Let Genius Hour Begin!

Those who follow me already know I have a passion for global education and global citizenship. So when the opportunity presented itself to participate in my own genius hour, can you take a guess at what I have chosen to learn more about? My genius hour question is How can I encourage my students to become global citizens?

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Photo found here

 

At this stage in my learning, I am debating what direction I want to take it. On one hand I could look at creating an actual global citizenship program, on the other hand, maybe I just want to find a variety of resources and create a portfolio based on curriculum integration. While I know the latter is the easy way out, I think I would like to focus on a program that I can implement across curriculum subjects. Since my next placement will be in a junior grade, my research is going to focus on grades 4-6 in hopes that I can implement some of my ideas in my block.

I have previously posted about some of the resources found during my “Global Education” class in fourth year, so I have a basis on where to start my research. If you don’t remember these posts, you can find them in my Global Education Resources category. I have also started using my Pinterest to collect some resources and activities that I may want to consider in the future.

I am looking forward to continuing this Genius Hour project! I think participating in my own genius hour will help me implement it my own classroom.

Project Based Learning – High Tech High

Project based learning (PBL), or performance assessment, is an authentic assessment and learning approach which allows students to actively explore real-world problems and challenges while acquiring a deeper knowledge. I believe PBL is a great assessment AS learning strategy which actively engages students in the learning process. When developing PBL, the Gailelo Educational Network provides and excellent rubric for such inquiry based projects.

High Tech High, provides excellent examples of PBL within classrooms, that use advanced technology and really focus on student centered classrooms. These schools really show the implementation of the New Story of Education in the Digital Age through not only the above characteristics, but they also involved inquiry based PBL, global connections and multiple literacies.

“This exhibit shows you what we love about ourselves. We are all unique and have different thoughts. In this exhibit, you will see photographs and writings. We want you to see that writing isn’t just a story, it is life. This project took a lot of hard work, and all photographs were taken by each of us. We learned to experiment, to try different vantage points. A picture is special, no matter how it turns out… Each picture, even if it’s not a picture of you, it still tells about you.”

One of the neat projects explored by a third grade classroom in Explorer Elementary involved integrating photography across curriculum’s with a project called “Through My Eyes“. There are several smaller activities within this one project which integrate multiple curriculum’s including: science, art, social studies, writing, and literacy. On the topic of literacy, 21st century literacies are embedded deep within this project.  When you read the caption to the left, for a group of previous third graders at Explorer Elementary, they talk about how they all have their own perspectives, both in how they think and in the photographs themselves. This is a great exemplar of media literacy, as the students recognize that each photograph portrays it’s own message based on the photographers personal constructs and stories.

Another great incorporation of literacies can be seen within the activity Picture Me, Picture You. Quoted exactly from the website: “This year-long cultural exchange promotes global understanding through photography and writing. Students from Explorer Elementary first learn about Africa, then share letters, poetry, and photography with children from the Tunahaki Foundation orphanage in Tanzania”.

Global and multicultural literacies are explicitly stated in the description as students aim to understand a different culture around the world, and how that culture creates knowledge and shares their perspective through their own photos. The photographs add a more creative and fun aspect to the idea of pen pals, so as students develop their writing skills they are also developing other skills associated with the literacies I have previously mentioned. This type of project could be developed to become more inquiry based through many ways (i.e. recognizing issues the Tanzanian children may face such as lack of access to clean water, or conduct an environmental experiment and compare the recycling or pollution in both countries, through photos and writing).

High Tech High provides a plethora of examples of different projects students have completed in a variety of grade levels, and is definitely a website I will continue to explore to find ideas for my own classroom. The inquiry based rubric from the Galileo Network, as mentioned before, is a great resource for teachers who are developing their own performance assessment for students, as it is clear and organized in a way that makes it easy to understand, even as a new teacher.

Check out other projects on High Tech High!


Quick Addition for RPAT:

As a future 21st century teacher I will be using High Tech High as a place to find new ideas for Project Based learning. There are so many different resources on the High Tech High website, I only chose a few to comment on above. But, while skimming through the other projects, there are clear connections to other literacies, as well as opportunities for integrating curriculum’s within one project. I believe using the website as well as the Inquiry based rubric from the Galileo Network, will allow my to strengthen my ability to create deep-learning and inquiry based tasks for my students.

