Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chinua Achebe "The Education of a British-Protected Child"

If you teach "Things Fall Apart" in your high school English course (and if you don't, you should consider it), you'll be happy to hear about Chinua Achebe's first published book for nearly twenty years, a collection of essays titled The Education of a British-Protected Child.

Read an excerpt here about the way we teach children about culture. You'll see that one of the greatest literary voices of our time is back at last, and, as ever, knows how to probe our brains in just the right way. Share with your students first thing next year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Chanukah

We have students color in menorahs for Chanukah, and let them know that it's not "the Jewish Christmas." But we need also to let them know what the candles represent, and what Chanukah's meaning is rather than what it isn't.

Learn about the history of Chanukah and read contemporary poetry about its significance here:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

NCCSS Conference Registration Fee Reduced

If concern about the fee was keeping you from registering for the NC Social Studies conference in Greensboro, February 24-26, get our your calendar and mark the date. The NCCSS has lowered the registration fee from $90 to $65. Read more here.

The Social Studies conference is always a great opportunity to learn about new resources and teaching strategies, network, and meet teachers who are as passionate about global learning as you are. Please do come join us. I'll be presenting a session on Resources for Teaching World Regions (free resources, of course!). I hope to see you there!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Free Maps for Teachers

To celebrate Geography Awareness Week (November 15-21), National Geographic's Geography Action! is offering teachers great (free!) maps and classroom activities.

The Mapping Europe kit offers a wall-sized tile map and a teacher's guide and support materials for all grades K-12. The Mapping the Americas kit gives you a huge map of the Americas and classroom activities as well.

Find out more about Geography Awareness Week here. Download those wall-sized maps and teacher resources here. Now start some geography action in your own classroom!

Friday, October 30, 2009

International Education Week 2009

Get ready for the big party. International Education Week is just around the corner (November 16-20).

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, International Education Week celebrates global learning and international exchanges. For more information and ways your school can participate, go to International Education Week. You'll find some great celebration suggestions for K-12 schools here.

Do you already have plans for International Education Week? If so, post them on the International Education Week web site. Click here to begin.

And don't forget to spend a little time with the global quizzes (made possible by the National Geographic Society.) If your students score well, they'll get a message saying that the Secretary of State may have a job for them. (And who knows? It may happen!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Service Learning in the Global Neighborhood

Community volunteering has become an essential part of many schools (particularly high schools), but has your school been thinking about introducing service learning? Roughly one out of three schools have a service learning component for students. It's a step beyond volunteering, with curricular connections, structure, particular objectives, and opportunities for reflection during and after the project. Here's some background on the goals and strategies of service learning:

Most service learning opportunities have focused on the local, state, and national communities, but Asia Society now has resources and ideas for making your school's service learning truly global. Whether you're planning a service learning component, or deepening your commitment, take a look through Making Service Learning Work for Your Students' Futures. There's something for every level, from kindergarten through high school.

Service learning, like global learning, connects students' skills with real-life problem-solving and encourages critical thinking, respect, and responsibility. Talk with your colleagues about getting these powerful partners together in your school plan.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Geography Action

Thanks, Steve Pierce of the North Carolina Geographic Alliance, for passing along notice of this great (free!) conference for teachers!

Second Annual Conference of the NCGA and SCGA Consortium for Geography Action!

Saturday, October 24, 2009 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Registration begins at 9:30 AM

University of North Carolina – Charlotte, McEniry Building Charlotte, North Carolina

Come learn about this year's Geography Action theme, Mapping Europe and ways your class and school can celebrate Geography Awareness Week in November. Classroom and school-wide activities, free materials and door prizes.

CEU certificate will be provided

Registration, schedule and directions are available by clicking on one of these links. There is no fee for this conference. Flyer_Program.pdf Flyer_Program.pdf


Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama

Who could have anticipated such a exciting choice for the Peace Prize?

The citation reads "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

The Nobel Foundation press release is here, and is well worth reading, discussing, and keeping for further use. Watch for further discussions and resources online and in print.

A great global learning opportunity for all grades, and a very proud moment for all Americans!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nobel Prize Week

Watch this week for the announcements of this year's winners of the Nobel Prize. Prizes are awarded in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, peace, and economic sciences. It's a great way to think globally about the arts and sciences, as well as world peace.

