My story begins with UN SDGs when I took the Sustainable Development Goals course on the Microsoft Community and felt its importance for raising awareness of our community in Egypt and all over the world.
So, I began to think of a project to share the importance of SDGs generally and how some of these goals can be achieved through solving desertification which is both one a local and global issue. Desertification has become a big problem in Egypt, specially in my city Damietta because we are located on the Delta and River Nile.
I began to teach the SDGs for my students (Primary and Intermediate levels from 8–15 years old) and asking them to research the importance of the SDGs by using Microsoft tools and by creating simple drawings through using this link: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs.
You can follow our progress in Egypt through this Padlet:
Some countries have already begun carrying out the project steps like India, Sri Lanka and Argentina.
You can follow everything through this link:
Other countries as Canada, Kenya, Lebanon, Indonisia, Philippine ,UAE and Qatar will carry out when back to school next Septmber2017.
Now we are working on creative solutions to achieve these goals and solve the problem of Desertification using Minecraft game for Primary Stage and planting some types of plants from Science Faculty in Damietta in a small area in our School ( El Kafrawy Language School).
Besides I’m joining two global projects :
1. A Virtual UN Model Assembly By Maria Flor Conforti .( Goal 2 ) Zero Hunger . https://education.microsoft.com/Story/SkypeCollaboration?token=V6lew
2. Climate Action ( Goal 13) By Koen Timmers. It will be carried out 2nd October.My students are already preparing their work for them.
Rania Ezzat received her Post Graduate Diploma in Curriculum & Instruction Methodology and is preparing for her Master's in Education Technology. She is an EFL Head Teacher, and she has received awards in Kuwait and certifications from AUC and Microsoft. In June 2017, Rania was named the Sway Award Winner for her lesson on desertification from Microsoft which can be viewed HERE. Rania is a TeachSDGs Ambassador and is committed to bringing the SDGs to classrooms of the world. You can connect with Rania on Twitter at @ezatrania2.
By Francis Jim B. Tuscano, TeachSDGs Ambassador, Edtech Specialist, Philippines
The world has been in a quest for peace for so long. People of every color have given much effort. We have engaged in long and meaningful discourses, planned, and executed national and local actions to attain what humanity has been longing for.
In some nations, these efforts were successful, proving that peace is a strong and essential driving force towards progress and development. As time passes by, some peaceful countries suddenly find themselves at the frontline, as these nations guard and fight to maintain and eliminate threats to their nation’s peaceful existence. For some, peace has been very elusive. The struggle has caused divisions in their society, destruction of infrastructures and resources, denial of people’s basic rights, and worst of all, disrespect to and loss of human lives.
Role of Education in the Quest for Peace
The United Nations was fundamentally formed to maintain peace in our planet. Throughout the years, the UN has continued to prioritize the quest for a peaceful coexistence in this shared world. In 2015, the UN outlined peace as an area of critical importance in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To be more specific, the UN member nations target to attain, by 2030, peaceful, just, and inclusive societies, free from fear and violence. This goal acknowledges peace as a basic and essential element for progress and development to happen in every human society. SDG 16 focuses on this global quest for peace.
In this quest for peace, education plays an essential role. Whether through formal or informal learning or education, peace is taught as a universal value that must be integrated into the curriculum and to the learning process. Right now, this is something that all education systems in every nation should seriously consider.
In the school where I currently teach, Xavier School in the Philippines, peace education takes various forms. In the younger years, students first begin to learn about the importance respecting others, the skill to manage and resolve conflicts, and the goodness of showing kindness to every person one meets, whether the person is your friend or a stranger, young or old. We acknowledge that these are essential and fundamental values and virtues that help create a peaceful classroom, school, home, or neighborhood.
As the the students mature and move into higher levels, they are introduced to and made aware of the major conflicts that involve the bigger societies, nations, or groups throughout history. Disciplines such as the Social Sciences are often the designated subject areas that would push academic discussions and reflections on threats to and issues about peace and justice. Students in the higher grade levels engage in discourse, research, problem-solving, and advocacies that would contribute to the attainment of a peaceful and just nation. Together with other disciplines such as the Religious and Values Education and the Guidance Departments, students gain skills to become promoters of peace or as we say, “peacemakers.”
Using Visual Arts to Promote Peace Awareness and Action
Visual arts, which covers traditional fine arts such as drawing, painting, and sculpture among others, is known to promote and develop creativity among learners. Through the skills taught in visual arts, learners can create products that reflect the reality that they are living in, the aspirations they are genuinely working for, and the ideas and emotions that occupy their reflections.
Young learners who are attending visual arts classes also experience a different kind of fun and form of self-expression. When students are asked which they would prefer among the different academic disciplines, Arts would be a favorite answer, since it does not asked for a very rigid way of learning as experienced in the more concept and skilled-based subjects. It is in arts that they learn about creativity and experience freedom of self-expression.
Taking advantage of this, my team and I developed an arts activity that would engage young learners into a discussion about peace and justice. This project was very timely since the Philippines, where my students and I reside, has been in a long quest for a lasting experience of peace, especially in the war-torn parts of Mindanao Island in the southern area of the country.
Hands for Peace Project
The arts activity was called the “Hand for Peace Project.” The project had two-fold objectives - first, to make the students in Grades 2 to 4 aware of SDG 16 and of the need for peace in Mindanao, especially in the war-torn Marawi City and second, to ask the students to become promoters of peace in the different communities that they belong to, such as in school, neighborhoods, or even simply, in their families. The project made use of station or base system to execute the various activities.
