Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

Archive for the category “Global Citizenship”

Peace is the key

Crane.pngLast week, I asked my advisory if they wanted to participate in a global project — a school in Japan is trying to get students in every country around the world to make paper cranes. Tomorrow, photos of students and their cranes will be presented at a big celebration to recognize ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) for winning the Nobel Peace Price. The project aims to “express our sympathy for victims of nuclear weapons and to consider peace while folding the paper cranes with a prayer for world peace.” While the celebration is happening this week, schools are invited to participate in the project beyond this single event, and photos will be posted on the Paper Crane Project webpage. When you look at this site, the list of countries represented is growing every day! My students eagerly signed on, but then discovered that this origami challenge wasn’t so easy. After a bunch of practice, we did it, and here’s our contribution:

PeaceIsTheKey.jpg

The students in my advisory came up with this slogan, “Peace is the key” on their own, and I love it. In a lot of ways, it’s been a real theme of this year, even though I didn’t know it. In Social Studies, students have had lots of opportunities to bridge differences and get to know other cultures, and I certainly believe that this is a key to peace.

This fall, IACS students got to talk to Native Americans living in Massachusetts on our field trip to Plimoth Plantation:

They have also chatted with students in Morocco, over video chat:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And most recently, each 6th grader conducted a one-on-one interview of someone in their community, learning about a culture that wasn’t their own. Students were creative about finding a “cultural connection” — from their barber or a local restaurant owner to a neighbor or relative living abroad. Listening to students share about their interviews, it was clear that the conversations were meaningful.

These moments are powerful — an act of folding paper done by young people thousands of miles away from each other, an internet that allows people on opposite sides of the world to chat, or even a simple conversation between two human beings who live in the same city. I don’t know if these acts will be enough to abolish nuclear weapons, but if there’s any road to peace, it starts with getting to know people who aren’t like us. And that’s the work ahead of us. Teamwork Float

Up next week? We begin our visits to 5 houses of worship, all within a 15 minute drive from our school. Over the past 15 years, I’ve taken hundreds of students on this field trip, and still, I can’t wait.

A Challenge to Teachers: #NoHateClassroom

I am proud to be an American, but embarrassed and scared by recent acts of hate in our country. When our leaders don’t condemn hate groups like those at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, it is up to us to do so.

Somerville Vigil

Somerville Vigil in Solidarity with Charlottesville

As a teacher, I commit to post a statement in my classroom so that students see it when they arrive on the first day of school. Here’s what I’ve got so far (feedback welcome):

You are entering a space where hate will not be tolerated. You will be treated with respect here. It doesn’t matter what race, ethnicity , or religion you claim, or what languages you speak at home. It doesn’t matter what your gender or sexual orientation is. It doesn’t matter whether you have disabilities, or struggles with money, or any other challenges. Here, we will fight for all people to be safe, appreciated, and treated with kindness. You are welcome here. 

I challenge other teachers to write their own statements, or use this one, and post it in your classroom. I challenge administrators to send a statement like this to the school community. If you feel comfortable, share your statement in the comments of this blog entry, and share this challenge with other educators using the hashtag #NoHateClassroom. When I post mine on my classroom door, I’ll share a photo too.

Let’s start this school year out right.Empty Classroom

“We are the leaders we’ve been looking for.” ~Grace Lee Boggs

N.B. If you came to this blog to learn more about global education and our amazing planet, you’re in the right place! Stay tuned for more on Tofu-San’s summer adventures, coming soon.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The Big Update: Off and running in 2017

This blog has been quiet for a few months, but things are about to get interesting. It’s summer!

To be honest, this spring HAS been eventful. I guess it’s been so action-packed, that I haven’t had a chance to write about it all. This was the year of the fidget spinner, dabbing, and water bottle flipping. I even figured out how to make a fidget spinner out of balloons.

At school, students have been creating some fantastic projects. At the very end of the year, they even took action on real issues in the United States. Call #1.pngSome students wrote letters to their representatives asking for more funding for services to help people experiencing homelessness, while others made phone calls arguing against funding Trump’s border wall. Call #2.pngWe had students calling the Department of Homeland Security, giving their input on train safety in America, and others calling the Department of the Interior, letting Secretary Zinke know that they want National Monuments protected. One group even made a petition that you can sign, which is now public on Change.org.  Check out their video, and if you like what you see, sign their petition to Governor Baker.

