Globalizing US History: How To Do It!

This past summer the first annual Untold History Institute was held in New York City. The event was attended by mostly secondary educators from multiple states.  I had the honor of leading a workshop that weekend on Globalizing US History.   The institute coincided with Untold History’s release in Brazil this July.  Having lived there for 6 years, I  can easily imagine what book stores in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro would be featuring the text.  But I digress…  In addition to the workshops, Oliver Stone attended a viewing of an episode of the multi-volume documentary. Following the airing, Mr. Stone along with Dr. Peter Kuznick  and myself took part in a panel discussion and Q and A session with the audience moderated by former NCSS President and current state Social Studies Consultant for Connecticut Stephen Armstrong.

Untold New

(L – R) Armstrong, Perrier, Kuznick, and Stone

Incidentally, the documentary series is excellent.  I especially enjoy the later episodes that focus on the Clinton – Obama administrations.

So, how does this all get us back to the purpose of this post?  As an educator I believe it is important to start with and be able to answer the “Why?” of teaching and learning. Simply put, I should be able to provide valid rationales (both mine and others, for example the La Pietra Report) for instructional, assessment, content, and student outcome decisions.   But at the Untold History Institute, participants came to the event with the “Why?” already answered.

This freed up time to address the “How?” of globalizing US History.  This is an equally important question that moves theory into practice.  I must note, the general feeling among teachers was to start small and build from there. Moreover, because time is precious, finding and sharing of resources that can be used to globalize US History is a practice we encourage.

Regardless of the approach(es) you use, teachers must decide how they will frame the nation as a tool for historical investigation with their students. Each of the approaches recognizes the nation-state as a way to explore the past, but assert that using the nation as a lens to the past is not the only way or the best way for students to conceptualize history.

Below, I have provided an overview of the 4 approaches I used in the workshop. Please note, it is better not to view these as mutually exclusive. Rather these 4 approaches have nuances that distinguish them from each other but still overlap or are used in tandem.

 1) Comparative Approach:  Framing US events, people, ideas etc. in relation to a non-US equivalent.  By doing this, students are provided a context and relational view.

-Example:   Everything is relative, but conclusions can be made/argued in context.  Comparison informs our claims about “how revolutionary the American Revolution was” or “how powerful is the US economy.”

-Sample Resource:

  • World War 2 Casualties:  An animated data-driven documentary about war and peace, The Fallen of World War II looks at the human cost of the second World War and sizes up the numbers to other wars in history, including trends in recent conflicts..

2) Transnational Approach:The nation is not the focus of historical engagement.  Rather ideas, groups, events  etc are recognized as phenomenon that cross borders. In addition, historical actors in this approach are not the common textbook actors.  In turn, terms like hybridity, interaction, fusion, synthesis etc are used in opposition to claims of self-contained, static, packaged national/cultural units.

-Example: This was the approach the summer workshop teachers used (they blew me away).  Their topic was looking at emancipation from a transnational perspective. This recognizes that ideas travel and are guided by people and groups and not necessarily by nations or governments.

-Sample Resources

3) Non-US Perspective about “US” Events:  At the heart of this approach is the question, “Can we learn about ourselves from the way others see us?” Teachers use non-US perspectives to question national claims, beliefs, and preconceived notions  about US history.Poster - Shameful Brand of American "Democracy"

  -Example:  The sky is the limit.  The book History Lessons (below)  is an interesting start by looking at how textbooks around the world introduce US history.  In my experience, the Civil War and Civil Rights era are commonly explored from a non-US perspective.

-Sample Resource:  Soviet Propaganda Poster (1963)  The caption reads “Shameful Brand of American “Democracy” under a lynching scene. 



4)Thematic Approach: US events are situated as an example of larger themes in world history.  It is important to note that global events retain local/national variations and are not seen as simply repeated events.  In this approach US is part of world history, not an exceptional other. 

-Example: The American Civil War had a global impact.  Framing the war as part of a trend in world history that centralized political power and secured national boundaries places our historical view at 80,000 feet.

-Sample Resource:  I created this ThingLink tool to visualize the claim above.


In Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 the exchange between a young US soldier and older Italian is one of my favorites.  What do you make of it?   Does it relate to any contemporary events? What about the impact of nuclear weapons on global politics and power?  Is morality a national or human universal?

Anyway, I am going to finish with this short list of resources.  They have all influenced my thinking, teaching, and world view.  Lastly, on Wednesday, November 18th at 6:00 PM EST I will be leading a session on this topic during the 2015 Global Education Conference.  Stop in if you can (it’s online) or watch the recording. More to come…



Suggested Books thatHelp You Globalize US History

  1. History Lessons (2004) - Dana Lindaman and Kyle Ward: The widely contrasting approaches to U.S. history that can be found in the textbooks of other nations.
  2. Transnational Nation (2007) - Ian Tyrrell: The development of nationalism, movement of peoples, imperialism, industrialization, environmental change and the struggle for equality are all key themes in the study of both US history and world history. 
  3. America in the World (2007) – Carl Guarneri: This text examines how larger global processes have had a role in each stage of American development, how this country’s experiences were shared by people elsewhere, and how America’s growing influence ultimately changed the world.
  4. American Compared Vol 1 and 2 (2006) - Carl Guarneri: Ideal for instructors seeking to present U.S. history in a global context, this innovative reader pairs comparative readings on key issues such as slavery, immigration, imperialism, civil rights, and western expansion.
  5. The Twentieth Century World and Beyond (2011) – William Keylor: The book’s unique analytical framework–which focuses on the relationships between and among countries rather than on individual histories–helps students easily examine how the nations of the world have interacted since the beginning of the last century.
  6. Among Empires (2007) Charles Maier: The book’s unique analytical framework–which focuses on the relationships between and among countries rather than on individual histories–helps students easily examine how the nations of the world have interacted since the beginning of the last century.
  7. A Nation Among Nations (2006) Thomas Bender: Thomas Bender recasts the developments central to American history by setting them in a global context, and showing both the importance and ordinariness of America’s international entanglements over five centuries.
  8. America on the World Stage (2008) – Gary Reichard and Ted Dickson: Each xhapter covers a specific chronological period and approaches fundamental topics and events in United States history from an international perspective, emphasizing how the development of the United States has always depended on its transactions with other nations for commodities, cultural values, and populations.
  9. The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (2007) – Dave Armitage: In a stunningly original look at the American Declaration of Independence, David Armitage reveals the document in a new light: through the eyes of the rest of the world. Not only did the Declaration announce the entry of the United States onto the world stage, it became the model for other countries to follow.
  10. The Global Cold War (2007) – Odd Westad: This volume shows how the globalization of the Cold War during the 20th century created the foundations for most of today’s key international conflicts, including the “war on terror.”
  11. The Great American Mission: Modernization and the Construction of an American World Order (2010) David Ekbladh: The text traces how America’s global modernization efforts during the twentieth century were a means to remake the world in its own image. For proponents, it became a valuable weapon to check the influence of menacing ideologies such as Fascism and Communism.
  12. The Wilsonian Moment (2009) - Erez Manela: This book is the first to place the 1919 Revolution in Egypt, the Rowlatt Satyagraha in India, the May Fourth movement in China, and the March First uprising in Korea in the context of a broader “Wilsonian moment” that challenged the existing international order.
  13. Teaching Global History (2011) - Alan Singer: The text challenges prospective and beginning social studies teachers to formulate their own views about what is important to know in global history and why. It explains how to organize the curriculum around broad social studies concepts and themes and student questions about humanity, history, and the contemporary world.
  14. Teaching Recent Global History (2014) – Diana Turk et al.: The authors’ unique approach unites historians, social studies teachers, and educational curriculum specialists to offer historically rich, pedagogically innovative, and academically rigorous lessons that help students connect with and deeply understand key events and trends in recent global history.
  15. Rethinking American History in the Global Age (2002) – Thomas Bender: In rethinking and reframing the American national narrative in a wider context, the contributors to this volume ask questions about both nationalism and the discipline of history itself. The essays offer fresh ways of thinking about the traditional themes and periods of American history.
  16. The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War (2015) – Don Doyle: A bold account of the international dimensions of America’s defining conflict, The Cause of All Nations frames the Civil War as a pivotal moment in a global struggle that would decide the survival of democracy.
  17. The Savage Wars of Peace (2002, 2014) – Max Boot: America’s smaller actions—such as the recent conflicts in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Afghanistan—have made up the vast majority of our military engagements, and yet our armed forces do little to prepare for these “low intensity conflicts.”A compellingly readable history of the forgotten wars that helped promote America’s rise in the last two centuries.

