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December 1, 2016
Vol. 74
No. 4

EL Study Guide

EL Study Guide thumbnail
Credit: Carmen MartA-nez BanAs
Examine the cover of this month's issue of Educational Leadership, and you'll find some of the key areas that a global-ready student must be skilled in: creativity, technology, cultural awareness, geography, problem solving, ethics, collaboration, communication, social-emotional understanding, and deep knowledge. Articles in this issue address how to build those skills, including creating a classroom environment that nurtures multiple perspectives, facilitating online collaboration and global projects, preparing students for the worldwide workforce, equipping students to be global thinkers, and more.

Global Thinking Skills

In "How to Be a Global Thinker," Veronica Boix Mansilla proposes that educators can cultivate global thinking dispositions in students. These dispositions include being inclined to inquire about the world, understand multiple perspectives, communicate through respectful dialogue, and take responsible action. She writes,
Students cultivate dispositions not through occasional lessons, units, or annual school events, but through ongoing participation in classroom cultures in which target forms of thinking are visibly valued and extensively practiced.
Examine the Global Thinking Routines she suggests for teaching these dispositions and discuss the following:
  • How might The 3Ys play out in different content area classrooms? Are there certain topics or subject areas that lend themselves to this routine more than others?
  • Follow the How Else & Why routine with your PLC in a discussion about a contentious topic. How did slowing down the conversation help you to communicate your thoughts and help others to understand your message?
  • Try the Beauty and Truth routine with your PLC using the photo Boix Mansilla recommends. Answer the four prompts. If appropriate for your students, follow the same routine with the same photo in your class. Report back to your PLC. Did your students have similar responses, or did they interpret the photo differently?

Literature Around the World

Two articles in this issue address how a thoughtful selection of world literature and other media exposes students to global perspectives: "Beyond the Single Story" by Yekaterina McKenney and "At Home and Away" by Alexis Wiggins. Read these two articles and consider how you might adapt your curriculum to include more literature and multimedia from other countries and cultures.
  • "Beyond the Single Story:" McKenney writes that some English language arts classes incorporate world literature that raises awareness about serious problems in other countries (for instance, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini). However, students often glean two lessons from these texts: "(1) how lucky they are to live in the United States, and (2) how horrible it must be to grow up in other countries." McKenney believes this is a danger of the "single story," which gives only one view of a people. Examine your curriculum. Do any of your text selections qualify as single stories? What impressions might these pieces of literature give your students?
  • Select one such text and consider McKenney's advice for teaching world literature: provide context, encourage self-reflection, and shake up stereotypes. Brainstorm with your colleagues how you can change your teaching unit for this text to help students become globally-aware readers.
  • "At Home and Away:" Wiggins suggests three ways to create an international curriculum, including a method to inventory the texts you teach. Follow her suggestion and report back to your group what percentage of texts were written or produced by authors in the outlined categories. Discuss how you might further diversify your curriculum, such as by considering alternate text types or choosing texts that teach about specific groups.

Resources for Global Explorations

Several authors in the issue provide ideas to tap into online resources and facilitate global collaborations. Try one or more of the strategies below, and reflect with your PLC. What went well? What were the challenges?
  • Julie Lindsay ("Online Collaboration—How to Start") offers numerous ways to facilitate simple online collaboration (see section ""). Skype with a class in another country, join an established initiative like the Travelling Rhinos Project or the Global Read Aloud, share research in a Cyberfair project, connect with international pen pals, or begin "A Week in the Life" project.
  • Homa Sabet Tavangar ("Every Journey Begins With a Step") says that elementary educators can take five steps to develop global competencies: shift the school culture, start with what you love, mine your local community for resources, challenge digital citizens to make meaning, and plug competency into any lesson. Focus on one step and implement a recommended solution.
  • Lotta Larson ("Beyond Your Classroom's Walls," online) outlines instructional suggestions in four different categories, including a section titled "." Following her suggestions, take your students on a virtual field trip that allows them to "visit" a place they're studying.

Resources for Further Study

Use these ASCD resources to learn more about developing global competencies in students.

ASCD Books

Previous Issues of Educational Leadership

PD Online Courses


Kim Greene is a former senior editor at Educational Leadership magazine.

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