Base 1: Awareness and Empathy Station
For the first station, the main objective was to introduce the young learners to the extreme condition of the war-torn city of Marawi in Mindanao. The city has been an area of conflict since May 2017 when a local rebel and ISIS sympathizer group, called the Maute, took control of the city. Up to the writing of this article, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as the national police group, continues to engage the rebel group in a deadly battle for the city. Local residents have been evacuated. Those caught in the middle of the siege were also relocated. However, the exchange of fires has led to the unthinkable destruction of infrastructure and the disruption of the citizen’s daily lives, commerce, and education.
The participating students were carefully led to reflect on the importance of peace and the effects of the absence of peace in a locality. An empathy exercise helped to engage the students in this station. To aid in this station, visual prompts, such as images of and videos about Marawi before and after the siege, were used.
Base 2: Promise and Call for Action Station
The second station challenged the students to become promoters of peace. In this station, the project banked on the symbolical meaning and relevance of the human hand. As promoters of peace, the young students were encouraged to use their hands as instruments of peace rather than using them as tools for destruction or division. This was very effective because it was a concrete way of telling them that the actions that they do with their bodies can either have good or bad effect on other people.
To engage the students, they were given simple peace cards which asked them to identify a community where they want to promote peace. Afterwards, the students were asked to think of a specific action that they can really do to promote peace in their chosen community. Some of the students chose to become better brothers to their siblings, while some promised to use kind words and do kind actions to their classmates or to any student they encounter in school. Some students focused on the critical issue in Malawi and promised to ask their parents to take part in helping the evacuees of Marawi. Whatever their answers were, the young students proved that they can also become promoters of peace, even if their promises and actions may seem too simplistic for adults.
Base 3: Mark of a Promoter of Peace Station
The station was the most anticipated part! Using differently colored washable hand paint, the young students made and left a concrete mark of their promise in the “peace wall.” Of course, this part was the most enjoyable part of the peace project. The students were given the chance to choose their favorite color for their hand mark. As they left their colorful hand marks on the wall, the students were asked to always remember their promises.
Continuing the Quest for Peace
Reality has shown us the truth. To have a peaceful world, we must acknowledge that everyone should contribute and work for it. This starts with helping our students, especially, the young of the importance of peace in every level of human society.
Hence, if we want to make peace education relevant, let us consider how we can meaningfully engage the students. As educators, we can take advantage of the various tools and media that captures the students’ interest in learning. Using their interests, peace education becomes more engaging and effective, just like this simple and fun arts activity which helped young learners to show empathy to those affected by conflict and to take actions to become peacemakers.
United Nations. Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs
ABS CBN News (2017). TIMELINE: Maute attack in Marawi City. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/05/25/17/timeline-maute-attack-in-marawi-city
As an education technology specialist, consultant, and trainer, Jim is passionate about designing transformative learning experiences in the classroom that enable learners to become active, reflective, and collaborative creators of knowledge. In 2017, Jim became the first teacher to represent the Philippines as a finalist to the Global Teacher Prize, considered as the Nobel Prize for Teachers, due to his work on elevating the standards of education in the Philippines through a meaningful use of technology in learning, emphasis on values educations to young learners, and providing better access to professional development trainings to the public school system in his home province of Abra in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
He is an Accredited Professional Development Consultant, Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Trainer, and Book Creator and SeeSaw apps ambassador. He is currently the chairperson for the Grade School Christian Life Education department and the Head Education Technology Coach of Xavier School.
As a global teacher blogger, he continues to share his ideas on technology integration in his website: “Edtech, Go!” at www.francisjimtuscano.com and via his Twitter PLN @jimtuscano.
By Dr. Harriet Marshall, #TeachSDGs Task Force, United Kingdom
Over the last 18 months, I’ve been collecting examples of amazing teachers, young people, and school engagements with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (the Global Goals) in England. For many of these schools, the SDGs have been an effective framework for mapping and capturing the work they have already been doing in areas, such as human rights education, global citizenship education, environmental education, or education about social justice. What makes some of the current activities slightly different from what has gone before, is that the initial simplicity of message has allowed for a more accessible and all-inclusive approach to engagement with SDG topics – often helped by the brilliant videos produced by the World’s Largest Lesson.
In this piece, I identify models and ingredients of successful practice that have emerged in schools. Most of the school practice I draw upon comes from schools in England that have been involved in the Global Learning Programme (although this is not written on behalf of the GLP and is very much my take on the #TeachSDGs movement using the UK as a case study) – there are many schools that have been actively engaged in #TeachSDGs work independently of this or through other programmes. This is a continuation of an earlier article: Teaching the SDGs – 17 Goals to Transform Our World and Our Classrooms which addresses the ‘why’ of #TeachSDGs. So, to the question of ‘how’…
Common Themes Emerging from #TeachSDG Activities in Schools
There are a number of key elements to most SDG-related activities highlighted here:
First, the SDG framework is often used as the starting point to engage students, school leaders, and other staff. It is also used as a framework to map what sort of global learning activity is already going on in the school – locating other projects, curriculum subjects, teachers, students and community or business links that are already addressing some of the SDG goals.
Second, the core values of the SDGs are often linked to schools’ pre-existing values and ethos statements. Schools that aim to achieve a broad and balanced school curriculum regularly make reference to human rights, wellbeing and/or responsible action (example here[i]), and the SDGs link easily to these.
Third, the idea of a global learning ‘journey’ is often at the heart of approaches to engagement with the SDGs in schools – especially those that build in models of behaviour or attitudinal change, and knowledge development. As mentioned elsewhere, a key opportunity of engaging with the SDGs is that students and teachers are on a fairly equal footing when it comes to prior knowledge of the SDGs[ii].
Finally, many methods of engagement with the SDGs in schools are aligned to critical thinking and the need to promote associated pedagogies like critical literacy and critical numeracy. For example, some schools involved in global learning in the UK have worked with Philosophy frameworks, such as SAPERE’s P4C.