Summering with Shulman: What did you add to your (T)PCK Repertoire?

When I am asked by people for advice or have the ears of social studies educators I work with (rookie or veteran) I like to share this bit of advice–  “Each year, be sure to add at least one new aspect of teaching to your repertoire.”  I have come to consider this sentiment to be a core belief, maybe wisdom at this point, of my professional philosophy and personal world view.

This synthesis of professional and personal convictions reminds me of scholar Lee Shulman’s concept of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Shulman stressed the interplay of two domains often considered to be exclusive aspects of K-16 teaching: subject matter expertise and instruction. He reminds us,

“If teachers are to be successful they would have to confront both issues (of content and pedagogy) simultaneously, by embodying the aspects of content most germane to its teachability… It represents the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction.” (Shulman, 1986, p. 8-9)

Here is Shulman in 2011 reflecting on teaching and education.  The 55 minutes are well worth it. So get a coffee and some ice cream, and enjoy!


Welcome back. In 1987 Shulman co-authored an article I consider part of the pedagogical canon, “150 different ways of knowing: Representations of knowledge in teaching.”  In essence,  a synthesis of understanding by the teacher is part of each class and, in turn, the educator’s professional expertise. For example, using a high school English class reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin as an example, pedagogical uses of literature and the role of discussion  as an instructional strategy in uncovering meanings in the work, combined with subject matter knowledge of the history of slavery and abolition can be represented using a simple Venn diagram labeled with Shulman’s theory.

So, from Shulman, I return to my very simple recommendation: expand your instructional repertoire every year by trying something new that can help students engage with your content.  This summer my goal was…well still is… to improve my expertise with a range of educational technology tools  so that I can use them with my students and promote them among my colleagues. Each of them can be used with online, traditional and blended approaches to teaching and learning.  Moreover, the 6 tools below are applicable to a range of content areas. Mastering them and then using them with intent in your classes will place you in that sweet spot of Shulman’s Venn diagram.


1) Thinglink (Interactive Images)

This tool “develops interactive images that help students develop 21st-century skills and enrich their enthusiasm for learning… It’s an engaging, all-inclusive tool for students to demonstrate their learning, though its full potential depends on how teachers use it.”

I am super excited about this one.  You, and your students, can take any image (including maps, political cartoons, data charts, etc.) and add information to it – explanatory notes, prompts and questions, video, additional information, links, etc.  I created this one below to collect the Atlantic World via music. In the end, with ThingLink, your creativity, content knowledge. and instructional vision is the limit.

9 Songs About Society from the Atlantic World, 1957-1988




2) Google Cultural Institute: Historic Moments (Online Exhibits/Content) From the f0lks at Google, the Historic Moment portal to their umbrella website “Cultural Institute” provides “online exhibitions detailing the stories behind significant moments in human history. Each exhibition tells a story using documents, photos, videos and in some cases personal accounts of events.” Wow! Be sure to explore tutorials on the site or a growing repository by people online. The content is growing  and is useful for online, face to face, ad blended approaches to teaching about the past.  So far, my two favorites are “The Second World War in 100 Objects” and “Nelson Mandela: One Man’s Memory.”  Bookmark this one and share it far and wide.   


3) Joomla! (Content Management Platform)  “A content management platform is software that keeps track of every piece of content on your Web site, much like your local public library keeps track of books and stores them. Content can be simple text, photos, music, video, documents, or just about anything you can think of. A major advantage of using a CMS is that it requires almost no technical skill or knowledge to manage. A mobile-ready and user-friendly way to build your website. Choose from thousands of features and designs. Joomla! is free and open source.”  How do you organize and present you resources to students? Where can students interact with the assignments, resources, and assessments you create and use?  Joomla is ideal for creating your own electronic portfolio as well and getting your research out in the public sphere.    


4) Social Explorer (Visualizing Data): This tool was introduced to me by my colleague, Patti Winch. See, sharing does work! “Social Explorer provides quick and easy access to current and historical census data and demographic information. The easy-to-use web interface lets users create maps and reports to illustrate, analyze, and understand demography and social change.”  Amazingly, it contains data from each census back to 1790!  I am excited to tap into this tool with gusto.  Take a look at what can be done.  


    5) Screencast-o-matic  (Presentations) –Screencast-o-matic is video and audio screen capture software. In the classroom, Screencast-o-matic is useful for recording audio commentary on student writing, recording a mini-lecture, narrating a presentation, or any other function you can think of! Ok, so this isn’t a new one for me, but they have recently expanded by adding a bunch of new features.  So, I need to catch up.  I have students create their own explaining their final paper topic Here is a short example of a screencast I made and use in class.


      6) Ted Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing: (Online Lessons) “TED-Ed’s commitment to creating lessons worth sharing is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. Within TED-Ed’s growing library of lessons, you will find carefully curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform.”

My goal is to submit a lesson that will be accepted and then made into a Ted Ed lesson.  Review your resources, and your colleagues (because you can nominate teachers too) for outstanding lessons.  We all have gems that should be shared with as many educators and students.

Now, if these tools have not captured your interest, check out these two lists for more options.


So, where can this bring us. Back to Shulman of course, and then beyond.  By recognizing educational technology as a domain of knowledge for educators’ to master, we transfer PCK to TPCK.  “Technological pedagogical content knowledge refers to the knowledge and understanding of the interplay between CK, PK and TK when using technology for teaching and learning (Schmidt, Thompson, Koehler, Shin, & Mishra, 2009). It includes an understanding of the complexity of relationships between students, teachers, content, practices and technologies (Archambault & Crippen, 2009).”  

Whatever tools you add to your repertoire, I say congratulations! You have modeled life-long learning and are an inspiration to your students and colleagues.  Let me know what works for you, suggest additional tools, and stay in touch via twitter:  @CraigPerrier 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!   

ISTE 2015: Global Education Day Resource Jam

The last weekend of June 2015 was fantastic.  Among other things, it included a Sunday meetup at ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia, PA (by the way, one of my favorite spots, the Reading Terminal Market, is located across the street from the convention center). This was my first ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, and I am hooked.  The multi day event showcases the newest, nest, and innovations in education technology.  Global educators are, quite often, success users of technology in the classroom.  So this marriage of Ed Tech and Global Ed makes perfect sense.  Check it out:


Now, back to Sunday, June 28th.  The meetup I attended was a three hour event called Global Education Day.  The amazing Lucy Gray, and incredible Steve Hargadon, in cooperation with VIF International Education, organized and sponsored the meetup which turned out to be a global education jam session!

