Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bring the World to Your Students with Global Concerns Classroom

Recently I learned about a great resource designed to bring humanitarian issues and current events to the classroom: the non-profit organization Concern Worldwide. Concern works on a range of issues affecting the poorest, least developed countries in the world. Besides what they do on the ground, they created the Global Concerns Classroom to give educators access to resources that can be used in a variety of ways.

Sylvia Wong of Concern sent me a box full of materials, almost all of which are freely available on their website, that have almost limitless classroom potential. There’s guides full of data, pictures, stories and open-ended questions on topics such as child labor, education, women’s rights, hunger, and more. There’s also a set of engaging posters that can get your kids thinking, talking and writing about these issues. Finally, there’s a set of well-produced videos available on DVD that further illustrate the problems facing these countries.

The materials are most appropriate for middle and high school students, but could be easily adapted for younger students as well. What can you do with this? Here’s some ideas to start with:
  • Compare and contrast the issues faced in these countries with the local reality your students deal with. No matter where you teach, this should be an eye opening exercise in any humanities class. (Check out GCC’s ideas for projects as well)
  • In math, you could use the data and statistics available to create questions, or you could practice converting it into different types of graphs and charts.
  • The materials provide great background information and primary source material for study of earth science, biology, bioethics, and more.
  • Great discussion material for advisory groups or to read during DEAR time
  • Use it at end of the school year after testing is over, a notoriously difficult time to keep students engaged
  • Create an after school service learning club, use it in conjunction with microcredit projects
  • Use it as a jumping off point for in-depth web research, maybe even set up live chats with students in these countries
In short, these are flexible materials that can bring global issues into your classroom in a way you might not have considered.

I found these resources through Twitter (thanks to Sylvia Wong, who works for Concern and tweets from @concernGCC, for reaching out). Without going off on a tangent, you should join the ubiquitous social network with the express purpose of personal learning/professional development if you haven’t already. There’s a lot more to it than minute-by-minute celebrity updates and strangers telling you what they had for breakfast.

Keeping this in mind, I’m giving away the Concern Worldwide classroom materials seen above via Twitter. To enter, just tweet:

@teachforever09 I’m interested in the awesome classroom materials from @concernGCC

…exactly as it’s written above by midnight CST Friday. Then, I’ll pick one lucky winner at random. You don’t have to follow me or Sylvia, but we sure would appreciate it. The only thing you need to enter is a Twitter account. Good luck!