A&GC: Week 1 – If the World Were a Village

Part blog post, part field notes. This post is part of a series of reflections on a 10-week elective I’m both teaching and conducting active research on. Entitled” The Arts as a Path to Global Citizenship” our goal is to explore our roles as global citizens using the arts to approach complicated and difficult topics, such as race, stereotypes, and our role in the world. I hope to use this platform to simultaneously share with the community and organize my thoughts as a dual role educator. Read more here

 

What is an Action Research Project?: [http://asoundmind.edublogs.org/2018/01/20/agc-what-is-an-action-research-project/]

Intro to Global Citizenship

      Fittingly this progressive course began on the same day our country honored Martin Luther King Jr. His cause and his legacy were perfect tie-ins to the content we would examining throughout this 10 week electives. The main topic of our first day  (as it always is with these courses) is to go over the syllabus. This might seem humdrum or common place to most of the people [adults] reading this, yet it is not something that most middle schoolers are familiar with. It helps them understand the scope and sequence of the course, what are the topics we’re covering, and what are the major projects due. As an incentive, I tell them if they present their syllabus to me at the end of the quarter, they’ll be entitled to extra credit worth the equivalent of one in-class assignment. After explaining the syllabus the students were asked to complete a short 10 question introduction survey that just gauged their interest, knowledge, and attitudes about the topics.

Defining our Class

      We also took the important step the first of defining the term of “Global Citizenship.” Using a live polling site, we created an interactive word map on the board in the front of the room. Students were asked “What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear the term “Global Citizenship” and their responses were populated in real-time for all to see. This word bank then became a useful tool as we tried to define a complicated phrase that seems to elude definition. The working definition students came up with was “Different cultures coming together worldwide, to help people.” I plan to revisit this definition again at the end of the quarter to see how their understanding of the term has evolved. 

Demographic of America

     This week had two major activities: Demographic of America (compared to our class) and Demographics of the World (compared to the US & our class) We, as alluded to in the course title, used art to demonstrate and display these somewhat mundae statistics. Using texts from CitizenKid (Thanks again Donors!) we first examine our own country. We cleared an entire wall of the class room, and placed colored notes according to the ethnic makeup of our country. (Yellow = white, Green = Black, Orange = Asian, Pink = Hispanic, White=Native) The students were surprised, to the point where they thought the statistic were wrong, to find that our country was 74% white. In terms of the activity, it meant that on the back wall we were placing 74 yellow post-its to represent these people. This massive visual made it plain to see the ethnic makeup of our country. The last step had the students placing a blue post it note next to the demographic they most identified with. With 68% of our school population being Latino, it became very obvious that our population was not representative of America. We discussed how this might impact the way we view the world and how the news we read might not reflect our viewpoint because of it. 

If the World were a Village:

      Our final activity of the week, has us creating imaginative infographics: pictures that deliver information. We used the texts, If the World were a Village, and looked as some creative examples online. Students were to pick just a single statistic they were surprised by (only 83% have access to clean drinking water) They then created an image to help represent the statistic they chose. I was nervous about how a pretty complex activity might go, but the student exceeded my expectations with the fantastic examples you can see here. These pictures, like the post-its, use art as tool to help us understand complicated (and sometimes depressing) information. Although no one would consider a Title I school affluent, I think it was eye opening to a lot of students to compare their quality of life with the rest of the world. I plan to hang them in the hallway outside the classroom so everyone at the school can see! 

   

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