Gray and Hargadon are the creators of one of my favorite annual events – the Global Education Conference  a free week-long online event bringing together educators and innovators from around the world. The sixth annual  is Monday, November 16 through Thursday, November 19, 2015.  The entire conference is virtuaGEC2015l and will take place online in webinar format. Sessions are held around the clock to accommodate participant time zones.  You can search and view archived recordings of past sessions.  I hope you attend, and present, in November. The call for proposals is now open.

The community of  participants were a dynamic collection of educators. You can see who attended here.

In addition to outstanding networking, the event generated was a wishlist of resources and opportunities for global educators and their students.    Speaking of wishlists… how about  Pearl Jam in Argentina 2013:

Ok, back to the conference.  Below you can find a number of the resources that were shared at the Global Ed Day Meet-up. To do so, participants used three formats (below) and you can view the tweets that day at : #globaled15

  • Round table discussion
  • Ignite Talks
  • Cool Tool Duels (my personal favorite format!)

So, what are you going to adopt for next year?  Explore them all, share them with your colleagues and network, and most importantly implement them with your students next school year.  Have fun exploring the resources. Your students will benefit from your decision adding a global dimension to their education.

Cool Tool Duels This activity focused on participants showing one tool or web site to the audience that could be used to promote global collaboration. I did #3, Face to Faith. Time limit is only 2 minutes per person. I loved this strategy and  is something I will be using at my future department chair meetings. 3-2-1… Go

1. Commit2Act: 

2. Nepris: 

3. Face to Faith: 

4.EQ projects throughout the world:

5. 100 Word Challenge:

6. EQ projects throughout the world:

7.Global Story Map:

8. The Wonderment:

9.Ayiti Games: 

10: International Days: 


I have also listed some of the other resources from the day presented in round tables or the ignite talks:

1. Educating for Global Competence:

2. Mystery Skype 

3. Global Citizenship: 

4.The Encyclopedia of Life: 

5. VIF International Education:

6. IREX – Teachers for Global Classrooms:

7. The Longview Foundation:


Lastly, his graphic was used during the event.  I believe that all of the resources shared here move teaching and leaarning to the High Agency side of education.


So, what’s next? Well, plan ahead… I already have. Spread the word and see you there!

  • ISTE 2016      Denver, Co., June 26-29, 2016
  • ISTE 2017      San Antonio, Texas, June 26-29, 2017

Mentoring Minds Makes Successful Students!

Growing up, I believed there were only two seasons – baseball season and the off-season.  Whether you lean towards Field of Dreams or the Natural, baseball and life were beautifully intertwined.  But it is never that simple, is it?

Currently, the months of May and June welcomes anther season that has become a different “American past time” related to education. Across the US, schools are presently engrossed in testing season. Instead of hot dogs and popcorn, this season is often marked by stress and anxiety.

For students, high stakes tests end of the year assessments correlate to grade advancement and GPA.  For parents, exam results dictate summer – and future – plans and their involvement.  For teachers, professional evaluations are directly connected to their students’ performances and, quite possibly, their salary levels. In short, testing season is a  very tangible reality!



Preparing for May and June begins at that the start of the school year – if not the summer before.  Discussions regarding what resources to use result in important educational decisions. I have found that relevant and impactful resources can be hard to come by.  When you discover a program that supports contemporary education it is important to share that resource far and wide.

Mentoring Minds is that resource! Take a look at their mission statement:

“Before choosing classroom resources, you need to be confident that they’re based on research and—most importantly—effective in the classroom. That’s why Mentoring Minds stays up to date on ever-changing standards and conducts extensive research on the alignment and efficacy of our products, ensuring that they’re scholastically MM1sound and of the highest quality. We’re the partner you need to stay ahead of the curve.”

I originally wrote about Mentoring Minds in  a  previous blog : emphasizing the potential of 21st century teaching and learning.

But there is more. Overall, Mentoring Mind’s resources are focused, detailed, and support a range of classroom settings and students.  In short, the resources represent my two favorite aspects of good education –  Explicit and Intentional teaching!  Here are my favorite resources from Mentoring Minds.

  1. Master Instructional Strategies:

The Master Instructional Strategies Flip Chart is an easy-to-use resource that offers hundreds of instructional strategies from the major instructional schools of thought

  1. Critical Thinking Resources:

Handy prompts help teachers integrate critical thinking into their lesson plans for all subjects and all grade levels.

  1. Literacy Resources:

Total Motivation Reading is a rigorous and comprehensive supplemental resource that integrates critical thinking and prepares Level 2 students to excel in English Language Arts. Designed from the ground up to address 100% of the Common Core Standards.

  1. Vocabulary Development Resources:

Each student edition for Math and ELA  incorporates vocabulary, problem solving, critical thinking, and journaling MM3activities to complement Common Core and any other programs.

  1. Professional Development- Differentiation:

Strategies and techniques will be shared to assist in personalizing instructional practices to ensure the success of diverse learners. Designing and implementing differentiated instruction can facilitate progress in ways that meet the needs of all learners.

  1. Professional Development – Response to Intervention:

Prevent Academic Failure Support students with learning and behavioral needs with the Response to Intervention (RTI) process. Prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress monitoring, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for students in general education classrooms who continue to exhibit difficulty in learning.

  1. Parent Involvement:

Develop and implement specific strategies to increase parent involvement at school and at home. Hundreds of strategies to build powerful parent partnerships, prepare for parent-teacher meetings, communicate better with parents, and more.

I eagerly await a line of social studies and history resources. But until then, Mentoring Minds offer a range of resources that makes it, well, simple.

They make learning the only season!

Oliver Stone’s Untold History Project: Developing Historical Thinking and Argumentation in Students

Greetings from San Diego!  I recently had the pleasure of co-teaching an AP US History class on 20th Century US Foreign Policy.  The teacher, Mr. John Struck – 2014 Winner of the Gilder-Lehrman VA teacher of the year, and I created an “Opposing Viewpoints” lesson around the claim of “US Interwar Isolationism.”  The lesson targeted the course’s newly established  Historical Thinking Skills .  Specifically, we focused on these two: Historical argumentation and Appropriate use of relevant historical evidence and challenged students to formulate a short essay response based on the following sources:

    1. Our two 15 min presentations
    2. Prior knowledge (class textbook etc.)
    3. A general Q and A session where students could ask the presenters to clarify, elaborate etc.
    4. Structured small group discussions among students on how they would form their reply

Historical Thinking Skills – Historical Argumentation from The Gilder Lehrman Institute on Vimeo.

This approach to teaching and learning about the past, that is presenting students with a provocative question followed my multiple, opposing historical narratives (or constructed claims about the past) is an effective approach grounded in constuctivist theory. In this class the guiding question was “To what extent can US interwar foreign policy be considered isolationist?” In addition, students were exposed to content relevant concepts including “Soft Power”, “Hard Power”, “Agency”, and “Multi-lateral.”

In the 1987 Metahistory, historian Hayden White sketches this pluralistic standpoint as such: “we are free to conceive ‘history’ as we please, just as we are free to make of it what we will” (p. 433). In such a climate, the plurality of narratives, readings, and interests foregrounds polyphony, or in Ihab Hassan’s term “multivocation,” a postmodern feature that maintains that there exist multiple versions of reality or truths as read, seen, and interpreted from different perspectives.

