After three years of globalizing my classroom, what I've learned is that going global is not just another education initiative. It is transformational all by itself. Globalizing my classroom has created a holistic picture of education- students discover themselves as people, their personal and public identities, their strengths and passions, and they begin to envision their role as an individual in a global society. What do they care about? What type of consumer will they be? How might they use their talents and strengths in the world? I believe this should be the purpose of education. Education is, at the core, not just about standards and objectives. It's about growing as an individual and as a contributing citizen. It doesn't get better than that!
I know it's only June, but what a great time to plan something amazing for next school year! I love to take the summer every year and plan one or two really awesome units, projects, etc. This past summer I set out to create my first worldwide collaborative project. You can visit it at: www.beautifulmundo.com. The goal was to develop language proficiency authentically while at the same time developing global competency by recognizing diverse perspectives, challenging stereotypes, and exchanging ideas with other school groups from around the world. The question all participants set out to answer was: "How does our community reflect its diverse identity?" Each class designed a webpage to answer that question, and after viewing everyone's work, we had Skype chats with various classes. I created a step-by-step guide to help you create your own worldwide collaborative project!
We give finals to assess our students' progress toward all of our vocabulary, grammar, and most importantly, proficiency goals. But, how often do we assess their growth in global and cultural competency? I decided to try a new final exam for my mixed level 3/4 class. There was only ONE question: How has your worldview grown because of your Spanish studies? Students received a list of themes covered in the last 1-3 YEARS of their Spanish program. Grammar topics were listed as well. I asked the students to develop a multimedia presentation that could answer that question, while providing examples using the themes studied, and thinking about all of the linguistic skills gained that could aid them in their presentation. Here was one of my favorite videos!
What's the next new social media phenomenon we're going to have to quickly learn how to integrate into our lessons, am I right? It's hard to keep up! I've been looking for a way to integrate Instagram meaningfully, and I'm happy to share this lesson with you. With novice students learning to use the present progressive to express what is happening, we investigated the world in pictures, made predictions about cultural perspectives and products, and threw out our questions on Twitter with a #(country name) so that target language speakers with knowledge would respond and provide us with answers to our predictions! It was so much fun to check Twitter every day and find out if any of our cultural wonderings were correct, and more importantly, to use language with such authenticity. How is this lesson building global competency? Global citizens are curious about the world and they investigate it. They begin to develop an understanding of different cultural practices and perspectives and communicate with empathy and care when engaging in conversations with not only each other but with those people outside of their own practices, products, and perspectives. To develop global competency in this lesson, one needs to intentionally have these conversations as the lesson develops from the investigation (Instagram) to the exploration of ideas (making cultural predictions), to communication with others. It makes for so many teachable moments, and those are just THE BEST!
There are quite a few resources for finding projects to connect your language students with a target language country. But it's actually quite easy to find a partner with the power of twitter! Last summer as I was planning my school year themes, I decided I wanted students to explore the diverse identity of our local community, and compare and contrast that with the identity of other communities around the globe. I threw together a project idea on a web page (www.beautifulmundo.com) and posted the idea on Twitter with the hashtag #globaled and #globaledchat. It wasn't long before more than 20 schools expressed interest in the project from all over the world. Russia, India, Europe, Latin America, North America-- I was amazed! Not all schools decided eventually to join the project, but a number of them did and it was fun to have some Skype chats with different schools and compare our personal webpage class projects that we developed throughout the year. Every teacher was given a page for their community on the main site (www.beautifulmundo.com) with a login and password so that they could edit the page as they wished. I look forward to finding ways to collaborate globally more often in all language levels. It is amazing to be able to leverage the power of technology to foster proficiency and global competence with such meaning and relevancy. I've created a free resource guide for you to get started on global connection!
I have been a language teacher for fifteen years now and I am intensely passionate about language learning and helping students grow as global citizens. I'm so happy you are here!