The names will hit the headlines as they are announced, but you can also go straight to the official web site here. You can explore the educational resources and games there, too.

First up is medicine, with three American winners: Elizabeth H. Blackburn (University of California San Francisco), Carol W. Greider (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine ), and Jack W. Szostak (Harvard Medical School). They were awarded the Nobel "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and and the enzyme telomerase."

While the rest of us wait for Brian Williams to explain this to us, you might challenge your science-enthused students to do a little research and then explain it to the class. Same thing goes all week.

Don't forget to read about the awards in several sources in different countries. This is news that interests the whole world. Isn't it great to see how differently it's covered, depending on your perspective?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Discovery Channel: I Love the World

Need a lift? Here's the reason you love to teach about the world (even on a shoestring!).

Thanks to my friend Paul Brian Campbell at Loyola Press, who featured this link on his blog, People for Others:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Euro Challenge 2010

A flash from the Center for European Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Read on to find out more about a great learning opportunity for grades 9 and 10 and the chance of a free trip to Brussels for you, their teacher!

Welcome to the Euro Challenge 2010 -- an exciting educational opportunity for high school students (grades 9 & 10) to learn about the European Union (EU) -- the largest trading partner of the US -- and its single currency, the euro.

The competition is also an excellent opportunity for NC teachers, as teachers enlisting a team in the Euro Challenge are eligible to win a free trip to Brussels next summer. Now in its fifth year, the Euro Challenge is designed to appeal to students with a background in global studies, economics, world history/geography or European studies.

The competition aims to:

* Support local learning standards related to global studies and economics
* Foster economic and financial literacy and understanding of economic policy issues
* Increase students' knowledge and understanding of the European Union and the euro
* Develop communication, critical thinking and cooperative skills

The Competition

Each team of 3-5 students must make a 15-minute presentation describing the current economic situation in the euro area and analyzing a specific economic challenge in a country of their choice. Teams then answer questions from a distinguished panel of judges. Preliminary rounds are held in each of the participating regions, and the regional winners advance to the semifinal and final rounds held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Cash prizes for the top teams are generously provided by The Moody's Foundation.

Check out for training videos, research materials, and web resources.

Euro Challenge in North Carolina: Orientation Session and Free Trip to Brussels!

UNC will host an orientation session for teachers from North Carolina schools participating in the Euro Challenge later in the fall (details forthcoming). Teachers enlisting a team in the Euro Challenge are eligible for one of two spots to travel to Brussels in summer 2010, travel and accommodations paid, on a program organized by the European Commission.

How to Register?

To register for the Euro Challenge 2010, please complete and send in the registration form . For more information about the competition in the North Carolina region, contact Gali Beeri at or 919.843.9852.

For details for NC schools, visit . Open the information sheet and registration form here .

The Euro Challenge is a program of the Delegation of the European Commission to the U.S.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Teaching Abroad

Just a quick post to alert you to the upcoming deadline for the Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange.

If you want to teach abroad (and if you're reading this, chances are you do), go to the Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange web site right now to find out all you need to know.

Deadline is October 15, 2009.

So what are you waiting for?

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 in the Classroom--Eight Years Later

Eight years ago today, the United States--and the world--experienced an unimaginable tragedy when terrorists attacked New York and Washington, D.C. We all know the horrifying details, have seen and seen again the unspeakable destruction, and realize that our vision of our country as unquestionably safe and secure changed forever on that day. We also know that our freedom and our commitment to an open, democratic society gave us strength to live through that tragedy, and continues to support us.

For today, and many other days as well, here's a lesson plan that involves students in a discussion of the Heroes Around Us.

Keep teaching. Keep smiling. You've got the future in your hands.

--The Daughter of a New York City Firefighter

Asia Society Elementary Lesson Plans

Just for K-5--great elementary lesson plans for teaching globally from Asia Society.

And leading the list is an interdisciplinary project on Cinderella, a story many cultures have told and retold. Share this new look on Cinderella (and Yeh-shen, and Cerentola, and even CinderLad) with your students.

Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry, got no time to dilly-dally!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Maps and Bloom's Taxonomy

Do you remember those big, heavy, roll-up maps that perched on the top of what used to be the blackboard? They were gorgeous, but, alas, very infrequently used.