I was busy teaching this spring, but I still snuck in some travel. Though I didn’t get a chance to go international, I did “visit” many different countries at Epcot, in Florida’s Walt Disney World. Epcot’s global village allows visitors to experience a taste of many different countries, all within a short walk. Having been to most of these countries for real, Epcot’s versions seemed a little bit superficial, but it was still a blast to country-hop around. I’d definitely recommend the global village at Epcot, but if you ever have the chance to actually go to a different country, that’s even better.

Many of you have met Tofu-San, my plush friend who was introduced to me by a Japanese friend, Omi-Sensei. She started sending Tofu-San around the world many years ago, and she shared the tradition with me. In April, I brought Tofu-San camping in Utah, and he had a blast. Here he is at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks:

“Where will Tofu-San go next?” you might be wondering… Well, thanks to Omi-Sensei, Tofu-San has a few friends who are already traveling. One of my students, Nico, has a miniature Tofu-San in Mexico, and will be reporting more on his adventures soon. Here it is in Isla Mujeres soaking up the sun:TofuSanMexico.png

In other exciting news, an adorable friend of Tofu-San’s, disguised as a sheep but undeniably cute, is currently on a journey with Mrs. Angelone, our other Social Studies teacher extraordinaire! They are in Bali, Indonesia right now (where I took Tofu-San two years ago), but here’s a sneak peek of their adventures in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where they were last week:

What other adventures are in store for Tofu-San? Everyone has been asking me about where I’m going this summer, and yes, I’m headed out of the country… at the end of this week! Tofu-San will join me in the Alps, checking out the mountains of Switzerland, as well as a taste of Northern Italy. I’ll also try to give him a peek out of my backpack while on some interesting layovers — there will be a day to adventure in Lisbon, Portugal on the way over to Europe, and two days in Reykjavik, Iceland on the way home (where I visited in 2014 and am psyched to see again). After I come home from that trip, I’ll rest a little before exploring the other side of our country — Seattle, Portland, and a few other highlights of the Pacific Northwest.

Summer 2017 Map.png

As you can see, many more global experiences await. Check back soon to read about my journeys, Mrs. Angelone’s whirlwind tour, or the adventures of Tofu-San and his friends. If you are a member of the Innovation Academy community, and you have a global experience, whether far away or close to home, please consider writing your own blog entry. Details are here, but basically, you’ll just email me your text and photos. If you are local to Massachusetts, I bet you can hear some world music or try a new kind of food at the Lowell Folk Festival, which is totally free. There are so many ways to experience another culture. Where will YOU have some global experiences this summer?

What part of Europe will I set out for TOMORROW?

I leave for a trip tomorrow! Here’s where I’m going… drumroll please…

What part of Europe?

In case you can’t see on the map, that’s Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. I’ve never been to any of these places! Maybe we’ll even hike into Austria, since we’ll be right by the border. Here’s a close up of the area, for those of you who aren’t geography nerds like me:

Adriatic

I’m not sure what to call this region, because I’d imagine most people would look confused if I said “Southeast Europe,” and it’s not really all that south or east compared to a country like Greece. Perhaps these regions are defined by being around the Adriatic Sea? However, Slovenia, where I’ll be spending a good chunk of the trip, is a country with very little coastline. In fact, much of the time I’m there, I’ll be up in a corner of the Alps.

Mountains

This is an area that is also defined by its history. It was once part of the vast Roman Empire, and much more recently, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia/Herzegovina were part of a country called Yugoslavia.

_41664926_former_yugo_416fix

I’ll be on the northwest edge of an area that has seen a lot of violence and change in the not-so-distant past.

Former Yugoslavia

Why did I choose this part of the world? Basically, some friends recommended it, and I got really interested as I started doing more and more research. I’m not doing any kind of exciting fellowship like I did in Japan and Ukraine. I’m going to have an adventure and expose myself to some new people, places, and perspectives. Hopefully, I’ll have a bunch of fun too!

It’s a strange time to be traveling. The U.S. state department has issued a travel alert for the entire continent of Europe, and our own country doesn’t always feel like a safe place to be either. I’m torn between wanting to find ways to fight against the injustices of the world, and wanting to escape them. Hopefully, I can do a little bit of both on this trip — and I’ll return home with some new insight on how people can get along just a little bit better. If there are moments when I feel anxious, I’ll just remember that even though I’ve never seen this corner of the world, many people call these places “home.” And so… Tofu San and I are off to finish packing!

Boston Sunset

Boston you’re my home.

Students Working for Change

FireworksSummer is upon us, and America’s Independence Day is approaching very quickly! My city already had some early fireworks, pictured here.

As an American, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what’s happening locally, but I try to teach my students to:

  1. Be curious about other people and places
  2. Care about what’s going on elsewhere
  3. Feel empowered to take action and work for the world they believe in

During the last few months of school, I worked with several different groups of students on action projects, all focused on issues that the students chose. Each class had a different focus, but they were all based on current events research.

