setting off to, I can secure an affordable plane ticket at the last minute. I’ll keep you posted.

I suppose the next time I write, things will have significantly changed. At least things are looking UP!

Until next time.



Global Education: Ideas For The Classroom

“I am enough of a realist to understand that I can’t reach every child, but I am more of an optimist to get up every morning and try.” – Preston Morgan (Quoted by Steve Sherman at TEDX Cape Town)

So you want to foster global citizens in your classroom, but don’t know where to start? Of course, there is no one right way to go about doing so because not all students have the same needs and teachers the same teaching styles. However, I’ve put together a list of resources that may help you to begin your journey to a global classroom. These ideas will allow students to make contact with other cultures, get involved in their learning, or make real-world connections.

Make contacts around the world:

  • Skype in the classroom – Connect your students with a another class anywhere in the world! Play Mystery Skype to learn about an unexpected country or select another classroom from a list based on country, age, and subject. 
  • Virtual Field-trips – No funds for buses and museum admissions? Try these tips from Education World about using web resources to take your kids places they’ve never seen before, right in your classroom. Or, introduce guest speakers to your class via Skype In The Classroom. 
  • Global read aloud – Read a book aloud in your classroom in the month of September and then have your students share and discuss the same book with other students around the world. 
  • Pen-PalsNot only will students be able to make one-on-one connections with students in another country, but they will be able to practice writing with a purpose and for an audience with an international pen-pal. 

 Get students involved:

  • Sites like Tween Tribune and News ELA  offer free current event articles and world news for students of all ages. Each article is offered at multiple Lexile levels and comes with a reading quiz that students can take when they are done reading. Students can comment and share what they’ve learned on the site. 
  • Games – Get your students involved in thinking about how the world looks through fun (and addicting) online games such as GeoGuessr
  • Host a GeoBee at your school to encourage curiosity in world geography.
  • Let students research and report on a country of their choosing on the student-friendly site Project Explorer

Read-World Connections:

  • Assign purposeful projects and assignments in your classroom. Have students take action in their community through Map Your World or inspire creativity in alternate assessments such as Our Rock Project
  • Shy away from lecture-heavy lessons by letting students explore and problem solve through international case studies such as this one offered by National Geographic. 

 Resources for lesson planning:

  • Use film in your classroom to generate discussion and introduce new concepts. Journeys In Film offers educators curriculum guides and materials to use with films related to world cultures and global issues. 
  • Incorporate social, environmental, and cultural themes into your curriculum with the Global Oneness Project‘s lesson plans, which are conveniently provided in full and aligned with the Common Core State Standards. With a similar goal, TeachUNICEF even offers entire units and a monthly Mystery Photo Challenge that will engage students and elicit conversation. 
  • Explore educational pictures and videos from around the world with Cultural Jambalaya.
  • Learn from the pros: Research and learn from educators who have studied how to teach students about the world. John Hunter, for example. 
  • Check out more blogs and websites under the Resources tab. 

As I continue to learn more about global education myself, I will add to this post. Stay tuned for more resources! Comment below with your suggestions and ideas.

Culture & Community

It’s nearly fall here in the Bluegrass, and that means festival season for Lexington! Over the past week I got to experience the Lexington Roots and Heritage Festival and the Festival Latino de Lexington. I did not get to spend very long at the Roots festival because it started to rain, but I did get to see some quality music and performances. The Latino festival was just as wonderful as last year, with delicious food, interesting vendors, and the entertaining Brazeros Musical De Durango group.

Festival Latino de Lexington, September 2015
Festival Latino de Lexington, September 2015

Guess what else? Men at the at the festival were actually dancing. Out of their own free will. If that isn’t enough of a reason to love other cultures, I don’t know what is. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to see and celebrate many of the different cultures here in my own community, because a multi-cultural community is something to celebrate.

At the Latino Festival I saw a student from Saudi Arabia whom I work with when I volunteer at the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL). I am so glad he got to experience a side of Lexington he otherwise may never have seen. Speaking of CESL, today’s class topic was about what makes a Global Citizen. A fitting day for me to volunteer. The kind instructor told me, “Even though I don’t have much money, I get to travel the world every day through this class”. I adore that outlook.

We can learn through our students. We can learn through our friends. We can learn through our community. So I encourage you to explore the cultures around you. You may be amazed at what you find. But you won’t know until you try.

How many continents are there?

Can you name them? Which one is New Zealand in?

You may be surprised to hear that I get a lot of different responses to these questions. Answers vary depending on where the individual learned geography. An Irish man I met answered 7 continents, a German woman answered 6 continents, and an Australian couple agreed on 5 continents.

So why do I find this information so fascinating? Because every individual I ask is able to justify their answer with a logical explanation for their thinking. When I share my thoughts on the matter, we engage in discussion to understand other views and thought processes. I’m not arguing that one person is right and another wrong. The beauty here is found in our differences. While education is different all around the world, it is beneficial to learn how and what others learn to expand our own knowledge and understand world views.

To me, Global Education means understanding cultural differences, raising awareness to alternative teaching methods, working toward international connections, and developing skills necessary for global citizens. The world is getting to be a smaller place, and the future of our students will demand cultural competence in the workforce more than ever before. So let’s teach our students how to live in this global society.