What follows is one attempt to summarise six successful models of #TeachSDGs practice taking place in some UK Primary, Middle and Secondary schools. The list is not exhaustive and lacks nuances, but it might be of use to others. I look forward to developing it as I learn more about other practices around the world.
6 Models of #TeachSDG Practice
It’s not always easy!
Not wishing to dampen enthusiasm, it is important to recognise that #TeachSDGs activity never happens overnight and regularly meets challenges. Acknowledging that UK state-funded schools are in a fairly stable situation when compared to some other countries, many are under strain as a result of funding cuts in real terms, teachers leaving the profession and associated time constraints. Some educators also feel inundated by external agendas for schools and struggle to find the time for new initiatives – even if these initiatives might strengthen existing priorities, enhance learning, and support a broad and balanced school curriculum.
Other tensions and challenges associated with engaging with the SDGs in school relate to challenges within global learning more generally. For example, the tension between a focus on individual development and action, versus collaborative action; the potentially intimidating and overwhelming nature of the facts, figures and stories of the SDGs; and the dilemmas of engaging with stereotypes and perceptions, to name but a few!
One way in which UK teachers have been fortunate is through the additional support that they can receive from outside global education organisations, NGOs and programmes like the GLP. This support manifests itself as materials and websites, but often teachers and schools most appreciate the support they receive in person through global learning advisors, CPD providers and outside speakers. Another successful strategy has been when schools have linked up through global learning school networks to support each other, share practice and engage in SDG related partnership projects.
Finally, it has become increasingly important to show impact in global learning and engagement with the SDGs so that we can both support reporting on Goal 4.7 and individual school aims to show progress and impact.
Some of the Key Ingredients for Successful #TeachSDGs Practice
I end with a quick summary of a few of the key ingredients of effective #TeachSDGs practice in schools – in no particular order:
Further questions to think about…
I always begin and end my presentations, lectures and teaching with questions:
 In fact a recent @MYWorld2030 survey found that youth around the world are more familiar with the SDGs than older generations
Dr Harriet Marshall is on the #TeachSDGs Task Force and is a National Leader (SW) on the Global Learning Programme (www.glp-e.org.uk). She has been a global education advocate for 20 years, as a teacher, researcher, lecturer, consultant and project leader. Harriet is passionate about education, the SDGs, human rights, gender equality and social justice in education and has researched, written and presented on all of these.
T: @ham1 W: www.harrietmarshall.com/globallearning
By Barbara Anna Zielonka, Norway
The idea of the project was born in Norway in April 2017 when I officially ended my previous project entitled “ The Universe is Made of Tiny Stories” together with 35 schools from all over the world. In May 2017, I invited the most engaged teachers from my previous project to join Loomio which is a decision-making software in order to discuss all the objectives of this year’s project called “Be the Change, Take the Challenge”. After several weeks of active discussions, we decided to launch a brand new project that would focus on the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and global collaboration.
Why the SDGs?
For the past six years, I have been responsible for a subject called “International English” which is an elective course run throughout the school year. In this course, I have been teaching my students about social, environmental and political issues concerning our planet. Among the most popular ones selected by my students were poverty, water crisis, climate change, and inequality. It struck me that issues of the greatest importance were only covered during that course, and I had to take some action in order to change it. It is my strong belief that students regardless of their age or the type of course they are taking should be taught about the SDGs. If we want to develop the 21st century skills in our students, we need to concentrate on matters that concern everyone. Teaching about the SDGs should be our main priority as we will not be able to tackle world problems if we do not start acting together.
Why global collaboration?
It is not surprising that the Global Sustainable Goals are built on the idea of partnership. Without cooperation and collaboration, we will not be able to achieve these goals. That is why Be the Change, Take the Challenge project emphasizes the power of global collaboration. Students and teachers who have already joined our project have one common goal and are going to work toward it- they want to be the change and take that challenge. Throughout the eight months, 80 schools from all over the world will participate in a number of tasks and assignments that will help students become acquainted with the SDGs and develop their problem solving skills. Being exposed to so many different thoughts, attitudes, opinions, and solutions will be an eye opener to many students who have never worked in international teams before. What is more, students will be invited to numerous Skype sessions so they could improve their speaking and presentation skills in real-time setting.
Why should you join us?
Joining our project, you will be able to reinforce global competencies in your students. These competencies are vital for the creation of global learners who need to understand the importance of the SDGs and be able to deal with them. It is a complex goal, but if we act together we will be able to help our students create opportunities for all the people living on Earth. We need to focus on knowledge, skills and attitudes by collaborating and cooperating together. As a teacher, you will be able to meet other teachers from all over the world, build your professional learning network and improve your ICT skills.
Are you READY to jump into the amazing project and become our project partner? Take a look at our website and let us know your interest: https://bethechangetakethechallenge.wordpress.com
Barbara Anna Zielonka is an English teacher and a teacher trainer at Nannestad High School, Norway. She is a Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator, co-author of Skills coursebook, winner of the " Gullepleprisen" 2017, the Great Global Project Challenge Grantee, and project coordinator of several multinational digitally-based projects. Barbara believes in the power of global project-based learning and continuous professional development. She loves collaborating and connecting with other educators from across the globe. You can learn more about Barbara and her work by following her on Twitter at @bar_zie or visiting her website https://barbaraannaprojects.wordpress.com/.
By Matthew Frattali, Middle School Tech Coach, #TeachSDGs Champion, Washington, D.C.
We often ask ourselves, “What can I do to teach SDGs? Many people at my school have not even heard of the term.” One of my goals this year is to put the SDGs on the radar of my school’s administration. And though I have little control over curriculum as a tech coach, I can use the tools at my disposal. One of my roles is to augment student voice with digital tools, so that can be my contribution to teaching SDGs.
The hottest tool in edtech right now is Flipgrid, an asynchronous video tool. We did not know we needed asynchronous video until Flipgrid made it so easily accessible. In fact, their mission is to “amplify student voice.”
