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October 1, 2002
Vol. 60
No. 2

Having Your Say... / On How Students Learn About the World

How do you bring the world into your classroom? Here's what some EL readers told us.

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Ten Golden Threads

Russia is one of the countries that 2nd graders in Susan Cloyed's class study at Crestridge Magnet Center. Teaching young students about different countries is difficult because of the students' limited reading ability.
We overcome the literacy obstacle by preparing computer multimedia stacks, which provide a guided study of pictures within a presentation. Computer presentations teach about a day in the life of Russian children, the Russian winters, and the problems of modern Russia, for example. We take great care to avoid teaching cultural stereotypes.
Ten “golden threads” make up instructional units for each country: location, language, government, economy, culture, education, family life, landmarks, history, and current events. This international studies curriculum enhances the teaching of the state standards as we compare and contrast various countries. Student awareness of other cultures has increased, and students have participated in international relief campaigns since their school became an international/global studies school.
—John D. Mezger, Magnet Coordinator, Crestridge School of International/Global Studies, Omaha, Nebraska

Afghanistan Day

Salaamalekum, says the mysterious woman covered from head to toe by an Afghan chaderi (burka). Salaamalekum, reply the students.
I am their teacher, but I am in disguise and speaking Dari, one of the languages of Afghanistan. At the end of my class, I teach them to say goodbye: Bamoni xoda, or “Go with God.”
I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan from 1970 to 1972. While there, I collected clothing, books, posters, and artifacts to use in teaching about Afghanistan when I returned home. Little did I realize the impact my service would have on my life and the lives of my students.
After September 11, I reflected that hundreds of my students had studied and experienced the culture of Afghanistan during our yearly Afghanistan Day celebrations. Because they participated in hands-on experiences—from wearing pretend chaderis to bargaining at a bazaar—students come back years later to share memories and show me that they can still count to 10 in Dari.
These students have a knowledge base about Afghanistan. They know of the desperate poverty and suffering the people have endured over the years, of the stark beauty of the landscape, and of the cultural traditions of a country halfway around the world.
—Jan West, Kindergarten Teacher, Trinidad Union School, Trinidad, California

Partnership Opportunities

Our school in suburban Detroit, Michigan, is partnered with the American International School of Johannesburg, South Africa. Two other principals and I, plus 11 elementary and high school teachers and one school board member, have visited our partner school since the program began four years ago.
We have brought back firsthand experience, knowledge, pictures, and special crafts. Ten teachers and administrators from Johannesburg have also visited our school and community. In the future, we intend to invite students to accompany us.
Contact the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools to help open the world to your students.
—Lynn Babcock, Principal (Retired), Grant Elementary School, Livonia, Michigan

Preservice Global Education

At the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, we bring the world into the classroom through the pedagogy and practice of global education.
In our one-year preservice program, candidates participate in a School, Community, and Global Connections Program in which they study social justice and education changes and address community and global issues.
In their classes, they explore the concept of a global school, which extends to hiring teachers, buying supplies, collaborating with other agencies, making democratic decisions, and affecting the environment. They investigate the curriculum connections between a chosen global issue and their subject discipline.
Participants then apply what they are learning to their field-based inquiry. During three 5-week practicums, candidates first work in schools and then collaborate with other agencies. Individuals have worked with War Child Canada, Oxfam, Canada World Youth, and many other initiatives.
—Dick Holland, Preservice Instructor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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