Action 1: Fighting Chinese Air Pollution, by the Leach and Maier Advisories

A student in this class read an article about this issue on a great website called Newsela, which publishes news content at multiple different reading levels. The rest of the class agreed that breathing clean air is a human right, so they decided to target companies that use coal in China:

Action 2: Ending Assumptions about Homelessness, by the Krakauer Advisory (with help from the Destramp Advisory)

Each advisory at our school takes part in some community service. My advisory decided to focus on homelessness. They were able to Skype with an expert from a national organization called Community Solutions (a former student of mine from way back). My current students learned that the first step towards change is for people to understand that homelessness is not a permanent label, but a situation that people can get out of, if they have the right support. They decided to make posters to hang around the school to teach their peers about what they learned:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Action 3: Individual Campaigns by the LaRoche and Bresnahan Advisories 

My last class did fabulous research, but then we ran out of time for the collaboration piece, due to a power outage and some schedule changes. Instead of doing one big project, students teamed up in small groups to design their own actions.  They each chose an audience to appeal to, whether their peers or a person in power, like President Obama. Even with the time crunch, their results ended up quite persuasive:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m proud of the work my students created, and I hope they inspire you to take action on whatever issues matter most to you. Former President John F. Kennedy said,

I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.

On this Independence Day, let us work to live out his dream and fight for a better future for people across the globe. If these students can do it, so can you!

Note: Want to see more? Last quarter’s classes also had some powerful things to say. Check it out here!

Our School’s Musical Inventors

Homemade %22Guitar%22This blog is about global education, but don’t think that this kind of learning only happens in Social Studies class! To be prepared to grow up to be adults who tackle global issues, students at Innovation Academy learn to think creatively and come up with new solutions to problems. They do this in many classes — even in music class!

We’ve only been offering a music class at our school for a handful of years, but our middle school music teacher, Jess Destramp, has developed an amazing program. After listening to seventh graders recording music videos to “Livin’ on a Prayer,” in every corner of the building, I had to stop in today to see my 5th and 6th grade students’ sharing their final projects.

Ms. Destramp explained that these students  just finished a unit where they learned about the science of sound, and how different types of instruments work to produce and amplify their sounds. For the final project, she asked students to invent and build their own instrument.Instrument Fun

The requirements were that 1) it couldn’t be a homemade version of an instrument that already exists, and 2) it had to make some kind of sound! Students also completed a worksheet that asked questions about how to classify their instrument, what vibrates to make sound, how to change the pitch and dynamics while playing, and what kind of music they thought their instrument could work well with. Some students got really creative and ambitious with what they constructed!Instruments

I was blown away by their creativity. You have to see it in action to believe it!

 

 

What will they innovate next?

To go where the tourists go? Cliffs of Moher or Loop Head?

These photos of me were taken in Ireland, on the same day, in two different places. The photo on the left was taken at one of the most touristy places in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher. The photo on the right was taken at a place called Loop Head, which was pretty empty when I was there. Why?

Panorama.png

Basically, from what I can tell, the Cliffs of Moher were discovered by foreigners earlier, and they’ve become famous. They really are as beautiful as people say they are. My little friends Loki and Tofu San agreed.

Unfortunately, the Cliffs of Moher has been very built up, so there are lots of walls, stairs, and even stores. I’m sure people in wheelchairs appreciate the ramps, but it sort of takes away from the natural beauty.

The designers clearly tried to make it seem “natural…”

Shops

The cliffs stretch for 5 miles, so once you walk past the warning signs, the views are pretty remarkable.

Warning

And there’s no guard rail!Path

Path 2

I was glad to see the Cliffs of Moher, but in many ways, I preferred Loop Head, which looks very similar, but there aren’t mobs of tour buses stopping there every day. This undiscovered gem is a truly stunning place. And no guard rails anywhere! See for yourself:

I know the guard rails are there to keep people safe, and I do appreciate that. In fact, there was a whole campaign at the Cliffs of Moher to keep people from committing suicide by jumping off the cliffs! There were a lot of signs for hotlines to call if you need help, and even a meditation space to sit next to a peaceful fountain.

My verdict? I think it’s worth going to places that tourists have discovered, but I also think it’s important to go to places that are a little off the beaten track. For my next trip, I decided to plan for a mix! I’ll be taking a 3 week trip this July with my friend Erica. Some of the places we’ll be visiting are extremely well known around the world. Others you might never have heard of. File_000 (3)

Do you recognize any of the cities pictured above? We’ll be visiting all of these places, and more! I’m pretty sure that the number of tourists in each location will not determine how much we like our experience there. But I’ll keep you posted…

For now, see if you can use these clues to figure out our itinerary!

