ELA Monthly Digest

Charles VerheyELA

How to Teach Global Awareness in the Classroom

This holiday season, we embraced and celebrated cultures through a myriad of traditions and religions. It was a time for family, friends, and togetherness. Students in classrooms around the United States were celebrating their traditions and learning about others’ as well. We have become a society of global citizens.

Today’s teachers have the added responsibility of preparing students for global citizenship and entry into the workforce. Even if schools aren’t culturally diverse, there are ways to bring “the world” into the classroom. In her article “A Global Perspective: Bringing the World Into Classrooms,” Ariel Tichnor-Wagnor, the Senior Fellow of Global Competence at ASCD, describes a 2016 study performed by researchers on “teachers committed to globally competent teaching.” These researchers discovered three distinct strategies for teaching a global mindset:

1. Integrating global topics and perspectives across content areas

Literature and informational texts can be taught by incorporating multicultural books into the curriculum. One way to do this is by using Young Adult literature. YA lit often has protagonists of diverse backgrounds, and contains themes of current social issues or events.

2. Providing opportunities for authentic engagement with global issues

By taking on a more active role and participating in real, authentic experiences, students become empowered. Within the classroom setting, teachers can assign authentic research units of real-world issues and have students debate solutions to these problems. Teachers can organize a field trip to see relevant theatre shows with global themes, ask a local government leader to participate in a roundtable discussion, participate in an international week at school, or perform community service or outreach. And, if possible, teachers can video chat with classes in other countries. By being participants, students realize they aren’t too far removed from the global world, especially for those who may not have daily interactions with people from different cultures.

3. Connecting the global experiences of students and teachers to the classroom

Students can learn cultural acceptance from one another. They can also learn from their teacher. Teachers may have cross-cultural experiences they can share with their students: giving a firsthand account of their travels, showing pictures, or bringing in souvenirs can spark student interest in learning more about other cultures.

Essential Multicultural Classroom!

Click the picture below to shop all essential multicultural resources.

Windows and Mirrors

Teacher’s Discovery is launching a blog! One of our regular ELA posts will be Get Lit with Liz, written by one of our ELA product developers who is a former teacher. In each post, Liz will talk about a YA novel that deserves a place on your classroom library shelves and provide you with questions to ask your students who are reading it. Here is a preview of her first entry, for I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez:

In a diversity training one school year, I had a professional development trainer say that there are teachers who are “mirrors” and teachers who are “windows.” The mirror teachers are ones that reflect their student’s race, ethnicity, or culture. The window teachers are the ones that offer a look at a race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or culture different to their student’s. As a white woman in urban school districts, I was a window teacher to the vast majority of my students—occasionally I was a mirror, but even then I was a mirror of race and ethnicity only. My experience growing up in an upper middle class suburb was not reflected in any of my students.

This training has stuck with me, and served as a quick gauge of my privilege as a white woman (I know that “privilege” is such a hot button word—one that I think has become politicized and makes people feel guilty instead of developing awareness). I have started assessing the books, TV, and movies I consume to determine which category—window or mirror—they fit. From Julia’s experience as a first generation Mexican American to her struggles with depression, I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is, for me, a window. But what makes this book an important addition to your classroom library is that I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a mirror for so many students who aren’t often represented in literature…

Start Off the NEW Semester with a Customizable, All-Inclusive Planner!

My ELA Planner keeps you organized and well-prepared every day of the school year. There is an entire school year’s worth of customizable calendar and lesson-planning space!

  • 50 weeks of lesson planning for the 10-month school year
  • Space for your schedule, class events, goals, end-of-year reflections, and next year’s vision
  • Open calendar-year format, for any year
  • Professional development plan
  • Emergency lesson plan sheet
  • Substitute teacher lesson plan, quick referral sheets, and notes
  • Parent communication log to keep track of parent/teacher dialogue
  • Copy of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts Grades 6–12
  • 64 motivating author quotes

Writers and Curators of the Teacher’s Discovery ELA Digest:

Heather Bauer, former building principal, reading specialist, and classroom teacher

Sarah Smith, former world language and ESL teacher

Elizabeth M. Zupan, curriculum writer and former ELA teacher