Being Savvy about Global Competence: An Interview with Jennifer Lofing

Are teachers prepared to teach in an era of hyper-globalization? What professional development does your department, school, and district provide? What opportunities do you seek out to become informed about historical and contemporary globalization.  I hope that your understanding of globalization comes from more than  Tom Friedman and his claims about flatness.

For example, Donald Wright in his work  The World and a Very Small Place in Africa: A History of Globalization in Niumi, the Gambia reminds us of the importance of Immanuel Wallerstein’s “world system’s” theory when conceptualizing globalization:

Wallerstein’s theory can set the stage for global world views. But we need to get in the weeds a bit. To do that, read this piece on global wealth peaks and valleys, “The truth about extreme global inequality”  and view the follow up video Global Wealth Inequality – What you never knew you never knew, from The Rules 

And finally, watch this TED talk that directly challenges Friedman:

Pankaj Ghemawat: Actually, The World Isn’t Flat

Indeed, a globalized world is complex to understand, navigate, and predict.  Functioning in these diverse contexts require teachers to be nimble and informed practitioners who can meet the needs of students, prepare them for the future, and gather and utilize information for a range of purposes in a variety of formations.   Being globally savvy is indeed a demanding charge!

However, opportunities do exist. A dynamic new global education program,the  Global Competency Certificate, is now being offered! “Developed by leading experts in global education – Teachers College, Columbia University, World Savvy, and Asia Society,  the GCC program is designed specifically for in-service educators who are interested in embedding global learning into their teaching practice and preparing their students for the global reality beyond the classroom.”

I recently spoke with Ms. Jennifer Lofing, Senior Associate of Academic Affairs at World Savvy, about global education, teacher development, and the GCC experience.

Checkout her insights below, spread the word, and consider being part of a GCC cohort. Enjoy!

1) What is your background and current position at World Savvy? I have an international development background. After getting my Master’s in Law & Diplomacy (International Relations), I worked for several international non-profit organizations building conflictJennifer Lofing resolution and community development capacity in countries around the world. I have lived and/or worked in over 40 countries, including some time in Germany as a student and in Albania & Kosovo. Learning about the world and connecting with people across the world has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember.   At World Savvy, I head up Academic Affairs for the Global Competence Certificate program, the new online graduate level certificate for teachers in Global Competence Education. In this capacity, I am responsible for interacting with potential and current program participants—everything from recruiting to advising and supporting. It is really exciting to work with these educators, who are fulfilling a very important role in building global citizenship among their students.

2) How did you get involved with global education? During the time I was working overseas, I grew tired and frustrated of seeing the same problems over and over again. A feeling started to form in me that the only way we were ever going to make any meaningful change was if we grew the number of people who can understand the complexity of the world and work across the artificial barriers that divide us to find solutions. The best way to do this is to start young! So, I began to focus on global education as a way to build that critical mass of global citizens and leaders who we will need if we are going to address the huge challenges (and opportunities!) that face us.

3) What are the goals of the GCC program? The GCC program aims to build a pipeline of globally competent K-12 educators and school leaders who will have the capacity to effectively prepare young people to be globally informed, engaged citizens. Put another way, we are building the capacity within our educational system to facilitate the development of our young people as global citizens on a large scale.

4) How do you explain the program? What is your elevator pitch? The GCC fills a big gap in global competence professional development by providing an opportunity for educators to reflect in a very deep and sustained way on what global competence means for them personally and for their students. It does this through rigorous academic coursework, an immersive fieldwork opportunity, and a peer-supported capstone project. And, importantly, it utilizes innovative technology to enable learning and sharing among a far-flung group of global competence education leaders while demonstrating how technology can be used to build global community.

5) I believe starting with the Why is important. How would you answer “why do I need to be skilled in global competencies?” I appreciate the question, though I feel in this case it’s a little bit like asking why a fish needs to know how to swim! We are more connected to and impacted by the world than ever before. We regularly communicate with people from different cultures and countries both in our home communities as well as through the internet, media, and travel. We are affected daily by economic events, climate change, conflict, disease pandemics and other phenomena that don’t have any regard for national borders. To thrive in this world requires resilience, adaptability, openness, curiosity….global competence! There are opportunities as well—to eradicate poverty or invent the next paradigm-shifting technology. These achievements will be made by those who question prevailing assumptions, who form opinions based on exploration and evidence, who think critically and problem solve…global competencies!

6) Where have you seen global competencies in action in the classroom? There are already so many teacher-leaders who are doing this every day. At World Savvy, we work with an incredible group of educators across the country who challenge their students to think about global issues from multiple disciplines and perspectives and, importantly, push them to consider what they can do to address those issues. One of my favorite examples that I’ve seen recently is a middle school math teacher who weaves micro-finance (and the poverty, equality and sustainability issues microfinance helps address) into her math class.

7) How do educators get more information or sign up for GCC? The online application is available at www.globalcompetencecertificate.org.

8) How do departments, students, schools, communities benefit from a teacher who is globally competent? Teachers who are committed to developing their own global competence are invaluable assets in the classroom, the school, and the community at large. Through their demonstration and leadership, they are able to help the entire community—adults as well as kids—understand that global competence is a lifelong journey rather than a final destination. They are the experts and advocates that departments, schools and districts need to ensure that all kids are graduating with the preparation they need to thrive in college, career, and life.

9) What is the long view for this program? We have big plans for the GCC! We are developing a Leadership Track for the 2015-16 year that will address the particular needs of school and district leaders and administrators. We also plan to expand the GCC to include more international participation. We have already had interest from teachers in Africa, Asia, and Europe!  We are working to build a truly global program where teachers from around the world will be able to collaboratively build global competence for themselves and their students. A little further down the road, watch for the GCC online Master’s degree program.

10) How did World Savvy come to partner with Columbia University’s Teachers College & Asia Society? The GCC is the culmination of a unique collaboration between the three founding organizations—Asia Society, Teachers College, and World Savvy. These three organizations have deep experience in global competence education as well as teacher preparation and professional development. We have worked together at every stage of the program—from conceptualization to program and course design—and will continue to cooperate closely as we roll out the first year of the program, evaluate the results, and feed that information back into the program’s continuous development and improvement. Also, we are currently collaborating on the design of the Leadership Track of the GCC.

11) What is your favorite “words of wisdom” or quote regarding global competency? Some years back, I kept a sticky note in my planner (pre- smart phone!) with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut: “Keep your hat on. We may end up miles from here.” At the time, I had no idea that this was supposedly the punch line to Vonnegut’s favorite dirty joke. But, that’s neither here nor there. For me, the quote inspired openness to new opportunities, comfort with ambiguity and unfamiliar situations, adaptability, and basically a life of exploring and investigating the world. Global competencies, one and all!

12) Anything else to add? Check out the Global Competence Certificate website at www.globalcompetencecertificate.org! We’ve got lots of great information about the program, instructors, courses and we’ll be adding more information about fieldwork sites and student experience as the GCC progresses. Join us!

Content, Context, and Global Education: New World History Resources for High School Teachers

Contemporary educational paradigms, impacted by concepts of and outcomes from globalization, have inspired schools to establish their vision of the “global” typically housed in schools’ and districts’ mission statements.   Interpretations of global education vary in name, including, but not limited to qualifiers such as “citizenship”, “competency”, “awareness”, and “literacy.”  Of course, regardless of the wording,  how students are provided global  educational experiences  will be based on the commitment of the school community to the global turn.  At the low end is unsupported lip service to globalization in schooling.  On the flip side is a dedication to support integrated change within the system. This is no small feat consoderign that the structure is typically rigid and often restricted by expected outcomes which don’t complement the aspirations of global education.

Schools, however, are not destined to “go global” on their own. Multiple conferences and institutions promote ways of incorporating global perspectives in education. Explore the collection of instituions below  to get an idea of how global education can be brought to your school and what avenues would be the best method of implementation.

  •  World Savvy:  In a world that is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before, the challenges and opportunities we face are becoming increasingly global in scope, and it is critical that our schools and educators teach for global competence, so all students can be prepared with the knowledge, skills and dispositions for success in the 21st century.
  • The Asia Society: The globalization of business, the advances in technology, and the acceleration of migration increasingly require the ability to work on a global scale. As a result of this new connectivity, our high school graduates will need to be far more knowledgeable about world regions and global issues, and able to communicate across cultures and languages
  • IIE: Peace and prosperity around the world depend on increasing the capacity of people to think and work on a global and intercultural basis. Take our quiz, see where you stand as a global citizen, and open your mind to the world.
  • Primary Source: Primary Source offers a rich variety of professional development programs for K-12 educators. With the aim of connecting teachers to people and cultures around the world, we provide learning opportunities in the content areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States.
  • P21: Learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts.
  • IREX:  The Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) Program provides a year-long professional development opportunity for middle and high school teachers from the United States to participate in a program aimed at globalizing teaching and learning in their classrooms.

The Content/Curriculum Option

One belief the organizations listed above have in common concerns the use of content and curriclum standards to implement global education trends.  In History education, this often refers to the rethinking of the “nation” as the dominant unit of analysis or way to engage the past (a previous blog also addressed this idea).

For the example, in this the TED talk presented by Farleigh Dickinson professor Jason Scorza, the concept of the American Dream is internationalized, trans-nationalized, and even (wait for it) humanized. In essence, global perspectives on history content challenges that there is any such thing as a purely national event in the past.  Instead, the past is full of networks and systems that are not magicall limited by the borders of the nation-state.

Dr. Scorza’s flexible context, and varying thematic and perspective lenses problematizes the concept of the American Dream.  Also, did you note his two claims about how to define global education? Confronting the binary he establishes ultimately helps clarify an organization’s views and subsequent expectations for administrators, teachers, and students. However, it is his rendering of the past as a non-national place that ultimately provides a fruitful inroad to teaching the past from a global perspective.

Recently the College Board embraced this methodology  in their revision of the heralded AP US History course.  A new theme “US in the World” requires teachers to engage in historical renderings beyond the comfortable national narrative previously endorsed. Well done College Board. Here is what they say:

Learning Objectives by Theme:  America in the World (WOR) In this theme, students should focus on the global context in which the United States originated and developed as well as the influence of the United States on world affairs. Students should examine how various world actors (such as people, states, organizations, and companies) have competed for the territory and resources of the North American continent, influencing the development of both American and world societies and economies. Students should also investigate how American foreign policies and military actions have affected the rest of the world as well as social issues within the United States itself.

