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February 25th, 2014 · 2 Comments
Michael Sam, a University of Missouri student who is expected to be drafted in the NFL, recently came out. Public reaction has been mixed, with some NFL personnel saying that they wouldn’t be comfortable having a gay player in the locker room. This video, featuring Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen, offers a powerful response to these complaints, highlighting the hypocrisy and double standards that such prejudices require. The video is quite short (just about 2 minutes) and would make a great addition to a class discussion on sports, current events or equal rights.
February 6th, 2014 · No Comments
This Valentine’s Day activity from Teaching Tolerance provides insight into Valentine’s Day’s roots as a holiday of resistance. It also highlights the injustices that can occur during this holiday — “moments of exclusion and ostracism, assumptions of a heterosexual norm” — and draws a parallel between the ban on gay marriage and the ban on soldier marriage that may be behind Valentine’s Day’s origin. One interesting way to use the ideas in this activity with a more advanced class would be to take a more traditional Valentine’s Day activity (like this board game) and look at it through a critical lens, having students address questions like this:
- Where, in this activity, might someone feel ostracized or excluded?
- Where can we see assumptions of heterosexuality?
- If a student wanted to keep their sexual orientation private, could they? Or could there be pressure in this activity for them to “out” themselves?
- How could we change the language of the game to make it more inclusive?
Note that the link to resources on the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (part of the grade 9-12 activity) is broken. It should probably go here.
January 23rd, 2014 · No Comments
IATEFL’s Global Issues Special Interest Group just added a great new feature to their website: eLesson Inspirations. These inspirations take of the form of video clips, each accompanied by several ideas for how they could be used in a class. Five videos have been posted, and they will add new ones every Saturday.
One that caught my eye is this lesson, based on the poem “The Lost Generation” by Johnathan Reed. The poem starts by giving a very bleak view of the future, before reversing (literally) to offer hope. The lesson features 10 ideas for pre- and post-viewing activities. One pre-viewing activity that I would like to try is called “True AND False.” In it, students are split into two groups, with one group being asked to say why a given statement is true, the other arguing why it is false. The statements that students are arguing for or against are found in the poem: lines like “happiness comes from within” or “I can change the world.” Helping students see that statements can be argued as both true and false is a neat way to work on critical literacy.
This poem would also be a great addition to an activity I’ve used asking students to write global issues-themed poetry. For this activity, I like using poems that have structures that students can imitate, making this poem a perfect fit.
This is definitely a resource I’ll keep my eye on, and I encourage you to check it out.
November 20th, 2013 · 2 Comments
As we close in on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley offers some ideas for a variety of gratitude activities. These would be great to include around the holiday, or just in general. And be sure to check out the rest of the education section of the Greater Good website. They have lots of neat ideas for teaching about mindfulness, compassion and happiness.
November 1st, 2013 · 2 Comments
YES! Magazine just added a great new activity based on the above picture to their curriculum section. It would work well in an ESL or EFL classroom. It’s simple, it requires critical thinking, and it makes a great speaking or writing prompt.
First, show students the above picture and ask them what they notice. Then, ask them what questions they have. Next let them know some facts about the photo. You can get more facts at the YES! website, but I’ve included the caption and a few of the facts below:
caption: Donations of vinegar, lemons, water and a milky antacid are collected at several points along the edge of Gezi Park on June 2, to treat victims of tear gas.
The Turkish government recently announced its plans to raze nine-acre Gezi Park in Istanbul to build a new shopping mall. In response to the announcement, tens of thousands of protestors, who became known as the Gezi Park Resistance Movement, gathered to protect the park. Riot police evicted demonstrators using tear gas grenades, water cannons, and violence after the government banned demonstrations in Taksim Square. Supporters of the Gezi Park Resistance Movement started a Twitter hashtag campaign, and tear-gas-readiness supply donations quickly came in.
Finally, the lesson concludes with some discussion questions that could easily lead into extension activities or group projects:
- A protest is an expression of objection to events or situations. What do you think of protestors? Have you ever protested for or against something? If so, how did you plan or organize your protest?
- Parks are important to cities and neighborhoods. Do you have a favorite park? How would you feel if you learned that it was being demolished to become a shopping mall or an office building? What might you do to try to save it?
- What is a ‘Twitter hashtag campaign’? What other social media campaigns have been used successfully? How do you use social media? How might you use social media to advocate for a cause?
