HSSD Represented in Global Learning Fellowship

HSSD Represented in Global Learning Fellowship
Posted on 01/08/2019
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Laura West, GT Coordinator for the Hot Springs School District, was  chosen as the Arkansas representative to the National Education Association Foundation's Global Learning Fellowship for 2018.  Alongside 46 other K-12 public school educators from across the U.S., the year-long fellowship included an in-person workshop in Washington D.C., online coursework each month, webinars with leading experts, and an international field study to South Africa in July where the NEA Fellows visited five schools. Fellows wrote global minded lesson plans in culmination of all experiences and study that were combined in the book "Twelve Lessons to Open Classrooms and Minds to the World" and were invited to Harvard University for the book launch in November of 2018.

The NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship is an annual professional development program designed to enhance educators’ understanding of global competencies. Fellows gain personal experiences to take back to school districts, and create tools that assist educators everywhere. This was especially relevant for a professional from the HSSD because of our International Baccalaureate (IB) offerings. IB focuses on global perspectives and issues, and an inquiry based teaching style that challenges students to identify problems and develop solutions.

Global learning makes the issues we are studying seem REAL to students by learning that no matter what part of the globe you live on, people have more similarities than differences,” said Ms. West. “Global education opens our students’ eyes to the world. It expands their understanding of how big the world is, and what they can do to make a difference in it.”

The twelve lesson plans developed by the Global Learning Fellows are based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations, which are listed, here. Each lesson plan has defined instructional goals, learning standards and objectives, detailed methods and time frames, and more to assist educators in implementing. The tie-in to the Sustainable Development Goals ensures that students and teachers are connecting with challenges that are also the focus for U.S. leadership and partners. Fellows developed a rough draft of lesson plans during their workshop in Washington D.C., and then tested the lesson plans in their own classrooms and in peer classrooms. They revised plans remotely multiple times before agreeing upon final plans that were eventually published for use. Ms. West was part of developing a lesson plan for 4th-5th grade students entitled: “Water is Life.”

“I chose water because it is unbelievable to me that in 2019, we can have citizens lacking access to one of the most basic human needs. This fact is usually shocking for students because water is something that residents of the U.S. take for granted, because in most areas - including Garland County - water is plentiful,” said Ms. West. “We need students to think about real world problems instead of the  short-term worries they are often distracted by. Students won’t have a larger frame of reference unless we create it for them.”

The “Water is Life” lesson plan includes subject matter in economics, geography, literacy, math, politics, science, social justice, and social studies. Among the key understandings for students to take away are: quantity and quality of water is different for different people due to geographical, political, and economic reasons; the inequality of water in this country and other countries; and, what students can do to conserve water. One key exercise outlined in this lesson plan is a log of the student’s water usage over a 24-hour period to help the student compare water usage and accessibility in his/her home to that of others.

In all, the “12 Lessons to Open Classrooms and Minds to the World” publication includes one lesson plan per grade level, with 4th-5th grade combined into a single lesson. Other topics in the book, which are presented from a global perspective, include mindfulness and how young learners deal with stress, barriers to receiving basic education, health and wellness challenges, government ethics, food security, and more. Since the program began, fellows have developed more than 130 free globally-themed lesson plans in addition to the book, which are available, here.

The NEA Foundation is a public charity founded in 1969 by educators for educators to improve public education for all students. Find more details about the NEA Global Learning Fellowship, as well as an application for the 2020 program (deadline to apply is February 4, 2019), here.  HSSD staff members interested in getting a free copy of the “Water is Life” lesson plan, or in visiting with Ms. West about how to apply for the Global Learning Fellowship program can contact her at westl@hssd.net.

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