Why We Need Global Citizenship More Than Ever (& some beautiful resources to foster it)

Growing up, I always had a fascination with books that showed how kids live around the world (mostly supplied by DK). It always seemed so far away and mysterious, and I loved to imagine myself in those various settings.

Today, our kids’ understanding of how kids live around the world needs to go beyond a fascination. Beyond curiosity about the “other.” Beyond stereotypes.

Today, we need kids to become global citizens.

To see and respect the differences, yes, but also to see our similarities, our connections, our interdependence, our shared humanity.

For example, how might discussing the Daily Bread photo-series by Gregg Segal broaden our students’ lens of how wealth is related to diet? (ie, “It seems counterintuitive that some of the poorest countries have among the healthiest diets. But when you look closely at what they’re eating, it makes sense: fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, fish, and legumes and very little meat (which functions more as seasoning) and few empty calories (processed foods)”).

How might sharing a variety of picture books on diverse day-in-the-life spark student thinking about what we share in common?

How might digital citizenship help shrink students’ world & bring perspective and connection? Ideas might include:

  • OneGlobeKids.org: and introductory platform for young kids to explore the lives of kids around the world
  • Quadblogging: a chance to connect with 3 other classes around the world through blogging, almost pen-pal style
  • Globally collaborative Google presentations (shared on Twitter): examples such as this & this

Fostering global citizenship is not just about feeding our students’ curiosity; it’s a precious opportunity to build empathy, connection, and humanity. What are your favorite strategies for global citizenship?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

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Who is asking for the trophies in the “Everyone Gets a Trophy” era? #TeacherMom

In each of the city recreation classes my kids have tried out, they have always ended with a trophy or medal. Why? I never asked for one. My kids never asked for one.

And yet the plastic clutter ensues, while bewildered parents also shoulder the blame for this “everyone gets a trophy culture.”

On a highly scientific poll I conducted on Twitter last week, not a single parent marked that they had ever requested these trinkets.

I’m starting to suspect that this has more to do with Alfie Kohn’s (far more scientific) research demonstrating that blaming young adults and parents is simply tradition:

“With respect to the specific claim that “kids today” are spoiled and their parents permissive, I had fun a few years ago digging up multiple examples of how people were saying exactly the same thing about the previous generation, and the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that.”

~Alfie Kohn

Certain traditions, like providing a trophy for participants, may perpetuate amid people’s good intentions. But for parents (and teachers) facing criticism for coddling kids, may we find confidence as we continue striving to simply meet developmental needs. May we avoid perpetuating inaccurate generalizations. And may we continue to try to listen to each others’ voices and be responsive to one another.

featured image: Selbe

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Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Communication

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

Does anyone else find the concept of communication fascinating? Its history? The way it’s evolving? The way people seem to bend it in new ways to meet their needs?

That’s why I hope you enjoy this provocation with your students. There is so much to think about beyond just the stereotypical, “Can you clearly convey your ideas?”

Resource #1: The Evolution of the Desk by Harvard Innovation Lab via designboom

Resource #2: The Science of Science Communication by the Duke & the Duck

Resource #3: Vonage – Communication is Everything by Steve Savalle

Resource #4: Satirizing ‘code-switching’ on screen by Newsy

Resource #5: Picture books ~ Say Something by Peter Reynolds & The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy

Provocation Questions:

  • How is communication changing today? How is it compare to the past? What is the same and what is different about communication now vs. communication throughout human history?
  • What are examples of modern communication?
  • What is the connection to social justice and communication?
  • How does code-switching work in communication? Why is it significant?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

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5 More Interesting Informational Picture Books

Continuing my efforts to promote more nonfiction, here are 5 more reads we’ve enjoyed lately!

An Ode to the National Parks: You Are Home, by Evan Turk. The National Parks are my happy place. The rich illustrations and figurative language perfectly captured the way I feel when I explore these majestic realms.

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Teddy: The Remarkable Tale of a President, A Cartoonist, A Toymaker, & A Bear by James Sage and Lisk Feng. I was surprised how much my kids enjoyed this book, given the long text. But the story was just so compelling for us all! My kids adoration of their teddy bears has definitely reached new levels ever since.

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Pedal Power by Allan Drummond. This is a great text for teaching your kids about how they can take action in their communities. Of course, my own involvement in bicycle advocacy didn’t hurt in making me love this book, too!

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One Day, So Many Ways by Laura Hall & Loris Lora. I remember being unable to get enough of these kinds of reads growing up, usually supplied by DK. I like the vintage feel of the illustrations, too.

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I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon, by Baptiste and Miranda Paul and Elizabeth Zunon. Engaging biography that demonstrates the power of one determined individual.

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featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

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The First Time Our Child Was Asked “To Come Out and Play” #TeacherMom

My oldest was 4 years old, and she was happily playing with her toys in our 3rd-story apartment. Suddenly, a knock came on our door: a 7 year old girl who lived a couple blocks away wanted to know if our daughter could come out to play.

My husband and I looked at each other. Could she just go out to play? Where would she even go? Our apartment building was mostly surrounded by parking spaces. And could she just skip away with this little girl without one of us accompanying them?