Ok, that looks good.  The teachers have been challenged. So where does that leave us?  The good news is there are robust content options and resources, especially in the field of World Hisotry that can be used to globalize the US History Survey.  The four I have listed below provide a raneg of resources, lesson, links etc that can be adapted and easily implemented to your US, Regional, and World History courses.  Take a look at what they offer and enjoy!
  • The Global Campaign For Education, US Chapter:   The Coalition promotes access to education as a basic human right and mobilizes the public to create political will in the U.S. and internationally to improve education for the world’s poorest children. GlobalCampaignEducation  They utilize this global competency matrix for their curriculum and resources, Lesson For All.  The Lesson for All curriculum for high school has a series of 9 lessons for History/Geography, Economics, and Government/Civics.    The resources provide relevant, problem based lessons which seek to develop students’ critical thinking and application of knowledge.  Together they establish a forum to synthesize pedagogical best practices, instructional design, global perspectives, and social studies content.  Overall,  the modules seek to empower students by having them contextualize their educational realities,  construct meaning about their learning experiences in the past and present, and envision a pathway for their future.
  •  Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean:  The Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University is pleased to announce the release of Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: A World History Curriculum Project for Educators. The work provides oursharedpasteducators with a set of interdisciplinary lesson materials featuring the geography and history of the Mediterranean in the context of world history from ancient times to the present. The Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean curriculum is free under Creative Commons License and available online.  The resources are currently being piloted by teachers and received great feedback from World Historian Patrick Manning, Andrew Mellon Professor of World History at the University of Pittsburgh, found the project helpful to the world history teaching profession, writing:
     “The modules and the process of preparing them are exemplary in gathering a wide range of educational materials on the Mediterranean over a long period of time, in world-historical context…It is a really rich collection of materials, showing the degree to which historical scholarship has advanced on many aspects of Mediterranean history, and giving teachers and students a feast of possibilities in linking the many types of information into a comprehensive picture of the unfolding of life in this region.
  •  The Alliance for Learning in World History:   The Alliance is a collaboration of educators and history scholars organized to advance the teaching and learning of world history in classroomshands—in the U.S. and in every part of the world. The Alliance is anchored at the University of Pittsburgh, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).In curriculum, the Alliance seeks to replace outdated existing courses – treating  world history as a sequence of isolated civilizations – with curricula that address the global and interactive development of human society, relying on the latest historical research. In professional development, the Alliance encourages comprehensive programs for in-service teachers that bring them to a high level in working with historical thinking skills and in becoming familiar with world-historical content and debates. In educational research, the Alliance supports critical study of every
    aspect of the learning process: student learning, learning by teachers, and teacher preparation.

 

  • Global Issues: Connecting content to the present is an effective way to make studying the past relevant and encourgaes students to construct meaning about what they stglobal issuesudy. This website presents numerous global issues, aiming to show how they are inter-related. The topics are common global ones; the environment, nuclear profliferation, poverty, human rights…  In addition to the blogs unique articles, it provides a robust set of links and features news articles from arond the world.

The 128th American Historical Association Annual Conference: A Great Way to Start 2014 (and engage all three areas of the brain)

Our reptilian part of our brain is about 300 million years old.  It makes sure we feed and reproduce, and decides between fighting and Triune-Brainrunning.  The second oldest brain section is our limbic area which influences our emotional stage. Isolation isn’t the key here. Staying in touch, socializing, being part of a collective is important.  Lastly, the Neo-cortex developed  about 4 million years ago on the evolutionary calendar. It is responsible for, among other functions, our intellect and curiosity.  You are using this part of your brain to understand what I am typing right now (although the limbic part may be engaged in joyous celebration of this post ;).

The defined brain sections/functions above, however, fail to emphasize the wholistic properties of our brain.  Learning, for example, is impacted by all three areas (ever try to learn while hungry or emotionally unengaged?).  By learning, I also include educator professional  development and networking.  Last weekend, the 128th annual conference of the American Historical Association was held in Washington D.C. The AHA conference was indeed a wholistic brain experience.

Interview with Dr. James Grossman, AHA Executive Director at AHA 2014:

Below I have assembled notes, links, comments etc on the presentations and sessions I attended.  In addition, check out the twitter feed  #AHA2014. I hope you are able to harvest much from what is provided. I found the conference to talk directly  to a passage in a text I am reading for work:

“By “impact resource”, I mean something that makes a particular teaching point in a vivid and powerful way; something that stays in a learners’ minds long after the lesson has gone. It is often something that disturbs learners previous understandings, or which problematises the issue or concept in a way that makes learners think further about it. It also encourages  dialogic learning, whereby learners are sufficientily interested by the resource that they are willing to clarify and modify their understanding through discussion with others. It intrigues learners to the extent that they are prepared to play an active part in constructing meaning themselves.”  Terry Haydn Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Learning in History 

The impact resources Haydn notes came in a variety of forms last weekend. Conversations, posts, handouts, presentations…the conference should be on history educators radar. The AHA’s efforts to provide sessions to secondary history teachers is also noteworthy. I look forward to future developments and opportunities in this arena.  Overall, this year’s conference was (besides the puzzlingly long line for coffee) a whole brain experience which exemplified conference professional development. Next year the conference is in New York City.  See you there.  Enjoy.

 

 

AHASession: Publishing History Digitally: New Formats, New Audiences, and New Challenges
Presenters/Panel: Daniel CohenCharles HomansChris HeaneyYoni Applebaum

Central Question(s): How can historians and history educators best communicate with the public?

Talking Points: The democratization of historical information production is alive and well. Digital publishing, academic blogs, online journals and the like regularly reach larger audiences, can utilize social and multi-media components, and can engage the present with an “historical voice” in real time.  Digital history, in short, is not a constrained like its “cookie cutter” journal and book bound counterparts.  Still, digital historians are using the same skill set as paper historians, just in a new medium.  This presentation was a great way to start the conference as it framed history education in a dynamic 21st century frame. Check out the  digital history resources below.

Resources:

  • The Appendix: The Appendix is a quarterly journal of experimental and narrative history; though at times outlandish, everything in its pages is as true as the sources allow. The Appendix solicits articles from historians, writers, and artists committed to good storytelling, with an eye for the strange and a suspicion of both jargon and traditional narratives
  • Ultimate History Project:   The Ultimate History Project, an online history journal for history lovers. The site  encourages faculty members to write for the general public and it provides a forum for academically trained historians to work alongside independent historians, curators, preservationists, and others.
  • History News Network:   Our mission is to help put current events into historical perspective. Given how public opinion is shaped today, whipsawed emotionally on talk shows this way and that in response to the egos of the guests, the desire for ratings by the hosts and the search for profits by media companies and sponsors, historians are especially needed now. They can help remind us of the superficiality of what-happens-today-is-all-that-counts journalism. Each week HNN features up to a dozen fresh op eds by prominent historians. Our archives, extending over the past decade, include thousands of well-researched pieces.

Session: Building a Career around the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in History
Presenters/Panel: T. Mills KellyRobert Johnston Joel SipressLaura Westhoff

Central Question(s): When is teaching an intellectual act?  When is lecturing an effective instructional method?

Talking Points:  Teaching should be a meaningful act, an intellectual act, a reflective act, an intentional act. My second session at the conference was outstanding.  It celebrated the community that exists around teaching and learning and, more importantly, invites educators to enter and contribute to that community.  Cognitive and neuro science developments are changing our practice.  Those who stay in tune with those developments separates the wheat from the chaff, the pearl from the oyster.  A final note about the concept of the lecture as an instructional practice.  When asked about its utility, panelists noted that the best lectures will be short and dynamic,  introduce a new idea/concept and inspire/challenge listeners to ask how they will engage with that idea (think TED presentations not powerpoint presentations that are designed to convey items ‘you need to know’ UGH!).

Resources:

  • Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey: History professors say the darnedest things. Like the one who summed up his teaching philosophy declaring, “If I said it, that means they learned it!” Or the colleague who scoffed at “trendy” educational reforms because, as she put it, “You can’t teach students how to think until you’ve taught them what to think.”
  • Carnegie Academy for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The CASTL Program sought to support the development of a scholarship of teaching and learning that: fosters significant, long-lasting learning for all students; enhances the practice and profession of teaching, and; brings to faculty members’ work as teachers the recognition and reward afforded to other forms of scholarly work.
  • International Society For The Scholarship Of Teaching & Learning:  serves faculty members, staff, and students who care about teaching and learning as serious intellectual work. The goal of the Society is to foster inquiry and disseminate findings about what improves and articulates post-secondary learning and teaching.
  • History’s Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940  Robert B. Townsend, a longtime deputy director of the American Historical Association (AHA), has written a perceptive study examining the growth and fragmentation of America’s historical profession. He begins by reminding readers that professional historians once saw their enterprise “as a vast panorama of activity” encompassing “popular history making, school teaching, and the work of historical societies.”
  • When Teachers Talk Outside of School: In 1927, a schoolteacher in Secaucus, N.J., named Helen Clark lost her teaching license. The reason? Somebody had seen her smoking cigarettes after school hours…Today, teachers can be suspended, and even fired, for what they write on Facebook.

Session: American Academy of Arts and Sciences Report on the Humanities and Social Sciences
Presenters/Panel: Earl LewisSusan Griffin Anthony Grafton James GrossmanClaire Bond PotterEstevan Rael-Galvez

Central Question(s): What were the achievements and shortcomings of “The Heart of the Matter.” ? How critical is the state of humanities in education?

Talking Points: Panelists reflected on and discussed the tone and substance of Academy’s 2013 release (video below). Where some questioend the context of the data set used in the report about humanities majors (recognizing the 1980s as a more dire period) they were hopeful in the ways the report can be help stimulate conversations about and the practice of history education.  Of note was the potential of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s role in communicating the benefits of historical inquiry with the public.  Another key point emphasized teachers’ expectations for their students and the role of assessments’ impact on pedagogy.   Educating employers about the benefits of history education has led to an awareness of the tranfersabiltiy of historical thinking and skill sets to a myriad of occupations.  Where the panel was preaching to the choir at the conference, it is now imperative to continue to evangelize the humanities’ benefits to the public at large.

Resources:

  • College, Career, and Civic Life Framework:
  • Video By Kathy Swan Presenting the C3 framework:
  • AHA Tuning Project:  History is a set of evolving rules and tools that allows us to interpret the past with clarity, rigor, and an appreciation for interpretative debate.  As a discipline, history entails a set of professional ethics and standards that demand peer review, citation, and toleration for the provisional nature of knowledge.
  • Article on the Harvard Humanities Report: “The report is informative and reasonable, and its suggestions are constructive. But its impact has not been what its authors probably intended.”
  • The Longview Foundation:  “At the dawn of the 21st century, knowledge of other peoples, economies, languages and international affairs has become a necessity for every child. The skill set required to prepare tomorrow’s citizens for the global age must go beyond the “the basics” and even beyond the growing emphasis on science, math, and technology skills. Today’s students need opportunities to gain broad and deep global knowledge and the language and intercultural skills to engage effectively with people around the corner and around the world.”


