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Global Connections for Classrooms

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Teach Kids About Africa as if Our Lives Depend Upon It — and Maybe They Do

On top of the shear panic unleashed by the spread of the Ebola virus from West Africa, an astonishing amount of ignorance has reared its ugly head. As some havecommented, this ignorance may be more dangerous to millions of people than the actual virus, and the unfamiliarity could even make matters worse, by focusing our concerns in the wrong direction, and isolating people and places from technology, education, and healthcare.

When my family was getting ready to live in West Africa a few years ago, it felt like everyone would ask us about the animals — but that part of Africa has virtually no exotic animals roaming around and “it’s not the Lion King set!” as my then-11-year-old daughter would exclaim in exasperation. The other common reaction revolved around the astonishment that we were going to “Africa, Africa?!” “It’s so far away.” “I can’t imagine ever going there.” Or “That’s my lifelong dream to go there” (often followed by a sigh that it would never happen).

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Examples of Global Lessons in Common Science Topics of Elementary Schools

The following excerpts from pages 98-100 from the Global Education Toolkit offer a glimpse of simple ways that science lessons can turn into global learning experiences. As we explain in the section on science lessons:

With a bit of creativity and initiative, science might be the most natural subject offering a global lens through which to view our world. Earth, water, air quality, climate, chemistry, physics, physiology, plant life and animal habitats don’t respect national boundaries, so they are inherently global in nature, inviting wider exploration and conversation. This fact in itself can serve as a launch for a global conversation. Vexing challenges stumping the best scientific minds are solved globally using collaborative teams located in different locales that experiment and study issues from diverse angles and approaches. In other words, introducing science in the 21st-Century is necessarily global.

If you’re inspired to turn your science lesson into a global learning opportunity, where would you begin?

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Introduce Kids to “Mama Miti:” Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai- Kid World CitizenWangari Maathai (1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011) grew up in the green highlands of Kenyan. After she returned from studying college in the US she discovered that her lush homeland was being destroyed by deforestation which caused water and food shortages, malnutrition, and disappearing wildlife. She began to educate others to care for the land and re-plant the forests and they called her Mama Miti, “Mother of Trees.” Ms Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, which empowered woman around Kenya to help take back their land, planting tree by tree.

For her compassion and efforts she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She was the first African woman and environmentalist to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Here are resources you can use to teach your children about this inspirational, remarkable woman, and her plight to save her country’s landscape.  Continue reading…