Think back on your academic career. How many times were you assessed on finding your voice? Students are assessed daily on reading, writing, and computation, but we know the reason why students are so rarely taught how to speak: in a room full of children, we want the room quiet and orderly and often don’t want to hear their voices. Of course, it does not have to be this way. And yet, we need to look no further than Donald Trump or Martin Luther King to understand the power of spoken word.
Students would be well-served to be comfortable on camera to be effective 21st century citizens and to do the necessary SDG work. Video is a daunting task for many, not only do you have to look presentable, but there is a myth that it absolutely must be perfect, causing immense anxiety among students and teachers alike. We know that synchronous video tools like Skype don’t work very well for camera shy students for these very reasons. But, when you put asynchronous video in the hands of students, and they have the power to record again and again and again until they think they look and sound acceptable, then you have a powerful tool to help students find their voice.
It gets better. Asynchronous video is training wheels for synchronous video, which in turn is training wheels for video production and citizen journalism. After a student is comfortable on Flipgrid (asynchronous video), they could then be comfortable doing a Mystery Skype (synchronous video), and later as adults they could be comfortable Periscoping from a social action (video production and citizen journalism).
How do you start with Flipgrid?
It’s simple, in fact simplicity is one reason why educators love Flipgrid. For teachers, you can learn Flipgrid by going to Vedchat, a professional learning community powered by Flipgrid. There is also a teacher grid dedicated to SDGs facilitated by none other than Sir Ken!
For students, there are countless grids to express student voice, including TeachSDGs regular Browyn Joyce’s “What If?” grid where they ponder big questions. And, there is a grid dedicated to SDGs for students as well.
Asynchronous video is a game-changer and is truly a way for students to find their voice and communicate the value of SDGs to the world. We’ll see you on the grid!
Matthew Frattali (@heyMattFrat) is the middle school tech coach at Lowell School in Washington DC. He is an EdCamp Junkie, #Vedchat founder, GoogleEI, and he is especially interested in PBL and genius hour. Examples of student work can be seen on his Youtube channel at www.mattfrat.com.
By Umar Farouk Ahmad, TeachSDGs Champion, Nigeria
What is Sustainable development? Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most quoted definition is:
“Sustainable development is development that means the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Common Future, Brudtland Report).
On the 25th of September 2015, the United Nations Member States gathered at the Sustainable Development Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda, which included a set of 17 Sustainable Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. These goals include:
Each of the SDGs are related to the environment which makes clean environment the lifeblood towards achieving sustainable development. Environment means the surrounding habitat of man. In its widest sense, it refers to the entire earth with its green forests, the oceans, the layers of air and oxygen. This leads to Goals 12, 13,14 and 15 as being categorized as ‘Environmental SDGs.’
We know today, all development is taking place in a world shaped by climate. That’s what makes Goal 13: Climate Action fundamental among all other SDGs. Climate change is the significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. Climate change is caused by factors that include oceanic and biological processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Climate change is often used to describe human specific impacts.
Climate Change and Relation to other SDGs
Climate change and poverty are linked together. Ending climate change and poverty are the defining issues of our time, they cannot be considered in isolation. We cannot end extreme poverty or meet the goals for sustainable development by 2030 unless we cut emissions and invest in greater, cleaner energy resilience to the impact of climate change. Without actions, the impact of climate change could force many people into poverty.
The impacts of climate change range from unprecedented heat waves, droughts, super storms, record breaking floods, heavy monsoon rain, rising sea levels, destruction of aquatic habitat (fish, coral reefs, etc.), earth quarks, and agriculture. Without action, climate change would likely spark higher food prices and threaten food security for people in the poorest region of the world. It would also intensify threats to people health due to climate related diseases like malaria and diarrhea.
All these effects are mostly caused by:
Most climate scientists agree the main cause of the climate change (current global warming) is human expansion of the “greenhouse effect”- warming that results when atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space. Carbon dioxide and several other greenhouse gases live in the atmosphere for a very long time. To really understand this, imagine a bath tub with a very small drain pipe. The bath tub fills up faster and faster as the drain refuses to let the water out. This shows that human activities are changing the natural greenhouse. Over the last century, the burning of fossil fuels like coal, petrol, and diesel combines with oxygen in the air to make CO2. To a lesser extent clearing of land for agriculture, industry, and other human activities has increased concentrations of greenhouse gases.
4 Ways for Schools/Classrooms to Support a Clean Environment for Sustainable Development
I would like to end by saying, climate action is fundamental towards achieving a sustainable development. Let us all work together in saving our mother planet to make it a better place for us and for the unborn tomorrow.
Umar Farouk Ahmad was born and raised within the walls of the ancient city of Kano. As a young boy from the locality of Kofar Mata, he was inspired by his teachers to be useful to humanity. Currently, Umar is an MSc Nuclear physics candidate in Bayero University Kano, Nigeria with experience in Renewable Energy, Energy & Environmental Conservation, and Nuclear Energy Management. He designed a solar water still as his undergraduate project to help increase its efficiency for purification of water in the rural areas and to provide access to portable and clean water. "One of my teachers used to say: 'A good idea is meaningless without the courage to act; you must speak up.' I shall continue to speak up for people and planet." You can connect with Umar on Twitter at @uphaarouk.
By Soheir Zaki Abel-Fattah, Science Teacher, #TeachSDGs Ambassador, Egypt
My story with the Sustainable Development Goals began when I finished the #TeachSDGs Course by the World's Largest Lesson on the Microsoft Education Community website. After I earned the course badge, I found myself continuing to think about the United Nations 2030 Agenda, the SDGs, and our world.
I thought about people around the world--especially those of developing countries.
People suffering from inequality, hunger, lack of education, diseases, and wars...