One of my best memories from school involves those maps and a fearless, forward-thinking teacher. One day in sixth grade, Ms. Rigney pulled down every big map in the room, divided us up into groups, told us to come up to a map, look closely at each, discuss, and be prepared to report on it fully to the class. (She gave us a Bloom's Taxonomy-inspired list of questions as a guide.)

We grabbed our notebooks and gathered in front of our group's appointed map. When the principal looked in, she was appalled. (Imagine students in groups! Moving around! Talking to classmates!) Fortunately, the principal stayed for our reports. When it was over, even she had to admit that Ms. Rigney's crazy maps and groups idea produced great results. Score one for active learning.

The old, roll-up maps are gone now, and even good wall maps are hard to come by. But online sources provide good maps for online study and downloading and printing.

For this year's map activities, go to National Geographic MapMachine. Bookmark and print all you need for student projects (you can use Ms. Rigney's Bloom's Taxonomy idea). Take a look through National Geographic's great Xpeditions lesson plans for ideas about including map study in your classroom.

And don't forget to print wall maps of the regions you'll be studying. They're all free!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


First global image to share with students and discuss this year!

Okay, I'm partial. But isn't this Earth at Night great? The image is a composite of hundreds of photos of the earth at night taken from space by satellites. The lights show us areas of dense population and industrialization--cities and some huge urban swaths like our East Coast "BosWash" (from Boston to Washington, D.C.). You can click on the image in the link to make it bigger.

Put it up and ask students just to look at it for few minutes. What's their first response? (Might be "wow, some places are really lit up and others are really dark!") Ask them if they see any patterns in the light and dark areas. How about the coasts and rivers, where transportation is easier than, say, in the Himalayas (the dark area that sudden appears in the northeast of the Asian subcontinent). Can they find the Nile? The Sahara Desert? The Amazon rainforest? Why are these areas light or dark?

So much to see and discuss. Give it a try. I see some more every time I look. What do you and your students see?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Gray's Creek Elementary School!

There's a new elementary school opening this year. The administration and teachers are meeting to make plans--brand new, never done before, let's-think-about-what's-most-important plans.

A new beginning gives us the chance to revisit our assumptions and our expectations. It's a difficult process, but it's the surest sign of life and growth.

We're all facing a brand new school year. Even if you're teaching in a school with a long, proud history, take this chance to think about what's most important. Plan to try something you've never done before.

I wish you the very best in the brand-new school year!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Teaching Globally/Teaching from the Heart

What inspires you to teach globally?

Many of us point to a trip abroad, or the sudden realization that the world is wider than our county, or the new neighbors who brought fresh ideas and ways of living. All these are powerful experiences that open our minds and our lives to the world.

Sometimes it's a book that sows the seed. When I was four years old, my mother read me what I called a "chapter by chapter" book that never has left me. The title was (and is) The Ship That Flew.

Hilda Lewis tells the story of four children who happen upon an extraordinary magic ship that can take them anywhere in the world. And, they later discover, it can take them to other times, as well. Curious about the pyramids? Have a report to write on the Norman Conquest? They explore the place and time firsthand. Every one of their travels in the magic ship is not only a adventure, but an education.

I can't tell you how deeply it touched me, at first reading and at every reading that followed (and there were a lot of them!). What a great way to learn!

I knew by the time I started school that a magic ship was just make-believe. But I had some teachers who could rustle up some pretty impressive magic of their own. With their enthusiasm and knowledge, it seemed that we were flying magically to the places and times we were learning about, just like in The Ship that Flew.

There is some memory, some beautiful moment, that impels you to teach about the world, no matter how challenging it may be at times. At the end of this summer, before school begins, look into your heart for what inspires you as a global teacher. This year, and every year, let it help you and your students fly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Number One Hit on Radio Malawi

We're about halfway through the summer break. Have you begun to think about classroom visits for next year?

If you know any Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, ask them to come to speak to your class. Most are delighted to come and share their experiences. They have everyday, inside information about countries all over the world to share. Their enthusiasm for service is infectious. And sometimes they have stories to tell that will change lives.