Bringing a Futures Perspective into Education

I was doing a reading for one of my classes the other day. It was from the UNESCO website for teaching and learning for a sustainable future. While I was reading the required sections, it brought up a very good question: If it is true that all education is for the future than why is the future not an explicit element in all levels of education? We always talk about how one of the goals of the current education system is to have children grow up to be participating members in society. We are supposed to be ‘grooming them for the future’. I know this is a highly contestable ideal, and I personally do not agree with the idea of school as a factory system, producing future adults, but that is not what I want to focus on. I want to focus on the fact that children are the future, yet schools do not teach from a futuristic perspective, rather they teach about the past and how we can use that information in the present.

I have recently learned about David Selby’s 4 dimensions of Global Education as a transformative education (spatial, Issues, temporal and inner).Dimensions I think I may write a post about these later. The temporal dimension incorporates prioritizing the future within education. It is important for students to understand their alternative futures. There is the possible (all future scenarios), the probable (the most likely future) and the preferred (the future you would like based on your values). “The visions that we have of the future affect what we think is worth doing in the present. Fear of the future can be disempowering but it can also lead to engagement in social and political action to bring about a different sort of world” (from UNESCO Activity 5). If students are truly going to become globally literate and active global citizens, they much recognize that their choices and actions (as well as others) help shape the future. If students were to understand the importance of their actions, this could hopefully drive them to attempt to make a difference.

The reading I had to do was actually a 5 step activity created by UNESCO which I think would be useful for other teachers who wish to/are already incorporating global education into their classroom. The activity makes you look at your own preferred futures in relation to both the local and global, and then makes you reflect on how to incorporate these views into your classroom. Give it a try and let me know if it was useful!

Skype Education

I’ve always heard about teachers communicating with other teachers around the globe and connecting their classrooms, but I was never sure how to find these teachers. I have found an effective way to connect my classroom globally, which was actually just featured (March 28th) on one of the blogs I am following, The Global Classroom Project. The first resource I am adding into my curation is the Skype Education website, which provides three different ways in which you can use skype in your classroom. You can collaborate and communicate with classrooms around the world, find guest speakers or take a virtual field trip anywhere around the world. It provides students with the ability to conduct collaborative projects or start international clubs. If teachers are not sure how to take advantage of skype, the website provides a variety of lessons teachers could use as well as stories of successful skype classroom interactions. The reason why I like the skype idea is because it makes the experience personal for the students. It is more than just having students read and research information about different cultures around the world; it allows them to make a personal connection with those cultures, through building friendships and having fun.

I want to focus specifically on one use of Skype Education which I think could have practical use in a 21st century teacher’s classroom. “Mystery Skype” is a  game crated by skype where students have to use their inquiry and questioning skills to guess the location of their classroom. I have embedded the video about this global guessing game as an introduction.

As I watched this video, some key words stood out including: technology, connect, world, fun, team, critical thinking process, empower. What do all these key words have in common? They are a part of the new story, they are used within 21st century classrooms, they are/are part of 21st century literacies.

Directly quoting Michael Graffin’s (The Global Classroom Project) blog post about mystery skype, he present’s clear objectives of this activity. There is a clear connection between mystery skype, integrated curriculum (IC) and global, multicultural, technological, and critical literacies (Which I added to each objective below in italics):

Students will use map skills to find the location of the mystery classroom (IC – Social Studies/Geography)

Students will use communication and critical thinking skills to ask questions to help them find the mystery location. (IC – Language; Critical Literacy)

Classes communicate with other classrooms via Skype or Google+ Hangouts. (Technological Literacy)

Students will learn to respect and appreciate the cultures and customs of others. (Multicultural & Global Literacy)

Students will be able to see the differences and similarities between themselves and others around the world. (Multicultural & Global Literacy)

I believe the Mystery Skype activity would be a great introduction for inquiry-based learning, as it gives student’s the opportunity to collaboratively formulate questions and gather evidence to solve the location. As these skills develop during Mystery Skype, a teacher can then apply them to a more authentic and real world problem which Drake, Reid and Kolohon (2014) describe as key components to Inquiry-based classrooms and learning.

