Model and promote diversity, cultural understanding, and global awareness by using digital age communication and collaboration tools to interact locally and globally with students, peers, parents, and the larger community.
In order to promote a cultural understanding and awareness among students, I facilitated having Google Expeditions come to my school. For this experience, all eighth grade students and several ninth grade students had the chance to go on a virtual reality tour of various locations relating to the curriculum being taught in their social studies and elective classes. This was such a great experience for students to explore sites they had never seen and they had a blast while learning!
Additionally, during my masters program I had the opportunity to create a global collaborative project. The idea of such a project is to “break down the classroom walls” to provide students with an opportunity to collaborate with others, either in the local community or even globally. Since this was my first time doing a project like this, I chose to stay local and had my students collaborate on the peer editing part of the writing process. I paired my ninth grade students with a class of sixth grade students and they shared their writing and edited via. Google Docs. I was so pleased at how stepping outside of our classroom gave students a sense of accountability, an opportunity to collaborate meaningfully, and an understanding of the impact they can have on others.
While this experience was really powerful for students, it was not as “global” as I would have liked. With this in mind, I jumped at the opportunity, provided by a colleague, to write letters to students in Brussels after the terrorist attacks there in 2016. This opportunity gave students a chance to practice empathy, the idea of which was drilled into them while we read To Kill a Mockingbird. Again, I was so impressed with their quality of work, a direct result of their feelings that what they were doing mattered.
Moving forward, I am excited to create more learning opportunities that center around student involvement in their local and global communities. Students often ask, “why am I learning/doing this?” and, while I always have an answer at the ready, by creative collaborative, engaging projects that “break down the classroom walls” students will already know the answer to their question before having to ask it!