Session: Teaching Historiographical Debate in the World History Classroom
Presenters/Panel: Lauren JanesPhyllis Conn Rodney McCaslin Clif Stratton Eva Swidler

Central Question(s): How are debates about the past relevant in the present? What historical theories are used in classes?

Talking Points: The presentation made explicit connections to the demands of the Common Core on history education.  In fact historiography and historical theory are required by the standards.  Just take a look at a sample of standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

One presenter described teaching historiography to students this way: It is like a party where groups geHorsey - History Cartoont together and are talking about their view of the past. We can go over to each group and listen in on the Marxists, Post-modernists, Environmentalists, Globalists, Annales etc.  Occasionally someone may walk to another group and chime in or synthesize an idea. The point emphasizes that we construct our understanding of the past, and argue about…it also clarifies that history is not an exercise in memorization. Assessments are mega-important in reinforcing this practice.

One lesson suggestion: Have students write their own biography in a short essay. Then have them write it again using a different school of thought or perspective. Both are equally true, but what was emphasized changed. People and events were marginalized or silenced. Agency changed. So it is in learning, constructing, and evaluating historical understanding.

Resources:

  • ChronoZoom: an educational tool for teachers and students who want to put historical events in perspective. Use ChronoZoom to get a perspective of the extensive scale of time and historical events relative to what happened around the world.
  • Historiography The research interests of historians change over time, and in recent decades there has been a shift away from traditional diplomatic, economic and political history toward newer approaches, especially social and cultural studies.
  • Different schools of historiography:The link refers to  a brief glimpse of the definitions of the different schools of historiography.
  • Schools of history flashcards: Vocabulary words for Schools of History. Includes studying games.
  • Prezi on Historiography:   A comprehensive presentation
  • Another Prezi on Historiography: Good for a flipped approach.

 

Session: What Should a 21st Century History Textbook Look Like
Presenters/Panel:  Mary Dougherty–  Robert BainScott CasperSuzanne McCormackMary Beth Norton

Central Question(s): What is the potential of digital resources?

Talking Points:  The textbook is a curious thin. Classes still assign them and teachers, students, and parents still argue their utility. Digital resources, personalization, and information access all make the print copy rather obsolete.  Augmenting the textbook with multimedia and interactive features is possible now.  Moreover…they can be cheap, or free.  So, what role does the textbook take in your class? Is it THE resource, or A resource. This is a central question for teaching and learning.  Another one is… do you still assign reading, tell students to take notes, and then go over them in class? If so, it is time to rethink what you are doing as an educator.

Resources:

  • The Big History Project: BHP works with a wide range of educators, scientists, writers, curriculum experts, and artists to bring the ideas of big history to life and provide students of all ages with unique views into different fields of knowledge
  • Flat World Knowledge: You can create the perfect book for your course in minutes with our fast and easy online editor. Add, delete and rearrange content to match your syllabus and improve student success.
  • Merlot: is a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials and faculty-developed services contributed and used by an international education community.
  • College Open Textbooks: is a collection of colleges, governmental agencies, education non-profits, and other education-related organizations that are focused on the mission of driving awareness, adoptions**, and affordability of open textbooks. Our focus is on community colleges and other 2-year institutions of higher education and the first two years (lower division) of 4-year institutions. Some of our activities also apply to K-12, upper division, graduate school, and life-long learning.
  • CK-12: Services like CK-12 make it easy for teachers to assemble their own textbooks. Content is mapped to a variety of levels and standards including common core. You can start from scratch or build from anything the the FlexBooks library.
  • College Open Textbook: the first open-licensed U.S. History textbook that follows the course for the College Board Advanced Placement exam. It addresses the needs of one of the most popular courses at two-year colleges in a very affordable format.


Session: The Historical Enterprise: Past, Present, and Future Collaboration between Secondary History Teachers and University History Professors
Presenters/Panel:  Robert TownsendTimothy GreeneLinda Symcox

Central Question(s): Why, how and for what purposes should secondary and higher education be bridged?

Talking Points: Teachers and professors engaging in projects, dialogues, and research about history education is a powerful exercise. Whether this is done in person or virtually, such collaboration expands the classroom context and  yields opportunities for teachers and students alike.  TAH was a watershed, bridging the K-12 and higher education, with intent, for years.  My experiences with two TAH grants were indeed positive. Those times are gone… now it is up to you to seek out, nurture and apply collaborative efforts fore your students sake.

Resources:

  • Bridging the Gap: On Ways to Improve Collaboration… Interesting paper on the topic.
  • The California History-Social Science Project: is a K–16 collaborative of historians, teachers, and affiliated scholars dedicated to the pursuit of educational excellence in history and social science. The organization exists to improve and advocate for history education, promote teacher development, and facilitate leadership opportunities.
  • History Blueprint: The History Blueprint aims to revolutionize history instruction.  It combines innovative curriculum, assessment tools, student literacy support, and teacher professional development, aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

 


Session: Professional Development In World History Education: The Alliance Project
Presenters/Panel: Patrick ManningLinda CargileRoss E. DunnTim KeirnDavid Neumann

Central Question(s): What Professional Development is available for high school world history teachers?  How is the Alliance for World History learning impacting secondary history education?

Talking Points:  Resources for history education are bountiful.  Finding the best programs, resources, and opportunities can be dauntingWell, get ready to put these guys on your radar. The Alliance Project is poised to set the bar high for World History professional development. They provide the resources, you and your school provide the context and implementation… as you see fit. The Alliance provides support and a network of educators.  Your school system doesn’t have to hire a consultant!  Your department and/or central office just needs the leadership to carry the program through.  The Alliance is still developing its resources, webpage, and other features. Keep their contact information close . You won’t want to miss out on this PD program.

Resources:

  • The World History Center at U Pitt: The World History Center at the University of Pittsburgh emphasizes research, teaching, and international collaboration on the global past, with attention to policies for the global future.
  • “Why Study World History”: by J. Bentley-  Practicing world historians rarely address the question ‘why study world history?’  This is unfortunate because world history is one of the big intellectual issues of our times.
  • World History: The Big Eras: World History: The Big Eras is a fine example of how widening the lens through which we view the human past helps students and teachers make sense of all the myriad details and events of history in a way that is not overwhelming, but refreshing and enlightening.  The authors are all very experienced at considering the whole of the past, not just fragments of it, and in their introduction offer powerful endorsements the “big history” approach.
  • World History for Us All: World History for Us All is a national collaboration of K-12 teachers,
    collegiate instructors, and educational technology specialists. World History for Us All is a powerful, innovative model curriculum for teaching world history in middle and high schools.
  • Our Shared Past Grants: Together, the five winning projects will help lay the foundation for a growing coalition of scholars and teachers committed to improving and promoting the teaching of world history in schools throughout the US, UK and the Mediterranean region. Through curriculum development, course assessment and teacher training, the projects will help shift from an “us and them” approach to teaching world history to one that focuses on the rich economic, scientific, social and religious interplay between diverse cultures.


Session: The Future of AP History: Designing and Assessing a “Best Practices” History Curriculum
Presenters/Panel:   Allison ThurberTed Dickinson Laura MitchellVictoria Thompson

Central Question(s): How has the College Board embraced historical thinking skills? In what ways are AP history courses changing?

Talking Points:  The College Board is on board with Historical Thinking Skills!  I love it. The US  and Europe course revisions include a theme placing those national/regional histories in a global context. Well done indeed.  These are praiseworthy changes and set a tone for advancing the possibilities of historical inquiry and argumentation.  I ask my students to identify a skill/skill set they want to develop in our history course. Often, this is a new request. Students typically enter the course feeling history is a luxury/requirement they will engage with via memorization and cute stories.  They come around, mostly. Likewise, teachers should be able to identify what skill/skill set their lessons are targeting for development.  In a content-first profession, this is a paradigm shift.  I agree… it is. And it is a much needed one.

Resources:

  • AP US History Redesign: The redesign of the AP U.S. History course and exam accomplishes two major goals. It maintains AP U.S. History’s strong alignment with the knowledge and skills taught in introductory courses at the college level. It also offers teachers the flexibility to focus on specific historical topics, events, and issues in depth. The redesigned course begins in fall 2014, and the first AP Exam based on the redesigned course will be administered in May 2015.
  • AP Euopean History Redesign: AP European History’s strong alignment with the knowledge and skills taught in introductory courses at the college level. They also offer teachers the flexibility to focus on specific historical topics, events, and issues in depth.The redesigned course begins in fall 2015, followed by the revised AP Exam in May 2016.
  • AP History Thinking Skills: New exams  will assess students’ application of the historical thinking skills (chronological reasoning, comparing and contextualizing, crafting historical arguments using historical evidence, and interpreting and synthesizing historical narrative) valued by colleges and universities as central to studying history.

 

The 411 on 9-11: The Master(mind) Narrative

The posting of this blog, one may think, is poorly timed.  Weeks too late as last month schools marked two global events which use in their moniker “9-11.” Still, both events, assuming classes are taught chronologically, will be relevant later in the school year, and therefore educators can learn from this post. Read on…

The other other 9-11?

The other other 9-11?

In September some students in the USA were taught about the USA’s supported military coup which overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. “Because of CIA covert intervention in Chile, and the repressive character of General Pinochet’s rule, the coup became the most notorious military takeover in the annals of Latin American history.” The death of Allende yielded to the dictatorship of Augosoto Pinochet until 1990. US foreign policy in Latin America included supporting the policies of anti-democratic regimes.  According to the Washington Post, Pinochet’s brutal resume includes  the death of “at least 3,197 people and tortured about 29,000.”

Likewise, last month most schools in the US were taught that, twenty-eight years later, two passenger airliners were flown  by members of al-Qaeda, mostly from Saudi Arabia, into the iconic World Trade Center “Twin Towers” in New York City and one into the Pentagon near Washington D.C.  Nearly 3,000 people perished in the attacks, about 12% of the casualties were from outside of the USA. One outcome of the attacks was a proclaimed “War on Terror”  leading the US along a road which is  “in theory, an endless war –- a war that approaches something closer to a way of life.” It is important to remember the origin of the attackers.   Al Qaeda’s formation is traced back to the  late 1980’s, “As Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden and other Arab fighters from the US-backed Mujahideen movement form “al-Qaeda”, which in Arabic means “the base”.” 