Our world suffering from pollution, global warming, and polluted waters...
Countries eager for sustainable cities, sustainable sources of energy, and sustainable economies...
I recognized that my students must know, must learn, and must be aware of all these goals.
It's our only world that we are talking about. Each of us has a role to protect the planet.
For me as a teacher, I deal with the most important ages in society, the young people who will earn their duties in different positions. My main role is to let them learn about the problems that they will face and think of solutions.
After much thought, I decided to take my responsibility to integrate these goals into not only my curriculum, but also into my own life. I decided to spread the awareness of #SDGs for all the people I could reach, not only my students. As I considered that "Quality Education" is the way to reach the other goals and change our world to "The World We Want," I began by creating a collaborative Skype lesson about the impact of Goal 4 on the rest of goals. I used the Skype In Classroom program by Microsoft to introduce my project, The World We Want, to teachers and students around the world. My first session was with Ms.Priyanka Tomar and her students in India.
The students prepared a Power Point presentation to show their perspectives about the project. They introduced their thoughts and showcased the right to education in Indian Constitution.
Soon after, my class had a Skype session with Ms.Raihana Haque's students in Bangladesh. They were interested to know about #SDGs and asked me for another Skype session to showcase their work in the project.
The learning and sharing for my students continued in another Skype session this time with Ms.Duhita Parmar's students in India. We had an excellent conversation about world problems, and the students together responded positively about working on the project.
I will continue #TeachSDGs as each goal affects our world and provides opportunity to create a better future for us and for our children. It's not so easy to be a good teacher for your students; you must fight for them to let them learn each day to face each challenge.
Soheir Zaki Abel-Fattah is an Expert Science Teacher in Victory College, Alexandria, Egypt. She is a graduate of Alexandria University, Faculty of Science, and has a Master's Degree in Physical Organic Chemistry. She works to achieve excellence in education using advanced technologies in the classroom. As a MIE and MIE Master Trainer, Soheir embeds Microsoft applications into instruction and lessons. She participanted in the #HumanDifferences Global Project, by Koen Timmers, and this year, she was honored to be chosen as one of the Global Goals Educator Task Force Ambassadors http://www.teachsdgs.org/our-ambassadors.html. You can connect further with Soheir on Twitter at@sou_2022.
By Sharon Davison, Kindergarten Teacher, #TeachSDGs Educator, Vermont, USA
Collaborative efforts bring awareness, engagement, and advocacy from even young children and help to develop an appreciation for the natural world. It starts through an exploration of what the goals are, why we have them, and why it might be important for others to know about them. Then we create a plan of action.
This is our journey…
In our kindergarten classroom, we created an awareness and listed our goals, talking about why we thought they were important and what they meant to us. What was interesting was, that while we explored them and hung a poster in our classroom, they became part of our classroom culture. By doing this, it was easy for me to connect conversations that we were having with a specific goal. Through our authentic and genuine curiosity about the global goals, we all became more aware of not only what they are, but why they are important. “The why” is most important because it helped drive deeper thinking and the children then had an opportunity to be reflective.
We have been exploring all year ways that we make a difference for ourselves, our school, our family, and community. We started with an essential question…Where does waste go? We created an awareness of what we thought and then created a Padlet that we could share globally to find out what others in the world were doing. This was easy to tie into the global goals because as we created our own awareness, we also were able to think about how our actions could impact the climate and life on land. Yup! And in that, there just happens to be two global goals, Climate Action #13 and Life on Land #15.
Another way we helped make a difference for others was to build an awareness around hunger. We were curious if people were hungry: Did children have enough food? What happens if people need food? Who helps them? Again, this is another opportunity to refer to the global goals, Goal #2 Zero Hunger. My students collect food twice a year. Then, we walk to our local food shelf to make deliveries. This is always exciting for the children. They have a direct experience with what it means to help others and have empathy. This is easy to do.
Think of a need that your community has, build an awareness, and then create a plan of action that includes your students, families, and communities. Together, everyone begins to connect and weave a thread of caring because it directly impacts a need. Now, the Global Goals are a part of my classroom culture. They remind us all of what the world needs. My students understand why they are important and are creative in their ideas to find ways to make the world a better place. Even in Kindergarten, these ideas have an impact.
My students are really genuinely invested in making the world a better place. I think about the impact this could have if more and more young children were familiar making goals. Just by building an awareness, through the content I explore, we are finding ways to connect to the goals. It raises an awareness of the world and really, my students love learning about the world! Kindergarten seems like the perfect place to begin thinking about how we can collaborate globally to make the world a better place. We all need each other. The world needs all of us to care and and make wishes come true for everyone. Why not start collaborating with your students today!
My ELL teacher, Patti Tursi collaborated with me around the goals. As an ELL teacher, she has a special expertise and perspective about students who are from places other than the United States. She became a director of our first documentary on the Global Goals. She set up a filming studio in my classroom with the children, and then the children began to explore the filming equipment and play so they experience what it can be used for. Later, when we filmed, Patti taught us about being quiet on the set and about other language used for creating a film. This experience was real life and offered my students an opportunity to learn new language with a new expert.
I paint a map of the world each year with my students. We add places we visit and people we connect with. We share how we are having conversations with others and what we are learning about. Now that I am aware of the Global Goals, I can add the goals to our map, as well, as when we explore them. This is another way we can build an awareness and inspire others and think deeply about what we are doing and how we are doing it. The why of our ideas is through our own reflection and how we share our voices.
As our year came to an end, I asked my students to think about why we connect globally? Why is it important? Do you think others need to connect globally, too?
