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.