Opinion
Curriculum Opinion

Three Steps to Successful Global Learning

By Leonetta Elaiho — March 08, 2018 4 min read

Editor’s Note: Today, Leonetta Elaiho, Senior Manager, Students Rebuild, Bezos Family Foundation, shares ideas for free global learning experiences. Students Rebuild works with educators worldwide to support students to take action on critical global issues. Their challenges invite students to learn about an issue, connect with peers from all over the world, and create a simple, symbolic art piece, which the Bezos Family Foundation matches with funding.

At a time when breaking news runs 24/7, and social media makes it possible to view world events in real time—including acts of injustice, intolerance, and violence—it’s no wonder people respond by taking breaks from Facebook or putting newspaper subscriptions on hold.

But there’s another option. Through global education, educators and students are transforming that feeling of helplessness into action through meaningful activities that increase knowledge, encourage empathy, build connections, and make a difference.

What do these types of global education experiences look like? Here are examples in three simple steps, with free resources, to consider:

1) Empower creativity.

Art can radically connect the hands and hearts of students to global issues. Humanitarian Carl Wilkens once said, “When you make something with your hands, it changes the way you feel, which changes the way you think, which changes the way you act.” Making art is a creative way to connect students with issues and invite them to take action.

In this photo, students from Liz Finck’s class in Fairfield, Connecticut, did just that through the Students Rebuild Facing Difference Challenge. In response to learning about intolerance and the need for peace across lines of difference, students reflected on their own identities, explored what makes them unique and made self-portraits. Every self-portrait created through the Challenge is matched with a $3 donation for peace-building efforts around the world.

One student at another participating school in nearby New Jersey commented: “I loved making the self-portraits! It was great to be able to relax and draw. Not only would it go to a good cause but we would have fun making them! It also filled me with a sense of pride that my work would go to help others around the world.”

Learn more about Students Rebuild and participate in the current Facing Difference Challenge now through May 4, 2018. Registration is free and includes learning and engagement resources.

2) Invite contribution.

is a powerful word. And sometimes a personal invitation is all that’s needed to transform teaching and learning. For example, when educators, as partners and coaches, invite students for meaningful conversation and activities, it often results in rigorous and life-changing studies. Teacher Sonda Cheesebrough’s elementary students at North Elementary School in Morgantown, West Virginia, used a project-based learning unit from the Buck Institute for Education to organize local peacebuilding strategies in the school and community.

Favorite quotes from the 3rd graders, in response to the activities, include, “Learn about other people,” “You can inspire other people,” “Don’t judge people,” and “Spread joy around the world.”

Follow the links to access project-based learning units created by the Buck Institute focused on supporting students to make local and global contributions to peace:
Peace by Piece for grades K-6
Advocates for Peace for grades 7-12

3) Leverage technology.

With the help of technology and media, students’ understanding of global issues is greater than ever. This expanding access provides opportunities to deepen student understanding, and to build empathy and connections in authentic ways. Virtual reality, dynamic video content, and interactive video conferencing put a more personal face to issues, and leverage technology to tell stories and connect narratives across time and distance. At Millburn Middle School in New York, 7th graders experienced the life of a peer in Amman, Jordan, through “One World, Many Stories,” a virtual reality series from Global Nomads Group.

A student from Holly Foley’s class at Millburn Middle School, shared: “The main idea of the event was friendship and trustworthiness. Watching the videos about cultures coming together, playing team-building games and having the virtual reality of other cultures allowed us all to connect and have each other’s back. It also allowed us to let loose of prejudice and blindly trust, helping us make connections around the world.”

Explore Global Nomads Group’s free virtual reality series One World, Many Stories and more they have to offer.

You Can Do It!

Now more than ever there is a distinct benefit of teaching a transformative global education that builds bridges and dispels myths and stereotypes. While the headlines describing global issues continue to roll in, we can take heart in leveraging what this generation of students has to offer—creativity, a passion for change, and boundless capacity for innovation. The above referenced materials are three suggestions of many on how you can get started empowering your students to take action, be engaged, and think globally!

Connect with Students Rebuild, Bezos Family Foundation, and the Center for Global Education on Twitter.

Photo credits:
Top photo: Liz Finck
Middle photo: Sonda Cheesebrough
Bottom photo: Afiya Williams

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The opinions expressed in Global Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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