At the first meetings of the Global Citizen 2000 Task Force,
a cautionary warning went out about creating volumes of very
good curriculum that could wind up sitting in a D-ring binder
on some obscure shelf in a dusty office. Creation is one thing--use
The fact that you are here at this web site is one major
example of the changing face of teacher preparation. The Internet
has become a major source of information, expanding the available
of knowledge at an exponential rate. However, with this expansion
of knowledge came the frustration in trying to weed out the
unreliable and integrate the beneficial materials. Teachers
who realize that this process can consume time and energy
often get frustrated and do not bother to use these types
of curriculum development programs and, ergo, they
end up collecting dust on a shelf. Take a moment to read this
note, and perhaps some of that frustration will disappear
as you integrate this material into your existing coursework--no
need to reinvent the wheel.
WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE?
Look at your course curriculum guides. Look at them honestly.
When was the last revision? Was it really a revision or what
is simply plugging in the new textbook to the old outlines?
This is the first obstacle--the text is the curriculum and
the curriculum is the text in many cases. Elective courses
may have more flexibility, but where are they grounded?
What is the objective? What are you trying to teach about
Buddhism? What is so important about acid rain and the environment?
Why are your students reading poems from Japan? Are the headlines
in your curriculum simply the textbooks chapter headings?
Are the objectives measurable student behavior? Are your units
linked to the relevant core content standards established
and mandated by your state?
An example here from my experience teaching in New Jersey:
Social Studies Core Content Standard 6.2 directs teachers
to include art, literature, philosophy, and music in our lessons.
The Department of Education has included many indicators of
progress at different grade levels, but essentially I need
to incorporate into my 19th century European History lessons
music and literature beyond just snipets of the Communist
Manifesto. This web site will provide such relief for
teachers in many cases and in many topic areas. The point
here is to look to what your state standards
ask, apply them to the course and its needs, and then look
for the appropriate materials. All too often, currciulum packages
have been dropped on the teachers' laps by well-meaning supervisors
with little understanding of how they fit into the the larger
picture--the larger picture of the overall state (or national)
HOW DOES ONE STRETCH OUT TO INCORPORATE THIS?
In Educational Theory classes, teachers learned that John
Dewey stressed relevance and problem solving in a time when
rote memorization and drill were overwhlemingly dominant instructional
methods. His students in Chicago, trained to solve problems
and practically apply learning, in an eight-year study, performed
as well or better than traditionally educated students of
similar backgrounds. Making the materials come alive and making
the connections of the past to the present (and future) do
make for greater student understanding than memorization of
vocabulary words. Essential meaning is culled from finding
the applications of concepts, not just the rote recitation
of the definitions of those concepts.
Many of the activities in these lessons focus on group interaction
and simulation. Yes, that can be an truly academically ugly
concept, especially if it involves mere busywork, where one
person in the small group does all the work and is forced
to share the grade with the others. If the time is taken on
your part to understand the outcome (concept) then the students
can direct themselves. Materials, links to relevant web sites,
media programs (such as PowerPoints or Flash presentations),
are found throughout the Global Citizen 2000 lessons. Many
of the forms (grading rubrics, instructions) can be adapted
to meet your needs such as grade level and academic level,
but do not sell your students short. I ran a model OPEC nations
conference with low achieving academic level students and
they got more out of that simulation than I could have ever
done with common text-driven lessons on the Middle East. The
fact that they did not come to any resolution to the problems
they were debating in formal conference was not a hinderance
to their achievement. The fact that the debate was very cantankerous
and a war between member nations almost broke out gave them
the perfect understanding of OPEC and the role of oil and
politics in the Middle East.
BE NOT AFRAID OF INTERDISCIPLINARY WORK
As mentioned above, the New Jersey Department of Education
wants Social Studies teachers to include art and literature,
and I am sure that your district or your state encourages
it. One does not have to be an expert on classical music to
use it in a History class....just compare one movement from
a Mozart symphony (in 1789) to one movement from Dvorak's
Symphony from the New World (1894) and your students
will HEAR how Europe is changing in the 19th century.
Visually, compare the quiet confidence of the portrait art
of Thomas Gainsborough's Blue Boy (1770) with Van Gogh's
Self Portrait (1889) or Starry Night (1889)...students
can pick up the differences. Fiction can be just as valuable
at getting the point across as your text.. Readings from Dickens'
Oliver Twist can flesh out the horrors of industrial
London in the 1830s where Turgenev's Fathers and Sons
can show the plight of arictocrats and serfs in mid-19th century
Russia. Be mindful of your own district's policies concerning
controversial materials, but if you are able to find the supplemental
teacher materials that came with your textbook, you may find
many new selections of literature or art.
Included on this site will be methods for you to formally
give the GC 2000 Task Force feedback on the effectiveness
of the lessons and unit you are using. There will also be
opportunities for further study, including teacher exchange
projects and teleconferencing.
It is our earnest desire that these units can be an effective
tool in fostering gloabl awareness.