Where Is Iraq on the Map?

POSTED ON BEHALF OF EMILY FLEITZ

Where is Iraq on the map?  This question haunted me as a middle and high school student.  Post September 11, Iraq and Afghanistan were all over the media, yet most Americans could not point them out on a map.  Seventh grade US History was spent memorizing the countries of the world and their capitals so that we would at least be able to point out the general vicinity of where US soldiers were stationed.  I did a good job on these tests, but without any context for my knowledge I quickly forgot the capital of Hungary and the location of Taiwan.

ProjectExplorer.org works to solve America’s geographical incompetence.  It is a nonprofit organization developed by Jenny M. Buccos in 2003 that produces free, online global travel series. Designed for family and classroom, ProjectExplorer.org provides students with access to peoples and places they may never have seen or knew existed.

The website include suggested materials for Upper Elementary, Middle School and High School students, as well as ideas for family use.  Students can explore the website at their own pace and select different spots on the map to watch videos and learn about a specific country’s culture.  I loved the segment on India, it captured the culture of a vast country in a short video clip that was engaging and informative.  Other sections require students to read blogs written by visitors to the country.  Hyperlinks allow students to expand their learning with more information on historical or geographical concepts.

This activity would be good for addressing different learning styles.  Learning about a country through a visual/audio interactive experience would help students with certain learning styles to more fully grasp the nuances of foreign cultures.

Reframing History through Incorporating the Disability Rights Movement

POSTED ON BEHALF OF KI’TAY DAVIDSON

Content and Context

This video entitled “The Power of 504” is a video of the 504 sit ins at the height of the disability rights movement. The video depicts hundreds of disabled individuals barricading themselves in federal office buildings in San Francisco to protest the lack of the implementation of the 1973 Federal Rehabilitation Act. The act was the first civil-rights statute for persons with disabilities in the United States. This video is widely available on youtube and similar web video sites.

This resource would be best utilized for 5th-12th grade students in a history, or english class. Specifically, this source could be incorporated in the common civil rights history unit that most students will discuss each year.

Not only is this resource applicable to the discussion of civil rights within history, but it is also expands the communities in which we discuss human rights and movements for equality. The disability community is a population that is still heavily marginalized and left out of a social justice conversation and context. As a result, focusing on the disability rights movement will both expand the understanding of marginalized communities, awareness of varying civil rights movements and will promote a social model of disability for future generations.

Objectives and Goals

The goal of this activity is two tiered: (1) to reframe history and (2) to discuss divergent approaches to peace. The framing of this activity would be to watch the video and then to discuss modern day civil rights movements by breaking into small groups and discussing the various ways in which our society has and does limit equity and how those communities are addressing those issues. In this discussion, students should discuss two major themes. First, the parallels of the disability rights movement to other recent movements (ie: LGBTQ, education, Native Americans, Latinos etc). Second, students should discuss how peaceful movements have been effective in bringing about reform. This question should begin to synthesize a students prior information on civil rights movements for Women, African Americans, Irish Americans etc and compare that information in a modern context. At the end of the discussion, students can report to the rest of the class on their group’s discussion and the teacher should write similar themes on the board. By the end each student will have gained a broader understanding of civil rights movements, as well as an awareness of peaceful protest as a means of promoting equality. In an academic sense, students will have engaged in critical thinking, and analyzing by comparing and contrasting the various movements.

Guide to Composting for Schools

POSTED ON BEHALF OF AUDREY VAN GILDER

I found this pretty wonderful “guide to composting” for schools, created by a Connecticut middle school after its successful efforts to reduce waste, and written in a way to make the process replicable.

http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/compost/compost_pdf/schmanual.pdf

Young kids would likely be most excited by the idea of participating in composting, but ideally this resource can be applied to any formal or informal educational setting, especially those with science or conservation objectives. Rural schools might have an initial advantage in starting composting projects because the know-how, infrastructure, and space are plentiful, but composting in an urban setting can be just as useful (especially with the popularization of urban gardens and farms).

Composting fits into a school’s culture and curriculum in many different ways, and students can be active participants in a process that not only results in a less harmful end product (thereby benefiting the community and surrounding environment), but that also engages them in a scientific, hands-on, never-ending project. After an administration makes the logistical arrangements, the rest is up to teachers to involve their students in an activity with tangible results and with the potential to foster increased awareness of, concern for and engagement with the environment. Beginning on page 43, the Connecticut manual lays out specific lesson plans that educators can use as guides for incorporating the school’s composting efforts into classrooms. Each asks students to not only participate in the compost process, but also to reflect on the experience and how it changed their conception of waste.