Global Citizenship: As Simple as Learning, Caring, and Acting

PeaceI always know a quarter has been successful when students are able to apply what they have learned to a real life situation. That’s what the Global Citizenship Project is all about.

Today was the last day of Social Studies for this group of students, and we closed out by taking some action! Each class chose a different topic, and in a very short time frame, they wrote and produced a video that they hope will influence adults around the world to think differently.  Please watch, and share with others who might need to hear these messages!

Global Citizenship Project for the “Turtle Duck” Class: Responding to the recent bombing in Brussels

Global Citizenship Project for the “Cool Kid” Class: Responding to a report on Arctic temperatures being higher than ever

Pretty impressive work, right? In case you are curious how we did this project, here’s a taste of our  action-packed week.

First, we watched a film about Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This film helped students understand what it means to be an extraordinary global citizen.

OuttakesIn order for each class to decide on their issue, students researched current events. They each chose a news article (from student-friendly sites like NewselaDogo News, and Time for Kids) and posted about their findings on GoogleClassroom, a forum where they could further exchange ideas and comment on each other’s articles. 

Then, we moved into the discussion phase, where we went through several rounds of talking and voting to narrow in on the preferred topic and method of change.Mess Ups

After that, the class needed to brainstorm action steps, and make it happen. Since we were time crunched, I helped with facilitation and video editing, but the students hashed out all of the other details collaboratively. There were plenty of outtakes, but all in all, students took the process seriously and supported each other as they each contributed in different ways.

I am proud of their global citizenship and dedication. May it be a first of many experiences for these young people to get to take action on a global issue.

Art Exchange Success: Ukrainian American Connections

Today, I was so excited to pass out artwork that we received from our Ukrainian friends at the Zaporizhya Classical Lyceum. It turns out that mail between Ukraine and the United States is expensive and takes a long time. However, it was worth it! We are making some amazing connections between these two countries, one friendship at a time.

My friend Lydia and her students received our art last month, each accompanied by a photograph and write up. Our students illustrated various aspects that they identified of their personal culture.

In return, we got stunning artwork from these talented Ukrainian students.

Each piece of art was accompanied by notes and photos, which were equally poignant for our students to read.

Many of the Ukrainian students expressed a real sense of pride in their country.

And many students just drew their hobbies, favorite cartoons or video games, pets, and other interests — not so different from any of our students.

All in all, the experience of exchanging art like this couldn’t be more powerful. We did a similar exchange two years ago, but this year we matched individual students with a particular partner, so that they can get to know each other. Each student received the art made by the student who got their art, and we are hoping students exchange emails after this introduction. My students are a little shy, but a few students wanted to say their “thank yous” right away:

What’s next? Our afternoon classes are waiting for our partners in Bangladesh to finish up their art, and I’ll be seeking out more international partners for our next quarter’s classes. It’s never boring in Social Studies class!

Note: This project could not have happened without all the of the talented educators who helped make this exchange possible. Thanks to my partner teacher Katy Angelone, and my teacher friends in Ukraine: Lydia, Julia, and Lyudmila. I got to travel to the Zaporizhya Classical Lyceum as part of the Teachers for Global Classrooms program, back in 2012. You can read more about my time there by checking out my videos and blog entries posted here

Visiting 6 Houses of Worship in 1 Week

It’s been a busy week! On Tuesday, our 5th and 6th grade students visited a Hindu temple and an Islamic Mosque. Then on Thursday, we visited four more houses of worship.

At our first stop, an Orthodox Church, the priest explained how different kinds of churches have slightly different beliefs:

At our next stop, the Jewish temple, our host focused more on similarities between all branches of Judaism:

Tofu-San got to see his first Torah, the Jewish bible.Tofu San and the Torah

We had lunch at a non-denominational church, and then headed over to the Buddhist temple. That’s where students got a chance to try out meditation! They even got to try out some of the instruments used to keep the mind focused:

Tofu-San very much enjoyed meditating. Meditating

As you can see, there was a lot of learning packed into one day, and each place was truly unique.

I think the best way to sum up the experience is with this movie trailer, made by one of our 5th grade students. She finished making this video while still on the field trip! There wasn’t exactly as much action as the music indicates below, but the energy level of the students was definitely like this!

If you couldn’t be on this field trip, I hope this blog post (along with Tuesday’s post) will give you a taste of what it was like.

Post Navigation