The number of educational resources that have been created about the 9-11 attacks in 2001 is prolific. My previous blog post here focused on educational resources’ attention to the “why” and “what” of the 9-11 of 2001. This year, I want to examine the narrative that has been created in educational and media sources around the concept of the 9-11 “Mastermind”.  I argue that the educational resources are deficient in this area because of the fact that they incorrectly identify Osama Bin Laden as the “Mastermind”  of 9-11.  The “Mastermind” label, branded on Bin Laden, is presented as a  fact, an unchallengeable truth that is replicated and perpetuated in schools vis-a-vis “authoritative” curriculum materials.  Strangely enough, this Bin Laden-Mastermind connection exists despite ample evidence from multiple sources (presented below) that the Mastermind of the 9-11 attacks was Khalid Sheik Muhammad (KSM). The absurdity of KSM’s absence in 9-11 educational curriculum materials is magnified by the fact KSM is currently on trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for being the Mastermind of 9-11!


 9-11 Resources

So, what is being celebrated by publishers and media as authoritative best practices for and content resources for  9-11?  A sample of materials is below. Are they in your department office or library? If so, I hope examine the narrative promoted by them and the evidence they emphasize.

  • New York Regent’s Exam Review Guide has no mention of Khalid Sheik Muhammad! Their entry for Osama Bin Laden supports the Bin Laden “Master Mind” claim: “Osama bin Laden: Saudi Arabian multimillionaire and leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. He is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks on the United States including the destruction of the World Trade Center.

 

  •  Social Studies Services:  Their binder consists of a range of materials, lessons, and sources to be used in class and is “suitable for assemblies.” The resource is an impressive collection and aspires to laudable goals: “Relying on open-ended inquiry, activities also prompt students to interpret photographs, video footage, and oral histories; and to document their findings by means such as Google Earth and a timeline.” Samples can be seen here.   The most promising resource is the “Student Handout: Activity2 Timelines pp 28-33.  Osama Bin Laden is mentioned over a dozen times and Timothy McVeigh once. But they fall short of mentioning KSM even once.
  • Hippocampus:  This is an amazing site.  “HippoCampus.org is a free, core academic web site that delivers rich multimedia content–videos, animations, and simulations–on general education subjects to middle-school and high-school teachers and college professors, and their students, free of charge.”  Their History selections, despite not having a World History offering, boasts regular and AP level content.  9-11 is housed in the “Bush and Obama” unit under two sections:”Reaction to 9/11″ and “Domestic Response to 9/11”.  KSM is absent.  Bin Laden gets a photo opportunity.

Hippocampus 2

  • The History Channel:  The have extensive resources – videos, interactives, timelines, photos- on 9-11. The Osama Bin Laden  entry identifies him as the mastermind, “On this day in 2011, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, is killed by U.S. forces during a raid on his compound hideout in Pakistan.  Search History.com’s website for Khalid Sheik Muhammad and you get  ZERO results.  Search “Ice Road Truckers” or “Swamp People” and you get over 28,000 results…for each of them! Oh History channel, how you are misnamed!
  • CNN:  Think about it. When did you realize CNN’s reporting moved from news coverage to info-tainment.  I think it was the late 90’s, but that is just a guess.  Their timeline of 9-11, updated on 9-11-2013, has no reference to KSM!  Bin Laden is still identified as the “mastermind”, “This terrorist attack on the United States is orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.”  However, most ridiculously, CNN still lists the Dec 2001 Bin Laden Confession Tape as a viable part of the narrative “December 13, 2001 – The U.S. government releases a tape in which Osama bin Laden takes responsibility for the attacks.”  They fail to mention that this tape came under heavy scrutiny from international media and research organizations.
  • Digital History: This online US History survey course has an impressive backing of sponsors.  The goal of the project  is also This Web site was designed and developed to support the teaching of American History in K-12 schools and colleges and is supported by the College of Education at the University of Houston. Overall this is an impressive project with some expanded features. However, the final unit”The 21st Century” includes a quiz on 9-11.  Looking at question 3 below, you should figure out where I am going with this:

3. The mastermind behind the terrorist attack was

a. Timothy McVeigh                    b. Saddam Hussein                     c. Osama Bin Laden

I emailed them about this, but never received a response. What a surprise.

KSM, the Mastermind of 9-11, 2001

I lay it out there, Khalid Sheik Muhammad is the master mind of  9-11. Osama Bin Laden is not the mastermind behind 9-11.  Therefore, any educational material, standards, test, curriculum, etc, that professes Bin Laden is, needs to explain its stance KSM-w-620x349against the sources below.  As you review them, please remember, I am arguing that the narrative about the 9-11 Mastermind found in current curriculum resources are faulty,  misleading, numbing, and a gross dis-service to the students, teachers, and education profession.

I offer evidence that questions  and contradicts those resources.  Review them yourself.  Come to your own conclusion. Let me know what you think.

  • The New Yorker Magazine:   In 2010, groups protested the idea of putting KSM on trial in NYC (remember that?).  “Greg Manning, whose wife, Laura, was severely burned in the World Trade Center attacks, stood before the crowd and said, “Thousands are already dead because of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s choices…There’s a place for the courts, but not for the mastermind of 9/11.”
  • The Daily News: Maybe the title says it all “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 9/11 mastermind, allowed to build vacuum in CIA prison.”  Maybe not.   But it is hard to ignore this claim written in July 2013.  Too new? Read on…
  • 2007 Military Tribunal Transcript: I guess we forget that these documents are, at least theoretically, our possessions.  Regardless, this 2007 transcript offers a bit to read about KSM and his role in 9-11.  He, and his personal representative, profess “I hereby admit and affirm without duress… I was responsible for the  9/11 operation A to Z”
  • Wikilieaks:  This memo of “Combatant Status Review” of September 4, 2006  signed by Rear Admiral Harry Harris Jr. is telling. that KSM was the Mastermind of 9-11.   Page 5… “Detainee was the mastermind of the 11September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”  Read for yourself.
  • 9-11 Commission Report:  I guess this is the smoking gun, if there is to be one.  The US committee  announced, in 2002, that KSM was the mastermind of 9-11. The group was “an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.”  They explicitly state “No one exemplifies the model of the terrorist entrepreneur more clearly than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.”

 

The Atlantic  Monthly ran this title in 2012″How the FBI, CIA, and Pakistani intelligence worked together — or didn’t — in the global hunt for the mastermind behind September 11, 2001″… Everything the Americans could rustle up pointed to Karachi. Every source and bit of information said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was operating out of the capital of Pakistan’s Wild West…

So, where does that leave the us?  Survey your colleagues. Ask them who is Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?  Ask them who is the “Mastermind of 9-11”?  Review the material you use and the narrative about 9-11.  Weigh the evidence and ask why is KSM not in the narratives, standards,  and curriculum materials for high school students.

 

I would like to end by noting another type of narrative around 9-11.   Both TED videos detail attempts at creating meaningful interpretations of what happened on 9-11.  It is important that these messages are in the public sphere, the collective conscious.  Take a look and see how they impact your view of 9-11.  These voices, emphasizing a social historical approach,  remind us that world events and globalization networks are never one-way avenues of “Them” causing harm to “Us.”

Enjoy.

A (Potential) Cure for the Summertime Blues

Hall of Famer Eddie Cochran, and musicians after him covering his iconic rock and roll hit, claimed that there “Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues.”  As we approach mid-August, that end-of-summer-break-sensation starts to creep into our minds as well as the realization that the annual return to the classroom is on the horizon.

This post offers a remedy of sorts for those summertime, back-to-school, blues.  No, it isn’t a suggested career change or an extended excursion (this would be avoidance). Rather, the post is a dose of excitement, motivation, and awareness for your consideration and exploration.  Inspiration comes from all sources and is all around us. Checkout this  excerpt (including part of the poem Los Heraldos Negros (The Black Messengers) by Cesar Vallejos) featured in the film Girl Rising:

NARRATOR “In a lot of the world, school is free. Parents don’t just have to pay for school. They have to buy books and uniforms. Sometimes, they pay for exams and report cards. For millions of families, it is simply too much.

A girl born on planet today has a one and fourth chance of being born into poverty. And a very good school, that is where she will stay.

But the right education could change all that. Knowledge is power, just ask Senna.

SENNA, 14-years-old “Reciting Text”: The Black Heralds, by the great poet Cesar Vallejo.

There are blows in life, so powerful . . . I don’t know!
Blows as from God’s hatred; as if before them,
the backlash of everything suffered
were to dam up in the soul . . . I don’t know!

The first time I read that it took my breath away. The rhythm of it, the force. For me, it was unforgettable.”

What blows will come this school year?  How will you and your students respond to them? How tuned in are you? How do you frame teaching, the  profession, the experience? Can you explain your educational philosophy?

I suggest looking at these resources below and leave a comment in the morning. 😉  Enjoy!

Blogs (I focused on Social Studies/History Blogs)

  • History Tech:You’ll find all sorts of ideas, tools, and best practices in the social studies here at History Tech. So feel free to browse around, subscribe to the feed, or leave a comment.
  • World History Teachers Blog: This is a  webpage written by high school teachers for those who teach world history and want to find online content as well as technology that you can use in the classroom.  There are sister blogs about US History and US Government as well.
  • Not Another History Teacher:  Melissa Seideman teaches 11th grade U.S. History, 12th grade Government/Economics, and AP Government and Politics in Cold Spring, NY. Her goal is for her blog to provide teachers with resources that can excite a student’s love of learning. Technology can meet student needs, engages them, and help them to be the best learner they can be.
  • The MiddleWeb:  all about the middle grades with a sharp focus on teaching and learning in grades 4-8. Since 1996, we’ve been providing resources for teachers, school leaders, parents and others interested in the success of young adolescents. In 2012, they completely redesigned the website around four streams of original content.
  • World Religions Blog: This is a blog by high school teachers for those who teach World Religions and want to find online content and technology.
  • Mr. Martera Musings: World History & International Relations Teacher at University School of Milwaukee, Martera writes “Being creative and making things keeps me happy.”

 

Federal Initiatives

  • Connected Educators:In collaboration with a wide range of educational organizations and educators, the Connected Educators project is increasing the quality, accessibility, and connectedness of existing and emerging online communities of practice.
  • The Institute of Education Sciences: provides rigorous and relevant evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and share this information broadly. By identifying what works, what doesn’t, and why, we aim to improve educational outcomes for all students, particularly those at risk of failure. We are the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, and by law our activities must be free of partisan political influence.
  • US Department of State Office of the Historian: The Office’s public outreach activities include hosting scholarly conferences on key issues in the history of U.S. foreign policy, answering historical research  questions, consulting with scholars, educators, and students, and working with high school teachers across the country to provide high-quality materials for classroom use.