Or, as French Philosopher Paul Ricoeur encapsulated and reminded us: “If it is true that there is always more than one way of construing a text, it is not true that all interpretations are equal.”

Simply beautiful!


Fast forward  to a 2015 article by Stephane Levesque, Probing the Historical Consciousness of Canadians and you can see this congealing of history education, narrative, and identity.  Levesque, professor of education at the University of Ottawa asks important and complex questions related to these themes:

  1. Is identity a key factor to relating to history?
  2. What historical sources do people consider trustworthy?
  3. How do they construct a sense of the collective past?
  4. How should classroom teachers engage students…in learning national history?
  5. What role should this kind of survey play in evaluating students’ prior historical knowledge and thinking?

Ultimately, Levesque notes the disconnect between High School History teachers and historical research and the subsequent difficulty to enact change at the secondary level. “Scholarly knowledge by itself is not enough to change practice. Simply telling teachers… about new evidence and urging them to change their practice is rather ineffective.”

teaching history logoI disagree with Levesque’s point somewhat. I have had multiple opportunities to work with scholars that brought about an expansion of my knowledge base and powerful reflection about my practice. I urge high school teachers to seek out these opportunities and in fact attempt to create such connections in m y current position.

Enter Dr. Eric Singer and Oliver Stone’s Untold History project.   I had a chance to talk with Singer, Historian, Principal Researcher and Educational Outreach Coordinator for Untold History of the United States.  The discussion  added to the topics mentioned above and highlighted what the project offers teachers, including free resources and a summer institute.  

Hi Eric. Thank you for taking some time to discuss history education. Who is involved in the Untold History of the United States project and what has been   your outreach to educators?

Involvement expands by the day.  Since late 2012, we have brought together a veritable army of people who crave an singeralternative to traditional historical narratives that have persisted for way too long.  Teachers, administrators, curriculum writers, activists, public intellectuals, journalists and academics have helped us organize screenings, develop curriculum, establish a vibrant website, organize speaking engagements and facilitate cross-disciplinary communication.

In 2012 I took on the role of Educational Outreach Coordinator for a new Untold History Education Project.  Since then, we have keynoted several social studies and education conferences including NCSS 2013 and ALA 2013.  We have also anchored scores of other events including a discussion with students at Stuyvesant High School in New York, the commemoration of the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, AR and the keynote of the 2015 Northern Nevada Council of Social Studies conference.  Along the way, we established an advisory group for the project that includes award-winning master teachers, curriculum specialists, leaders in the social studies field, academics and activists.

  Describe your resources and opportunities for educators and students.

We developed a curriculum guide to go along with the Untold History documentary and books.  The guide, which is aligned to the California State Social Studies Standards, is designed with Common Core in mind.  It is available for untold historyfree on our website.  The lesson plans contained within are all primary source-based, inductive and mindful of multiple teaching and learning styles.  They provide suggestions for teachers, but are flexibly crafted so that teachers can exercise their own creativity and employ their own expertise.

In December, we released Volume 1 of the Untold History Young Readers’ Edition, which boils down the content of the series and original adult book for middle and early high school students.  Volume 1 covers Reconstruction, war profiteering during World War I, the causes of the Great Depression, World War II and the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The original Untold History book is currently being used in AP and other upper-level high school classrooms across the country and around the world.  Volumes 2, 3 and 4 are now in production and will be released in 2016 and 2017.

Any new plans or events coming up in the future?

In July, we will host the first annual Untold History summer teaching institute, Teaching “Untold” History.  The institute, which will run from Friday, July 10 through Sunday, July 12 is open to all middle and high school teachers.


Topics of concentration will include “Moving Beyond the Textbook,” “Globalizing US History” and “Deconstructing Engrained Narratives.”  This experience will be valuable to teachers of AP and IB instructional programs, as well as teachers of non-affiliated curriculum.  The ultimate goal is to establish methods that empower students to think critically about history and the world around them, so that they may become better informed participants in the democratic process.


The institute will also attempt to critique historiographical approaches to instruction.  Ultimately, we will publish our curricular products on the Untold History website, making them available to teachers across the country and around the world.  We will also seek out other potential venues for publication and outreach.


Thank you Eric.  I am looking forward to the July Conference! 

Information on the Conference is Provided Below. Hope to see you there.

Teaching “Untold” History Summer Institute July 10-12, 2015

East Side Middle School 331 E. 91st St.

New York, NY

Please join us for an exciting and invigorating weekend as we explore ways to engage multiple historical perspectives in the classroom. Historians, master teachers and curriculum specialists will lead intimate, interactive weekend-long workshops⎯out of which will come tangible curriculum designed for teaching some of the most controversial topics in recent history.

Director Oliver Stone and Historian Peter Kuznick, co-writers of the Showtime documentary series Untold History of the United States and companion book, are scheduled to participate.

This experience will be valuable for

  • Middle and High School US History Teachers working with Common Core requirements
  • Middle and High School US History Teachers working in non-Common Core environments
  • AP teachers
  • IB teachers
  • Any teacher interested in developing ways to teach multiple perspectives to diverse groups of students.

There is a $200 fee to attend, which covers the cost of speakers and 2 meals/day. Attendees will also receive:

  • Continuing education certificates
  • Copies of Untold History DVD, book and Young Readers’ Edition
  • Resources produced from the workshop
  • Networking opportunities with public historians, academics and curriculum specialists
  • Copies of the Untold History of the United States curriculum guide, designed to accompany each episode of the documentary series.

We have reserved a block of rooms at the Courtyard New York Marriott Upper East Side. Rooms with 1 king bed are $195/nt, 2 queen beds $215/nt.

It will be possible to share rooms in order to minimize costs.

For more information on institute content, lodging options or to register, please contact:

  • Eric Singer, MEd, PhD Principal Researcher and Educational Outreach Coordinator Untold History Education Project
  • (410) 830-9789







Read This and Write That: 6 Tools that Engage and Build Your Students’ Literacy

What are you currently reading? I am in the middle of Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His GunGary Marx’s 21 Trends for the 21st Century and whatever I find interesting on Flipboard.  It was on that wonderful app where I came across an article sharing these quotes about the wonder and power of books and reading in general:

“Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out.”     -J.K. Rowling

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”     -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.”                         -John Green

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”                                                                -Frederick Douglass

Our students’ literacy levels, that is the ability  to be read, write, and communicate both verbally and with a range of media, directly impacts their capacity  to think critically.  Let’s define that ubiquitous 21st century educational objective, critical thinking, using this visual.

That is a great list that leads to central questions about education. What are your favorite skills on the list?  Are your students developing them? Do you explicitly let students know that they are developing those skills?

I argue that being explicit is a key step in teaching and learning. For one thing, it helps students answer the question “why?”  But the type of experiences we provide students with to both develop and and demonstrate their literacy skills is significant.

For some c0ntext, take a look at this history of reading…hmmm over 2 million views. Well done.

Consider adding these electronic literacy  tools  to your repertoire. Try them out, or at least one, this year. They can add an additional way to engage your students, and ultimately develop their critical thinking skills.

