Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

Archive for the tag “TGC”

Massachusetts Pride

Hello students,

As I mentioned in class, whenever you see this little picture of Loki, you will know that this is a post especially for you.  You are welcome to read any of the other ones too, of course, but these ones are written with you in mind.

Today, I need your advice.  I want to bring some gifts for students in Ukraine that show off the best aspects of our beautiful state, Massachusetts.  As you can imagine, it can’t be too big, messy, or heavy.  A lobster wouldn’t fit in my suitcase! What objects would show people in other countries what is special about where we live?  If you have any ideas, please suggest them in the comments section below.  If you have anything at home that you’d like to donate, such as Massachusetts postcards, please bring them to our classroom. Also, while you are here, take this little poll:

Thank you in advance for your help!

I don't think there's room in my suitcase for the Old North Bridge or all those autumn leaves! However, doesn't this photo show some of the best aspects of our state?

Ideas Worth Spreading

Our world is a complicated place, and so sometimes we need to work together to make sense of it. Today, I went to my first TED Talk event: TedxSomervilleFor those of you who haven’t heard of Ted Talks, look them up. Basically, the idea is to have people from all walks of life give talks about ways to make the world better.  Their tagline is “Ideas Worth Spreading,” and TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design.”  It’s so much more than just those words. TED is about identifying people who are true innovators, and having them share their ideas and inspire others to go out and innovate in their own way. I watch TED Talks online when I come across a topic that interests me.  During my course on global education, I was blown away by the educators who have used these talks to offer different view points on how to teach.

Today was my first time seeing TED Talks live, and I was impressed.  There are a lot of people out there who are thinking globally and acting locally.  Even though the event focused on the city of Somerville, many speakers showed the power of global connection.  What happens elsewhere has an impact on us, and what we do affects others far away.  Some examples:

  • Ross Lohr spoke about what happens to the millions of cast-away American t-shirts that get dumped in Africa, and how we can make sure that our “goodwill” helps people rather than ruining their local economy.
  • Ruth Allen talked about how we can learn from governments that truly listen to their citizens, even in countries that are experiencing major crises.
  • Seth Itzkan’s talk focused on how bringing back livestock helps the soil improve and thus more green things grow, ultimately helping the planet combat global warming.
  • Lenni Armstrong argued that cities need to “de-pave” land to prevent flooding and keep our rives clean.
  • Marcus Santos showed us through music how Brazilian drumming can inspire high school students across the nation to invest in art and their own schooling.

I have to admit that it was a long day; I spent most of my Sunday sitting in a chair listening.  There were a few breaks to get up and talk about what we were hearing, but not enough.  Many participants were tweeting online throughout the event, which was odd — it seemed to both build community and take away from being present in community.  The stream of dialogue was exhilarating to read, but seeing a bunch of adults sitting in a room together staring at miniature screens was not so inspiring.  Even though it was sometimes hard to be an active listener, I am grateful for this opportunity to learn, to listen, and to figure out how to turn these lessons into action. I encourage others to learn from the rich catalog of TED Talks online.

If you are a student, check out this inspiring TED Talk by a 12 year old girl who says kids have a lot to teach adults:

If you are a teacher, check out this amazing TED Talk about the changing needs of education:

There’s a power in words, but there’s also a power in art, and sometimes the most influential people don’t need to say anything.  This isn’t a TED talk, but check out this amazing Ukranian artist whose work I saw online and found truly moving:

I’m going to Запорі́жжя!

Details are starting to fall into place, and I’ve now connected to teachers in both Ukraine and Turkey whose schools I will visit.  I couldn’t be more excited for my trip!

Our group will get oriented in Kiev, but then we’ll head out to various places around the country to visit schools in local communities.  I am thrilled to have met, via email, my Ukranian teacher host, Lydia! She is a teacher at Zaporizhzhya Classical Lyceum, which is in the city of Запорі́жжя (Zaporizhzhya).  I don’t know too much about this city, but I read online that it is the 6th largest city in Ukraine, and it is in the southeast part of the country, on the banks of the Dnieper River.  These are some photos I found on wikipedia.  I’ll be traveling there with Carol, another American teacher in the Teachers for Global Classrooms program.  Like me, Carol teaches middle school Social Studies, but she lives in West Virginia.  Carol and I are busy doing as much research as we can, learning about what we’ll see in Ukraine. I’m even studying the Cyrillic alphabet, which makes me feel like a little kid learning to read all over again!

