By Kim Preshoff & Jennifer Hesseltine, @GlobalSpeedChat
Throughout our experience as professional educators, we believe that while it is great to teach students about global issues and encourage them to get involved, the best way for youth worldwide to really get to know each other is to give them opportunities to collaborate—do something together. Through this, students begin to understand others in a very natural and authentic way. Regardless of whether or not students are from an urban or rural region, or affluent or not—there is a need for students to be exposed to others, and there is a need for us to do much more than just talk.
Since we cannot take all of our students around the world on a tour to get to know everyone, we have introduced #GlobalSpeedChat, a curriculum that includes quick, easy digital activities that teachers/school leaders/club organizers can do with students to help students gain a better understanding of others in our world. So far during the 2016-2017 school year, we have introduced six monthly activities that any student, teacher, administrator, club leader (or others) can do with students to help youth gain a sense of otherness and perspective in our world. The first #GlobalSpeedChat task in November 2016 asked students to take a picture of their lunch and post it on the “Let’s Do Lunch” #GlobalSpeedChat Padlet.
Our hope was that students and teachers would not only post their lunch, but also take the time to scroll through and see what others were having for lunch as well. This activity led to conversations about diet, culture, and perspective. Especially important were conversations where students looked at a food item from another country/culture and decided that the item was “gross” or “weird.” These conversations became great teachable moments that led to further conversations about whether the item was weird (gross) or just different. Students then went on to point out food items that they eat that might be considered different by others who don’t normally eat that specific food. One of our favorite TED Talks to assist in having these conversations is Weird, or just different? By Derek Sivers.
So, how do activities like this lead to peace in our world? Our hope is that by engaging in activities that expose students to the perspectives and lives of others, that our global youth will grow into adults that understand the perspectives and lives of others - building a future generation that hosts a sense of “otherness.” After all, if we are going to achieve peace in our world - our first step is making sure our children understand the importance of perspective. Through engaging hands-on activities that have the potential to cross borders, our hope is to help kids (and adults) to realizes commonalities and value differences; thus, contributing to a more peaceful and understanding world.
With three tasks left during the 2016-2017 school year, our hope is for classrooms worldwide to engage in the activities - the more classrooms who participate, the better - as we will then gain more perspectives that way! We would like to invite our global audience to feel free to take part in any of the #GlobalSpeedChat activities at any time, even if the activity has already passed. Finally...stay tuned for more activities during the 2017-2018 school year. We have learned a lot in our first #GlobalSpeedChat school year and have some terrific global activities planned for the future.
Special thanks to Kim and Jennifer of #GlobalSpeedChat for sharing their incredible work following in the spirit of #TeachSDGs for this post. You can learn more about #GlobalSpeedChat by visiting www.globalspeedchat.com.
Kim Preshoff, Science Teacher, Williamsville North High School, New York, USA, TED-Ed Innovative Educator, Co-Founder #GlobalSpeedChat
Jennifer Hesseltine, Social Studies Teacher, Malone Middle School, New York, USA, TED-Ed Innovative Educator, Co-Founder #GlobalSpeedChat
By Kathy Scheepers @KathyScheepers, #TeachSDGs Task Force Member
I began teaching in 1998 and quickly realized that I was a little fish in a very big pond. After 15 years in the classroom, I took a leap of faith and applied for the central position leading the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s (OCDSB) International Certificate Program (ICP) and several other initiatives with international dimensions. Some unique professional development opportunities have accompanied this role, but selecting the right ones that would elevate the program I manage were hard to pinpoint. I had to pursue my own professional development. There are so many pieces under the umbrella of Global Ed and I puzzled at how to package and book-end the plethora of resources to best support our students and the enthusiastic teachers who craved this global mindset. Now in its fifth year, the ICP is fully implemented so I have moved from managing program logistics and trouble- shooting to supporting more curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities through a global lens. Connecting with local and national NGOs, seeking local “globally focused” field trips and populating a Google+ site were just the start. In 2016, the World’s Largest Lesson really caught my attention and during my research I somehow landed on the registration page for the 2016 Global Education Forum! I was convinced this would be the best investment for elevating the ICP and it did not disappoint; I returned to Ottawa energized and enthused about all of the incredible Global Ed happenings that I had only been on the cusp of discovering. I became addicted to several hash tags and established an ever-growing PLN of like-minded global educators via Twitter. Inspired by the panel discussions, resources, passion for change and improvement, I felt right at home. Upon returning to my office, I felt an urgent need to just get out there and share all of the learning. But I had to calm myself down and make a plan.
