November 18, 2011
Global Education Conference 2011
This week, I presented Gaining Global Perspective in an Elementary Classroom at the Global Education Conference. An interdisciplinary project on which I collaborated while working as the Director of Academic Technology at St. Michael's Country Day School served as a great case study for how to incorporate global studies, themes, and cultures into an elementary curriculum. The 4th grade teachers devoted most of their year to the study of Africa, allowing it to run as a theme through every academic area including the arts. Each year, the project evolved to incorporate new technologies, address differing learning styles, and enhance the students' understanding of the content. My presentation described the evolution of the project, the incorporation of technology, and the increased outreach to organizations in Africa which ultimately provided the students with a concrete global perspective. In preparing for this event, I had the opportunity to reflect on one of our essential questions: what does change look like. With this project, change was almost imperceptible at first. Technology integration and increased collaboration certainly had an impact from the beginning; however, this project was more about evolution rather than revolution. At the end of my tenure in the school, the project bared little resemblance to where we started. Students focused on creating, communicating, and collaborating, rather than regurgitating and presenting. Teachers from across departments worked together to develop a true learning experience instead of a single social studies project housed in the classroom. Technology served as a catalyst and a tool rather than a final product. I'm interested to see how the program evolves again this year. According to the class blog, "... the goal is to complete our study of continents and land in Africa by Thanksgiving." To view the presentation, launch the recording link from Blackboard Collaborate.