Lydia sent us an itinerary for our time with her, and it is clear that we are going to have a spectacular visit.  We’ll learn and see so much during our time in Zaporizhzhya.  Everything on the schedule looks exciting, but here are some of the activities that I found most intriguing:

  • Observing classes taught by Lydia and her colleagues, and getting a chance to co-teach with them
  • Participating in a round table discussion with 11th grade students on American cultural diversity
  • Eating traditional foods at local restaurants and and in a local home
  • Having at a picnic on the Khortitsa Island and visiting local botanical gardens
  • Visiting a town orphan house
  • Participating in teacher discussion groups on student discipline and parent involvement
  • Seeing tourist sites around town, from museums and art exhibitions to theatrical performances
  • Attending a conference with 100 principals from some of the best schools all over Ukraine

    A photo that Lydia sent me of her and her fellow English teachers

Now that I have a better idea of what I’ll be doing during my trip, it’s starting to feel really “real.” I can’t wait!  I’m lucky to also have an extra week to visit Turkey. Since this part of my travels is not an official part of the Teachers for Global Classrooms program, I am arranging that visit on my own. I have emailed with a teacher in Istanbul who is excited to meet me and wants to help find Turkish students to be penpals with my students.  She is a young teacher who has studied with IREX in the United States and I also look forward to learning about Turkish education.

I feel so lucky to be embarking on this journey very soon.  I fly out of Boston on April 14th, so departure day approaches!

Loki Visits D.C.

I’d like to introduce you to Loki, a little birdie friend who will be traveling with me to Ukraine and Turkey.  Loki will be my co-star for this blog, and hopefully she will bring to life some of the different places that we visit.  She and I just got back from Washington, D.C.  and here are some photos of our adventures:

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Who is Loki?

Loki helps students in my classes learn about world geography.  Every day, we start class by imagining that Loki is traveling to a different location around the world, and students answer a “question of the day” about Loki’s location.  As you can see, Loki is a little bird, so it will be easy for her to fly around the world with me!  Also, since I have a pet bird at home (a cockatiel) and our school mascot is a bird (a red-tailed hawk), she’ll be perfect company.  Here’s a trivia question for blog readers, similar to the ones we do in our classroom. If you think you know the answer, you can submit it in the comments section at the bottom of the post.

In the past week, Loki visited many sites in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  Which of the following is NOT pictured in a photo of Loki?

  • a) The Capital Building
  • b) Gettysburg Battlefields
  • c) The White House
  • d) The Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress
  • e) The National Archives

1st Ever Symposium in D.C.

Greetings from Washington D.C.!  The Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) program welcomed all 68 fellows here this past weekend. After months of working collaboratively through an online forum, we finally met in person!  They also invited an administrator from each school, and so my principal, Melissa Kapeckas, joined me at the symposium. Together, we are trying to figure out how to bring this work home to Massachusetts.

It was really exciting to meet everyone, in particular the team of teachers who will be traveling with me to Ukraine.  Our meeting was purposeful. We came together to discuss global education.  We all have different ideas for what that means, but we are all eager to share ideas. We come from many different types of schools in many states.  In the whole program, we represent 32 states, but just in our group, we have teachers from Texas, Idaho, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, West Virginia, Ohio, Rhoda Island, and Massachusetts.  One teacher was telling me that his school has a one-to-one policy with every student getting assigned their own iPad to use for the year.  Another teacher told me that 100% of her students qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and 80% learned English after another language.  Our schools have different strengths and challenges, but we are all part of this program because we want to see our schools grow.  We want to increase global understanding for our students.

One of the activities that we worked on together was writing essential questions for the trip.  I realized that despite the fact that I have traveled abroad many types, I’m usually not purposeful about what I want to learn out of the experience. When I travel, I usually go in with an open mind ready to learn from whatever I experience. While this can be a good model, I think I could get more out of my travel if I am more strategic about what I am trying to learn.  I am still working on drafting my research questions, but I am thinking about focusing on civic education.  I’m interested in learning how schools play a role in helping students feel empowered to make change in their communities.

At the end of the session, we met with Viktoria, a Ukrainian teacher studying in the United States.  She gave us an overview of the education system in Ukraine, and it was a wonderful introduction to what we’ll see when we arrive.  One thing I found particularly interesting was that most Ukranian teachers stay with their students for many years. For instance, she is an advisor to 30 students who she is seeing through middle school, from 5th through 8th grade.  I also learned that the Ukrainian flag’s colors come from sunflowers and sky, as the land is rich for growing crops.

I am staying in Washington D.C. for most of my vacation week, and I look forward to having time to explore our nation’s capital and relax.  This evening, I had Ethiopian food for dinner and worked on a world map jigsaw puzzle with a friend (see below — we’re not done yet!).  There’s a lot of preparations still needed for this trip, but the pieces are starting to fit together.

p.s. A little birdie friend named Loki has also arrived safely in Washington D.C. and will make an appearance on this blog soon enough…

Ukraine… and Turkey!

I found out in December that Teachers for Global Classrooms is sending me to Ukraine in April.  I am also able to take an extra week and visit Istanbul, Turkey. I am thrilled!  This week, my ticket got booked. It’s official!  I will be visiting schools, learning about new cultures, and reporting back for friends, family, and students to learn through my experiences.

Here’s where I’ll be going in April and May.  First, I’ll be in Ukraine for two weeks, and then I’ll spend a week in Turkey.

Want to learn about other places I’ve traveled?  Click here!

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