What are the Best Ways for a Teacher to Engage their Classroom in a Global Conversation?

What are the Best Ways for a Teacher to Engage their Classroom in a Global Conversation?

This post is part of C.M Rubin’s monthly series in the Huffington post: The Global Search for Education: Our Top 12 Global Teacher Blogs. This month we are answering the following prompt: What are the Best Ways for a Teacher to Engage their Classroom in a Global Conversation?

If we are looking to talk about best ways for teachers to support their classroom and hence their students to engage in a global conversation, we need to depart from the assumption that the teacher is globally aware, connected and engaged as a learner themselves.

The teacher needs to be globally aware…

  • that global literacy is part of BEING literate today (not a choice or an add-on)
  • with the understanding that global awareness entails more than geography skills, the ability to speak more than one language and having traveled abroad for a two week vacation
  • of opportunities to participate, contribute and learn from a global conversation

The teacher needs to be connected…

  • by strategically building, nurturing, growing and maintaining a Personal Learning Network across the globe
  • with the ability to access, “search”, “curate” information and crowdsource their network
  • with the mindset and skillset to amplify teaching and learning by reaching out and collaborating with other cultures, people and languages

The teacher needs to be engaged…

  • by giving as much as they are taking from their connections
  • by being flexible, innovative and willing to take risks
  • by contributing to the conversations their expertise, perspectives, shareable content and time
  • with the understanding that sharing is a moral imperative in a global network of educators and learners

Once these assumptions are met, the following are great starting points to engage students in a global conversations.


Create a global communication hub for your students to:


Build a strategic network of people, groups and topics of interest

Global Projects

Join already established global projects or organize your own

Personal Connections

Take advantage of personal connections to bring in a global perspective to a conversation. Think about:

  • your own relatives, friends and acquaintances, capable of contributing to a rich conversation
  • your students’ family from around the world
  • previous teacher colleagues
  • the friend of a friend of a friend

Amplify Traditional Assignments

You might have long been working hard to engage your students in global current situation news and issues, taking them to GIN conferences, organizing or participating in Model UN. These are all great and worthwhile projects, assignments to broaden your students horizon and getting them involved in something bigger than their own backyard.

Nonetheless, some of these projects/assignments talk ABOUT the world, global issues and collaboration, but do not go beyond that to actually TALK TO and COLLABORATE WITH the world. The assignments might ask students to create and present solutions to an issue without giving students the opportunity to share their findings to a global audience for review and feedback, let alone amplify their work beyond a simulation of an “authentic audience”.

  • amplify by allowing your students to present to an audience beyond the teacher, their classmates, school community or simulated audience
  • amplify by video conferencing and bringing in expertise and perspectives from experts, eye -witnesses or peers from other cultures and countries
  • amplify by discussing books, writing book reviews, articles, posts, videos, etc. with other people beyond your classroom walls
  • amplify by contributing to crowdsourcing requests by others
  • amplify by re-thinking writing assignments to be written with an audience in mind, expected to be published, expecting to engage in conversation with others
  • amplify by engaging with other topics of interest and commenting on other blogs
  • amplify by documenting, curating, sharing and geotagging current news events to invite in different perspectives
  • amplify by making learning and thinking visible for others to share best practices and ignite conversations about learning, topics and perspectives

cross posted at langwitches.org/blog

Silvia Tolisano is a Curriculum21 faculty member, author of the book Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators and founder of the Around the World with 80 Schools project. Read more at http://langwitches.org/blog.