  1. Newsela provides articles to students at 5 varying levels of difficulty but with the same content.  Super easy to use and has collaborative and annotation features.  As their website says: Newsela is an innovative way to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that’s always relevant: daily news. It’s easy and amazing.
  2. Wordle is a fun tool that visually displays words of a selected text in varying sizes by their frequency.  You can ask students to predict what the piece is about, or ask them to define/use the most common words in the piece, or have them create a wordle to analyze their own writing.  See the example below.  What text do you think it is?Uncharter
  3. Genius is an online tool that breaks down line by line annotations edited by anyone in the world. Luckily, Genius has a specific education feature that can be explored here in a controlled area/class: If you are an educator interested in using Genius in your classroom, check out our Teacher’s Guide. To learn more about Education Genius and to activate your Genius “Educator” account contact I have used this with students to collaborate on a document.  For example, here is the link to Frederick Douglass’s speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July”
  4. Sentence Starters are powerful tools that demystify writing and helps students get over writers block and frustration.  The website I suggested is from Auckland, NZ. But there are an abundance of these online to select from.  If you are a Pinterest fan you can find multiple boards there too.
  5. Thinklink allows you and students to create interactive visuals.  In a recent blog, the website Ed technology has expanded on the tool’s educational potential:  “The images you create can come alive by adding to them text, video, music, and links. ThingLink has also recently rolled out a new feature, which is still in beta, that allows you to add interactive pinmarks to YouTube videos. These pin marks can be links to other videos or websites. The ability to enrich images with different media content makes ThingLink an ideal tool to incorporate in your instruction. There are a variety of ways you can use ThingLink with your students and the visual below provides 27 examples of activities that students can do using this platform.”
  6. Word Walls are an effective tool to enhance literacy. They should be part of every… that’s right I said it… EVERY classroom.  If time is an issue, have students make them. If space is an issue, consider restructuring your room space.  Teachers can also call these “Concept Walls”  and use them for larger ideas for a unit or course.  But these must be referenced and used by students in order to make them effective.  If you aren’t using a word/concept wall, why aren’t you?

Finally, I love this list by Kathy Schrock which qualifies/categorizes literacy according to content and skill areas that each possess their own nuances, jargon, and skills.  The one to add, possibly, is cultural literacy… but that may be folded under the global literacy domain.

Oh ,by the way, the wordle I used was from the preamble to the UN Charter. Spread the news and enjoy!

Fiat Lux! The European Enlightenment in 2015 – Teaching Beyond the Anglo-French Narrative

Happy 2015!

The European Enlightenment is a fun topic to teach.  Teachers that tap into their creative energies design classes that have students  wrestle with big ideas,  nurture their curiosity through inquiry, and evaluate how concepts from the past manifest and impact them  today.  The cast of Enlightenment characters invites the opportunity for students to engage in a “talking heads” activity, Socratic seminar, or simulate a French salon (indeed a great idea and one that could be conducted repeatedly throughout eras and with different settings).

Check out this example:


Another interesting aspect of the European Enlightenment is the connection to US History Survey classes. The flow of socio-political ideas was not restricted to the continent. Moreover, the Enlightenment is a great way to introduce the concept of transnational approaches to history which emphasizes the import of flow and hybridity of ideas across national borders and, in this case, across the Atlantic.

But all too often, the European Enlightenment cast of historical characters, like those in other types of historical narratives, has become static.  This is limitation is, whether  in a World or US history class, unfortunate. You can probably identify the usual suspects. As you watch the trailer below, give it a shot:

So, who did you come up with – Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire?  By this role call, the European Enlightenment, revolves on a Anglo-Franco axis. This review from NYS regents exam (below) reinforces that standard narrative as does U.S.   and Hippocampus.



Certainly, the European Enlightenment has more influential thinkers and from other parts of the continent. Who gets left out, and marginalized is just as important as who gets emphasized in history.  Teachers should expand the number and geographic range of thinkers. This empowers students’ through a broader content knowledge base and skillset development including application, conceptual thinking, and global awareness.

Here are my suggestions for 5 additions to the standard European Enlightenment. None are from the UK! Take a look and let me know what you think and who should be included!

1)      Emer de Vattel, 1714 -1767 (Swiss)-  When Vattel’s  Law of Nations(1758)  was translated to English in 1760, it provided a foundation for national government and identity.  Ben Franklin shared copies of the text with other revolutionary brothers in the Continental Congress. Vattel’s words “A nation is…a society of men untied together for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety and advantage by their combined strength” manifest in the US Constitution a generation later. Historian David Armitage notes that Vattell’s writing argued that nations have a right to existence, independence, and equality.  Undoubtedly, this geo-political world view shaped American Independence.

Big Ideas: International Law, Republicanism, Recognizing New Nations

Did you know? George Washington borrowed The Law of Nations  on 5 October 1789 from the New York Society Library.Washington had never returned the book . The former president’s overdue fines, it has been calculated, would theoretically amount to $300,000. After learning of the situation, staff at Washington’s home in  Mount Vernon, offered to replace Vattel’s “Law of Nations” with another copy of the same edition.


2)      Hugo Grotius, 1583 -1648 (Dutch) – Does the concept “natural rights” sound familiar?  If not, here it is referenced in the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Indeed, Grotius is the giant that Jefferson, Adams, and their contemporaries stood on to see further and establish the Empire of Liberty. If you really want to challenge one of the sacred ideas of the American identity, put forth the idea that the founding father of America wasn’t American.  Check this  article out.

Big Ideas: Natural Law, Just War Theory.

More Information: Thomas Jefferson’s library included Grotius 1694 The Truth of the Christian Religion. Jefferson made numerous marginal comments. Also, John Adams reference Grotius frequently in his early (pre-1776) opposition writings targeting English law noting that “sovereignty resided in the hands of the people.”


3)      Cesare Beccaria, 1738 -1794 (Italian) – Of my four suggestions, Beccaria has the most potential to be someone already taught or referenced by teachers.  Still, he is not solidified as a Enlightenment elite – but deserves to be. His  On Crimes and Punishment  (1764) tackles topics like torture and capital punishment.  Hmmm, sound familiar as  contemporary topics? He was also a prominent contributor to the Enlightenment journal called Il Caffe (The Coffeehouse) .

Big Ideas: Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law

Historical Scholarship: In Faces of Revolution, Historian Bernard Bailyn claims “In every colony and in every legislature there were some people who new Locke and Beccaria, Montesquieu and Voltaire.” In addition, Gordon Wood, in The Empire of Libertyrecognizes Beccaria’s influence stating that  “many of the state constitutions of 1776 evoked…Beccaria and promised to end punishments that were ‘cruel and unusual’ and to make them ‘lass sanguinary, and in general more proportionate to the crimes.”

4)      Olympe de Gouges 1748 – 1793 (French) – Yes, this selection supports the unsatisfying Anglo-French referenced above. However, she expands female representation in the European Enlightenment usually reserved for Mary Wollenscroft.   De Gouges violated boundaries that most of the revolutionary leaders wanted to preserve and was  guillotined in Paris on the 3rd November 1793.

Big Ideas: Feminism, Humanism, anti-Slavery

Legacy: Her The Declaration of the Rights of Woman (September 1791) tackles social, political, economic, and political issues around gender inequality. Her connection to the Seneca Falls Convention “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” in 1848 and then to Eleanor Roosevelt and her work with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights provide a fantastic 18th-20th century lineage on the archaeology of women’s rights vis a vis the European Enlightenment.