While you're contacting your own Peace Corps friends and neighbors, learn more about Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Jack Allison at the Friend of Malawi website. During his service in the Central African nation of Malawi, Jack supported child nutrition. As part of his effort to improve children's health, he wrote and recorded a song called Ufa Wa Mtdeza ("put peanut flour in your child's cornmeal mush"). The nutrition message got across, and Jack's song was number one on Radio Malawi for three and a half years.

Jack took his act on the road, playing and singing to crowds all through the country in support of public health. Years later, after Jack had returned to the United States and become a physician, the government of Malawi requested he return and launch a musical/medical mission to help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. He did, and you can listen to the songs for public health Jack wrote and performed in villages throughout Malawi.

Peace Corps resources for teachers and students are available here. I'll be featuring World Wise Schools in a future post. In the meantime, sing along to Ufa Wa Mtdeza and round up your Peace Corps friends. It's not too soon to plan their visits!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Global Work at the DMV

Do your students tell you, "oh, I don't need to know all that global stuff to get a job. I'm going to work right here in North Carolina"?

Tell them to think again.

Last week I went to the local DMV office to renew my driver's license. (Always a thrill, of course.) While sitting on a hard plastic chair and reviewing the road signs, I saw some significant global interaction.

People from Asia, Europe, and Latin America were in the office to get their North Carolina driver's license. Some were still perfecting their English-speaking skills, or still getting used to living in another country. (And let's all take a minute to think about how we'd feel as we tried to get our license in, say, Brazil.)

The license examiner explained the procedure carefully and helped each person to find the necessary identification in their passports and immigration documents. She was not only professional, but friendly and supportive in serving each customer.

Understanding international bureaucracy. Coping with language challenges. Being sensitive to cultural differences. Our students will need these skills everywhere they work. Tell them about it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Windows on Iran

A short post to alert you to a great resource in following the events in Iran. Fatemeh Keshavarz, who teaches at Washington University at St. Louis, has been blogging about post-election developments.

Windows on Iran began a year or so ago as a series of emails about contemporary cultural life in Iran. I signed up for them when I heard Keshavarz read from her insightful book Jasmine and Stars in Chapel Hill. Now, of course, Keshavarz is focusing on the crisis in Iran following the election, as well as responses from the rest of the world.

Keshavarz's blog is a clear and thoughtful call in a time of chaos. Well worth following.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer at the Library

School's out. Time to head for your local library. We give students that good advice. But do you take it yourself?

This week, go to your community library and check out their global resources. Preview the illustrated books on countries you'll be featuring next year. Take some time to read more about a country or world region you've always wanted to teach. Look for CDs with international music (Putamayo offers a great selection of music from all over the world). And take some language-learning recordings home with you. Learn some greetings in French and German and Chinese and Spanish and Russian. Good way to start the new school year!

Find out, as well, what online resources your library can offer you remotely, from your computer at home. You may be able to download music, articles, even language lessons. Ask a librarian what's available, and how you can take advantage of it. They're happy to help. And it's free.

See you at the library!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Budget Worries

All over North Carolina, all over the United States, teachers are worried about the economy and the upcoming state budget. The size of the proposed cuts in education are alarming, to say the least.

What can educators do about proposed cuts in funding to education? We can
1) Not panic.
2) Start thinking and planning.

Some of your thinking and planning certainly should involve communication with your state representatives. Let them know what proposed cuts in education really mean.

Then start communicating with yourself. Take a updated inventory of the personal resources you can draw on to teach globally. What are your own abilities and experiences? What about the people you know who can offer support in teaching about a region of the world? The free resources you can access? All can be used in your classroom to enrich global learning.

I'll keep posting free and low-cost resources and ideas here. You let me know about any more you're using successfully.

We're living in tough times, for sure. But (and I've said this before) teachers are tougher.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Culture Kits

Here's a teacher's dream.

You ask for a box of really cool, authentic stuff from the country you're teaching and it shows up at your school. With someone to explain it all. Free.

If you're a North Carolina teacher, this is no dream. This is the service offered by Carolina Navigators, a program in the Center for Global Initiatives at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The culture kit pictured here is from Taiwan, and comes with ideas about activities for your classroom. You can also choose among kits from Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Holland, India, Japan, Jordan, Kenya and Ghana, Malaysia, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Pakistan, Panama, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad, Turkey, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. You can browse through all the available culture kits here.

