Teaching kids to think globally is no longer an option. Technological advances have made our world smaller and the impact of nations on distant places and cultures is ever more pronounced. Add to that, the number of children who enter our public schools speaking a first (or second) language other than English, and it’s imperative that we open their classmates’ eyes to the world that exists beyond our borders.
With The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners (Corwin, 2014), Homa Sabet Tavanger, author of Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World (Random, 2009) and Becky Mladic-Morales, founder of KidWorldCitizen.org, have compiled a treasure trove of materials guaranteed to encourage and energize meaningful global learning. Infused with enthusiasm, this how-to guide for adults working with K-5 students is chockfull of practical ideas, activities, and resources. A password-protected companion site with links to materials referenced in the text is indispensable, so Internet access while using the toolkit is a must.
In Chapter 1, the authors offer guidance for assessing a school community’s commitment to global learning and suggest using an online “Global Footprint quiz” to determine an entry point for raising awareness and building a curriculum. They recognize the value of an International Night or other related events, “perhaps as a stepping stone to more in-depth curricular integration,” and provide a planning timeline along with pointers for engaging stakeholders, enlisting volunteers, and tapping into the larger community. Chapter 2, aptly titled “Things to Do,” details creative approaches to school-wide and classroom activities that incorporate crafts, food, music, games, language, and more.
For teachers and schools that are ready to move beyond an event, Chapter 3, “Infusing Global Learning Into Academic Subject Areas,” provides lesson plans in global education aligned with Common Core State Standards. Wisely, the authors prompt teachers to look within topics commonly taught in elementary schools, such as nutrition, pollution, the water cycle, families, etc., for simple ways in which to add a broader, global perspective, and they present examples to get teachers started.
With an emphasis on teaching empathy by building relationships, the last two chapters, “Technology Tools to Connect With the World” and “Charitable Giving and Service,” are a solid source of suggestions for opening doors to the world. Technology tools encompass social media, blogs and wikis, videoconferencing, online lesson plans, digital multimedia, and global professional development with helpful hints on specific tools, such as a list of “12 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom,” how to increase student participation with a “Skype Jobs Chart,” and a sampling of particularly effective classroom blogs.
As children learn about the world, they’ll also learn that the distribution of resources and advantages isn’t equal. Students develop empathy as they’re guided through service activities that can make a difference; service that is carefully planned, has a purpose, and is integrated with learning objectives. Inspiring examples of kids in action along with links to global organizations are nicely incorporated. Rounding out the toolkit are a few additional resources, including a printable global passport and a geographically arranged “Multicultural Book List” featuring over 300 titles.
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