Think Locally Connect Globally

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With technology providing information at our fingertips, teaching and learning are undergoing a transformation. The role of the teacher is changing from instructor to facilitator. Technology has the potential to completely shift what learning looks like and who has access to it. I am hopeful that technology will provide education for everyone, everywhere.

Our Grade 4 service learning unit, Agents of Change,  have been evolving over the past few years. The unit used to be a little bit fluffy, lots of toy drives, bake sales, beach clean-ups, etc. Year after year, students would ‘design’ the same kinds of projects and we felt as a team, we could do better. Two years ago we began using the Service Learning Matrix to front-load this unit.

Service Learning Matrix

I created a Google Slide presentation, What Does it Mean to Be an Agent of Change?  designed to teach students about the problems humans, animals, and the Earth is currently facing. We spend a few days covering each topic. At first, teachers model ways of helping directly, indirectly or through advocacy. As we progress, the students take over, designing possible projects that could make a difference.  Eventually working in interest-based groups, designing and carrying out their own service learning projects using the Matrix as a graphic organizer.  I’m really pleased with the direction this unit has taken over the past couple of years and I am excited at the opportunity to take this unit to the next level.

“People say think globally, act locally. Well, if you think globally, it is overwhelming and you do not have enough energy left to act locally. Just act locally and see what a difference you can make. We are constantly told to buy more, buy, buy, buy! But do we really need it? It starts with trying to live a more sustainable life in the small decisions we make every day.”
                                                                                                              -Dr. Jane Goodall       dsc_0581

My goal: To facilitate opportunities for my students to think locally and connect globally.

There are a number of ways to get started with this, and luckily I have a few months before the unit begins. We are already using Seesaw, Google Drive, Sites and Classroom to connect with students across the grade-level. Next steps are to get students (and teachers) familiar with Twitter, Google+, wikispaces and (Thanks,  Jackie Raseman)  to connect with other students in other schools. In the meantime I will be connecting with educators on Twitter and Coetail to see what others are doing and if any other classes want to connect.

Jennifer Byrnes

My name is Jen and this is my 10th year as an educator. I am a fourth-grade teacher at the American School of the Hague. I have lived and worked in the US, Uk, Italy, China and the Netherlands. I have taught grades K-4.

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