Fueling the Passion

  • EdWeek Professional Development Index: Whoa! Check it out.  From “About Japan” to “Zane Education.”  And that is just for the History/Social Studies filter. There has got to be something for you.
  • Teaching American History:  The website redesign is indeed more attractive.  Did you know they have a free online Saturday Webinar Series?
  • Geoffrey Canada: Our failing schools. Enough is enough! : Why, why, why does our education system look so similar to the way it did 50 years ago? Millions of students were failing then, as they are now — and it’s because we’re clinging to a business model that clearly doesn’t work. Education advocate Geoffrey Canada dares the system to look at the data, think about the customers and make systematic shifts in order to help greater numbers of kids excel.
  • Write your Teaching Philosophy: Your teaching philosophy is a reflection of your education and classroom experience, developed during college or graduate school, and in the classrooms where you have taught.  Take time to write or revise your philosophy statement.
  • The UN Global Education Initiative:

    The Global Education First Initiative is led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. It gathers a broad spectrum of world leaders and advocates who all aspire to use the transformative power of education to build a better future for all.

    The Initiative aims to raise the political profile of education, strengthen the global movement to achieve quality education and generate additional and sufficient funding through sustained advocacy efforts.  Achieving gains in education will have an impact on all the Millennium Development Goals, from lower child and maternal mortality, to better health, higher income and more environmentally-friendly societies.

     

    Perspective:

On an existential note, if none of these links act as cures for the summertime blues, you can always find another.  Eddie Cochran couldn’t.  He died in 1960 at 21 in a car accident in the UK while on tour. Tragic indeed.  “Summertime Blues” was ranked number 73 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Cochran’s short life provides some perspective that I always found useful right around the start of the school year.  So does this recent discovery; the children’s cook Zoom by Hungarian illustrator Istvan Banyai.

So, don’t forget to smile at the start of the school year.  Who would you  actually be impacting if you waited until winter break?

Classroom Design + Best Instructional Practices = A Buffet of Learning Experiences

Best practices in education can be ephemeral or dismissed as old practices in new clothing (titles, jargon, rationale).  Hkindergartneowever, I believe it is important to develop, and periodically reflect upon, one’s own educational philosophy and repertoire.  To this end, I consider the values of student options and choice, content variety, skill development, and frequent  student- teacher interaction to be valuable qualities in secondary social studies and history  classrooms.  To find the best instructional practice which synthesizes these educational aspects is not difficult. In fact, all we have to do is look in our past – to kindergarten.

Well, maybe not everything was learned, and certainly not just in kindergarten. The point is  that the instructional practices  on the  “Buffet of Learning Experiences” menu (Station/Rotation and Learning Zones) are staples in elementary schools, common in middle schools and (unfortunately) endangered/extinct in high schools.  The typical responses when asked about there absence in high schools have claimed teacher control issues, preparing students for college teaching, and lack of space. What’s more, when I see these approaches used in high school, the classes are marked by a dynamism and engagement which are indicative of great teaching and learning.  Just take a look at what can be learned at a buffet!

 

The two models described below require an intentional and dedicated level of planning, flexibility, and knowledge of content.  Moreover, teachers have to be willing to decenter themselves a bit. Total control and the idea that they are the center of all content knowledge is anti-thetical to these practices.  Teachers  are still “in control” of the class, but not the lecture, power point “you need to know this from me” control. Using  Station/Rotation and Learning Zones elevates the role of the teacher to instructional designer, learning facilitator, and content resource.  Lastly, it is important to note that these instructional practices should be done frequently and not treated as rare events or the alternative.  Station/Rotation and Learning Zones builds a  learning culture that celebrates student accountability, investigation, collaboration,. communication, creativity, and critical thinking (sound familiar?). These are all great things in education.

Eat up and come back for more!

 

Station/Rotation Models

This style of learning is so much fun.  Students would enter our classroom and rarely would they see the same setup two days in a row.  Chairs and desks were reconfigured for the class.  Students became familiar with the settings and help me transform our room from a Pink Floyd dystopian nightmare…

floyd

…to an active learning environment.

Checkout the two models below.  What would you change?  How many stations would you have? How big are the groups?

station rotation model 2.gif

 

 

 

station rotation model 1

A major question asks “what to do at each station?”  Below is a suggested list with short descriptions for each:

  • žTextbook Use Area – Students read, review or engage with sections of the textbook.
  • žWriting/Editing Area- Students write, self -edit, peer edit, practice a writing skill.
  • žComputer Area – Especially good if you have limited computers. Explore a website, research etc.
  • žPrimary Source Area- Analyze, discuss, do a DBQ, create a DBQ,
  • žVisual Area- Focus on cartoons, maps, infographics, charts etc
  • Media Area- Listen to a podcast, Ted Video, PPT etc
  • žDiscussion Area- a mini deliberation about a topic.  Students summarize main points
  • žTeacher Feedback Area-  Feedback on projects, grades, National History Day work etc.
  • žTeacher Instruction Area- A mini-lecture or clarification of unit, chapter content
  • žStudent Reflection Area- Metacognition exercises, Apply to the present, what did I learn comments
  • žQuestion Generating Area- Students come up with inquiries and practice how to dissect an issue with questions
  • Other –Sky is the limit… have fun inventing some

Needless to say, keep in mind that directions at each area should be clear and doable in the time allotted.  Teacher’s need not have their own station and can be on call as needed.  Lastly, be sure to identify the outcome of each station – this is the accountability part!

Learning Zones

This approach turns your class into a learning  lab.  Like above,  each zone’s experiences need to be clearly described. The main difference is that their is no set rotation.  Students move freely.  This can cause congestion.  But you can create a max time in a zone or a capacity number.  You can also say that students need to visit 4 of the 5 zones giving them an option. I suggest trying this for a week or two straight or for a full unit morphing your classroom into …

Thinking Zones

For more information on the Zone approach checkout: Bray and McClaskey “Six Steps to Personalize Learning” Learning and Leading. ISTE. May 2013 Issue. Their website is located here.

 

Consider reconfiguring the zones in the model above as activity stations from the list above and you have created a whole new buffet menu!

 

Classroom Layout

What is your classroom like? Is it inspiring? Welcoming? Do you display student work and opportunities? Does it show expectations and goals?

These three articles below discuss the claim:  “The layout of your classroom can have a serious impact on the way you teach and the way your students learn.”

 

Keys to Good Classroom Arrangement​

  • Avoid unnecessary congestion in high-traffic areas.
  • Consider potential distractions: windows, doors, etc.
  • Always have a clear view of students.
  • Verify that all students can see you, instructional displays (e.g., chalkboard) and daily assignments (weekly, if possible). Use walls and bulletin boards to display rules, procedures, assigned duties, a calendar, schedule, student work and extra-credit activities.
  • Place learning areas so students can move from one to another with little or no disruption. Leave walking space around students’ desks.
  • Avoid placing learning centers and work areas in “blind corners.”
  • Place storage space and necessary materials so they are easily accessible.
  • Arrange students’ desks in rows facing instructional areas until you’ve learned their names, work habits and personal traits.
  • Check all electrical equipment to be sure it works and learn how to use the equipment before using it in class.

Things to Consider

1. Where will your desk be?

2. How many student classroom desks do you need?

3. What classroom seating arrangement of the desks will you use; for example, groups,rows, U shapes, rows but in groups,etc?

4. Will you have any classroom computers? Where will you put the classroom computer tables?

5. Will you have a carpeted area, away from the students’ desks, where you can all come together for classroom meetings,etc.?

6. What other additional classroom furniture such as filing cabinets, bookshelves,working tables will there be?

7. How many classroom bulletin boards will you have?

8. What other classroom display ideas are swimming around in your head?

 

Tools that let you design your classroom (These are really fun)

Identifying the “Why” in Education -10 Theories For Educators to Know, Apply, and Share

Throughout this past school, the concept of “starting with the “Why” has consistently appeared in various settings.  The mantra is emphasized in meetings,  promoted by AVID leadership in our county,  referenced at the NCSS meeting in Seattle, and is a guiding principle around professional development.  At the orientation meeting for judges at the the National History Day tournament, an explanation of “Why” was used identifying  our TheGoldenCirclecollective enjoyment of history and support for students’ engaging with the past. I researched the concept and its “Golden Circle” approach to leadership.  Applying this to education is, I argue, is essential to the professionalism and artistry of our field.  We should all be able to answer the “Why” for our personal practices, content area, school mission, and national purpose… and provide that answer to our students and their parents.

Now that summer is upon us, it is a perfect time to reflect on the Why.
The Golden Circle

Beginning as a student in anthropology, Simon Sinek turned his fascination with people into a career of convincing people to do what inspires them. His earliest work was in advertising, moving on to start Sinek Partners in 2002, but he suddenly lost his passion despite earning solid income. Through his struggle to rediscover his excitement about life and work, he made some profound realizations and began his helping his friends and their friends to find their “why” — at first charging just $100, person by person. Never planning to write a book, he penned Start With Why simply as a way to distribute his message

 

The 10 theories below are obviously not a comprehensive list.  They represent what happens to be synthesizing in my current experiences, reading, and discussions with colleagues and my PLN.  They help me answer the Why which in turn guide the How and What of history and social studies education. What theories would you add to the list?  What do you think of these?  Enjoy!

 

  1. Carol DweckMind Set :
    Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and mindsetsuccess—a simple idea that makes all the difference.In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships.

Test your Mindset here!

 

2. Daniel GolemanEmotional Intelligence:   The phrase, or its casual shorthand EQ, argues that IQ, or conventional intelligence, is too narrow; that there are wider areas of Emotional Intelligence that dictate and EQ at workenable how successful we are. Success requires more than IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which has tended to be the traditional measure of intelligence, ignoring essential behavioural and character elements. We’ve all met people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially and inter-personally inept. And we know that despite possessing a high IQ rating, success does not automatically follow.

“Most gratifying for me has been how ardently the concept has been embraced by educators, in the form of programs in “social and emotional learning or SEL. Back in 1995 I was able to find only a handful of such programs teaching emotional intelligence skills to children. Now, a decade later, tens of thousands of schools worldwide offer children SEL. In the United States many districts and even entire states currently make SEL curriculum requirement, mandating that just as students must attain a certain level of competence in math and language, so too should they master these essential skills for living.”


3. Sugata Mitra – Minimally Invasive Education:  MIE is a pedagogic method that uses the learning environment to generate an adequate level of motivation to induce learning in groups of children, with minimal, or no, intervention by a teacher.  Mitra suggests this approach develops “functional literacy” in students and demands reflection on how time and money  is being spent in education: “If computer literacy is defined as turning a computer on and off and doing the basic functions, then this method allows that kind of computer literacy to be achieved with no formal instruction. Therefore any formal instruction for that kind of education is a waste of time and money. You can use that time and money to have a teacher teach something else that children cannot learn on their own.” 

Minimally Invasive Education in school asserts there are many ways to study and learn. It argues that learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you. Another advantage is that MIE ensures that children themselves take ownership of the Learning Station by forming self-organized groups who learn on their own. Finally an unsupervised setting ensures that the entire process of learning is learner-centric and is driven by a child’s natural curiosity.

