By Fran Siracusa
Relentless. Whether as a dual-language learner attempting to make sense of the world as a three-year-old, or as a 44-year-old life-long learner attempting to transform people and planet through global education, I am relentless in moving forward to affect change. My newest passion project and vision for social good led me to a new role as an Educator Task Force leader who contributes to global citizenship by advancing the work of the United Nations in relation to education through advocacy and outreach.
Just like me, I know relentless students who are craving opportunities for empowerment, within and outside the classroom walls. In our global learning spaces, past student participation in projects and interactions has changed perspectives, developed appreciation, bolstered empathetic response, and spurred catalytic movement. The learners with whom I worked, virtually and in person, consequently reciprocated with invigorated reactions and plans that offered contributions; these “workers” who were saturated with knowledge later contributed to real-world solutions and served less-fortunate communities with their dedication and magnanimous energies. Those students were, and are, relentless!
As we examine Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education, the first target is access to any form of both primary and secondary education, including books, classrooms and teachers. Second, quality education must be stressed, as well as eliminating gender disparities and equal access for vulnerable peoples. UN Ambassador Dessima Williams from Grenada expressed that in global education, “there is inequality remaining still,” and be it through a foundation, a global project, or 21st century innovations, students ought to understand “the concept of solidarity and connectedness with each other.” To bring this message to students and educators is imperative; I help my students and other global education stakeholders to see the relevance of connection, and enable them to work with others, while promoting and experiencing intercultural understanding. All students worldwide ought to be asked to impact the world through social good by means of campaigns or innovations, in their educational spheres. As Unicef articulates, in order to realize the Global Goals by the year 2030, “everyone, however young they are, needs to take part. So join our movement, teach young people about the Goals and encourage them to become the generation that changed the world.”
The main message I individually gleaned from attendance at the Global Education Forum conference last November was also the fourth pillar of Global Competence: take action! The students with whom we work should be prepared to make a difference in the world, not just learn about the world. By creating interactive routines where we push our students not only to investigate other cultures, but instead to also communicate and collaborate with learners from other countries, we can promote authentic global citizenship.
With a call to action, students can help communities across the globe. Connection-based learning leads to personal connection among global peers; furthering of such relationships builds teamwork and sense of providence so that students can affect wider audiences as well as change on an international level and in those global communities needing help.
So, what impact could such “take action” steps of Global Goals campaigns and innovations technology have upon education? After a review of the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students resource, I pondered the scope of three of the skills and qualities we hope to cultivate in our students: (a.), Digital Citizen; (b.), Creative Communicator; and (c.), Global Collaborator. Students could employ digital tools such as messaging and posting apps, digital artifact creation apps, and video communication and/or broadcasting, for example, to broaden their perspectives and global awareness while conversing or working with international peers. Engaging in teams to develop understanding of others’ environments, or later, to devise imaginative solutions when tackling global issues would enhance the overall learning landscape. Further opportunities would arise for learning with and from global peers. Global education is empathy education, and to provide platforms and opportunities for meaningful learning experience for youth around the world is crucial.
Next steps: partnering with the students! I know that in order to add to the impact of global education, one must continue to scale up. Therefore, after introducing the topics of Quality Education and Gender Equality (Global Goals 4 and 5), my students and I set out to explore and innovate. I contacted fellow educators through social media to connect with us and investigate laterally. Alongside global peers and utilizing powerful resources such as Unicef’s “World’s Largest Lesson,” we built global awareness and cultural understanding while infusing openness, curiosity, innovation and responsibility. Consequently, students integrated innovative technology tools in order to create digital artifacts; these artifacts are authentic campaigns spread on social media to advance real-world solutions. In utilizing a design-thinking framework at inception, spreading their message, and ultimately, collaborating with global peers, the students’ actions are catalytic! My students and I have created genuine partnerships, parallel to the genuine partnership fostered between myself and colleagues in my PLN, or at my school, or on our UN Educator Task Force.
Todays’ students can engage with each other and utilize shared resources and voice to achieve so much. I continue to advocate for connections-based learning in conjunction with authentic student experience in all classrooms in tandem with action pieces where students take to heart the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and do their part to transform the world for the better.