How was I going to be able to take this to the next level in our district, provincially and even nationally? All levels of staff have so much on their plate, so how could I share this learning and the opportunities that accompany them as complementary to their current portfolios and work? There are so many motivated global educators in our district and finding a way to best support and share what we all have to offer is no easy task. The last thing I wanted was for this important movement to be viewed as a dreaded addition to an already heavy workload. Fine educators have enough on their plate and just trying to keep up with these changing times can overwhelm the best. There was already a ‘global mindset’ in our school district – it was a key part of past and present Strategic Plans for the OCDSB. Of course theory and practice risk remaining in silos, so I was determined to put a plan into action. But how? Luckily, I work in a very supportive environment with a strong focus on the reciprocity side of international education: encouraging our domestic students to engage with their world, be it through study abroad opportunities or engaging in global opportunities at a local level. The Ontario Ministry of Education released an International Education Strategy in June of 2015 so this is certainly helping the conversation at a provincial level; some common vocabulary for school districts that are at varying entry points. The Canadian Association of Public Schools – International (CAPS-I) holds an annual conference where school districts from across Canada gather and network. There is a concerted effort amongst CAPS-I member districts to engage in the reciprocity side of international education. Part of our district’s efforts to consciously internationalize at home began by establishing an International Education Advisory Committee (IEAC) in 2012. This committee helped support the development and implementation of the International Certificate Program. With the ICP in full swing, our committee refocused our objectives at the start of the 2015-2016 school year as follows:
Slowly but surely we have expanded global education opportunities to both our staff and students in a variety of ways…
Kathy Sigmund-Scheepers has been teaching since 1998 and is currently seconded to the role of International Education Coordinator for the Ottawa-Carleton Education Network, the international learning partner of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board located in Ontario, Canada. In her current role, she oversees the district's International Certificate Program that includes seeking and promoting opportunities for students to engage with their world at the local, national and international level. Kathy is married with two amazing kids. Twitter: @KathyScheepers
By Amy Rosenstein, @SkypeAmy
Global Goals Educator Task Force Executive Team Member
Becoming part of the SDG Project is an honor, and really a mission for me. Having taught elementary school for my entire teaching career, it turns out that I’ve already been focused on many of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. I just hadn’t labeled them as such.
Let’s take a step back, and I’ll explain.
Eight years ago, a family from my school community in New York left to move to Hong Kong. The mom and I got together for a goodbye lunch and we talked about using Skype to keep in touch with each other. I had never used this technology before, but it seemed to be worth a try. Suddenly, an idea! Our third grade curriculum had just changed to a focus on China. How about if we arranged a Skype call from Hong Kong to New York with my students?
I found an old webcam, taped it to a box, connected it to my computer and SMARTBoard, and like magic, we were connected. My students were instantly mesmerized and I realized that I was onto something big. Students were fascinated that they could speak to people across the world, live, face-to-face. They could ask any questions that came to mind.
Since this first Skype call in my classroom in the fall of 2009, my students over the years have met other students, teachers, and experts in over forty countries including Kenya, South Korea, Russia, and even the continent of Antarctica! From these experiences, they’ve learned acceptance, tolerance, speaking and listening, questioning, and basic humanity, really. They’ve come to understand that we’re more alike than we are different and that we all have a responsibility to each other. Skype has allowed us to build bridges throughout the world.
Some of our calls grew into larger projects. One in particular involved meeting children in Uganda. My third graders shared artwork with them, and both groups sang songs together. We took a tour of the compound in which they lived, and we asked and answered questions of each other. We then teamed up with our high school Amnesty International Club, and along with six other third grade classes, we conducted a read-a-thon in which students read internationally themed picture books with parents, administrators, and other students, for 100 minutes straight.
The experience had a much greater impact because the children helping each other had actually met each other. They weren’t concepts, or theoretical groups of people in faraway lands. They were real people with whom we now had connections. This project naturally lends itself to SDG Goal 4: Quality Education.
My students have met with a researcher in Antarctica and they’ve learned about global warming and climate change. They’ve interacted directly with a researcher, out on the ice with Adélie penguins. They then created posters and did a presentation to a kindergarten class about what they could do to help the environment. This fits right in to SDG Goal 13: Climate Action.
These are only two projects of the tens of thousands that are taking place throughout the world. I see the Global Goals for Sustainable Development as the glue which holds all of these projects together. If teachers and students label them as such, the adults of tomorrow, the students in front of us today, will be aware of the goals. Simple as that.
Sharing projects with others around the world really motivates students. Once they have a real audience to whom they are responsible, they tend to feel more accountable. My students recently created digital posters about the SDGs and we’re in the process of sharing them with other classes via Skype.
In order for students around the world to connect to each other around the SDGs, teachers may find connections through a Skype project that I’ve created. Click here for the link to this Skype Collaboration. Classes may share work they’ve already created, or may collaborate on a larger project over Skype.
Being part of TeachSDGs is something I treasure, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.
Learn more about Amy and her work with #TeachSDGS on Twitter and on her professional blog.