The Advocates for Human Rights

As a big supporter of humans rights, specifically children’s rights, I would love to incorporate the Discover Human Rights Institute website into my classroom. Unlike the teachUNICEF website, this human rights website can be used by the majority of people, whether they want to learn more, get involved or teach about human rights. As Canadians we are unfortunately not able to access all the resources of this site, such as have the advocate group conduct presentations or events, but there are accessible resources online. This website could be used as a resource for the teacher, where they can find lesson plans and activities, but it could also be used as a site for student participation. In the Human Rights for Students section, students can explore human rights at their own pace and through their own learning styles. It was the games link that interested me the most and something that I would incorporate into my classroom, to bring that technological aspect to my classroom while keeping the activities easy to understand. One issue I did find with the links to the games was that a couple of the games were not available anymore, but either way there were still a variety of games which focused on a variety of human rights, which I believe junior students would enjoy.

In general, navigating this page is not too difficult because there are a variety of headings constantly on the page which make it easy to figure out where you need to go. The one concern I have about this website is the amount of clicking I have to go through to get to a specific resource, such as a lesson plan. But, I did enjoy how the lesson plans were an automatic PDF download. The visual aspect of the website varied based on the audience, the student section consisted of cartoons, brightly coloured headings, charts and pictures, while the educators section was plain and did not consist of very many visual effects besides the odd picture.

Free the Children

As the world becomes more diverse and connected I believe it is important to start teaching from a global perspective. As a future primary/junior teacher I hope to incorporate both a global and multicultural literacy to my classroom. Both of these literacies link back to global education. Global literacy involves creating “settings that foster students’ understanding of the intersection between their lives and global issues and their sense of responsibility as local and global citizens” (Nair et al., 2012, p. 56). While multicultural literacy “consists of the skills and ability to identify the creators of knowledge and their interests, to uncover the assumptions of knowledge from diverse ethnic and cultural perspectives, and to use knowledge to guide action that will create a humane and just world” (Banks, 2003, p. 3). With these definitions in mind, I would use the following website in my classroom to help my students develop each literacy and become global citizens

The Free the Children (FTC) website contains a variety of information for global educators. FTC is an international charity that works towards empowering youth to become agents of change in both a national and international context. The FTC website hosts a variety of resources that teachers can use, such as a weekly social issue based column, lesson plans and kits. The Junior World Changers Kit found at found in the “resources, curriculum, and lesson plans” section of “get involved” is oriented towards a younger age group.

JWCThis resource provides the teacher with a full set of lesson plans that can introduce students to social justice issues, citizenship, and becoming engaged in both local and global settings, as well as level appropriate information guides for the countries FTC is involved with. While this resource is something I would use in a primary classroom, it is not something I would recommend for intermediate and higher. If a teacher believes their classroom is too advanced for the Junior World Changers Kit, the FTC website has a “Library of Resources” in which you can find lessons and resources based on the grade, class subject, topic, the country you are teaching in and the language you speak. Although I should mention that currently FTC only has education resources for Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, an educator from other countries could use these resources and revise the lessons towards their curriculum.

I already have a background knowledge of Free the Children and Me to We, which is why I think this resource would be an excellent addition to my classroom. There are things I would tweak, in order to ensure student’s are learning about the important aspects and not the consumer identity, but it is great way to incorporate my past trips and experiences with me to we into the classroom and make my stories more relevant for my students.

Curating My Global Education Resources

As the world becomes more diverse and connected I believe it is important to start teaching from a global perspective. As a future primary/junior teacher I hope to incorporate both a global and multicultural literacy to my classroom. Both of these literacies link back to global education. Global literacy involves creating “settings that foster students’ understanding of the intersection between their lives and global issues and their sense of responsibility as local and global citizens” (Nair et al., 2012, p. 56). While multicultural literacy “consists of the skills and ability to identify the creators of knowledge and their interests, to uncover the assumptions of knowledge from diverse ethnic and cultural perspectives, and to use knowledge to guide action that will create a humane and just world” (Banks, 2003, p. 3). With these definitions in mind, I would use the following websites in my classroom to help my students develop each literacy and become global citizens.

This “Global Education Category” of my blog will be used as a portfolio for online global education resources which I would like to incorporate into my future classroom.

References

Banks, J. (2003) Teaching for Multicultural Literacy, Global Citizenship, and Social Justice. 2003 Charles Fowler Colloquium on Innovation in Arts Education. University of Maryland, College Park.

Nair, I., Norman, M., Tucker, R., & Burkert, A. (2012). The challenge of global literacy: An ideal opportunity for liberal professional education. Liberal Education, 56-61.