Here are some of their reasons:
Sharon Davison is a passionate Kindergarten teacher in Vermont, and she believes in sustainability and working collaboratively with others locally and globally to help solve solution-based problems. She is a former NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellow where she has had an opportunity to travel abroad and mentor other teachers interested in globalizing their learning experiences with their students. She is a former National America Achieves Fellow, and she has presented nationally on the use of technology and the positive impact it has on a learning culture. Most recently she was named the PBS Digital Innovator 2017 for the state of Vermont and was a 1st place winner for the Henry Ford Innovation Award. Sharon is committed to #TeachSDGs in her classroom and believes strongly in making a difference and supporting learning for everyone. You can connect with Sharon on Twitter at @kkidsinvt, Sharon Davison on Google+, Sharon Davison Linkedin, and Sharon Davison on Facebook.
By Estella Owoimaha-Church, Global Teacher Prize Finalist (2017), #TeachSDGs & Varkey Teacher Ambassador, Theatre Teacher, California
Presently, I lead a theatre department in Los Angeles. In 15 years of service, I have found the most compelling tool, strategy, and resource is ‘empathy’. I have been in my current position for four years now and, over the previous year, I have grown particularly mindful of this fact.
It’s simple. Empathy is a more complex cognitive function than we give it credit. You may not find it listed on a Bloom’s Taxonomy chart or Webb’s Depth of Knowledge infographic, though studies as far back as the 1870, perhaps earlier, have already proven empathy development to be critical. We consider it important, but only as it relates to character development or morality. How often do we consider curricular implications of empathy?
Empathy has two functions: the affective and the cognitive. Affective empathy allows us to be in tune with another's feelings. This might manifest as mirrored emotion--feeling sad when a close friend is feeling down. Cognitive empathy involves a person’s ability to fully understand and identify what someone else is feeling and perhaps assume a similar perspective. While being an empathetic person does not guarantee you’ll take action when a person is in need, it is a positive indicator of action in the future. (Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright, 2004; Decety & Ickes, 2011; UC Berkeley, 2017) As educators, we need to, very thoughtfully and carefully, craft ways to embed empathy in curriculum, activities, culture, environments, and daily practice. Educational policy seems forever in flux and education reform never seems to be as transformative as intended.
Empathy will withstand the proverbial education pendulum and is a prerequisite for this field. Empathy is free and accessible to all, no wireless internet necessary. Empathy is not a vague, idealistic concept, nor will it be mastered in one lesson or unit. Empathy is content, to be taught explicitly as we would teach foundational literacy skills. Empathy creates a basis for positive and engaging environments. Empathy shapes the minds and hearts of youth, building up global citizens who are change agents and that can therefore be vehicles to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
9 Compelling Reasons to Explicitly Teach Empathy
I have found that by engaging students in empathy based content, modeling empathy daily, and encouraging students to practice empathy, I can cultivate a safe space where academic and artistic risks are taken. In such a space, students are inclined to take care of one another, as well as assume responsibility in establishing a safe, inclusive environment. UC Berkeley, in Greater Good Magazine (2017), outline several extensive studies on empathy in a concise, comprehensive discussion on what empathy is, why we should be concerned, and approaches to employing empathy as a tool. Below are findings from this resource followed by anecdotal data to support what the research says.
Developing empathy in individuals can:
Religion, Gender Identity, & Acceptance
In our theatre program, we have students representative of various religions; Catholic, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslim, Wiccan, Agnostic, and others. Tolerance and coexistence is not always easy. Over the last two years, I have witnessed courage and bravery flourish in students who chose to stand in their truth and honor their identities; the choice to self-select a religion; the choice to come out as an LGBTQ+ person. At times, difficult and painful conversations happen. Such was the case this school year when a student - who identifies as a male - asked another student - who self-selected a religion that disagrees with varied gender identities - to please use his preferred pronouns and male name. Her initial response was “I don’t know if I can do that because it’s sort of against my religion.” After a long conversation, with all theatre company members, her response shifted to “I love you, no matter how you identify, and I can respect your wishes because I love you.” To which the response was, “I love you as well. And, I am proud of your religious conviction and will honor your choices.” These courageous conversations continue to happen. What I am most proud of is the growth each student exhibits when they learn something new about a person and can conjure empathetic solutions. When empathy is developed on the individual level and as a group norm, what begins to emerge is a community and ensemble where tolerance and coexistence is merely a way of being; it's natural as opposed to contrived. It becomes the group’s goal, motivating them push past initial differences or potential conflicts.
Support Systems & Forgiveness
A founding member of our theatre program graduated two years ago. Her younger brother remains in the program. This alum was known across campus as a superstar; the hardest work kid you wished was in your class whose potential was only matched by her own tenacity; a real leader in our program and member of several other academically rigorous programs. This student held major responsibilities at home--daily chores, cooking, cleaning, and raising her younger brother. This was a great strain on her, yet somehow she persisted. During senior year, her teammates noticed she was near a mental breakdown. They called a meeting to talk to her. I anticipated it was to discuss her younger brother who had been caught stealing on several occasions and the latest incident involved the box office till. I sat and listened, trusting in their ability to have a conversation, rooted in empathy. Her teammates said this, and I am paraphrasing:
“We see that you are under a lot of pressure and stress right now. We want you to try to enjoy senior year and focus on all the things you have to worry about right now. Let us carry the load while at school. We’ll look out for your younger brother. We are a family so he is our responsibility, too. Having your back means we have his. He was caught trying to take that cash, but we understand. He was probably worried about your dad. We can take turns spotting lunch if you need us to.”
Cue tears and group hug. I sat at my desk in awe, trying not to cry. To this day, while she is away at university, remaining team members continue to keep the promise made by previous students.