Teaching and participating in a compost program most fully supports the community and skill building pillars of peace education. The knowledge and skills students can gain even through a short composting stint are substantial and can influence the choices they make outside school. But the potential for community building that this resource has extends far beyond the individual students, contributing to a community of engaged, environmentally thoughtful, and conscientious learners.

UNOY Peacebuilders

As a Global Affairs major, I was really interested in finding a blog topic that had a global approach and perspective to peace education. Through searching on the web, I found this amazing organization called UNOY (The United Network of Young Peacebuilders). UNOY (prounounced  ‘you know why’) is a global network of young people and youth organisations committed to establishing peaceful societies.  They have been around since 1989 and are based in the Netherlands. they consist of 49 member organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

UNOY’s mission is ” to link up young people’s initiatives for peace in a global network of young peacebuilders, to help empower their capacities and to help increase the effectiveness of their actions” They achieve this goal by implementing a wide range of activities in each of their main areas: advocacy and campaigning, capacity building and gender. UNOY believes that young people are an essential part of peacebuilding because:

  • Young people are more open to change
  • Young people are future-oriented
  • Young people are idealistic and innovative
  • Young people are courageous
  • Young people are knowledgeable about their peers’ realities (http://www.unoy.org/unoy/who-we-are/our-vision/)

Some projects that UNOY has implemented in 2012 include, the Educating for Peace seminar that brings together members from all over the world, the Peace of Mind educational program for students, and training courses on peace building. Members even traveled to Colombia, Argentina, and Nepal where they were able to teach workshops on issues such as human rights, democracy and gender to youth there!

This organization caters to a wide range of peace educators and students alike. UNOY has created excellent resources that can be incorporated into a classroom or community setting for youth. The beauty of UNOY is that the wide array of projects it creates can be applied in a global AND local context. Most importantly, UNOY gives  young people the opportunity to get involved!!! I would especially recommend checking out their volunteer programs if you’re interested in working on an international level 😉 Through its broad scope of activities and projects, UNOY teaches youth the necessary skills and tools needed to become peacemakers in their own communities.

A clip describing one of UNOY’s projects in collaboration with other international youth organizations:

Resources:

UNOY home page http://www.unoy.org/unoy/

 

 

One World Youth Project

I stumbled on the One World Youth Project website while looking online for information for another assignment. However, I was very happy I did after reading more about the project.

One World Youth Project (OWYP) was founded in 2004 by then 18 year-old Jess Rimington as a link between her high school in Massachusetts, USA and a school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The project seeks to effectively respond to global change. Due to global change there is unprecedented migration and the world is experiencing a digital revolution. However, schools around the globe are not preparing youth for the interconnected world. OWYP feels that those prepared to operate within this reality will see this interconnection as an opportunity and those not prepared will see this changing landscape as a threat.

To prevent this threat, One World Youth Project links schools around the world to build mutual respect and understanding among students and provide them with global life skills needed for success in the interconnected 21st century. This is done by the organization establishing a link between education systems. With each partner university, OWYP establishes a service-learning program-a One World Hub-on their campus for the benefit of their students as well as the surrounding secondary school system. OWYP provides a series of trainings that prepare university students as facilitators of cultural exchange between local secondary school classrooms and other OWYP classrooms abroad. After this training, the university students lead a Global Citizenship curriculum in local secondary schools, preparing the younger generation for the interconnected 21st century.

The fact that the OWYP is tailored for college students to help 6th through 12th grade secondary school students is perfect. These secondary students will feel more at ease with the college students, and the college students also get a chance to learn. For a year in a formal education setting the secondary school students learn through deep reflection on intercultural communication, as well as local and global leadership.

Ways to use this resource:
The teacher is ultimately allowing a college student to come in once a week and facilitate this communication for a year (2 semesters). The secondary school students connect with other classrooms abroad through video, voice, letters and the Internet. While students move through the facilitated program once a week in their classroom, their partner peers in the abroad classroom do the same. This connection allows for deep reflection on and constant collaborative investigation of intercultural communication.

The first semesters curriculum focuses on giving students the tools to understand their own cultures and begin the process of exchanging and communicating across cultures. From there the lessons move to issues of global connections and development by introducing the ways in which goods and systems flow around the world and to the concept of the UN and the Millennium Development Goals. Using these tools, students will identify issues in their communities and create plans to address these issues.

