As teachers, our job has become more than teaching students about reading, writing and math. It is our job to teach our students the content curriculum at each grade level and we are also responsible for creating global citizens with important 21st century skills. “Today’s students face a future where boundaries are abstract and global learning is critical. Tomorrow’s citizens must be global communicators, must be able to participate successfully in project-based activities, and must have collaborative skills” (Reed, 2007).
Digital media is a great way to create global opportunities for our students while developing their respectful and ethical minds. “The respectful mind notes and welcomes differences between human individuals and between human groups, tried to understand these “others,” and seeks to work effectively with them” while “the ethical mind ponders the nature of one’s work and the needs and desires of the society in which one lives” (Gardner, p. 3).
A great way to accomplish this with my sixth grade science students would be during our unit on Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources. In the past this unit’s culminating activity is for students to research and debate the best source of energy. A great way to create a global perspective for this project would be to assign different regions of the world. When researching each energy source, students would need to focus on their specific region of the world. The focus of sixth grade social studies in Texas is world cultures. This would be a great way to connect the two subjects for the students. Students would need to shift their focus from the best energy source to what is the best energy source for their particular region of the world. Students would develop their respectful minds as they learn about other regions of the world and their energy needs and challenges.
The other aspect of this activity would be the debate. Students would be developing their ethical minds as they learn about the cost, availability and possible pollution of their energy source and determine which would be best for the people that live within that region. They would need to determine how it would affect the people of that region both positively and negatively.
Often state and district curriculum is very narrow and teachers need to create global connections for the students within the curriculum. “Through global activities, standard curricula are transformed into engaging projects with real-world applications and service learning opportunities. These types of projects promote creativity, address all learners, provide success for all students, make content meaningful, provide an authentic audience, motivate students and empower students to make a difference” (Reed, 2007).
This project would allow students to use a variety of technology tools. Students would learn how to collaborate using technology as they utilize their school provided Google Drive accounts and enhance their research skills. Students could debate the types of energy in a digital story or video presentation. A great real-world connection would be to have the students email with representatives from different energy companies or set up a video conference for the students to ask questions about a certain type of energy. Students would come away from this project with a deeper knowledge of the different energy sources in a real-world context.
Gardner, H. (2007) Five minds for the future. Harvard Business Press Boston Massachusetts
Reed, Julene. (2007, September 28). Global collaboration and learning: how to create a world of success without leaving your classroom. EDTECH: Focus on K-12. Retrieved from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2007/09/global-collaboration-and-learning