Where's the catch? There is none. Just request your kit at a reasonable time in advance, so you'll be sure to have it when you need it. Find out more about borrowing a (free!) culture kit here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Earth Day Every Day

This Wednesday, April 22nd, we'll celebrate our 39th Earth Day. Yes, we've been especially remembering our vital connection to the life of the earth on this day for thirty-nine years. To recap (and start preparing for next year's big 40th), you can read a short history of Earth Day, written by its founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson.

But shouldn't we be conscious of our reliance on earth's resources every day? Definitely. That's why LEARN NC offers Focus on Planet Earth with interactive sites, great lessons, and field trip ideas for North Carolina teachers. Bookmark this site and revisit it regularly--not just next week--for classroom resources for local and global environmental learning.

By all means, let's plant a special seedling or tree on Earth Day. But every day we can teach that our personal and public decisions about the environment are important for our shared life on earth. That's sustainable global learning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Food for Thought

It's spring break around here, with the daily reminder that there are countless ways to get hooked into some online activity. Invariably you suddenly find that hours have passed, and you haven't accomplished anything.

If you or your out-of-school students are looking for some online fun that produces actual, calculable, and beneficial global results, go to FreeRice. Put your vocabulary to the test, and you'll earn free rice (10 grains per correct answer) for the world's hungry. The sponsors whose banner appear on the site fund the food you earn by playing.

FreeRice is produced by the United Nations World Food Programme with its partner, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Since the site opened in 2007, more than 60 billion grains of rice have been donated. The rice has been distributed in Bangladesh, Uganda, Cambodia, Nepal, and other countries where hunger is a continuing problem.

The default page offers the vocabulary quiz, but click on Subjects and you'll find quizzes on art, chemistry, English grammar, and math. And if you want to test your global knowledge (and why not?), try the Geography challenges (identifying countries and capitals) and Language quizzes (French, Spanish, German, and Italian).

Miss a question? Don't worry. You'll find out the correct answer right away and be given a second chance in just a while. Then you'll nail it!

Sharpen global knowledge while feeding the world's hungry. Now that's a reason to stay online just a little while longer.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Global Weekend

So--how was your global weekend?

You say you didn't have a particularly global weekend?

Well, let's see . . . .

You were online at some point, certainly. So you were part of a community of communication, along with millions of others all over the world.

You enjoyed meals, for sure. How many were international, at least in part? (Even if you don't count the pizza!) How many included ingredients that are enjoyed all over the world? (Rice, for instance, is an important staple not only in Asia, but in Latin America as well. And the peanut butter you slathered on your sandwich is very big in West Africa.)

How about the clothes you choose to wear? Which were manufactured or at least assembled in Asia or Latin America, or elsewhere?

Maybe you were a little surprised by what you've just read--and maybe you're suddenly thinking of more and more everyday global connections you've been making without really thinking about it. If you're teaching globally, it's important to be conscious of these small realities, so you can make use of them.

This week, make a resolution to become more conscious of everyday global connections. Get a small notebook and keep it with you. Whenever you realize you're connecting global in your everyday life, make a note of it. At the week's end, take a look at all the connections you've made and think of how life would be different without them. Challenge your students to do the same.

And enjoy a global week!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

World News(papers and otherwise)

When I was a freshman in high school, my social studies teacher insisted that we read the editorial section of the newspaper on Sunday and bring it in every Monday. In small groups, we'd talk about the issues featured in the section, and then we'd come together as a class for a formal discussion (and you'd better be ready to cite your source!). It was a great way to begin each week, and reminded us of the connections between local, national, and global spheres.

Local newspapers still offer us that weekly "roundup" opportunity. And there are more possibilities than ever to read and discuss global news connections in the classroom.

The New York Times is available online, as most know. But now you can also read the global edition of the Times, published in collaboration with International Herald-Tribune. And did you know that posts news stories published in African newspapers? The BBC World News is another great source for international updates and stories. If you're interested in seeing what's making the front page in cities around the world, take a look at the Newseum site (click on a world region to choose a city and view).