Mitra has recently announced the Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE).  SOLE is a place where children can work in groups, access the internet and other software, follow up on a class activity or project or take them where their interests lead them.  Download the toolkit and try it out.


4. Phil SchlectlyEngagement Theory:  Schlectly focuses attention on student motivation and the strategies needed to increase the engagementprospect that schools and teachers will be positioned to increase the presence of engaging tasks and activities in the routine life of the school. The Theory of Engagement proceeds from a number of assumptions. The most critical ones focus on the way school tasks and activities are designed and student decisions regarding the personal consequences of doing the task assigned or participating in the activity.  The use of technology, although commonly supposed, is not a requirement for Schlectly’s theory. In fact,  the technology – engagement relationship has spawned its own body of research and literature. In turn, the theory looks at the effectiveness of teachers leading students through discussions and action planning.  Letting students take control of their learning, and use the school as a network, would definitely be a step in a different direction.  Schlectly also mentions “that relationships, and the work assigned directly impacts student’s performance.”

 

5. Paulo FreireCritical Pedagogy: Critical Pedagogy is a domain of education and research that studies the social, cultural, political, economic, and cognitive dynamics of teaching and learning. Critical Pedagogy emphasizes the impact of power relationships in the educational process. Emerging in the late 1960s with the work of Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, Critical Pedagogy has evolved as a cross-disciplinary field. “Critical Pedagogy would never find it sufficient to reform the habits of thought of thinkers, however effectively, without challenging and transforming the institutions, ideologies, and relations that engender distorted, oppressed thinking in the first place — not as an Freireadditional act beyond the pedagogical one, but as an inseparable part of it. The method of Critical Pedagogy for Freire involves, to use his phrase, “reading the world” as well as “reading the word” (Freire & Macedo 1987). Part of developing a critical consciousness, as noted above, is critiquing the social relations, social institutions, and social traditions that create and maintain conditions of oppression. For Freire, the teaching of literacy is a primary form of cultural action, and as action it must “relate speaking the word to transforming reality”(Freire 1970a, 4).

 

 

 

6. George SiemensConnectivismAt the core, connectivism is a form of experiential learning which prioritizes the set of connections formed by actions and experience over the idea that knowledge is propositional. It shares with some other theories a core proposition, that knowledge is not acquired, as though it were a thing. Knowledge is, on this theory, literally the set of connections formed by actions and experience.  One aspect of connectivism is its central metaphor of a network with nodes and connections.In this metaphor, a node is anything that can be connected to another node such as an organization, information, data, feelings and images. Connectivism sees learning as the process of creating connections and elaborating a network. Not all connections are of equal strength.

The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.

7. Lev VykotskySocial Constructivis Theory:  Vykotsky, when juxtaposed to Piaget, emphasized the social interactions between students and teachers.  In short positive relationships are significant to learning.

His Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) are two of Vykotsky’s major legacies found in contemporary education. ZPD addresses the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. Vykotsky sees the area in the ZPD as where the most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given – allowing the child to develop skills they will then use on their own – developing higher mental functions.

Vygotsky believed during the learning process children first learn by imitating adults. In the beginning, children are unable to complete a particular task without assistance. Over time, this child may be able to complete more complex tasks with adult assistance because the ZPD of a child isn’t stagnant, it continuously changes as he or she conquers increasingly difficult work over time. Focusing more on education, ZPD can be useful to educators because it should remind them how students can be expanded to reach goals with or without adult direction and support. This is often referred to as “Scaffolding.”

The MKO strongly relates to ZPD: “it refers to someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept.

Although the implication is that the MKO is a teacher or an older adult, this is not necessarily the case.  Many times, a child’s peers or an adult’s children may be the individuals with more knowledge or experience. In fact, the MKO need not be a person at all (website, video).   The key to MKOs is that they must have (or be programmed with) more knowledge about the topic being learned than the learner does.”


8. Gary Marx16 Trends: Sixteen Trends … Their Profound Impact on Our Future, and Future Focused Leadership … Preparing Schools, Students, and Communities for Tomorrow’s Realities, lays out evidence for major trends and then speculates on their profound implications for society at large and education systems, such as schools and colleges, in particular.  He adds, “We have a distinct choice–we can simply defend what we have…or we can create what we need to get our students, our schools, and our communities ready for a fast-changing world.”

His new book will build upon his 16 trends.  Marx states “The next generation in the trends series focuses on political, economic, social, technological, demographic, and environmental trends. Among more than 20 societal forces that will get special attention in the upcoming book are identity and privacy, sustainability, scarcity vs. abundance, and energy. They are in addition to dramatic developments in aging, diversity, the flow of generations, technology, interdependence, and the environment, to name a few. Massive trends that impact the whole of society provide an outstanding launch pad for active learning, project-based education, real-world education, teaching thinking and reasoning/problem solving skills, and learning through inquiry. Students are drawn to using futures tools, such as trend analysis, issue analysis, and gap analysis because each one comes with an invitation to consider implications for shaping their own futures. The new book will be published by Education Week Press.

16Marx

9. Howard Gardner –  Multiple Intelligences:  Arguably the most influential educational movement of recent educational practice, MI has had to contend against rampant misconcpetions and faculty application of Gardner’s theory.  I have come across this numerous times in my career. So, please, be on guard when practioners reference Gardner. Gardner defined the first seven intelligences in Frames of Mind in 1983.  He added two more, Naturalist and Existentialist,  in Intelligence Reframed in 1999.  “Based on his study of many people from many different walks of life in everyday circumstances and professions, Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner’s MI Theory challenged traditional beliefs in the fields of education and cognitive science.  According to a traditional definition, intelligence is a uniform cognitive capacity people are born with.  This capacity can be easily measured by short-answer tests.  According to Gardner, intelligence is:

  • The ability to create an effective product or offer a service that is valued in a culture9_MI
  • A set of skills that make it possible for a person to solve problems in life
  • The potential for finding or creating solutions for problems, which involves gathering new knowledge

In addition, Gardner claims that:

  • All human beings possess all intelligences in varying amounts
  • Each person has a different intellectual composition
  • We can improve education by addressing the multiple intelligences of our students
  • These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together
  • These intelligences may define the human species
  • Multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened
  • Each individual has nine intelligences (and maybe more to be discovered)

 

 

10. Benjamin Bloom/Lorin Anderson – Revised Taxonomy:  “In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. During the 1990’s a new group of cognitive psychologists, lead by Lorin Andersonblooms_gears_ipad_720x952-2cpl0pd1 (a former student of Bloom), updated the taxonomy to reflect relevance to 21st century work. The change from nouns to verbs associated with each level is significant.”   It is important to know that the list of action words that are typically associated with each level does not guarantee that students are engaged at that level.  Specific expectations and follow up questioning is essential to the process.  For example, asking students to “Compare and Contrast two images”  does not automatically place student thought at the “Analysis” level.  More is needed from the teacher.  For example “Compare and Contrast two images.  Explain your 3-4 findings that address the economic and social contexts of both images. Which do you find more appealing and why?”

Debate about the need to master a lower level of the taxonomy prior to advancing to the next one is prevalent.   Can student’s engage with a higher level first or is the lowest level the entry point for Bloom?  My belief is yes students can be engaged at higher levels first. In fact the “hierarchy” dimension of Bloom has been challenged and conceived as a fluid network of thought and action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memento Mori – Memorial Day Reminders to Live By

Happy Start to the 2013 Summer.

I am big on reminders in life that remind us to live our lives actively and with perspective. The part of the title of this post“Mememto Mori” ((Latin ‘remember that you will die) is one of those reminder for me. From  wikipedia – ” Popular belief says the phrase originated in ancient Rome: as a Roman general was parading through the streets during a victory triumph, standing behind him was his slave, tasked with reminding the general that, although at his peak today, tomorrow he could fall, or — more likely — be brought down. The servant is thought to have conveyed this with the warning, “Memento mori”  Likewise, Albert Camus’ existential philosophy stressed that there is really only one main question in our lives: “Why should I not kill myself?”  As he says in The Rebel, “the absurd is an experience that must be lived through, a point of departure, the equivalent, in existence, of Descartes’s methodical doubt.”  If you want some summer beach reading from Camus, my favorite is The Fall.

This past week has provided multiple reminders and reflections on life, memory, and global perspectives. I would like to share a few of them from a beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  As the sign in my guest room says “If you’re lucky enough to be at the beach,you’re lucky enough.” I hope these three reminders resonate with you on some level.

beachkite

I feel like I could do this and play chess at the same time…

  A. The PAST – Memory and War – Teachers. Who among you assign’s students WV Senator Robert Byrd’s speeches in 2003 regarding the United State’s invasion of Iraq? Give them a read. Consider them for your primary source cache and

document based questions.  How important is the voice of dissent in US History? (I assign Dissent in America:Voices That Shaped a Nation to my undergraduate students and believe Byrd’s speeches could be added to update Dissent in three American wars).Remember, threat of invasion sparked a record setting number of protests; the most ever seen in world history.  Byrd’s two speeches, given towards the end of his 57 years of service are classic post 9/11 texts.

  • “Sleepwalking Through History” -speech given on Feb 12th, 2003.
    “Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent — ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.We stand passively mute in the United States Senate, paralyzed by our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events. Only on the editorial pages of our newspapers is there much substantive discussion of the prudence or imprudence of engaging in this particular war.”
  • “Today, I weep for my country” – speech given on March 19, 2003.  (Includes rebuttal from Sen. John McCain)

“What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomatic effortswhen the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?

Why can this President not seem to see that America’s true power lies not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?”

 

B. The PRESENT -Memory and the Global – an interview with Dr. Ed Gragert

Edwin H. Gragert is Director, Global Campaign for Education-US. GCE-US is a coalition of national and local organizations working to ensure a quality education for all worldwide.  Formerly, he was Executive Director of iEARN-USA. Since 1988, iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) has pioneered the educational use of innovative communications technology and teacher professional development to facilitate on-line collaborative project-based learning in elementary and secondary schools in 130 countries worldwide.  He is a member of the Steering Committee of Global Teacher Education. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Gragert:

  1. Tell us about how Global Teacher Education came to be and what your vision and  goals are ?
Global Teacher Education (GTE) emerged from discussions between several of us who had worked professional development in the area of international education for in-service teachers.  The key players were the Longview Foundation, the University of Maryland Graduate School of Education, iEARN-USA and Crosswalks Foundation–all pulled together by the former president of Kellogg College at Oxford University–with whom I had worked previously with the World Education Corps project.  We realized from our collective information that there were few institutions of teacher education that were preparing future teachers for their classrooms with skills to enable their students to be globally competent.  At the same time, there were a number of calls from key individuals at organizations like NAFSA, Ohio State University, etc.   We looked at the pioneering work done by the Longview Foundation and explored ways in which we could highlight best practices of institutions that had either systematically integrated the world into their pre-service programs or had exemplary global education programs for possible replication across the country.
We also wanted a dynamic place where various stakeholders at institutions of teacher education could connect with each other to exchange ideas and program ideas–both with each other and as part of national and international community of people interested in global education at the teacher education level–whether they be deans, faculty members, graduate students, researchers.  We also envisioned a place where current and new scholars could post research papers and think-piece blogs for discussion.
“Our Mission is to ensure that U.S. teachers are properly trained to prepare our young people to cope and thrive in a globally-connected world. By partnering with colleges of education and professional bodies in the education and teacher preparation spaces, GTE will support the internationalization of teacher preparation programs by connecting professionals, as well as advancing and disseminating research and best practices.  Our mission is based on a vision of our nation’s young people being prepared to become truly global citizens – confident in their own culture, yet able to understand and appreciate other cultures with which they will increasingly interact in their personal, social and economic lives.”

