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Views and Voices in Our World: Resources for Globalizing the Common Core

Posted by Jason Harshman on February 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm

This is the second of a two-part blog series that focuses on fostering a globally minded approach to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Building on the first part that focused on ideas for incorporating Common Core in social studies methods courses, this blog offers ideas and resources for integrating global texts across multiple content areas in teacher education.

For the past year, I have led professional development workshops for K-12 educators in multiple disciplines on what the Common Core means for their pedagogy, and the shifts that will continue to occur in their classrooms as a result of the new standards. Together we develop strategies; find, create, and share resources; and design assessments for measuring student growth in alignment with the Common Core. Like the CCSS, teaching for global mindedness is trans-disciplinary. However, many teachers, and the teachers trainees enrolled in teacher education courses, are unfamiliar with the intricacies of Common Core and feel overwhelmed by the scope and responsibility for integrating global perspectives while they learn the new standards.

Since many of the Common Core related resources made available for teachers by publishing companies lack a global perspective, being involved in these workshops has afforded me an opportunity to support educators in bringing more views and voices from around the world into their classrooms, while still meeting the CCSS. As a result, teachers see the potential for bringing content and literacy standards together through globally minded professional development. Knowing the reality of what practicing teachers face, the work of teacher educators must include preparing candidates for the Common Core in their respective disciplines.

An essential component of the CCSS is the use of academic language. During a recent webinar for Schools Moving Up, Edynn Sato - a leader in developing literacy and strategies for standards implementation - noted that academic language is, “The language (e.g., lexicon, grammar, discourse features and functions) that students need to access, meaningfully engage with, and achieve rigorous academic content as they prepare for college and careers.” An aspect of academic language that requires development of a more globally minded frame of reference is the sociocultural understandings that help students interpret and make meaning of situations they encounter in texts, as well as their everyday interactions with people who are different from them.

As Merry Merryfield argues, to develop such skills, teacher educators and K-12 classroom educators must be prepared to provide cross-cultural learning opportunities.  With the growing richness of cultural and language diversities in today’s classrooms, teacher candidates must also be ready to step into multicultural and globally connected classrooms. Therefore, engaging teacher candidates in exercises that require them to identify academic language and reflect on the literacy, as well as cross-cultural learning, the activities they design is one step in the right direction for bringing global mindedness and the Common Core together.

The following resources can be incorporated into teacher education courses across disciplines to support teacher candidates as they work to teach about global perspectives and foster critical literacy skills in K-12 classrooms:

  • Gapminder and Hans Rosling provide a plethora of resources (including texts, videos, graphs, charts, and maps) for incorporating global issues in the classroom on topics ranging from environmental sustainability to health and education.
     
  • Google Constitute brings the world’s Constitutions together in one place. Searchable by country and issue, this database gives educators multiple opportunities to engage students in activities that require them to compare texts, while considering context and authorship—two important skills under the CCSS.
     
  • Ground Work is a South African organization that provides numerous scholarly sources (country reports, journal articles, and conference presentations) pertaining to grass roots movements in multiple countries and the place of women in these movements
     
  • Sustainability, environmentalism, and our shared role as stewards of the Earth requires that global issues be an essential component of STEM teacher education courses. The International Institute for Environmental Development provides short articles, videos, blogs, and other texts to incorporate these concepts into courses.
     
  • If “all the world is a stage,” incorporating performances of Shakespeare from around the world into English and Arts teacher education to be used in K-12 classrooms is worth exploring. Global Shakespeares provides videos, script excerpts, and other texts from performances of Shakespeare’s plays across the globe and Shakespeare Standard provides a collection of blogs, including one dedicated exclusively to global Shakespeare. Both resources support the CCSS English Language Arts requirement that calls for “critical content for all students, including: classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s Founding Documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare.”

The College and Career Anchor Standards included in the Core Curriculum represent shared goals that all teachers should have for their students across content areas. Through my work as a facilitator of professional development workshops and as a teacher educator, I have found that modeling strategies for skill building with how to effectively integrate global perspectives cannot be separated. By providing teachers in different content areas with opportunities to collaborate, I found they developed a better understanding of how to integrate multiple types of texts while working across content areas to develop their students’ global mindedness. Recognizing that the goal of preparing students for a global age is not unique to any one content area, integrating texts produced around the world is not limited to the humanities and thus an increasingly important component for teacher educators to include in their work with tomorrow’s educators.