We asked our daughter what she thought about the idea. Her response was to leap up and run for her shoes. So we told the neighbor that it would be alright if they stayed nearby. Our 4 year-old couldn’t have been prouder to cross our threshold without us.

And we were left peeping through a a chink in the blinds to make sure everything was alright.

And it was! They had a great time running around a little patch of grass for a while, and then the neighbor brought her back upstairs. Pretty tame, as far as first outdoor independent play goes. But powerful. It was the first foot in the door to a world where our child didn’t need us anymore. A scary prospect for all parents, but especially when we’re bombarded daily with headlines and messages that make us all want to keep that door locked tight until the 18th birthday.

But the problem, of course, is that it doesn’t work that way. Growing up to become an autonomous adult is a process that must build throughout childhood. Parents should feel supported as they make decisions on what exactly this will look like for each of their own children. It’s hard enough to do this confidently — even without the internet endlessly supplying worst-case scenarios and vilifying parents for daring to make reasonable decisions about what their kids are capable of.

And if parents aren’t trusted in these judgement calls with their own children, how can we possibly trust our teachers?

That’s why, when I talk about independent play, my first goal is to reassure parents. They need to know they are not bad parents for letting their kids walk 3/4 mile to school (even in the rain!), or for allowing their child run a lemonade stand without continual supervision, or even for leaving him/her in the car on a mild day while you run in for a quick errand, if you, as their parent, have judged them capable of handling these scenarios.

The hardest part about building autonomy in our children is that it is almost guaranteed to feel uncomfortable. We can’t predict exactly how it will unfold — will they get along with others? will they remember the path home we’ve walked together many times? will they remember how their bike lock works? — but that unpredictability itself is one of the essential ingredients required for autonomy to unfold.

So let’s think about ways we can support and reassure parents as they strive to build autonomy in their kids:

  • Share accurate statistics on crimes (Pew Research Center is a great source), such as the fact that violent crime has decreased since 1990, or the low chances of random child abductions from strangers (“…if you wanted your child to be kidnapped by a stranger, do you know how long you would have to leave that child outside, unsupervised,  for this to be statistically likely to happen?…You’d have to leave your kid waiting at the bus stop 750,000 hours [or 85 years].” ~Lenore Skenazy)
  • Hesitate before sharing that scary “see-how-easy-it-is-to-snatch-a-child” video or “my-child-was-almost-abducted-from-our-shopping-cart” story. Given the statistical rarity cited above, the sad truth is that such stories tend to be rooted more in racial bias than actual danger.
  • Encourage adventure playgrounds and other environments that promote healthy risky play.
  • Join your school’s Safe Routes to School organization to help make kids’ walk or bike ride to school safer.
  • Share strategies for reasonable precautions parents can take without making them feel like they have control over all possible scenarios.
  • Support legislation like Utah’s free-range parenting bill that protects parents trying to make these judgement calls for their children’s autonomy.

From that first encounter with outdoor unsupervised play to watching a high school grad embark on their new journey, let’s find ways to help parents feel confident in building happy, healthy, and independent children!

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

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Inquiry into the 4 C’s: Critical Thinking

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the Four C’s of 21st Century Learning. For more, click here.

Critical thinking can be exceptionally difficult to describe, even for adults. Why is this? How might giving students resources to investigate it as a concept help them develop their own views on what it really means to be a critical thinker?

Resource #1: What’s Going On In This Photo photoseries by NY Times

Resource #2: How to Spot a Pyramid Scheme by TED Ed & Stacie Bosley, via The Kid Should See This

Resource #3: Anti-Racism Experiment on Oprah (note: 2:32, the “N” word is used to describe racist thinking)

Resource #4: Except If by Jim Averbeck

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Resource #4: The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca & Daniel Rieley

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Provocation Questions:

  • Why can critical thinking be hard for us to define?
  • What might be some differences between critical thinking and ordinary thinking?
  • Why is critical thinking important today? How does the massive volume of information available online make it even more important?
  • What is the connection between critical thinking and addressing racism and social injustice?
  • What is our personal responsibility to develop our own critical thinking? How can it impact our lives? Our communities?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

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10 Delightful Picture Books con español!

Maybe it’s because I’m anxious not to let my high school Spanish slip away entirely, but I absolutely love coming across picture books that include Spanish phrases. Not only are they fun to read out loud to my kids (and fun for them to try and learn new words), but they send an important message of inclusion and honoring diversity.

Here are 10 picture books con español that I would recommend. These are primarily in English, with Spanish phrases woven throughout.

#1: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

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#2: El Chupacabras by Adam Rubin and Crash McCreery

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#3: My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero & Zeke Peña

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#4: Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market! by Raúl the Third

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#5: La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya & Juana Martinez-Neal

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#6: Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina & Claudio Muñoz

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#7: Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

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#8: Alma & How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal  (most of the Spanish phrases are part of the illustrations here)

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#9: The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy & Eugene Yelchin

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#10: How Are You? = ¿Cómo Estás?

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¡que se divierta leyéndolo! Have a great time reading!

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

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