The anecdotal data I could share is abundant; stories of students who have mastered empathy and chose to practice it daily, and in ways I wouldn't have imagined. I’ve had theatre students volunteer to lead teacher professional development on “Empathy and Community Building” after being inspired to act when peers were made to feel inadequate based on gender identity and immigration status. A theatre student who is autistic was told he would never be able to go to college by a counselor; well he in fact did and then made it his mission to mentor other students with similar conditions helping them fulfill personal goals. After theatre students were unjustly targeted by district officials, they stood together, advocating for the department and each other. And when mental health concerns rose for several teammates, they sought out professional help and supported one another through weekly therapy sessions. Each time my theatre students are faced with a conflict or challenge, they choose empathy as the basis for their solutions. I am always impressed and grateful for the opportunity to bear witness.
5 Strategies for Teaching Empathy & the SDG’s
There is an infinite number of ways to teach and support the Sustainable Development Goals, I’m sure. Just the same, there are a number of ways to embed empathy in your practice, whether you are a classroom teacher, paraprofessional, or community member. The research shows that we can develop empathy using specific activities, such as providing opportunities for active listening, shared identities, personal stories, meditation, game or role play, exploration, and imagination. A more comprehensive list can be found at Greater Good Magazine. Below are some strategies we use in our theater program.
1. Safe Space: Ensure the communal environment is culturally responsive to all those who will have a hand in shaping the space. The environment should be safe where learners and facilitators are free to take risks and fail without judgment, but with support of peers. Group norms are always visible and all have a voice in defining the norms. Consider roles of group members and mitigate ego trips by maintaining equality in the space. One simple way to do this is to have team members sit in a circle whenever possible, including the facilitator. Speak honestly and in the affirmative as often as possible.
2. Service Learning: Prioritize kindness and generosity. Highlight stories of youth who have created good-will campaigns or have contributed to the greater good (e.g. Malala Yousafzai, Dude Be Nice, or KidPresident). Most importantly, encourage students to do the same. A project we do annually in the theatre program is called “Art in Service." Students are required to review the SDG’s and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In small, self-selected groups, they decide what issues are most pressing given their personal identities and worldviews. Students work together to create a campaign employing their art in significant ways. The project involves extensive checkpoints, research, and feedback loops. By the end of the year, students share their findings or results of their direct actions.
3. Use Curriculum that Already Exists: There are plenty of curriculum packages out there that can easily support your content area, the SDG’s, and empathy development. Speak Truth to Power shares the narratives of human rights defenders all over the world and includes cross-curricular texts and projects. Rock Your World is a “dynamic project-based curriculum that engages middle and high school students in the use of creative media to take informed action about issues they care about.” Teaching Tolerance and Facing History & Ourselves are always in abundance of amazing resources.
4. Text Selection: Explore bodies of work across content areas that encourage students to empathize with individuals that are not like them. Encourage students to make connections with others where they once imagined there weren’t any connections. Islamophobia, unfortunately, is trending in the United States. Since incorporating texts by and about Malala Yousafzai, I have seen a change in student conversations. Malala is considered a hero, a rockstar among students--some idolize her. Knowing her story gives youth perspective and encourages them to be brave. Some great texts (should not be limited to novels or books) to start with are I Am Malala, The Laramie Project, Americanah, and In the Country We Love.
5. Personal Narratives: Encourage students to tell stories and share them with one another. Document these narratives; use essay writing, voice recorders, or other creative formats. Play these stories back, allowing students to fill the role of someone else. When students feel the pressure to get someone else's story right, they listen more intently and work hard to honor their peers’ humanity and voice. Some specific tools and strategies include verbatim theatre, playback theatre, or StoryCorp. This is a fantastic way to incorporate community members and our elders, as well connect to distant communities around the globe (via technology)(Bornmann & Crosman, 2011; Holland, 2009).
The above strategies directly support the following Sustainable Development Goals:
Need additional ideas? Read “Arts Education and the SDGs”
When Empathy Translates into Global Citizenship & Enhanced Partnerships for ‘The Goals’
In “Soft versus critical global citizenship education,” Vanessa de Andreotti (2014) presents a model for supporting learners on their journey of global citizenship. She makes many great points and highlights, in very plain language, the difference between soft and critical global citizenship. Similar to the difference between affective and cognitive empathy--the difference being action--soft and critical global citizenship are closely linked; the primary being a step towards the ladder. Andreotti warns that if we are not willing to confront our own assumptions and limitations then we risk “reproducing the systems of belief and practices that harm those” we wish to serve.
Theatre students from the past four years, including alumni, were polled on their views pertaining to their responsibility as global citizens and the role empathy plays in their lives. Students’ responses were edited for security, brevity, and clarity. Here is what some had to say:
#TeachSDGs with Empathy: Share these quotes in your learning spaces
Download these images and more in poster format by clicking the above link.
Anderson, M. (2007). A resurgence of verbatim theatre: Authenticity, empathy and transformation. Australasian Drama Studies, 153-169.
Baron-Cohen, S., & Wheelwright, S. (2004). The empathy quotient: an investigation of adults with Asperger syndrome or high functioning autism, and normal sex differences. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 34(2), 163-175.
Blair, R. (2009). Cognitive neuroscience and acting: Imagination, conceptual blending, and empathy. TDR/The Drama Review, 53(4), 93-103.
Bornmann, B. A., & Crossman, A. M. (2011). Playback theatre: Effects on students’ views of aggression and empathy within a forensic context. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 38(3), 164-168.
de Andreotti, V. O. (2014). Soft versus critical global citizenship education. Development Education in Policy and Practice, 21-31.
Decety, J., & Ickes, W. (2011). The social neuroscience of empathy.
Dennis, R. (2008). Refugee performance: Aesthetic representation and accountability in playback theatre. Research in Drama Education, 13(2), 211-215.
Freeman, B. (2012). The social neuroscience of empathy in the theatre of global ethics. Performing Ethos: International Journal of Ethics in Theatre & Performance, 2(1), 41-54.
Holland, C. (2009). Reading and acting in the world: conversations about empathy. RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 14(4), 529-544.