2. What are some of your experiences around Global Education that you brought to GTE?

The contributions that I have been able to make have been on how to design an interactive and community global education website, make recommendations on technologies to be used, suggest ways to develop and maintain an online community of practice among educators, as well as point to resources that can be of assistance as universities prepare for globalizing their programs.  Further, I’ve seen and been a part of practical examples of how K-12 educators have integrated global content and connections in different curricular areas.   Over the past three years, I’ve worked with the Organization of American States for iEARN-US to provide online courses for university teacher education faculty in the Americas to give them experience integrating collaborative project-based learning using Web 2.0 tools — all in an online setting that involved individuals from multiple countries and cultures.

“(Global Campaign for Education-US) is working with a number of World Affairs Councils (and other organizations) to arrange for partial or full screenings of the new film “Girl Rising,” about 9 girls in 9 countries and the obstacles they face in getting an education globally”
                           3. Can you comment on the state of global education in the US? Where are the challenges, successes, hot spots?
My sense is that the awareness of the importance of making US education more global is at an all-time high.  Although the issue is not a significant part of the Common Core State Standards, there is consistent talk of how we can better prepare our students to interact effectively in global, cross-cultural and multi-lingual environments.   Yet, an “all-time high” is still dismally low.  And it’s in a time when social studies and World Language classes are being dropped in the rush to focus on STEM and test preparation.  If the STEM courses were being infused with global examples, interaction and comparisons, it would be fantastic, but this is not happening on any meaningful level.  One success was the recent strategic plan adopted by the International Affairs office of the US Department of Education, which pointed out the importance of our students becoming globally competent.   But, the downside is that this report did not once mention technology — which is the only way we will be able to reach the exponential numbers of students — and it did not deal at all with the urgent need to provide professional development for our teachers, since they too lack globally competence.  Although, of course, attention should be placed on both teachers and students, in my opinion, priority should be on the teachers as multipliers.  Until this need is met, we will only be dealing with the symptom (globally incompetent students), rather than the problem–that our education needs systemic internationalization.

4. What are some of the demands and opportunities on teacher preparation and PD?

The largest issue in my experience concerning PD is how it fits into a teacher’s daily classroom life.  All too often, PD is arranged by someone (principal or Department chair) who is not familiar with the needs of individual classroom teachers.  In the interest of scale, a PD is often arranged for all teachers in a department, based on someone’s perception of need–rarely the teacher.   Yet, teaches are eager to gain new skills and perspectives. In my experience, they are ready to learn new methodologies to help their students learn better.   Traditional forms of PD, however, are rarely effective because they do not meet the needs of a teacher when s/he needs the information and new skills.  As you have pointed out on numerous occasions, instead of a 1 or 2 day professional development session on software, hardware and/or curriculum that someone else has designed and that may or may not be used (or needed), teachers need on-demand PD on issues and technologies when they are useful.  We often cite personalized student learning as a way to address individual student learning needs.   This same concept is critical for teacher professional development.   Global competency has been skillfully defined, so we know where the goal posts are.  But, few people are looking at how to move teachers along the journey from global beginner to globally competent.    And it’s key that we keep in mind that it is a continuum and that all teachers are at different points.  So, cookie cutter approaches don’t work because either they are beyond where a teacher is or they are at too basic a level.   Therefore, there needs to be a way for teachers to indicate what their questions and needs are when they have them so that immediate and appropriate PD can be arranged for that particular teacher on a particular question or issue.  It’s my experience that the most effective form of PD is when teachers are in their own teaching environments, using the technology and configuration that they daily have available–rather than going to an off-site venue that. Needless to say, this cannot be done on a personalized and scalable level without technology.

5. What advice do you have for administrators and teachers regarding global education/competencies?

Teachers need to be encouraged at all levels.  My experience is that teachers who want to enter the field of global education, as well as those who are already integrating the world into their classrooms at any level are often isolated and looking for support from peers and administration.  Administrators are in a key position to open up the space for teachers to experiment with ways of engaging their students international issues and themes, as well as directly with their peers around the world–as part of their subject teaching.  All too often teachers feel that they cannot take the risk of trying new techniques in their teaching of math, history, literature, language arts, etc., particularly since there is little direct guidance provided by the Common Core State Standards.   Teachers need time to gain the confidence that their students will read and comprehend at a higher level, and that they will be more motivated to learn science if they are interacting with an authentic audience around the world–whether it be in peer editing of creating writing or comparing the chemical content and quality of water samples from different parts of the world.  And in this learning phase, teachers benefit from support from their peers, many of whom are also going through the same process.   So, my advice for teachers is to seek out communities (usually online) that share their interest in globalizing education.  Although the primary focus of the GTE site is for teacher education faculty, administrators and students, we encourage in-service teachers to both explore the resources and join in conversations and blog discussions.   After all, practicing teachers have much to teach the teacher educators.

 

3. The FUTURE-  Memory and Inquiry – CCSSO’s Framework for Social Studies Education.

This is a reminder and a preview.  Last fall in Seattle, at the NCSS conference, we received an update on the “Vision for the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Inquiry in Social Studies State Standards”    The key word here is “framework.”  These are not standards.  “The forthcoming framework, to be released in 2013, will be a significant resource for all states to consider in their local processes for upgrading state social studies standards, rather than set standardsfor states to adopt.”  At the core of the framewoccssorks are the skills of research, inquiry, and  questioning.  All of these are practical skills celebrated by colleges, employers, and in civic organization.  Collaboration and communicating are also part of the framework’s skill based approach.   “At the heart of the C3 Framework is an inquiry arc a set of interlocking and mutually supportive ideas that feature the four dimensions of informed inquiry in social studies: 1) developing questions and planning investigations; 2) applying disciplinary concepts and tools; 3) gathering, evaluating and using evidence; and 4) working collaboratively and communicating conclusions.”

This sounds great.  I believe it will inject life  into history and social studies education and provide focus and support to a teachers who look to interject into STEM dominated educational discussions. Moreover, it resets history education’s Romantic purpose of building national identities and assimilation in imagined communities. At its simplest, the framework recognizes that life is very often an encounter of narratives and exchange of questions.

 

Anyone for a game of chess?

 

The Connected Educator’s Full House: 8 “Ace” Resources

As legend and history relates, the “Dead Man’s Hand”, 2 pairs – Aces and Eights, was Wild Bill Hickok’s final deal.  He was killed at the poker table in Deadwood in the Dakota Territory at the Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon in 1876.  His murderer, Jack McCall shot him through the head from behind.  Despite some “authoritative” claims to what the fifth card was in Hickok’s star crossed hand, it remains a mystery. One poker website notes:

 “The transcript of McCall’s trial, for having shot Hickok, has a witness claiming that the fifth card was the jack of diamonds. The card used in the

Hickok’s final hand. How will educator’s play their hand?

 

re-creation of the shooting in Deadwood, as well as the card supposedly suggested by other eyewitnesses is the nine of diamonds.” And finally, the Deadwood museum uses a five of diamonds that is on display in Deadwood. “I suppose nobody will ever know, considering the town of Deadwood, and alot of its records, burnt to the ground in 1879”

I like to imagine, at least for this blog post, that the mystery card was actually an Ace or an 8.  Bill’s hand would have been better, at least.

 

So, what hand has been dealt to contemporary educators?  In March, the Huffington Post reported  their findings from a teacher satisfaction survey.  The findings are not optimistic; and maybe not too surprising.  “As school districts continued to cut budgets, increase class sizes, and implement teacher performance evaluations, teachers’ job satisfaction plummeted in 2012, reaching an all-time low…Teachers’ job satisfaction has declined 23 percentage points in the five years since 2008, according to the long-running survey of educators and principals. Only 39 percent of teachers reported they were very satisfied, the least since 1987, the survey showed. The percentage of teachers who said they were very satisfied dropped five percentage points in 2012.”

No quick fixes here. However,  I have found that there are benefits when educators are networked.  I believe it increases morale, innovation, collaboration, inspiration, and general support.  Overall, a sense of professionalism increases.  I have created two categories network benefits below.  Have fun exploring them, getting involved, sharing and using them.

I wonder if any cards were wild in Wild Bill’s last hand.  Regardless, all of the resources below have wild benefits for you and your students. No bluff. Your deal!

 

 

4 Ace Online Professional Development/Networking Opportunities

 

1- The Connected Educator Month Archives:  Funded by the US Department of Education.  The Connected Educator Month 2012 Archives have been officially released, with nearly one hundred recordings, transcripts, and other professional development resources to date from CEM 2012, searchable by format, audience, and topic.  http://bit.ly/cemarchives  Be sure to check out the session “Professional Learning and the Learning Profession” which addresses such questions like

  • What and where are the best (social) opportunities for educators to work on and learn for their practice in the coming year?
  • What steps should every educator consider taking to become more connected, and what are the key resources that can help?
  • In what kinds of learning do teachers (and other educators) need to be engaged in the 21st century, and how will technology help?
  • What are the key methodological and content trends in the classroom (e.g., flipped classrooms, core standards) with which technology (in general) and communities or networks (specifically) can impact and help?

 

 

 

2- The School Leadership Summit: Thursday, March 28th, is the inaugural, online, and free School Leadership Summit.   http://www.SchoolLeadershipSummit.com

It is a unique chance to participate in a virtual and collaborative global conversation on school leadership with presentations by practitioners.  Conference strands are aligned to the internationally-recognized ISTE National Education Technology Standards for Administrators and include the leadership topics of: Vision in a Changing World, Teaching and Learning in a Changing World, Professional Learning in a Changing World, Data-driven Reform in a Changing World, and Ethical and Responsible Use in a Changing World.  TICAL (the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership) is the founding partner of the conference.

