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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Becoming Global Citizens

My school system's leadership clearly outlined the system's yearly goals this fall. As I plan, implement and evaluate curriculum work in my classroom, I will utilize the system goals as guiding principles. This is the goal related to developing global citizens: "To increasingly align the curricular and extra-curricular activities with activities that will help prepare students to become global citizens in a global economy." Fourth grade students are working on this goal in the following ways:

What's Your Culture?
Fourth grade students start the year with a mini unit about culture.  Students learn the broad definition of culture and create culture flags depicting their individual cultures.  Students also explore the history of skin shade. This is a valuable way to begin a discussion related to global citizenry as it develops students' awareness, understanding and respect for the cultural diversity and individuality represented in our school and community.

After that students study Native American culture of the past and present through a series of regional rotations.  Then, fourth graders research immigration and family history as they prepare for the Immigration and Family History Museum Project.  Understanding the cultural diversity in our own school and community sets the stage for respectful, open-minded exploration of regions throughout the globe.

Global Education Conference and Global PLNs (professional learning networks)
Teachers are presenting at and attending a virtual global education conference in November.  Teachers also enjoy and learn from PLNs that represent teachers from all over the globe thus creating opportunities to engage in projects that develop students' activity and awareness as global citizens. After reading about many successful global projects, I was prompted to create a global education plan earlier in the year to broaden students' reach beyond our school and community. Now I'm in the process of implementing the plan--revising and extending as needed.

Global Collaborative Projects
Through the use of ePals, students have gained ePals from London.  These letter exchanges, online and off,  broaden and deepen students' global perspectives.  Students are also working on collaborative, shared learning projects with students in other regions of the United States.  Fourth grade students in Wayland and fourth graders in Edina, Minnesota are creating collaborative Google slide shows to teach each other about the northeast and midwest regions.  Students are also planning to engage in a Mystery Skype project with a classroom in Atlanta.  These are a few of the current projects in place to develop students' global awareness.  Our school principal is also leading global education efforts related to student service projects.

Endangered Species Research
Fourth grade students research endangered species.  While studying about specific species, they learn about the culture and geography of the animals' habitats.  Last year students extended this knowledge by creating and publishing public service messages to educate and advocate for endangered animals. This year I hope to foster even greater global awareness and outreach related to this project.

I will continue to read, discuss and think about the best ways to engage students in learning that prepares them for global citizenship.  What have I missed? What aspects of curriculum are most important as we prepare young students for success in a global economy?  I look forward to learning about your perspective and ideas.