How to use this Guide: An Introduction

Learning With And From The World graphic from Asia Society
Learning With And
From The World
graphic from Asia Society

I strongly encourage any teacher, whether high/middle/or elementary, whether urban/suburban/rural, whether classroom/or specialty look into IREX Fulbright’s Teachers for Global Classrooms program. It will open up the world to you and more importantly open it up for your students.



What is global education?
When I was  in elementary school my friends and I would sometimes identify ourselves this way:

universal address

Melissa Kent,
Tuscaloosa, Alabama,
the USA, North America,
Western Hemisphere, the World,
the Solar System, the Galaxy, the Universe
And students still do that;

All students, regardless of their current situation, need to have the opportunity to find their place in the world and contribute to its future.
Our students will be the citizens, workers and leaders our nation needs in the 21st century.  There is now an urgent call for schools to produce students that actually know something about the world—its cultures, languages and how its economic, environmental and social systems work. Teachers need to know how to educate all students for participating in this global era.

Why is global education important and relevant for our community?
It’s a Small World After All     Here is a link to a short PowerPoint I created to show my faculty why global education is important even in our small, Title One school. Feel free to use and edit it as you see fit. If the link doesn’t work for you just email me and I will send the file to you.

“Think Global, Act Local” was a popular catch phrase a while back.  And I think it still serves as a good model for those of us in the elementary schools who are being tasked by this program to introduce our students to activism.

It is our childrens’ future after all .

Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Development Goals

If the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) proposed by the UN are met by 2030, it is this generation that will first see the benefits.

from these achievements because global issues have a hometown effect.

Although my students may never leave their community, they are and will be effected by such issues as extreme weather, spreading mosquito borne diseases, and population shifts. Global issues have a hometown effect.


How does global education connect with our school systems (Tuscaloosa City Schools) existing priorities and initiatives?
(be sure to see my post under State and District Based Standards)

I am fortunate enough to work in a school district (Tuscaloosa City Schools) that understands the importance of a student’s global education.

A TCS graduate is expected to be a:

Global Citizen (and) identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices.

Continue reading How to use this Guide: An Introduction

Guiding Question for Travel and Reflection

One useful strategy the Fulbright TGC had us use to help frame our travel was to devise a “guiding question” before we left. This insured that the travel would be more than just an adventure, it would be a gateway to research and learning.

To develop your guiding question you need to consider “what overarching themes or concepts you would be interested in exploring further during your international field experience. The topic you focus on should be relevant to your practice in your community ( an issue that affects your school, a curricular theme that you teach, etc)”.

For me, as a teacher librarian who also works with elementary student journalists, I knew I wanted to focus on how students in Morocco  used technology to gather information and share stories.

Having a guided question helped by giving me something to focus on as I was bombarded by new experiences in the field.

It was not feasible for most of us to gather much specific data for our guiding questions during the 10 days we were in the field. But when we all gathered back together in Rabat for debriefing we did have the opportunity to share our guiding questions and collect data from each other.

Attached is an example of these, using my Information/Stories/Technology guiding question.

Guiding question on gathering information
example of a guiding question that is annotated by others

Global Educational Student Assessment Tools

All good teachers know that before you begin teaching anything, it is always best to assess what your target group aka students or teachers or admin, already knows about the topic.

This holds true when working to bring in a global perspective to your classroom or school or district curriculum.

And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, because there all kinds of assessment tools out there. However, most of what I have found is focused on the secondary level (middle to high school). I found I had to   to do some digging and some adapting for elementary students.

The best source that actually addressed elementary level students (along with high school students) is The Asia Society’s Global Educating for Global Competence.

It is set up as a series of I Can statements to be used as a rubric.


Digital Learning Enviroment

There are sooo many possible ways of connecting to and participating in global education that it can be pretty overwhelming so here are my favorites (and they are all free – except Edublogs)   

  1. Flipgrid  and Gridpals
  2. Google Maps
  3. Google Earth  (not the same thing as Google Maps!)
  4. Blogging (link is to Edublogs, the site I use, but there are many others)
  5. Newseum:Today’s Front Pages

Flipgrid and Gridpals
I  used Flipgrid to participate in the Global Read Aloud.  It is easy enough for even Kindergartens to use with just a bit of support. It provides a simple platform to record a short (90 seconds is the max) video clip. The students can replay it and rerecord very easily. Flipgrid also has a method of connecting with other schools thru Gridpals.

Google Maps and Google Earth:
When working with elementary students I find they need to spend time exploring where they live first before they can understand and appreciate a more global perspective. And all my students 1st-5th absolutely love finding their homes/neighborhoods/schools on Google Maps.  After getting themselves oriented we then explore our city and state. My students rarely get a chance to venture outside their own neighborhoods so learning about their own city is a start.

Then I have introduced Google Earth to 3rd-5th graders. It is a great tool for bringing current events into the classroom. For example, last year my students were able to follow the Central American immigration caravan as it made its way northward. The students were able to really see the geographic distances and barriers that had to be crossed.

