Wellesley Students Become Global Citizens with Help from their Teacher

1 September 2012

8th grade service day photo: Wellesley students volunteering on 8th Grade Service Day 

Colleen Tang teaches English at Wellesley Middle School. Last summer, she participated in Primary Source's Teaching for Global Understanding in the 21st Century summer institute. She has since created a unit on global citizenship for her 8th grade students. Read on to hear about her students' experience learning about what it means to be a global citizen.

Primary Source: Why did you decide to teach a unit on global citizenship?

Colleen: I taught the global citizenship unit to my 8th grade Communications Lab class, a required English elective that we use as an opportunity to extend the English Curriculum. After taking the Teaching for Global Understanding institute with Primary Source, I was inspired to write a curriculum unit that teaches students about global issues and encourages them to be active global citizens. A key idea that I hoped students would take away after the unit is that kids can change the world. Often, kids see flaws in society and feel helpless to make positive change. This unit exposed the flaws, gave students a forum to discuss them, and encouraged kids to make positive change.

I would not have thought of creating this unit, nor would I have had the tools to do so without the support of Primary Source. The quality of scholars and resources, the exposure to new technologies, and thoughtful discussions at the institute all helped me to understand what it is to be a global citizen and how important it is to be one. It was a truly special week.

PS: What kinds of projects did your students work on as part of the unit? How did you incorporate this into the curriculum?

Colleen: The unit began with students exploring the Glog that I created with a group of educators during the Primary Source institute, and learned how their choices in clothing, food, water, and technology impact others throughout the world. We also read, analyzed, and discussed many primary sources that were presented at the institute, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. View a slideshow of posters that students presented.

The culminating project for the unit focused on the theme "Kids Can Change the World." The first semester, students designed a campaign to create positive change around a topic they are passionate about. They created various campaigns to impact local, national, and international issues and organizations, some of which included Heifer International, the Humane Society, hunger awareness and Save the Whales in Japan. One student group created visual art to display around the school showing the negative impact of using bottled water.

The second semester, students wrote speeches about what it means to them to be a global citizen and designed multimedia presentations to help communicate their points and engage their audience. Students were encouraged to use a new technology presented in the unit, including Glogster, VoiceThread, Prezi, PowerPoint, and iMovie.

PS: What did your students take away from this unit? Why is it important that students learn about global citizenship and human rights?

Colleen: Students really enjoyed the unit, and I believe they walked away feeling more informed and powerful. As the unit progressed, I noticed an increase in community involvement and passion. I am co-director of the Community Service Club at our school, and students began approaching me proposing projects on issues they were passionate about. One student saw the Kony video and asked if we could take part in some national events. Another student returned from vacation in Puerto Rico and was so affected by the poverty that she wanted to organize a day to raise awareness and money. We had a great amount of interest, support, and participation for our Walk for Hunger event, raising over $17,000. I believe that students are our future. It is our responsibility to educate them about the world we live in, and it will be up to them to create they world in which they want to live. I have great students and I can't wait to see how they continue to positively impact the world.



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