Teaching Global Competency


Does your school focus on making sure students are ready for a global society? What skills, attitudes, and knowledge is taught? What is missing? Will your students have the skills necessary to be successful and active participants in college and beyond?

In our area of the country, global competency and global education are becoming a hot topic (as they should be). Districts and schools are having conversations about what it means to be a globally competent student and which skills, attitudes, and knowledge students need to be success in today’s global economy.

The California Department of Education just wrapped up its second day of a global education summit, looking for feedback, inspiration, and clarity on what educators think California should focus on in terms of global education.

Should schools focus on foreign language instruction, teaching about other countries and other people, or environmental projects that touch all of us? There are some fabulous resources out there for teaching global education and global competency for both students and teachers some of which were shared at the CA Global Education Summit.

National Geographic has started a Nat Geo Educator Certification program to support educators developing students in the skills, attitudes, and knowledge deemed necessary for students to be globally competent.. Though the program is currently in beta, the educator community has a lot of resources on teaching students about the world. Check it out at http://education.nationalgeographic.org/geo-educator-community/.

The Partnership for 21st Century Learning has a wealth of resources including a framework for state action on global education and a Teacher Guide to K-12 Global Education Grade Level Indicators. Colleagues at my school have found these particularly useful since the Teacher Guide is broken down into grade level spans and has concrete indicators of the skills and knowledge students might demonstrate as globally competent individuals.

The Asia Society also has delineated what a global competent student might look like and identified resources to prepare students. They also have how to guides as well as a network of schools (International Studies School Network) focused on closing the achievement gap and addressing the opportunity gap between what is being taught in schools and what a student needs to be a successful and productive member of our global society.

Teaching environmental science or bringing elements of environmental science into your classroom or existing content is a great way to help students see the interconnectedness of the environment, our communities, and the world (a skill necessary to be globally competent and climate literate). One way to connected to others in real world through citizen science projects and activities. Check out SciStarter for numerous projects you can do with your students around a variety of topics. Students can count birds for or take pictures of ladybugs they find in the Spot the Ladybug project or help track air pollution in the AirVisual: The Air Pollution Monitoring Project.

One focus of the CA Global Ed Summit (Day 2) was thinking about global education in terms of career and CTE (career and technical education) and the skills needed to be successful in life. Global education can be content knowledge (such as learning a foreign language or participating as a citizen scientist) but teachers can also focus on helping students develop specific skills and attitudes necessary to be global competent and ready for college, career, and beyond.

A specific skill and attitude students need to have to be globally competent is the ability to see others’ points of view. Developing empathy and an understanding of others can be developed by traveling but also can be developed through a variety in classroom activities. Picture books and novels are great starting places for students to put themselves in others’ shoes and to refine their understanding of others’ points of view. When students immerse themselves in a story, especially a story with a character who is different from them, they need to learn how to think like the character in order to understanding the characters’ thoughts and motivations.

Another way to help students learn how to think about others is to create opportunities to use the design thinking process to solve real world problems. The beauty of design thinking is that it is a human-centered process that asks students to step outside themselves and to design solutions for someone else. It provides opportunities for explicit empathy gathering since the students are asked to really understand the point of view and needs of the person they are designing for. Students are asked again and again to think about and understand others, a skill necessary to be successful in our global society.

To be part of the conversation on global education and how schools focusing on (or not focusing on) developing the skills, attitudes, and knowledge necessary for students to become globally competent, follow #globaled or join #globaledchat on Thursdays 8pm EST/ 5pm PST.

To learn more about what was discussed at the CA Global Education Summit, check out my Storify: https://storify.com/jesslura/ca-global-education-summit and/or join the CA Global Education Network at http://www.mydigitalchalkboard.org/go/groups/globaled.

Farmers' Market

Hanging out with students from our sister school in China

About Jessica Lura

I am the director of teaching and learning at public K-8 charter school in Northern California. I work to integrate technology and hands-on learning into the classroom. I develop and lead professional development for my school, helping teachers develop project-based learning and design thinking units, integrate technology and digital citizenship in the classroom, and create opportunities for real world interactions and projects. For my efforts, I was named Santa Clara County's Office of Education Charter School Teacher of Year for 2013 and a 2014 Comcast All-Star Teacher. I am also a Google Certified Innovator
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