This blog series features the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellows, a cohort of public school educators who participated in a year-long supported learning experience to build global competency skills. The fellowship included international field study and resulted in a set of global learning unit/lesson plans and curriculum that are available to all educators online. This Q&A features Christopher Stone, a Class of 2014 Global Learning Fellow, Connecticut Education Association member, and educator at Pond Hill School in Wallingford, CT.
Many educators agree that for our students global competency is just as important as achieving proficiency in core academic subjects. However, the challenge is how we, as a country of educators, look beyond our school communities and mandatory curriculum to infuse global competency into our daily lessons. Having little previous experience in the area of global competencies, I was excited to begin this journey with my students and learn alongside them. In doing so, I gave myself permission to be a learner and not the keeper of the knowledge.
Tell us about your NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship lesson plan. How did you come up with it?
My lesson plan, “National Landmarks Study: United States and China,” was a result of reflection, discussion with colleagues, and application of my new knowledge. While developing this learning experience, I wanted to make this unit a meaningful, student-driven investigation that allowed students to connect with my firsthand account of China.
My curriculum focus was to take an existing performance task from our school district’s English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum and extend it beyond our national borders into a cross-cultural investigation that implemented effective instructional strategies, such as comparing and contrasting. One important aspect of this unit was making it interactive, current, and utilizing non-fiction literature. In doing so, my students conducted research online, created a slideshow using Google Drive, and presented their new learning on our classroom’s Promethean ActivBoard.
Video: Christopher Stone on how educators nationwide can utilize his lesson plan.
Can your curriculum be adapted by other educators?
Knowing that all teachers appreciate ready to use instructional materials, this unit was written in a way that can be applied to any classroom and adapt to meet any students’ needs, by using resources that are available online.
What did you think of the trip to China?
This trip was more than a trip; it was the most meaningful professional development experience I have participated in during my teaching career. Having participated in this year-long professional learning opportunity provided immersion in a topic that was quite literally foreign to me— a chance to regularly communicate with committed colleagues from around the country and learn alongside a talented group of educators in China. I gained a better sense of how diverse countries like China and the United States are similar in many fundamental economic and sociological ways. It was an unforgettable experience that will have a lasting impression on how I view the world and how I share the world with my students on a daily basis.
What is the impact on your students?
Although I can’t bring my students to China, teachers like us can make subtle shifts in our instruction, apply new learning, and bring about awareness of our connectedness to countries across the globe. I challenge all educators to find small ways to integrate global competency into curriculum.
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