As the students move into the second semester with OWYP, students will continue to learn about ways to communicate with people in other cultures by analyzing different forms and systems of communication. Then they will be prepared to participate in collaborative dialogues to create change by identifying key community players and exploring ways to engage them in conversations around community issues. As students move through the program, these plans will turn into actionable service learning projects.

I think it would also be beneficial if the college students that come to facilitate also have one on one time with the students too. They could interact in dialogue or the college student could facilitate experiential learning activities so that the secondary students are also learning from the older college student too.

If a teacher wanted to set up a One World hub at a University near their school, or to find out if one is already established, they could email info@oneworldyouthproject.org.

The end goal of OWYP is to create a just world built through the actions of empowered, discerning and empathetic generations of global citizens. OWYP hopes to accomplish this by facilitating intercultural communication between students of different backgrounds. This type of peace project supports one of the seven pillars of peace education, community building. This pillar focuses on finding things that unite and bind us together as a group, while at the same time respecting and celebrating our differences. Allowing students from different backgrounds to communicate across borders will create a new understanding of what makes them both different and similar. Students that engage in the program will become well-rounded citizens that are able to operate in a diverse world.

Is Spiderman The Key to Educational Success?

http://www.comicstriparchive.com/category/spider-man

Some of you may be surprised to find out that the answer is partially YES! In recent years, reports have been made claiming that adults exiting school and entering the work force are not meeting the demands of their employers. Employers are complaining that young workers do not have the writing capabilities and the critical thinking and analysis capabilities that are crucial to be successful in the world today. Our economy is extremely vulnerable and employers need workers who are able to adapt to constant fluctuations and still turn some type of profit. Why are people leaving school today and not being able to fill the needs of their employers? What must our educators do in order to change this trend of students leaving school who are ill equipped to be successful in today’s economy? Well, its simple…put the fun back into learning!

The International Reading Association (IRA) has proposed an alternative form of writing other than the standard book reports that all grade school students are required to write at some point. The IRA suggests teachers to have students to create their own comic strips for books instead of writing a standard book report. Asking students to create their own story line for a comic strip regarding the books they read for school will enhance their critical thinking and analysis skills far more than a book report could. Through creating their own comic strips, students will be forced to access the creative thinking parts of their mind in order to symbolically depict the characters in a way that is congruent with their portrayal in the original text.

The education system that is used in the United States and majority of the world today has been the same for centuries now; a very structured student-teacher classroom where the teacher relays information to their students that the students need to report back to the teachers verbatim in order to achieve “success.” In his book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, Ken Robinson refers to this as the banking method of education. However, this removes any opportunity for students to develop critical thinking and analysis tools from a young age. As you grow older, these tools are harder to develop. In order to start promoting this type of creative thinking that is necessary at an early age, we must start using alternative ways of learning.

This type of “alternative book report” can be a key alternative form of learning in the coming years. It could be used successfully at any grade school level; first grade all the way through twelfth grade. The amazing thing about asking students to write a comic strip instead of a book report is that the teacher is still providing students with a structured assignment. The comic strip would have to depict the major scenes of the novel and the assignment would still have a due date such as any other traditional school assignment. The difference is you are providing the students with creative ownership over the final outcome. How they choose to depict each of the major scenes is entirely up to them. Thinking of interesting and innovative ways to portray the characters will force them to think in ways they never have thus sparking their critical thinking and analysis tools. Also, providing student with this type of alternative assignment can allow them to be excited about their work again. I know that I am more likely to put effort into an assignment that I feel passionate about and that I feel I have ownership over. This type of assignment provides exactly that for our students. Why shouldn’t we provide them with an opportunity to have fun with their homework?

How about a day for peace?

Actor turned filmmaker Jeremy Gilley founded Peace One Day after realizing that there was no starting point for peace, no day of global unity, no day for intercultural cooperation, and no day for when humanity came together. Gilley felt that if we united as one then that might be the key to humanity’s survival. He started his advocacy for his Peace Day by writing letters to every state leader, their ambassadors, Nobel peace laureates, NGOs, faith based organizations, and other various organizations. Then in 1999 his dream of Peace One Day came true. In 1999 all the member states of the United Nations adopted the 21st of September as Peace Day. This day is recognized as an annual global ceasefire and non-violence day.