Back to being relentless: if future educators see our work and reciprocate efforts, this momentum can only increase, and the positive impact can only escalate. This kind of catalytic action becomes a response to the Global Goals. Perhaps, with small steps like these, students partnered with educators or with other global peers can help close the education gap, the gender equality gap, the wealth creation gap, and the peace gap, etc. Imagine the influence of a young adult in shaping our world of today and of the future if he or she has been exposed to the Global Goals for each year of schooling between the ages of eight and 18! Those 10 years of intentional analysis and respect of the Goals ought to influence a young person to always selflessly consider his present living conditions and not to compromise the earth’s resources for future generations.
I myself promise to be relentless, to enliven the learning landscape, and imitate future workplace settings. I am prepared to permeate and forge environments where student teams practice capacities for understanding, investigating, connecting and integrating. I will encourage creativity and international collaboration in education now, so tomorrow’s global workforce is prepared today. As Ambassador Williams iterated with a Grenada colloquial expression, we all ought to “do ‘thing,” and I intend to relentlessly spread that message to students.
21st Century Outcomes
Learning & Innovation Skills
Creativity & Innovation: Developing, implementing and communicating new ideas to others; Acting on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the domain in which the innovation occurs
Information, Media & Technology Skills
Information Literacy: Access information about communities around the world from a variety of information sources
Life & Career Skills
Productivity & Accountability: Through a service-learning project that requires the sharing of work activities, students develop awareness of our responsibility to help others in society who experience a crisis
Instructor's Lesson Plans
Choose one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in which to focus.
Reach out on social media to colleagues in your PLN in order to find project partner classrooms who will work alongside you and your students, whether synchronously or asynchronously. First, utilize Twitter as a starting point to reach out for project partners. Second, use Twitter to update your PLN on your students’ work, to drum up encouragement or participation by others, and/or to point to collaborative spaces (such as Padlet). Use strategic hashtags (#TeachSDGs, #globalgoals, #SDGs, #genderequality, #globaled) and personal invitations on DM to encourage teachers to join your activity, or to celebrate your students’ work.
See below in the slideshow of images for screenshots from Twitter regarding the Gender Equality activity.
Collaborative Space: https://padlet.com/fransiracusa1/GenderEquality_Goal5
Access quality resources that enable teachers to easily integrate the Global Goals into young people’s curriculum and multi-disciplinary coursework.
SDGs in Action app, sponsored by Project Everyone: https://sdgsinaction.com/ https://education.microsoft.com/Story/SkypeCollaboration?token=Yxkm9
http://www.teachsdgs.org/projects.html sponsored by Participate.
Create or co-create a teacher collection of resources (relevant links, videos, ideas, projects, and inspiration) to share with other teachers and the students who are participating.
http://www.calliopeglobal.com/teachsdgsgoal5.html (2017- Siracusa: focus on Goal 5)
http://www.calliopeglobal.com/ourblueearth.html (2016- Siracusa: focus on Goal 6)
Inspire students to affect positive change among the most vulnerable peoples of the world. Invite them to create digital artifacts for campaigns that make an authentic difference, and that develop a world-view that broadens and deepens thinking. Students started with their first Global Goals task: create a digital poster to raise global awareness of the issue of gender equality, or Goal 5. Students were introduced to the Buncee application, (creativity and presentation tool). Next, students were asked to voluntarily post their digital posters on social media messaging mediums, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, or on the class virtual corkboard, Padlet.
Finally, students were tasked with working in small groups or individually to complete their personal choice SDGS: INVENT, INNOVATE, CAMPAIGN project, as if they were hired by a company as innovative designers, charged with branding and spreading their message. As global collaborators, they ought to create, question, and communicate in multiple and creative formats. Those particular students who felt they could “stretch their wings” creatively were invited to use the web tool of their choosing and liking. The others just followed the task instructions below to create an informative Spark/Sway (created and modeled on Adobe Spark):
Celebrate the amazing Global Goals campaigns the students created by publishing on a shared interactive corkboard, such as Padlet. The students projects are not complete, but one can view work thus far at the link below, as well as on actual embedded Padlet below:
Collaborative Space: https://padlet.com/fransiracusa1/TeachSDGsInventInnovateCampaign