 The Summit is held online using Blackboard Collaborate and open to anyone to attend.  The conference schedule is kept current at  http://admin20.org/page/schedule and during the conference will be viewable by specific world time zones. Visit my session at 7:00 pm.
3 –ASCD Webinars:  ASCD’s free webinar series brings experts in the field of education to a computer near you. Their webinars address timely and relevant topics like the Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning strategies, and closing the achievement gap.  Bonus hand, they archive each webinar, so you will never have to miss your deal.  Also, ASCD takes suggestions. Be sure to fill out their request feature.
4- The Educators PLN: This is a ning site dedicated to the support of a Personal Learning Network for Educators. Resources, blogs, other websites, discussion forums and more make this a hyper active community. Browse the “Leader Board” to get an idea of who is doing what and who is most active. So, sign up, create your profile page and let the networking begin.

4 Ace Online/Classroom Resources:

1-Show World: The website creates a map morph based on the criteria you select. All you do is select a subject from the top menu and watch the countries on the map change their size. Instead of land mass, the size of each country will represent the data for that subject –both its share of the total and absolute value. The main topics “People, Planet, Politics, Business, and Living” have a multitude of sub categories to choose from. Also, the site allows you to explore data for the World, the US, and Japan.  Data sources are cited, there are zoom options, a table that ranks the category leader and much more. The search for the  screen shot is based on the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the world.  Eat up…

 

2- Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square: The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria leading journalists at TIME and CNN, and other international thinkers.Record his show and watch a segment in class. Features include

 

3- TED Ed: TED-Ed is a website for teachers and learners. Lessons worth sharing allows you use, tweak, or completely redo any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons from scratch.  You can also get involved or recommend someone: “The most meaningful TED-Ed videos are collaborations between the TED-Ed team and at least one of the following: a curious learner, an exceptional educator, or a talented visualization artist. If you are one of these types of people, or if you know someone who is, please help guide our effort to create a library of lessons worth sharing…”  Check this out!

 

4- Open Culture: Formed in 2006, Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high quality content whenever and wherever you want it. Free audio books, free online courses, free movies, free language lessons, free ebooks and other enriching content — it’s all there!  I just watched Waiting for Godot.

 

What it Means to be a (Global) Educator in 2013: The Good, Bad, Pretty, and Ugly.

In 1945 Harvard University published the  General Education in a Free Society (also known as the “Redbook”).  The report summarized two years of research about education in American high schools and suggested a program of study for higher education. The text, selling over 40,000 copies, attempted to answered the question “What should every student know?”

“In the Social Sciences”  wrote Charles Bevard in 1964,  “the Redbook suggested a course it called “Western Thought and Institutions,” which would cover social thought from the Greeks, though  Aquinas, Machiavelli, Luther, Bodin, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Bentham, and Mill, to the present day. The course would also include enough history to enable students to understand what they read in its proper historical context.

Following suit, the Humanities course was blatantly Euro/Western- Centric requiring professors “to cover eight books selected from a list which might include Homer, one or two of the Greek tragedies, Plato, the Bible, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Tolstoy.”

Upon reflection, the Redbook’s occidental slant is not a surprise.  As Louis Menand notes in his The Marketplace of Ideas, “Harvard did what Columbia had done at the time of the first World War it supplemented its curriculum with courses specifically designed to meet contemporary exigencies.”   Therefore, it is essential to recognize Harvard’s report as a Cold War artifact defining, celebrating, and exceptionalizing the Western, capitalist node of the Cold War binary. Within this context, the Redbook is a lucid, valid piece of educational research and policy. But, history records change over time.  And every number one hit eventually falls off the charts.

Later works by E.D. Hirsch Cultural Literacy and Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and his unfortunate , infamous  swan song Who Are We? The

Senor Huntington – way past his prime and out of his league in 2004.

Challenges to America’s National Identity are works clinging to the Redbook’s mid-20th century world view.  At the time of each publication, 1988, 1996, and 2004 respectively, the authors’ narratives about identity and education reeked of post-colonialism and simplified triumphalism teetering on a ledge of anachronism and prejudice about the “Other.”  To the contemporary global educator, Hirsch and Huntington are, simply put, out of tune.

So, what narratives about (global) education exist today.  How far have we come nearly 70 years after the publication of the Redbook? What are some national policies that exist?  How does your school, district, department and own teaching relate to the narratives below? Who defines global education and how is it supported and implemented?  Below are interpretations of global education… in four keys.

 

The Good: Australia – “Global Perspectives: A Framework for Global Education in Australian Schools”

Australia published their conversation on global education in 2002  to “clarify the goals, rationale, emphases, and processes of global education and to serve as a resource  – a philosophical and practical reference point .”  WOW! Music to my ears. Their resource page provides multiple items across K-12 education and engage readers with a series of Socratic questions on why to adopt a global perspective.   Even better, their five learning dimensions are forward thinking, identify “opportunities to learn” and explicitly mention globalization as a goal. BIG SMILE.  The document even includes how this can be done across grade level and content. Rubrics included.  Lastly, contrasted to the US document below, there is no reference to national security as a rationale  to embrace global education. Instead, Australia broke from the Redbook and recognized the changing demands to succeed in multi-polar, interconnected world. Top Marks Australia!

The Bad: The United Kingdom –   “The Revised UK History Curriculum”

Ever feel like you stepped back in time. Not to a better era, but to one where you are happy to have moved away from,to progress beyond the past’s shortcomings. Welcome to the UK’s new national history curriculum. It is important to note  that when educators and academics reference “World History” it doesn’t mean they share an international or global methodology. The UK’s regression huddles around the glories of the past empire and asserts that learning British, and to some extent, European history, equates learning World History.

  • Purpose of study -A high-quality history education equips pupils to think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. A knowledge of Britain’s past, and our place in the world, helps us understand the challenges of our own time.
  • Aims- The National Curriculum for history aims to ensure that all pupils know and understand the story of these islands: how the British people shaped this nation and how Britain influenced the world”

Pupils will learn about events including the including the Norman Conquest, Henry II’s dispute with Thomas Becket, the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses, and execution of Charles I, the union with Scotland and the rise and fall of the British Empire.”  So very, well, Redbookish. E.D. Hirsch would be happy.  Celebrated historian Niall Ferguson  applauds the nationalism and glaring lack of non-western, transnational, and global perspective in the UK curriculum despite overwhelming criticism: “The content of the draft Programmes of Study are far too narrow in their focus on British political history. References to women and diverse ethnic groups are clearly tokenistic. Nods to social, economic and cultural history are rare. The authors of this curriculum have completely failed to understand what progression in history might mean or how a good grasp of chronology can be developed. More than twenty years of thoughtful and sophisticated approaches to curriculum development have been thrown away in this document…the Programmes of Study are far too narrowly and exclusively focused on British history to serve the needs of children growing up in the world today”

The British Secretary of Education Michael Gove’s document falls alarmingly short  of global education theory and practice.  It reminds me of  the Pogues  song  “Navigator”:

“Their mark on this land is still seen and still laid
The way for a commerce where vast fortunes were made
The supply of an empire where the sun never set
Which is now deep in darkness, but the railway’s there yet.

The Pretty: The United States“Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement 2012-2016” 

Overdue?  Yes.  Unclear on how it will be funded?  I believe so.  Admirable in its scope and objectives? Affirmative.

In the DOE’s  own words, “The strategy, which the Department has already begun to implement, will be used to guide the Department’s activities and allocation of resources to reflect the highest priority and most strategic topics, parts of the world, and activities. It affirms the Department’s commitment

The Global Competence Task Force, formed and led by the Council of Chief State School Officers’ EdSteps Initiative and the Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning

to preparing today’s youth, and our country more broadly, for a globalized world, and to engaging with the international community to improve education.”  Despite its reference to national defense and homeland security as answers to their question “Why an International Focus?” the strategy does contain clear educational theory and practice which emphasizes global competencies for students: “Our hyper-connected world also requires the ability to think critically and creatively to solve complex problems, the skills and dispositions to engage globally… or take alternate perspectives and is infused with global texts, issues, or problem.”

I like it. It has potential… now it needs buy in. To what extent will the national paradigm influence state and local educational visions?  Checkout the plans graphics and outline.  It speaks to a global educational choir, but needs a plan of action for implementation. The document’s strategy references a need for “international bookmarking and applying lessons learned from other countries.”

Ummmm… see Australia below… I mean, above.  (Ok, that will be funny tomorrow).

The Ugly: Global Education Frameworks that reinforce “The Other”. In his reflective work, The Other, Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński reminds us that globalization has put Western relations with “Others” in a new situation. “For five centuries (the West) dominated the world , not just politically and economically, but also culturally…The long 500 year existence of such an uneven, unfair system, has produced numerous ingrained inhabits among it participants.”  The global divide addressed during the the post-colonial/Cold War order has been largely bridged by the “flatness” of globalization.  Asymmetrical relationships  and global disjunctures still exist, however.

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Despite that fact, each of the narratives above reinforcea divide between US and THEM  by essentializing culture as a fixed, natural, static characteristic.  This is done by the use of phrases like “other cultures” and “other people”. Continued use of these phrases is a major shortcoming for any model of global education.

Australia –  the best of the three, the document still falls into the other trap “being open to the cultures of others.”

The US- The multi-cultural traditional in education still creates the unwanted model that there is a true, real US citizen surrounded by all these “other” groups in the nation and world.  This document doesn’t shake that legacy “an appreciation for other countries and culture”.  Still this is a big improvement.

UK-  Here is this irony, the document doesn’t use “other” because in the curriculum no one else exists beyond the British.  Agency emanates from the island into the ether where the other may exist.

The alternative is too recognize that culture is fluid, dynamic, and is a range of behaviors and beliefs with any nation, region, or group.  Instead of “other cultures”, try using “global” or “world” cultures.  The “other” that used in these documents fails to teach that there is no one singular way of acting/thinking in any nation and that for all the celebrated differences, humanity is living in an era where mote people have common experiences, due to technology, than ever before.

Teaching culture as a complex, intepretative,  fluid process – not as a way to identify the “other” when you meet him/her  is the most important part of global competency.  If not, global education remains a museum tool we use to rank groups in a hierarchy of civilized/ advance.  In the end, it is  rather simple to make an epistemological, existential, educational move around how we teach about the “Other.”  This is a cornerstone of authentic global education.

Depending on what educational framework you read, the concepts Global Intelligence, Global Education, Global Awareness, and Global Perspectives are often used as synonyms despite their specific nuances. However, “Global Competencies”, I argue, incorporate these other headings in five  main groupings: content, skill,  habits of mind, pedagogy, and assessment. In turn, “Global Competencies” offer obtainable, relevant, and measurable educational goals for students and educators.

Finally, I want to share with you this fantastic infographic shared by educator Allison Morris.

Please Include Attribution to EducationNews.org With This Graphic Most Education Countries Infographic