Jeremy Gilley’s Peace One Day is recognized every year, but unfortunately the day hasn’t gotten the full attention it deserves. Gilley was to make a statement with Kofi Annan on September 11, 2001 to advocate for his event, but because of the attack on the World Trade Center the statement never happened. However, the events on September 11, 2001 made Gilley work even harder. He was even more empowered and inspired to move forward with Peace One Day. This led to Gilley, along with actor Jude Law, to start work for peace in Afghanistan. Because of the pair advocating for Peace Day the Taliban sent him letter and said they would observe the day, and not engage in violence. The Taliban doing this led to 1.6 million people vaccinated for polio and violence on that day was down by 70%.

Due to this success Gilley has initiated a new plan for 2012, a Global Truce Day. This day will show younger generations that we can make a stop to violence with small acts of non-violence in our everyday lives. Gilley wants to utilize all kinds of resources from dance to social media and globally network with government, intergovernmental, and education leaders.

Gilley’s idea of utilizing education into his plan for 2012’s Global Truce Day helped persuade me to write this blog post about his event. Gilley wants to get young people to be the driving force to inspire individual action, so he has complied an educational resource for teachers to implement non-violence and other peace concepts into the classroom.

I can see this educational resource implemented in almost every formal grade level classroom. The students would need a little background on what conflict is, so because of this, starting at the fourth or fifth grade level would probably be best. However, this could fluctuate determined on how the students are influenced by conflict in their everyday lives. By implementing these resources in a classroom setting these children can practice non-violence in their schools, and also bring what they learn outside of the school setting and teach others.

Ways to use this resource:
Gilley includes many different types of lessons in his educational resource. This comprehensive resource includes 21 one-hour lesson plans for exploring issues of peace, nonviolence, and the protection of the environment, with extended projects for Peace Day on September 21st. I think this resource would be best integrated by first starting with showing Gilley’s documentary for one day of class, doing the lesson that corresponds to that, then moving on to the individual lessons maybe once a month until the actual Peace Day on the 21st. The students could help plan how they want their school to recognize and celebrate the event. In addition to using Gilley’s lesson plans I think it would be important for each teacher to incorporate their own discussion in their classrooms on non-violence, and other peace education areas. This would help each individual classroom relate to what types of conflict are going on in their societies.

The goal of each lesson, whether it be with Gilley’s lesson plans or the teacher’s, would be to spread knowledge about ways to bring about peace in small ways. These can be from their knowledge on non-violence to their knowledge of eco-resolution. Each lesson will more than likely encourage a student to go out and spread what they learned to another, and therefore spread the movement of peace.

“We should oppose violence in all situations and of course there’s no better way of bringing that about than through the power of education.”-Jeremy Gilley

Resources:
Peace One Day website: http://peaceoneday.org/
Peace One Day’s educational resources: http://peaceoneday.org/teachers/

World Peace… and other 4th grade achievements

As an adult, I’ve been involved with an inter-agency simulation, here in the Washington, DC area sponsored by the United States Institute for Peace called Strategic Economic Needs and Security Exercise (SENSE). SENSE has been used in peace talks across the world and is a great resource and training tool for governmental leaders and public servants who wish to understand the complexities of war and building sustainable peace in a conflict, or post-conflict country.

This all sounds very boring (yawn), right? To be honest, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my (adult) life. Over a three day period, these often well-known and extremely intelligent adults are brought back to their basics: scheming, negotiating, collaborating and finding creative solutions to current world issues. We’ve done simulations for inter-agency adults who are ruthless, to Conflict Analysis and Peace Operation students who are actually too collaborative and sometimes unrealistic; but I’ve always wondered, how would children react?

Little did I know, an educator named John Hunter has been playing this simulation with his 4th grade classes for more than 25 years and loving every surprising and challenging moment along the way. Here he is speaking about his experiences on Ted Talks in 2011:

What I find most amazing about the idea of holding ‘World Peace Games’ for classrooms of children is that they have the opportunity to face struggles, frustrations, and conflict with peers head on while finding creative solutions through negotiation, collaboration, effective communication, and most importantly- without violence. These are traits I wish I had learned at any level before college, which is sadly when and where I’ve learned most of them. Additionally, it gives children the idea that they are intelligent, realistic, and smart individuals who can find the solution to relevant and world-wide issues; and hopefully, the confidence to solve any other problems that evolve in their day-to-day life. Plus, it’s fun!

This is probably why John Hunter was named in Time Magazine as one of the 12 Education Activists of 2012, and was also featured in a documentary based around his experiences with 4th graders and the World Peace Games; which you can see the trailer.

