Teaching Global Competencies

Globalizing your curriculum is easier than you might imagine. Remember:

  1. You’re probably already teaching some global content and skills.
  2. There are many assessment tools to help you figure out what you might be missing.
  3. You don’t need to change everything at once. Focus on adding one new idea at a time.
  4. Have fun and experiment!

Here are some strategies that I’ve found useful. For each, click to see an example of a project that I taught in my 5th and 6th grade social studies classes.


Strategy #1: Twist to Find Global ContentDemocracy in Action Project ~ Even teaching American civics, I was able to find global themes that students could explore while collaboratively planning action plans on Edmodo, our online discussion board.

Want to see more? This blog post geeks out on the Democracy in Action rubric, and this one shows a lot of global ideas that came up discussing the U.S. presidential election.


Strategy #2: Focus on Global SkillsMoney Matters Board Game Project ~ If the content isn’t globally focused, students can still build skills that will better prepare them for the global world of the future. For instance, while working on designing original board games, students developed creative problem solving skills.

Want to see more? Students love learning communication skills while discussing topics on Edmodo, or learning about how the “cloud” has changed their lives.

Screen Shot 2012-09-21 at 5.15.01 PM

Strategy #3: Global Attitudes / Values (It’s not what you teach, but how you teach it)Word Summit Project ~ It’s important that students understand WHY they are doing a particular project. In this assignment they understood that their speeches could influence the class decision about where their money would be donated.

Want to see more? I take this theory far — even in my Back to School Night presentation!

Strategy #4: Give Students a Real AudienceSacred to Me, Sacred to You Projects~ Students were motivated to produce high quality museum exhibits when they learned that their assignments would be viewed by parents and community members, as well as their international penpals who could view online.

Want to see more? Students don’t need to go on a field trip to have real world interactions, but those experiences are still fabulous, as shown in this blog post about Minuteman National Park.

Strategy #5: Offer Real ChoicesService Teams ~ Students love to choose their own topics of study, and when they chose their own service teams, their work reflected their higher level of investment.

Want to see more? Also check out this blog post about Service Teams and another about Global Giving Projects.

Strategy #6: Build Real RelationshipsPenpal Letter Rubric ~ Students loved writing to real students in other countries, taking great care to communicate clearly.

Want to see more? Also look at this blog post about how we connected to real students in Botswana, and this blog post discusses some of the relationships we’ve forged with teachers around the world. Or hear what it’s like for the students to see their teacher travel in Ukraine and Turkey.

Strategy #7: Take Real ActionGlobal Citizenship Projects ~ Students are hungry to engage in the real world and do something meaningful. At the end of the quarter, they worked as a class to design their own global change initiative.

Want to see more? I’ve written many blog posts about their projects, from raising Autism Awareness to stopping deforestation.

Strategy #8: Make Space for Real Creativity; Slave and Colonist Poem and Music ~ Students love using their creativity, and in this piece they wrote poems and composed music on GarageBand representing the experiences of a fictional slave or colonial character.

Want to see more? Creativity abounds when students have chances to go above and beyond creating video scrapbooks about the American Revolution. They even create amazing things when asked to show memory tricks on a homework assignment.

These are examples of lessons that I’ve “globalized” and taught at Innovation Academy. What have you done to globalize your lessons?  Please send ideas, questions, or feedback to me at skrakauer@innovationcharter.org or fill out the form below to share your global lessons!

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