UC Berkeley. "Empathy Defined." Greater Good Magazine. UC Berkeley, 2017. Web. 26 July 2017. <https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/empathy/definition#why-practice>.
Estella Owoimaha-Church was recently named a Global Teacher Prize Finalist (2017). She holds an M.A. in Education: Language Arts & Literacy from Loyola Marymount University and a B.A. in African-American Studies: Urban Education from California State University, Northridge. Estella teaches theatre in Los Angeles, helping youth to employ performing arts as a community service tool. Mrs. Church is an education consultant, as well as a reading, curriculum and pathway specialist. Though in the classroom full time, she remains active with several community organizations, including Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, training teachers in human rights and social justice education. “The arts are a transformative tool; when paired with the SDG’s, the arts can heal communities and build bridges, cultivate youth into global citizens, and usher in the SDG’s by 2030.” She is humbled and looks forward to serving her community as an #TeachSDGs & Varkey Teacher Ambassador. Connect with Estella on Twitter at @eochurch.
Global Goals: Developing Connectivity to Schools and Communities in Africa via Solar Powered Pumpmakers
By Fred Sagwe, Kisii, Kenya: EdTech Educator, MIE Expert, TeachSDGs Ambassador
Communities worldwide need access to an open, trusted global internet. Through such forums as The Mozilla Learning Network and #TeachSDGs, and the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise know as the Global Goals, by the United Nations in September 2015, we were given a clear framework to increase our development efforts as well as reinforce our commitment to bringing the benefits of a globally connected internet to everyone. We all have seen the internet as a critical enabler for sustainable development and believe that access to it will help accelerate the achievement of all the SDGs as the Internet has boundless potentials.
Here is our story of the impact of the internet in the achievement of SDGs in our community. As you will see, we have been able to especially move the needle on one SDG in particular: SDG4 which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Using Technology to Connect to the SDGs
In the past two years and through the use of new age technologies, many schools around the world have been able to connect to the global goals. The World's Largest Lesson introduces the Sustainable Development Goals to children and young people globally and unites them in action to do their part in helping to achieve these extraordinary things by the year 2030.
A Certificate of Participation is offered for participating in the World’s Largest Lesson and supporting the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Classrooms can download, read, and share an included SDG Letter with their community and other major stakeholders. More, the SDG in Action app has been developed to highlight and spread the messaging of the Sustainable Development Goals---the world’s “to-do list” to end poverty, reduce inequalities, and tackle climate change.
Internet Connectivity in Africa
The Internet is one of the most important enablers of social development and education. While Internet services have advanced considerably in the rest of the world, access to the Internet remains very limited in Africa, especially in the rural communities. According to a recent report by Kamaleon, Africa accounts for only 9.3% of the total internet users in the World despite being the second-largest continent, after Asia, in size and population. Africa has a population of approximately 1.2 billion people which represents 16.2% of the total world population. As of June 2016, the number of internet users was reported at 340.8 million with an average penetration rate of 28.7%. Brookings Institution’s recent report dubbed “Foresight Africa” notes that internet usage in the continent is still limited by a lower penetration rate and high costs of data as compared to other continents.
It’s no secret that many parts of the world lack water, electricity, and internet. At least in 10% of the world’s population doesn’t have access to clean water and 17% of the world lacks access to electricity. Even the Internet, seen as “an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights” by the UN is accessible for just 40% of the globe. However, there are solutions that can help. In this article, Solar-Powered Device Could Deliver Clean Water, Electricity, And Internet To Africa, innovations to solve these urgent problems are described.
Pumpmakers Platform – Globally Connected
Imagine what it would be like if remote regions were to be able to connect to the world via WiFi Internet, have access to a charging station for lights, radios, mobile phones and tablets, and have WATER. But, that’s not all. At the same time as accomplishing these remarkable tasks, groundwater data could also be logged and transmitted together with weather data and live pictures of the region. The Pumpmakers Solar Water Pump "PM Life Station" makes this – and more – possible! Pumpmakers focuses on solar pump systems for the supply of rural and urban areas with access to water, Internet, power, and light. Here is how:
NIGERIA Solar Pump System for Magami Village
In the Village Centre in Nigeria, there was a nearby pump, but it was a hand pump and didn't pump much water or even function all the time. So, the people used to fetch water from a drying up stream about 20 minutes walk away. The newly installed solar driven PM Life Station, with a capacity of up to 16,000 litres of water being pumped out from a depth of 30m each day, now has opened the door to a brighter future for some 4,000 local people. Additionally, there are proposed sites for solar water pump “PM Life Stations” in Tabaka Boys High School. To fund this, the community is working with a Project Funding Request and Indiegogo Crowd Funding initiatives. To follow the journey of the classrooms at Tabaka Boys High School and their work to help their community and the world through the SDGs, visit https://www.facebook.com/tabakaboyshighschool/.
A sound knowledge of the global goals, Taking Action on the Goals, and Social Media Action shall help to make this real and show the impact of the internet in the achievement of SDGs, especially moving the needle on one SDG in particular: SDG4 which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Together, let's tackle and combat climate change, reduce greenhouse emissions, reduce poverty, use clean tech to provide clean water, electricity, internet, and connectivity to Africa and other parts of the world. Through partnership and education, we together can do this.
Tags: United Nations Global Goals SDGs global internet Pumpmakers The Mozilla Learning Network #TeachSDGs Nobel Prize
Fred Sagwe is an EdTech Educator and ICT Integrator/Computer Science
teacher in Kisii, Kenya. He is a TED-Ed Innovator, Microsoft Innovative Educator
Expert, Digital Institute Summit Ambassador, UNESCO
ASPnet Patron, and TeachSDGs Ambassador. You can learn more about Fred and his work with teaching the SDGs by following him on Twitter at @fsagwe.