Newseum: Today’s Front Pages
We have been using local newspapers in our journalism program for several years, but because of the TGC resource list I just discovered this wonderful way to have students look at what other cities in our state, other states in our country and other countries think is worthy of front page news. This week my students assignment is to compare our local papers front page with 3 other papers (one in our state, one different state, and one different country)


An example of a Global Education Unit Plan

As part of the work we were required to do for our Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC), we were expected to develop a Global Education Unit Plan that we would actually use in our school setting.

I chose to develop a plan for my elementary journalism students. I and a fellow teacher work with students from 1st-5th grade who make up our school’s newspaper staff.

Attached is a link to my Global Education Unit Plan. It is in Google Docs. Please contact me if you are unable to open it.


State and District Based Learning Standards

I am fortunate enough to work in a school district (Tuscaloosa City Schools) that understands the importance of a student’s global education.

A TCS graduate is expected to be a:

Global Citizen (and) identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices.

Continue reading State and District Based Learning Standards

Alabama International Resources

Alabama Teachers for Global Classrooms tshirt
Alabama Teachers for Global Classrooms tshirt

One of the most valuable experiences that I have had coming out of my year of Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGS) is the contacts I have made here in my state with my peers – Alabama teachers who want to bring a global experience to their students. In my TGS year alone there were four teachers from Alabama!  And we four have since made contact with prior TGS alumini in our state. We hope to develop an online presence for Alabama to provide resources for all Alabama teachers to bring global education to their students.  If any Alabama folks know of other resources we should list here, please email me ( or leave a comment!

I am dividing this page into 3 sections in the hopes that it will help both my local colleagues as well as my state-wide peers find resources that they might be able to use.

(The photo is a tshirt one of my fellow Alabamians designed for the Alabama TGC  2018-19)



Tuscaloosa/West Alabama:
Tuscaloosa Sister Cities 
University of Alabama/College of Education – Dr Janie Hubbard email:
Tuscaloosa International Friends

Global Ties Alabama – based in Huntsville

NEA (National Education Association)
Asia Society/Center for Global Education
UNICEF/ Lesson Plans





International Project Based Learning Opportunities for Elementary/Primary Level

As educators we have all heard of and understand the appeal of project-based learning. Most students learn better by being actively involved in their learning, rather than passively sitting and listening to teacher talk. This is true ofstudents of  any age.

What seems to throw many teachers is introducing “international or global” into it. Please please don’t be intimidated by theses terms! As I explain to my teachers, an international or global emphasis can be worked in to almost ANY standard(s) you need to teach. Pick out the standards first. Then think about what type of project would be best suited for those standards. For example, if you are doing writing standards, then having a journal or penpal might be a good fit. If you are focusing on reading comprehension, then creating a skit or graphic display of story elements is a possibility. It you are doing science standards to do with climate, a project collecting weather data could work. THEN you can look for a global emphasis. See the suggestions below.
NOTE: As mentioned before on this site- I am focused on elementary or primary level students. It may take a little digging to find resources appropriate for this age, but it can be done. And resources that are free or low cost can be found too. Just keep looking!

Writing Standards:
If you want to focus on journal writing, consider Penpal Schools – Schools Around the World

PenPal Schools: Schools Around the World project
PenPal Schools: Schools Around the World project

The Schools Around the World topic connects students ages 8 through 16 to learn about schools and compare what it’s like to be a student in different parts of the world. Students choose from multiple project options and share their work with the PenPal Schools global community. To help students create their projects, each student collaborates with peers from around the world through a series of online lessons.

Students work individually or in teams to create original work that they’ll share in the PenPal Schools Showcase

Essential Question: How does your school compare to schools around the world?
Project Option: (just one example)
  School Day Journal: Students track and share their school day in an online journal. Students then compare elements of their school        day with students in the PenPal Schools community.


Reading Comprehension:
Take part in the Global Read Aloud.

Global Read Aloud
Global Read Aloud

“The premise is simple; we pick a book to read aloud to our students during a set 6-week period and during that time we try to make as many global connections as possible. Each teacher decides how much time they would like to dedicate and how involved they would like to be. Some people choose to connect with just one class, while others go for as many as possible. The scope and depth of the project is up to you. While there are commonly used such as Skype, Twitter, Padlet,  or Flipgrid, you choose the tools that will make the most sense for you. Teachers get a community of other educators to do a global project with, hopefully inspiring them to continue these connections through the year.”
My personal favorite way to have my younger students participate is for them to use Flipgrid to record their reactions and opinions of the stories and share them with students around the globe.



Science Standards:
Take advantage of the resources on
If your students have been working on climate data take a look at Globe Climate for Elementary Students

Other places to look for inspiration and ideas?
UN KidPower
Heifer Project
International Literacy Association


Heeding the words of experience, even when they are a bit confusing

Before we TGCs (Teachers for Global Classrooms) even left the USA we were cautioned to be ready with an elevator pitch aka a less than 90 second summary of our experiences and/or our position on global education.

But we were also warned against the danger of the “single” story (which is eloquently explained in Chimamanda Ngozi’s TED talk ) To put it much less elegantly and eloquently than she it, it is the danger of stereotyping or oversimplifying a culture.

These are two things worthy of consideration, but just how are we supposed to balance the need for brevity with the desire to do a complicated situation justice?

I suspect every TGCer who comes back from their field experience has the same dilemma.