5)       Baron Samuel von Pufendorf, 1632 – 1694 (German) – In our globalized world, von Pufendorf’s sentiment about the import of being globally aware, or having a cosmopolitan ethic, is highly relevant today: “those who have the Supream Administration of Affairs, are oftentimes not sufficiently instructed concerning the Interest both of their own State, as                        also that of their Neighbours.” Pufendorf, influenced by Grotius,  asserted that international law extends to all nations, emphasizing that all nations are part of humanity.

Big Ideas: Natural Law, History, International Relations

 Top Ten!: Pufendorf is ranked as the 10th most cited thinker by the US “Founding Fathers” (Beccaria is 7th).  Among his text referenced by John Adams include,  The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature  and Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society.

So it is fair to say that the social, cultural,  and political legacy of the European Enlightenment is much more expansive than the Anglo-French narrative espoused in current high school textbooks, curricula narratives and standards.   Expanding, problematizing, and offering alternative narratives is an enriching part of historical study. Providing alternatives, possibilities, and being explicit about the concept of narratives is an Enlightening exercise for your students to engage with is valuable regardless of whether yours students have an end of year exam or not.  

Hoarding, Building Allies, Inefficiency, and the Power of “Yes” – Kim Young, the NCSS 2014 Global Understanding Award Recipient

Were you at the 94th Annual NCSS conference last month?  It was indeed an exciting conference, “Education professionals gathered last month in Boston to explore best practices and inquiry-based teaching of social studies, boosting well-rounded civic learning and building 21st-century skills and social studies disciplinary literacy.” If you were unable to attend the national conference, don’t fret.  A list of regional/state events for 2015 are posted here.

One of my personal highlights  was getting to  introduce this year’s winner of the Global Understanding Award, Kim Young.  Meeting her reminded me  anthropologist Anna Tsing ‘s 2005 work Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Tsing asserts

Tsing“Global connections are made in fragments- although some fragments are more powerful than others…they interrupt dominant stories of globalization to offer more realistic alternatives. Such fragments…create a world of global connections made, and muddled, in friction. Curiosity about such friction might reopen the mystery of our time.”

It take a special teacher to seek out experiences, fragmented and with potential friction, and share them with her students. Then, once back in the classroom, that same remarkable  teacher is able to inspire students about the narratives, realities, and friction of globalization. And, ultimately, those lucky students’ curiosity is sustained for their lifespan because of the teacher’s guidance.


I had the pleasure to interview one of those teachers, Kim Young.  Our exchange is below. Enjoy!

If you would like to contact Kim, you can do so with this email:

1- Tell us about yourself. How did you get into teaching? What and who do you teach?


Kim on one of her adventure, educational excursions…see what “Yes” can get you?!

Hello readers!  My name is Kim Young.  I’ve been teaching World History at Weston High School in Weston, Massachusetts for 10 years.  I’ve also helped spearhead many of my district’s efforts to globalize our curriculum as Global Education Coordinator.  I think I’m one of those people who have always been a teacher.  My mom was a teacher and my first jobs were as a camp counselor and coach. Growing up, I always remembered how my teachers presented lesson plans, and which methods were most engaging and effective.  I enjoy teaching because I get to live my passion for global cultures everyday.

2-  Who or what inspired you to apply to the NCSS award? How did you decide on your submission?

Necessity!  I am taking an unpaid leave from my teaching position this winter to pursue a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant.  I was scouring the internet for creative sources of funding and came across the NCSS Award.  Luckily, I have supportive colleagues who helped me with the process when I mentioned the idea to them.  I knew right away I would submit my “Complicating Conquest: Rethinking the Spanish Invasion of the Americas” curriculum.  I feel this is the most innovative and interesting piece of curriculum I’ve developed.  It is based entirely on visual, physical, and written primary sources I collected while traveling in Mexico and Peru.  The goals of the lessons are truly global and nothing you could ever find in a high school textbook.  I hope readers who teach the Age of Exploration or the European colonization of the Americas will check out the curriculum.

3- What have been some of the successes and challenges of using global perspectives with your students?

Great question.  As with many things, I think my greatest successes have come from my greatest challenges.  Recently, I’ve really been influenced by an article written by Milton J. Bennett on intercultural communication.  He writes, “Common sense is, of course, common only to a particular culture.” For 9th graders, developmentally, it is hard to understand the world from a different perspective.  I struggling with training (or retraining) students’ brains to observe and ask questions before making judgments—what my students often refer to as “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.”  I feel most successful when I hear students using the words worldview, perspective, and subjectivity when talking about history. Moving students to action is also always challenging because in many ways, the traditional school day model does not support this type of learning.  Bennett writes, “Understanding objective culture may create knowledge, but it doesn’t necessarily generate competence.”  If my students are going to be truly globally competent, they need to act based on their emerging globalized perspective.

4- How have your colleagues reacted to your interest in global education?

Everyone is incredibly supportive, even if they don’t always understand why I want to travel to a certain location.  They ask me about all of my adventures and are open to trying out the new curricular ideas I bring back.  They collaborate with me about how to best support exchange students in our school.  They let me decorate their classroom with new artifacts I’ve brought back.  I am also very fortunate to have a district that has made promoting Global Education one of its 5 year goals.  What I do find most puzzling is when I meet educators who say, “I wish I could do what you do!”  For most educators, I don’t see many real reasons holding them back from pursuing different opportunities—you just have to apply.  Don’t be overwhelmed, you’ll be amazed at how things fall into place.

5- You showed us this painting during your presentation, The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata (1753, in the Cuzco Cathedral). Tell us about it and how it represents your approach to teaching students.

Last supper

Guinea Pig? “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.”

I love this painting!  It is by Marcos Zapata and located in the Cusco Cathedral. This painting is totally representative of my teaching philosophy.  Firstly, it is visual.  I like to expose students to different types of sources—too often they think history only comes in text.  I try to emphasize to my students who struggle with reading that if they can remember images and know how to decode them, they can think just as analytically as when reading a document.  Secondly, it’s a primary source.  Once students have some context, I like them to work with primary sources since it helps them better understand the perspective of the culture they are studying.  This lends itself to my inquiry-based style of teaching. I like to give students evidence with guided questions and have them do the investigating.  This way students’ construct their own knowledge and learning.  Even if students forget what they learn, hopefully they’ve developed skills for investigating questions in the future.  In terms of content, this represents my style because I chose curriculum that emphasizes cultural fusion, cooperation, and interaction.  War, conflict, and domination are a part of history—this is a narrative of human interaction my students are familiar with.  I like to present a counter-narrative to open them up to other ways of viewing history and the world.  Finally, this image is engaging, funny, and a little weird (from an American cultural perspective).  Students remember this image because the idea of Jesus eating guinea pig is so far from their cultural norms.

6- You offered a lot of advise at NCSS.  Can you summarize those tips again?

Absolutely.  One of the best parts of winning the award was being able to present at NCSS. It’s a humbling and thought provoking experience to try and share with colleagues what I feel I’ve learned over the last ten years.  I also know that educators out there know what to do—we just get too busy, overwhelmed, or stressed.  With my presentation, I wanted to given educators permission to do the things we know make good curriculum.

My main message is that it is important to create curriculum with complexity—–and this is something I feel travel/study really allows educators to do.  This is how we can move away from textbook based curriculum and engage our students as global learners.  Based on my experiences in these programs, here’s my tips on how to make the best curriculum:

1)   Abandon efficiency—We never have time to plan during the year.  We have to be product driven and use every moment of our time to grade.  During summer professional development, give yourself permission to be inefficient.  Spend several weeks investigating a topic you are passionate about and interested in.  Don’t worry if it only produces one 50-minute lesson.