Take advantage of the global news online. Choose a news event with global connections, divide the class into groups, and ask each to read about it in a different online news source. Come together as a class and discuss the different perspectives you find in the reporting. A good way to begin the discussion is to read aloud the first sentence or paragraph (the lead, or lede) of each source. That will reveal what each source identifies as the most important point of the story.

Are they all the same? Probably not! Perspective shapes our perceptions. The view from Chennai is not the same as the view from Charlotte. But both views are worth exploring and discussing, because learning experiences that widen our perspectives deepen our understanding of the world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Vernal Equinox: Perfect Balance

Friday, March 20th marks the vernal equinox--the day on which Earth experiences a perfect balance. We'll have twelve hours of darkness and twelve hours of light.

In the northern hemisphere, we'll be moving into spring and summer, and so the light will grow each day (as it has been since the winter solstice, last December 21st). In the southern hemisphere, we'll be moving into autumn and winter, and so the dark will grow each day (as it has been since last December 21st).

Windows to the Universe
offers great information, ideas, and lessons plans for introducing your students to the very global subject of astronomy. Lesson plans and resources are available in both Spanish and English. If you'll be teaching the vernal equinox, you can find information and diagrams suitable for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students.

National Geographic offers an activity with a fun scientific/cultural spin at A Reason for the Season on its Xpeditions site. Related activities for all grade levels are included.

Here's wishing you perfect balance! Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Beyond Leprechauns and Shamrocks

It's almost St. Patrick's Day. Why am I bracing myself?

It's those nightmarish memories of being forced to color in acres of shamrock outlines in elementary school. Those hideous-looking leprechaun images. What kind of celebration was this, anyway?

Because my family was Irish, I knew just how far off the usual class activities were from real Irish culture. Where was the music? The dancing? The poetry? Irish language, besides "Erin Go Bragh"? How about "hello"? (It's "Dia duit," pronounced "dee-a-gwith.")

We can lose an important opportunity for cultural learning when we grab the first thing available for a holiday. Instead of getting out the leprechauns and shamrocks, play some authentic Irish music for your class. Have them listen to a recording of William Butler Yeats reading his poetry. Imagine how much deeper a discussion of "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" would be if everyone's just heard the poet speak the words himself.

And here's a great story for St. Patrick's Day. Caroline Duggan teaches art in an elementary school in the Bronx, very far from her native Ireland. When she shared her culture, it opened the world for her students.

Think about coloring shamrocks. Now think about learning to do something so well you get to travel to Ireland and appear on television.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Is Globalization Dead?

Remember the joke in Citizen Kane about the failing global economy in the thirties? A reporter innocently asks Charles Foster Kane, just returned from abroad, "how did you find business conditions?"

Orson Welles, as Kane, mockingly repeats the question, and then answers, "with great difficulty!"

We may be hearing that sarcastic remark for some time to come. According to today's World Bank report, the global economy will shrink in 2009 for the first time since World War II.

If you've been teaching with Globalization 101, you'll be familiar with their definition of Globalization as a dramatic increase in connections between people of different nations, driven principally by finance and technology. So what happens when global finance starts to contract sharply? Is that the end of the global connections?

Not entirely. The effects of globalization are cultural, environmental, and political, as well as economic. The changes--good and bad--that have been set in motion by globalization will likely continue. As educators, we can continue to encourage the growth of the ties between our students and students all over the world. Global awareness and understanding is still possible, and is even more critical, as the situation stresses the economies of all nations, particularly the poorest.

Keep yourself informed, as always. A good source of information for educators is Globalization 101's news analyses on the situation as it develops.

Monday, March 2, 2009

World Wide Weather

March has come in like a lion. But the daffodils are still poking their heads through the wet snow. It'll be a mixed bag for weather this month, but we're on the way to spring!

How's the weather in other parts of the world in March? On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World's Weather offers the answer for over a dozen different locations, from the Arctic to Australia. Marilyn Singer's poetic text is engaging and simple without being simplistic, while Frane Lessac's illustrations of snowy and steamy landscapes delight the eye and the imagination. Your own copy should cost less than $10, but the book is available in many community libraries (hopefully your own school media center, too).

Younger students will love this read-aloud-and-share-the-pictures treat. And you'll know you're covering goals in language arts, social studies, and science in a global context. It's a very visual and specific addition to the standard globe-and-flashlight presentation on seasons. Be sure to read the Author's Note at the end for a great explanation of seasonal reversal and global climate patterns. If you're beginning the day with a weather report, as many teachers in the primary grades do, the learning here will add a great global context.

