Monday, February 27, 2017

Global Learning in YOUR Classroom

Today's blog post comes from Jill Woerner, Global Learning & World Languages Specialist at the Indiana Department of Education.

Global Learning is not this extra “thing” that teachers do in their classroom. It’s a perspective with which they approach their classroom. Our students are part of a society that is becoming increasing more global and diverse each and every day. As educators, whether we have been a traveler or not, we have things to offer to students with our life experience. I hope the Q & A in this blog post will help you on your global journey. IDOE is here to help and has created a new resource for you, too, that is listed at the end of the post!

I encourage you to watch this video to get started. These kids and teachers share a lot in just a few minutes about why global education is an important part of their learning.


How does “Global Learning” affect me? I teach _____________. 

Regardless of what you use to fill in the blank above, Global Learning can and should be part of your curriculum. Whether you are considering ISTE Standard #2c, “Develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures,” or your local district’s mission statement that indicates that you’re preparing students for the world, the 21st Century or their next steps, global learning should be part of your classroom.

So, what is global learning exactly? 

Global learning is not a new standard or something extra to squeeze in to your lessons. Global learning is the idea that you are teaching that same unit or topic through a different lens…One that involves global thinking and/or cultural competency. For example, say you teach math and one of your standards involves working with percentages, sales, and discounts. You can reframe your story problems by using pictures from sale signs in another country instead of what is in your textbook or what is in their local supermarket. The culture that is embedded in a single photo from a grocery store in another country is immeasurable.

Here’s a sample photo from China. Students will probably recognize the “Dove” brand of chocolates so there’s a known element. What they may not notice is that the price and discount correlates to being 88% ON instead of 12% OFF. In our culture, we put the amount that people are going to save, but in China they list the percentage based upon how much the patrons will pay. Also, we tend to round the numbers to a multiple of 5 in the U.S. however in China, 8 is a lucky number.

This same photo can be used to talk about currency conversion because students may notice that one bag of Dove chocolates is listed as costing 13.50 ¥ (Yuan) and they won’t necessarily know what the equivalent is in U.S. dollars to compare where they should buy their next bag of chocolates.

Where do I find pictures and resources like these?

Great question! Pinterest and Google Images are fantastic resources for finding pictures that others have taken and shared. You can also ask anyone you know that travels and have them take some for you while they are gone. Your students may have photos of things that would be helpful with your lessons and they would have the background cultural knowledge to accompany it. Exchange students, parents with international backgrounds, and even people you have met at the bank, the doctor’s office, etc. are usually very happy to help as they WANT to share their story and their culture and are just waiting for your invitation to help. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can plan a trip or exchange for yourself and/or your students. Seeing these types of things in person is a positive life-changing experience for all involved. Here’s a Symbaloo with links about student exchange programs and scholarships along with programs and scholarships for teachers.

Are there other resources out there to help me with this? I’ve never been abroad and this seems a bit daunting!

Absolutely! First and foremost, your IDOE content area specialists in the College and Career Readiness division along with the Career and Technical Education division have created a comprehensive document with examples in their contents and resources as well. Click here to start your Global Journey with IDOE. Additionally, IDOE has “internationalized” the Indiana Academic Standards for you in easy to print and access booklets online. Visit our digital resources here for global learning. Each of these booklets, provides a smattering of the Indiana Academic Standards that you teach every day with ideas on how to integrate internationalized content. We recognize not everyone has been abroad, but we understand the importance of integrating global thinking and cultural competence into each and every lesson!

Beyond what IDOE has curated for you, there are also a number of amazing resources from the Asia Society and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning. The Asia Society shares a plethora of videos, project ideas and resource documents to help you get started and learn more. The Partnership for 21st Century Learning does a nice job of showing teachers at each grade level what global concepts and information are developmentally appropriate in their Teacher Guide.

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