2)   Be a Hoarder—While this is not a culturally acceptable behavior from a Western perspective, in order to create great curriculum, you have to do this.  Take a picture of everything you see and collect every brochure, pamphlet, book, and artifact you can find.  Many times while traveling I do not fully understand the significance of an object until much later.  I come back, reflect, and look through all my discoveries.  Only then do I start to see how they might all connect.  I go back to pictures and pull out new images as my curriculum changes or as I learn more about a culture.

3)    Say “Yes”—Just like that awful Jim Carrey movie.  When I’m traveling and collecting curriculum, I say yes to every experience, food, and opportunity.  I am often tired, worn out, or uncertain of how something will go.  I’ve crashed a wedding, pet a tarantula, and jumped off bridges.  None of this was planned or on my itinerary.  All of these unexpected experiences gave me insight into cultures different than my own and have come back to influence my curriculum in ways I couldn’t imagine.

4)   Use your allies—I have several colleagues and administrators that I have developed relationships with that fully support my efforts.  Early in my career, I often would not apply for opportunities because I was nervous about bothering people for recommendations.  I was also worried what they would think of me (she thinks she is qualified to participate in THAT program?)   I was also afraid of what my colleagues would think of me if I asked for a recommendation and did not get into a program.  Over time, I have fully gotten over all of these insecurities!  Now, I know, even if its last minute (ie can you write me recommendation in the next 24 hours?), I have a supportive group around me that I am never afraid to ask for help.  I also bring them back really cool artifacts from wherever I go.

7-  What is next for you?

I’m headed off on my biggest global adventure yet—I will be working and studying in the West Bank from January to March of 2015 as part of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant.  I am interested “breaking the binary”—Palestinian identity is often presented in secondary curriculum and Western media as being made up of two choices (ex. One state vs. Two state, Fata vs. Hamas, Israeli vs. Palestinian).  We all know in reality things are more grey than just being A or B.  I am specifically interested in investigating how to use the graphic arts and graphic novels to do this.  If any readers have contacts in the West Bank, please let me know!

8- If you could select three books, films, trips etc about global education for teachers what would they be?

Bennett, Milton, J. (1998). Intercultural communication: A current perspective. In Milton J. Bennett (Ed.), Basic concepts of shel-silverstein_reflection_peoplewhowriteintercultural communication: Selected readings. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Silverstien, Shel.  “Reflection,” in A Light in the Attic, Harper Collins (1981).

I can’t choose one trip!  But here is the list of all the international professional development experiences I know about.

Link to NCSS presentation (


If you would like to contact Kim, you can do so with this email:


Global Citizenship, Contemporary Education, and the Cosmopolitan World View

Happy International Education Week! Did you know it was that time of year again or that this is the 15th annual installment? In a recent press statement Secretary of State, John Kerry notes “During this week, literally thousands of events will be held around the world to highlight the benefits of global learning and student exchanges. To understand why this is important, we have only to consider the consequences when people lack what international education provides – namely an objective understanding ofglobe-question-mark the world that exists outside the narrow boundaries of our own communities and lives.”

Sounds great!  In fact one of these  great events is the Global Education Conference, This is a must to explore, collaborate, and watch archived sessions. In fact Tuesday night at 7:00pm EST I will be part of a panel, Session Title: Lesson For All: the right of education and the barriers worldwide SESSION LINK

However, in a potentially confusing move, President Obama released this press statement the same day as Kerry’s proclaiming Nov 16-22, the same as International Week, as “American Education Week.” Huh?!  The President declared:

“In a complex world, we must meet new and profound challenges.  As a Nation, we must prepare the next generation to face these issues and the problems of their own time.  An education equips the leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and vision they need to discover the solutions of the future and build a better society for their children and grandchildren. This week, we honor the IEW2012teachers, mentors, and professionals who guide our kids as they explore the world.”

Does this set of educational dichotomies bring ambiguity and confusion – national/international,  global/local, narrow boundaries/explore the world. Can this be sorted out?  Ok, challenge accepted, I’ll give it a try and look forward to your insights. As my entry point let’s take a travel back in time so we can put our present and future work around global education in proper perspective.

It has been nearly a year since Johns Hopkins professor Jakub Grygiel authored an article in the Washington Post  titled “There’s no Such Thing As a Global Citizen” .   This was certainly an interesting article to engage with and have shared it with other educators, most recently with IREX’s Teachers For Global Classrooms program, for their insights.  Grygiel, an international politics scholar is missing the mark when he engages in a concept outside of his field. Let’s look at four ways his piece doesn’t jive with contemporary efforts in global education.

  • He applies his paradigm of international relations to the field of education – “schools like mine are  increasingly being called upon to educate “global citizens” who belong to the world rather than to their nation of birth or state of choice.”

It is highly likely that the school, university, or organization you work for has some explicit or implied conceptualization of global citizenship in a policy, vision, mission statement, or practice. For example, Fairfax County Public Schools has initiated a

Acknowledges and understands diverse perspectives and cultures when considering local, national, and world issuesContributes to solutions that benefit the broader communityCommunicates effectively in multiple languages to make meaningful connectionsPromotes environmental stewardshipUnderstands the foundations of our country and values our rights, privileges and responsibilitiesDemonstrates empathy, compassion and respect for othersActs responsibly and ethically to build trust and lead

new vision for students, Portrait of a Graduate, which includes the theme “Ethical and Global Citizen.” Please note the 5th descriptor (bold/underlined) and its overt connection to the nation.  This is not surprising. What Grygiel misses,  due to the limits of his field, is that when schools address global citizenship, they are talking about fostering a world view  and habits-of-mind which compliment globalization. This type of education is not about addressing a legal distinction or an implied threat to nationalism.

Well, I can’t claim to know why Grygiel selected this organization as the definitive explanation of global citizenship.  I would have gone to any of the statements and models by these organizations who, no offense Oxfam, do it better. Explore for yourself – Asia Society,  World Savvy, World Affairs Council, Kosmos, IREX, IIE,  US Department of Education,  the list can go on.  But to sum up in one quote from professor John Willinsky, “Education remains a voyage of discovery, a journey in search of a larger world.” These other frameworks offer more insight into global citizenship.

  • He claims nationalism and identify are synonyms – “They (citizens) stand on the battlefield or in the public square for the love of their community… from this love…arises a sense of responsibility that motivates us to act and serves as a yardstick for our actions.  Without it, action is senseless and rudderless.”

The 1965  work, Is Paris Burning? eloquently narrates the the liberation of Paris in the late Summer of 1944. The title of the book is the Fuhrer’s final communique to the commander he had ordered to turn Paris  “into a field of ruins”, General Dietrich von Choltitz.   Von Choltitz’s refusal to follow Hitler’s order is evidence of a sensible moral compass not defined by national identity. His, dare I say, act of global citizenship saved the city of light. According to French General Koenig, von Choltitz “had more friends in France than he has in Germany.”




Another way to look at this is the through Gordon Brown’s TED video which addresses these questions: Can the interests of an individual nation be reconciled with humanity’s greater good? Can a patriotic, nationally elected politician really give people in other countries equal consideration?

  • He equates current globalization to Marxist endeavors – “Local conditions… could be addressed only by the global vision of a united proletariat. The project… in the end…was a failure. I suspect the current global citizenship movement will follow suit.”