Personally, I think this model is highly applicable at any level of school. John Hunter’s website World Peace Game features details on what the game is and how to play it although unfortunately, it appears as though they don’t give exact instructions; only the ability to contact John Hunter and have him teach your class the game. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t implement your own similar simulation with the same basic formula: 5 countries, specific resources, a driving issue, and a board in which they can actively witness the consequences or benefits of their actions…

For teachers, administrators, and school systems who are unsure, can watch the movie and judge for themselves; or better yet, show it to their students and gauge their interest in playing the game themselves…

High Hopes on High Ropes

Running around a track has its place, but what if your P.E. class got a facelift? High 5 Adventure Learning Center has challenged the way traditional physical education classes operate by introducing team building challenge courses that are appropriate for students k – 12. The courses can range from “low ropes” elements that engage a whole group of kids to “high ropes” elements that lift students high up into the air with a harness.  The elements that students face together are designed to bring them closer to each other as well as learn about themselves individually.

So often students are in competition to receive high grades in order to gain admission into selective universities. Rather than defaulting onto typical sports that often still allow for individuals to take the spotlight, the different elements require individuals to come together. These courses help to develop and stretch students by pushing them to rely on one another and working as a united team. An added benefit to these elements is that there often is not a single correct way to accomplish a task. Because of this, teams have to engage their creative problem solving skills. In a setting that so often has a single correct answer, this setting puts the student in the educational drivers seat.

Perhaps high adventure courses have previously been limited to those that are gutsy enough to spend a week at a summer camp, but High 5 has challenged this notion. On their website, High 5 boasts several testimonials including the NHL’s Boston Bruins team, AmeriCorps, and the Alaska National Guard. Most privy though, are the Bridgeport Public Schools. High school P.E. classes have been radically changed in Bridgeport Ct. Over 12,500 students of all ages have gone through the challenge course to date, and the schools have noticed as significant change in their students.

Ways to Use this Resource

The elements available for purchase are individually, though they suggest that groups of schools invest in a challenge course. Course building is a 2 or 3-year process and can be an expensive investment. Though there are certain benefits from investing in a specific challenge course, there are also ways to develop a teambuilding program without breaking the bank. The site offers a vast amount of reading materials and game/program bags that help teachers to hone their teambuilding skills. These books and bags are a bit more feasible for teachers that have a budget to keep in mind.

high5adventure.org

Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MAGGIE MEENEHAN

One of my hero’s growing up was Dr. Jane Goodall.  Here  was a woman,  in the 1960’s, going alone into the jungles of Tanzania with a notebook and binoculars to study and save chimpanzees.    Though she met with extraordinary difficulties and  fierce adversaries,  she has managed to become a world renown authority on chimpanzees, conservation and the plight of endangered species world wide.  She is a  leading, passionate force for change  through her Jane Goodall Institute and now has “branched out” to schools and youth with her Roots and Shoots Foundation.

Dr. Jane Goodall, a UN Messenger of Peace, is the founder of the Roots and Shoots Program,  which aims to connect students to real life service learning projects of THEIR OWN choosing.   Dr. Jane began this project in 1991, when she felt that she was meeting so many children who lacked hope for the future.  She wanted to provide them with an opportunity to “think about the world’s problems and to roll up their sleeves and tackle them”.

The projects are curriculum based and encourage youth (elementary through college) to make positive changes in their own communities.  The projects have three components, which intertwine and depend upon one another.  These components are: the animal community, the human community and the environment.  The students are encouraged to identify problems and to take concrete actions.  In working together students gain a sense of empowerment that comes from helping others.

The service projects are looked upon as campaigns.   Students act as participants but also as leaders.  The web site gives examples of past campaigns but encourages students to create meaningful projects for their own communities.   The site has lesson plans to access,  Professional Development Opportunities, Career Explorations, Projects of the Month, Extension Activities,  and Family Activities.

The web site helps students and teachers plan, organize, coordinate and report/register their campaigns.  An important aspect of the projects is engaging the communities.  Dr. Jane believes that community centered conservation programs are critical to the survival of endangered species and conservation projects.

This is a fantastic, well designed and well supported,  global environmental humanitarian youth program that relies on the participants to “work for peace”.  Currently operating in  120 countries with 150,000 members, www.rootsandshoots.org  is an amazing example of a peaceable skill building and community building organization.  As we “Peacelearners” say…..check it out!