Middle and high school students can share On the Same Day in March with younger students as part of a volunteer or service learning project in a community library or a school program. Bring along a globe and a box of seasonal items (gloves, scarf, umbrella, sun hat, etc.) After the reading, play "what should I wear?" With the older students' help, the younger students dip into a grab bag of locations, pull one out ("Kenya"), find it on the globe, and then choose what they might wear for the March weather there.

Maybe we can't do anything about the weather, especially in mad March. But let's use the opportunity to teach globally!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Resources for Teaching Africa

Global teachers see their students' eyes light up when they hear "Africa." Most teachers would love to include more about the cultures and history of the second-largest continent in their teaching. The challenge is, where can you find really worthwhile African resources for your classroom for free?

You'll find them at UNC-Chapel Hill's African Studies Center. The ASC offers teachers a wide range of free resources right on their website to enhance the teaching of Africa in K-12 classrooms.

Go to How Do We Represent Africa? to find photos to share and discuss in class. These images make clear the diversity of African life and are a great way to counter the simplistic views we get from TV and the movies. Then browse through teacher-created lesson plans, offering standards-based activities on Africa for many grade levels and subjects.

North Carolina teachers can borrow Africa-themed books for all levels through the lending library. The ASC even pays the postage both ways. The same arrangement works for borrowing films about Africa. Take a look at a Senegal culture kit and find out how you can request it free of charge as well. It's a great opportunity to bring items from daily life in West Africa into your classroom.

To stay updated about resources for teaching Africa, join the ASC Outreach listserv. And when you teach Africa with those great, free resources, let ASC know about it. They're always interested in hearing how they can support learning about Africa in the classroom.

And, as ever, let us know about it here, too!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Global Lincoln? Yes!

Happy Presidents' Day!

This year we're celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Important, for sure. But are there any possibilities for global teaching here?

Plenty! The Great Emancipator is known and admired world-wide for his leadership and his integrity. Look here for a quick and fun summation of Lincoln's global connections, and well as the Gettysburg Address translated into thirty different languages.

The Lincoln Bicentennial Commission has a great website where you can find news about Bicentennial activities as well as teacher resources, including lesson plans. It's well worth checking out.

In the Global Lincoln theme, the New York Times is offering short essays on Lincoln contributed by writers from all over the world. Interesting to know that Japanese schoolchildren especially love to hear about Lincoln's log cabin beginnings!

In this year of Lincoln, we can all celebrate. If your class is corresponding with a class in another part of the world, consider collaborating on a "Lincoln Portrait" (What Lincoln Means to Me) and publishing your work online. If you do, send me the link and I'll share it here. Email is

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

ePals: Connecting Classes Globally

If you're a global teacher who's tried to connect your class with a class in another part of the world, you've probably come up against three big challenges. The first is finding another teacher who's as committed as you are to making an international connection work. The second is making sure you've got a suitable match in terms of grade level, language proficiency, and interests. And the third (and this can be the kicker) is developing a project that gives the class connection meaning and direction.

The website ePals has a great reputation for working with teachers to meet the first two challenges, offering great ways to find teachers and classes to connect with all over the world. Since making its own connection with National Geographic last year, ePals now has the third covered, too.

Now ePals offers fully developed standards-based projects with lesson plans, resources, and even a schedule for the emails between classes. So once you're connected with a class internationally, you've got something very worthwhile to work on together.

Project topics range from cultural studies to habitats to maps (a natural for National Geographic). You can search for a class on ePals and choose a project together, or choose a project and then search for a class on ePals. The site offers built-in translation of Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, and Spanish for classes that need it.

Great way to add a global dimension to your teaching. Find out more about getting started here.

And (did I mention?), it's free!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

No Dollars. Lots of Sense.

You're a global teacher who wants to bring the world into your classroom. But now everyone's saying there's just no funding for global learning.

Feel like giving up? Don't.

There are lots of free and almost-free resources for teaching globally. I'll be posting global resources for all levels here. And I hope you'll join in with ideas and suggestions for your colleagues.

Times are tough. Fortunately, teachers are tougher.