Going Glocal

Okay, I have to say this is a great development for me, I actually wanted to write this blog today, for the sole purpose of writing about something I enjoy. For those who do not know me, I am a big global education and participation activist. I guess this interest began with my desire to volunteer internationally. In grade 11 I was provided the opportunity to participate in an International Development trip run by a small program called HOPE (Home, Opportunity, Prosperity & Education). This program began as a recovery program for families who were severely affected by a hurricane in the Dominican Republic.

This family originally lived isolated in the mountains, in an ‘establishment’ comparable to a mud hut with banana tree leaves as the roof, only eating one meal every two to three days. Through conversation with Juan Antonio one day, he expressed his thanks for our group building his house, he left us with these words, as I will leave them with you, “No one has ever done anything for me in my life, which is why this is so important to me. Thank you very much for finding me and coming back to ensure I got a house, and please, never forget me.”
This family originally lived isolated in the mountains, in an ‘establishment’ comparable to a mud hut with banana tree leaves as the roof, only eating one meal every two to three days. Through conversation with Juan Antonio one day, he expressed his thanks for our group building his house, he left us with these words, as I will leave them with you, “No one has ever done anything for me in my life, which is why this is so important to me. Thank you very much for finding me and coming back to ensure I got a house, and please, never forget me.”

HOPE stood for more than just those four words, HOPE providing people with dignity, working towards solidarity, promoting human rights and sharing the common good. It meant making a difference not only in our lives, but in somebody elses. It meant providing people with dignity, working towards solidarity, promoting human rights and sharing the common good. There were certain events and people on my first trip that made the experience unforgettable, and drove me to continue my participation in international trips. After my first trip I participated in 3 other HOPE trips organized by student’s rather than the school between grade twelve and second year of university, building a total of 5 homes for 5 different families. Each of these trips had such profound impacts on myself, and consist of so many inspiring stories from local community members that I could write a blog on each of them (I just might).

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For example: This boy’s name is Geraldo, and when he was younger his foot was run over by a vehicle. His foot never healed properly, so he currently walks on his ankle. Not once did I see him act any different from the other kids, he ran, played soccer, danced never stopped smiling. His injury never stopped him.

My most recent international excursion was during May last year and was probably my most influential experience yet. As I’ve gone through the Brock University Con Ed program I have really learned a lot about myself as well as children and youth. In May, I went on a 3 week trip to Kenya, to participate in a community development program through Me to We.  This was the moment I was able to connect my education to my interests and future goals.

Bringing Global and Multicultural Literacy into my Personal Standpoint

During the three weeks I was there, we had the opportunity to build the foundation for the first vocational school built by the Adopt a Village campaign, while also exploring the 5 pillars of community development (education, clean water, health care, food security & alternative income), as well as our personal leadership styles.  It was during our reflections and discussions that I began developing my personal standpoint on theories and praxis of children and youth.

While I acknowledge that each of the 21st century literacies is important to incorporate into the classroom, I have a personal preference towards multicultural and global literacy. The aspect of multicultural literacy that really resonates with me, which I would love to incorporate into my classroom comes from Banks (2003) definition of multicultural literacy which aims to use the knowledge from multiple cultural perspectives to guide action in making a difference in the world we live in. I don’t want to go to into detail on how global literacy and multicultural literacy are integrated, because I have a paper for my 4P27 class which I want to focus on this, and I don’t want to be charged with plagiarism ;). But global literacy also discusses the recognition of different perspectives from multiple cultural groups around the globe. I believe I can use my previous experience to give my student’s a practical example of how it relates to our lives. I want my classroom to become GLOCAL. I want my students to be aware of both the global and the local perspectives and issues around the world, while making connections between them.

One of the Free the Children classrooms built for the elementary school in Enelerai, Kenya
One of the Free the Children classrooms built for the elementary school in Enelerai, Kenya

One resource I am very excited to explore further and implement into my classroom is the Free the Children “Junior World Changer Kit”. It contains a whole set of lessons and the foundation behind them, that teachers can incorporate into their classroom, that can connect to the curriculum. I would love to further explore and analyze these documents in the future prior to becoming a registered teacher.

I wanted to get into my knowledge and understanding of human rights, specifically child rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but I think that will be another blog, as this became more of a lengthy introduction to my background as a future teacher. I am excited to continue sharing my past and present journey’s with you all!

Kenya 2014 450

Reference:

Banks, J. (2003) Teaching for Multicultural Literacy, Global Citizenship, and Social Justice. 2003 Charles Fowler Colloquium on Innovation in Arts Education. University of Maryland, College Park