November 18-22 is International Education Week in the United States. The US Department of State and Department of Education have partnered to give some great suggestions on how K-12 teachers can incorporate international education into their classrooms. Read on for their ideas as well as GEEO’s suggestions on how to implement each one.
1. Incorporate information on a country or culture into your regular lesson plan, even if you don’t teach social studies.
Global studies can span across all grade levels and subjects areas. In biology class, have students research the country of origin of a particular species you’re studying. What other flora and fauna in that country form that animal’s food web? For English or creative writing, give each student a photo from a different scene around the world and have them write a short story based in that place. Find more ideas in GEEO’s alumni lesson plan page.
2. Explore international aspects of the arts music, film, theatre, visual arts, literature, dance by creating, performing, or studying artworks with an international component. This could include a field trip to a museum or concert or showing a foreign film in class.
One of GEEO’s favorite resources is Google’s Arts and Culture Collections. Students can virtually explore hundreds of museums in countries around the world through this interactive platform.
3. Adopt a school in a developing country and donate school supplies, reference materials, and other items.
You can connect directly with a school in another country by partnering with a Peace Corps volunteer through the Global Connections program. Once you form a relationship with your Peace Corps volunteer, they’ll be able to tell you what their students need to be successful. Then, host a collection drive in your classroom or even your entire school!
4. Trade questions and answers with students from another country through the Internet, pen pal clubs, or a Digital Video Conference.
Pen Pal Schools is a great resource for making international connections with other students and teachers around the world. Another option would be to reach out to universities in the regions you or your students are interested in to see if you can connect with teachers or students there.
5. Encourage cultural understanding for students using the online resource One World: Connecting Communities, Cultures, and Classrooms.
Sponsored by the National Football League and Scholastic Inc., this unique education resource designed for teachers. The free, web based program may be downloaded here.
6. Organize a cross-cultural potluck lunch in which students bring in or make foods from their homeland or ancestors’ homeland.
Share with students, or make it a teachers-only party and have a potluck in the break room! GEEO has posted recipes for authentic dishes from around the world on our Pinterest boards. Have students choose a country that interests them, or have them prepare something from their family’s homeland traditions. Use a recipe found on one of our boards or find an authentic recipe in an international cookbook or internet search.
7. Ask students to write essays on countries they would like to visit and why they chose those countries.
Along with hundreds of other writing prompts, the New York Times Learning Network offers this prompt to students based on one of their articles: Are you someone who likes to travel — to other countries, to neighboring cities or just to new sites in your hometown? If so, why do you enjoy traveling? If not, why not? View the full article and writing prompt here.
8. Feature local international experts as speakers: Fulbright Students and Scholars, former diplomats or Peace Corps volunteers, business leaders working for multinational corporations, or journalists.
This is where you can leverage your local networks to show students that everywhere you look, even in your school or community, there is a global influence. Partner with other teachers or administrators to find out who in the school community would be a good presenter. Or, ask GEEO to virtually present to your school!
9. Participate in a Model UN.
Model UN is a simulation of the UN General Assembly and its other multilateral bodies where students perform an ambassador role while debating topics such as gender equality, climate action, global health, and more. Learn more on Model UN’s website here.
10. Assign students to produce a video or website about their cross-cultural experiences. The video could explore issues of cultural idiosyncrasies, stereotypes, and/or their own experiences in another culture.
With smartphones more accessible than ever, students can create a short film about cross-cultural experiences they’ve had abroad or even in their hometown. Here’s a quick guide to smartphone filmmaking students can use as a reference. If a website is more their style, they can create one for free using WordPress.com.
For a technology-free version, students could draw comics, story boards, or collaborate to write a children’s book about another culture.
As you can see, the options are endless when it comes to incorporating global culture and international elements into your classroom. How do you bring the world to your classroom? Let us know, and we may feature your idea or lesson plan. Happy International Education Week!