A Little Background…
As the World Class Education Specialist at Lone Tree Elementary, I am in the midst of what might be called either the “World Class Learning Project” or “What might a school built by Yong Zhao look like?” No matter the name, I have been working to increase my personal knowledge and create systems and strategies in order to implement an innovative model for learning based on World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students (Zhao 2012). Over the past year and a half, I have worked with Yong Zhao and a global team of writers to produce three follow-up books to be used as guides to implement his thinking. It is the information and activities included in these books that have come together to create a vision for our school as an innovative model for learning. The specific focus of the 3 books defines the parts that make up the whole for a model of World Class Learning.
On the topic of global education…
Even though it is the topic of the third book, it is the WHERE of World Class Learning that I now realize sets the all-important stage for success in this model and for any model promoting global citizenship. Following are three steps that we have started to implement at Lone Tree Elementary. I have included just a couple examples for each step in order to pinpoint something to try that will help promote a viable global education in any academic scenario.
STEP 1 – Pique student interest and spark questioning!
Engage students in real world observations, experiences, and connections with global issues–the world should be our inspiration! If we want our students to be creative problem solvers in relevant real world scenarios, they need to be fluent in global issues. This begins locally and naturally grows with exposure to larger communities and greater concerns. Our educational challenge: Get out of the “bubble of curriculum” that keeps us tied to our classrooms and create greater connections and opportunities.
“Real Life Is Our Teacher” or “Learn for Life” could be classroom slogans. Make sure students are immersed in actuality and have the opportunity to connect the relevance of happenings across the world to their life. Designate time and immersion areas in your classrooms for “What on EARTH is happening?” or “What in the world is happening?” Focus on current events or posted media that present a global perspective. Refer to the ever-changing data accessible in our digital world. Make the world come alive in a way that piques students’ curiosity and entices them to get involved and ask more questions.
Use current events to spark questioning as a daily practice
Expose students to global facts and stimulating multi-media to spark curiosity and wonderment
Encourage students to participate with others using technology as a means to broaden their worldview and become active citizens. Teachers, classrooms, and students need to be connected to others globally—they need to use current communication tools in order to disseminate information, promote and receive ideas, engage in conversations, and gather feedback. What we use is not as important as the fact that we join the conversations about the things that we care about as a way of deepening our understanding.
Commit to Being Connected and Embrace New Technologies – #jointheconversation
Students need to be empowered at school with the tools they are already comfortable with, such as Instagram and Twitter, and they need to be taught how to use these tools intentionally as a vehicle for their learning. Teachers should model this approach by creating and purposefully using a professional classroom account. This helps students gain an understanding of what it means to be a connected learner, as well as a connected citizen who participates by contributing ethically in global conversations and collaborative efforts.
Contribute Resources to Enable Others to Connect!
As a school project, model how to connect and use new technologies to impact positive change in developing countries. There are many opportunities for schools to connect with other schools and at the same time expand the learning opportunities for their own students. The following are two possible examples to check out.
- TEDx in a Box – Enables TEDx organizers who do not have access to technology to host events in diverse locations around the world.
- LumenEd – Connecting students in classrooms around the world in a video pen pal program.
STEP 3 – Initiate or become involved in a global project!
Global education should be more than creating global perspective; it should be about inspiring our students to actively participate with current issues on a world stage. As teachers we need to empower students to get involved in or create global projects. Students will begin to think more widely about the world around them as they plan to take action for change or design and create needed products. This kind of global engagement can be approached as a class, as small groups, or as individual students.
Together students should be connecting–co-creating–problem solving! Student-initiated projects that go beyond the brick and mortar of our schools are powerful. They create authentic ways to connect students, promote diversity in thought and location, and allow for development of a global perspective relevant to what students care about.
Get involved in or create global projects!
- The TWIMA Project
- Global Learning Project – Insects All Around Us: K-3
- OxFam Hunger Banquet
- RandomKid – The Power of ANYone
- changemakers– Grow your innovation, Fund your innovation – Social change
Actually, there is a…
STEP 4 – Give me feedback!
Did you try any of these strategies? Do you have new ideas? Did you refine these ideas?
If so, let me know how it impacted learning! Contributing new ideas, spreading thoughts, gathering feedback, reflecting, and spreading thoughts again–this is the perfect cycle for entrepreneurial thinking that drives innovation and design. It is also the perfect cycle to expand thinking around new ideas and philosophies that we can implement to promote sustainable-learning opportunities for our students on a global campus.