Grygiel’s closing sentiment is, at best, a ridiculous scare tactic, and at its worse an insult to any benevolence performed by a human in one location to that in another in the name of compassion and solidarity.  It is important to recall and celebrate the realities (and subsequent possibilities) performed by individuals who have internalized global citizenship.  What do we make of Eleanor Roosevelt’s supposed impossible task of unifying the United Nations around Universal Human rights?

Professor William Gaudelli’s 2009 article Heuristics of Global Citizenship Discourses towards Curriculum Enhancement, researches five different “types” of global citizenship ideologies: neoliberal, nationalist, Marxist, world justice/governance, and cosmopolitan. While these are not intended to be exhaustive of those ideas in play, I select them for a few reasons. First, they represent a fairly wide swath of global discourse from various points on the political and epistemological landscape. Second, while there are clearly points of agreement among them, there are also tensions, allowing for a more robust conversation.  And third, each has a counterpart in curriculum, and manifests in schools in a discernible manner that sets it apart from others.”  Take a look at his visual.  More importantly, note  Grygiel’s limited denunciation of global citizenship as a Marxist legacy..

Gaudelli Image

Global Citizenship: The Legacy of Cosmopolitanism

What is cosmopolitanism? In the 4th century BCE, the classical Greek Cynic, and contemporary  of Plato, Diogenes, claimed “I am a citizen of the world” thus rooting the cosmopolitan ethic in western cosmology. This legacy can be traced through a variety of historical sign posts, of which some are identified here.

In 1637 Rene Descartes, in his famous and widely influential work Discourse on Method wrote  “It is useful to something of the manners of different nations, that we may be enabled to form a more correct judgement regarding our own, and be prevented from thinking that everything contrary to our customs is ridiculous and irrational  – a conclusion usually come to by those whose experience has been limited to their own country.”

Immanuel Kant’s 18th cosmopolitan philosophy focuses on the roll of law, citizenship, nations, and the economy. He predicted people would be part of a global civil order governed by lawful associations.  However, Kant argued that “cosmopolitan citizens still needed their individual republics to be citizens at all.”  He made sure that he used the phrase “world federation” not “world government.”  Typically, people think of the League of Nations or the United Nations.  Another Kantian example is the The Maastricht Treaty which integrated European nations around one currency.

Fast forward to the 20th century to Graham Greene’s musing in the novel Our Man in Havana “There are many countries in our blood, aren’t there, but only one person. Would the world be in the mess it is if we were loyal to love and not to countries?”  This is a fantastic sentiment that is often drowned out by the drums of war.

To close this post, I end at a monument about 2 miles from where I write this, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  His quote often surprises people I share it with because of it cosmopolitan view.

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” Christmas sermon, Atlanta, Georgia, 1967.

Ok, one more video…its worth it!


Enjoy your week!

Globalizing the US History Survey: Free, Self-Paced, Online, Collaborative, Professional Development Modules

I am extremely happy to announce the launch of the project Globalizing US History Survey: Free, Self-Paced, Online, Collaborative, Professional Development Modules 

We feel this project is ideal for the demands of the AP US History Course, IB History of Americas, the Common Core, and any US History course state standards.  Teachers, curriculum specialists, scholars, and anyone interested in this topic are welcome to engage with this project.

For a general overview, checkout this screencast about the project! 

If you can’t wait and want to get right in here is the project link:


We just want to repeat… this project is a 100% free professional development opportunity that utilizes social media, self-pacing, and professional collaboration.


The concept was part of my graduate work at Northeastern University during my MA in History in 2011.  Subsequently. the project was funded by the Longview Imagegenerosity of the Longview Foundation and was created in partnership with the NCHE. A major inspiration for my thinking was the 2000 La Pierta Report. The report welcomed the 21st century with a challenge to US history educators everywhere.  I encourage you to read the entire piece. I have placed some main vision excerpts below:

“National history remains important, and will of course continue to be so in the future. But the national history we are describing resituates the nation as one of many scales, foci, and themes of historical analysis. Our students and public audiences will gain a heightened sense of nation-making…

BannerGlobal2By looking beyond the official borders of the United States and back again, students, we anticipate, will better understand the emergence of the United States in the world and the significance of its direct power and presence. We expect them to understand the controversial power and presence of the United States as a symbol beyond our borders. We hope students will gain a historical comprehension of the difference between being a peripheral colony and a powerful nation, and they will be introduced to some of the large historical processes, not all contained within the nation, that might explain such a shift in the geography of global power…

We believe that there is a general societal need for such enlarged historical understanding of the United States. We hope that the history curriculum at all levels, not only in colleges and universities but also in the K-12 levels will address itself to these issues… It is essential that college and university departments–which carry the responsibility for training historians who will teach at the K-12 levels–begin this work of integration…

The United States history survey course is properly a focal point for the creation of an internationalized American history. If in the survey course one embraces the simple advice to follow the people, the money, the knowledges, and the things, one would quite easily–on the basis of pure empiricism–find oneself internationalizing the study of American history.”

The Project

Recent trends have called for the “globalizing” of American education through 21st Century teaching and learning and the Common Core State Standards. These educational demands coincide with efforts in the history profession to internationalize the United States history survey course. Combined, these two paradigm shifts have generated demand to construct and teach histories that are rigorous and relevant in preparation for college and career readiness. Globalizing history education, therefore, involves an “opening” of students’ conceptions of the past through expanded content, broader methodology, and units of analysis that go beyond the nation. Preparing history teachers to do this is integral to the longevity and success of global education. This project addresses gaps in thought leadership and the scarcity of professional development programs dedicated to globalizing the U.S. history survey.Globe

At the core of this project are five modules participants engage with at their own pace. The predicted time to complete each module is 6 hours. The five project modules, listed below, span the 20th century

 Each module has a similar structure and features. In addition to selected primary and secondary sources/media,  five scholars created presentations unique to this project.

  • Gregg Brazinsky – George Washington University
  • Joseph R. Golowka –  Binghamton University
  • Greg Adler – Eastside Union High School District
  • Eric D. Pullin –  Carthage College
  • P. Masila Mutisya – North Carolina Central University

Also, Dr. Peter Stearns was generous enough to lend his support of the project. He notes “”A more global framework creates new perspectives, and some fresh challenges, making American history a livelier experience and, of course, linking it to other history courses in a less fragmented way. Ultimately, I would suggest, a global approach to American history lets us deal with three key, and difficult, questions – important ones, but tough ones as well.” See his full recording here.

In addition, each module had multiple  teacher reviewers give feedback on the functionality,aesthetic, structure, clarity, utility, and resources of the modules.  Their insight was invaluable.

A View of Professional Development for Educators

This style of PD challenges the utility of the large conference.  These tend to be a one size fits all approach which ignores the personalization we celebrate in contemporary education with our students.  Often, these presentations demand little to nothing form participants. Yet, you still get credit hours/points for just being there.  This is hardly a 21st century approach for our profession.

This project celebrates teacher creativity, agency, leadership, and content expertise . It requires participants to generate resources and contribute content knowledge for the network to use. Upon completion of a module, participants will receive a PD certificate emailed from the NCHE to add to your professional file.

Spread the Word

Access to the project and  the 5 PD modules is through Blackboard Coursesites a free LMS.  It utilizes a self-enrolling policy, so sign right up.

Please spread the word by sharing the link below with your colleagues and network.  Enjoy and we look forward to your insights and feedback!