This could easily be used as a standalone activity, or it could be incorporated into a larger unit. The topic is an engaging one, and as a prompt it would elicit great conversation or writing. And be sure to check out the rest of the curriculum section, the charts and infographics, and the other resources for teachers as well.
October 9th, 2013 · 1 Comment
On a recent episode of Moyers and Company, Bill Moyers sat down with Wendell Berry. Berry is a writer, farmer and environmental activist who has been active in the US for over 50 years. The interview is pretty long (~40 minutes) but sections of it would be great in a lesson on the environment, food, business, or politics. A transcript is available, so students could read along as they listen.
In addition to the interview, Berry reads several of his poems, including one of my favorites, The Peace of Wild Things:
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry
A poem like this can be a great discussion or writing prompt. One way to use it would be to have students write a poem about something that causes them despair and something that brings them peace. Alternatively, students could write about how they feel in nature. I find that, with poetry activities, its useful to give students very clear models and guidelines, instead of simply saying write a poem about X.
Also, at the end of the show, Moyers gives a brief take of the US government shutdown. If students are curious about it, this video clip would be a good way to shed some light on it.
October 1st, 2013 · 1 Comment
IATEFL’s Global Issues Special Interest Group is hosting Food Issues Month this October. They’re asking teachers from around the world to shares lessons and activities related to:
- Hunger and food scarcity
- Food safety and food regulation
- Food advertising and labels
- Genetically modified (GM) foods
- Diets and food lifestyle choices
- Obesity and eating disorders
- Sustainable agriculture
- Food and labour issues
You can share material on their website, and they’ll be putting together weekly summaries of what people post. I’ll be sharing some ideas, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other folks are doing.
September 4th, 2013 · No Comments
Two quick links today. The first (thanks Rob!) is a collection of 40 maps. I love using visual prompts with students, and these maps quickly and clearly communicate a wide range of information about our world. One in particular that I liked (#17, pictured above) is a map of the highest paid US public employees by state. Another good one is map #29, which shows how the economic center of gravity has shifted since 1 AD.
I’d also like to share a like to this online collection of poetry from the Occupy movement. I have an activity that I like to do based on global issues poetry, and this could be a good source for models.
August 1st, 2013 · No Comments
I’d like to share a couple of articles about the ongoing crackdown by Russia’s government on homosexuality. This article summarizes the issues well, detailing the various laws that have been passed. These include a ban on adoption by gay parents and a law allowing police to arrest tourists and hold them for up to two weeks if they suspect them of being either gay or “pro-gay.” And this article discusses the pros and cons of a boycott of the Sochi Olympics, raising the question of whether attending or boycotting would do more for equal rights in Russia. Finally, there is a collection of photographs showing scenes from recent pride parades in Russia. Be advised, some of these are pretty tough to see.
One way to approach this would be from the point of view of Olympic boycotts. Students could look at previous boycotts (or proposed boycotts) and do some research into their causes and effects. Then, they could express their opinions on the USOC’s statement that “History has proven that the only people that are hurt by boycotts are the athletes that have worked their whole lives to participate in these Games.” Of course, this could be broadened into a look at the underlying purpose of the Olympic Games or at boycotts as a means of encouraging reform.
July 26th, 2013 · No Comments
For those of you in or near Japan, this is a great opportunity! The deadline for proposals has been extended to August 30. Kip Cates and George Jacobs (two longtime favorites of mine) are on the list of invited speakers.
Peace as a Global Language Conference
Dates: November 16 – 17, 2013
Venue: Rikkyo University, Tokyo (Nizza campus)
Theme: Peace and Welfare in the Local and Global Community
Submission Deadline: August 30, 2013
In our increasingly interconnected global village, where we live in close proximity to people from different backgrounds, creeds, genders, ethnicity, orientation and ages, many questions remain. How should we work toward solving issues that divide our communities, both at the local and international levels? How can we work together to achieve better ties for all, despite the multifaceted challenges that everybody faces on a daily basis? This year’s conference will examine some of the issues pertaining to achieving and maintaining peace in our families and communities, and how to bring us closer together to realise our potential to interconnect, respect and promote recognition for all and a culture of peace, in a time of deepening inequalities.
With the above in mind, we cordially invite scholars, teachers, peace activists, students and members of the community interested in these issues and more to join us in the second weekend of November in the beautiful surroundings of Rikkyo University’s Niiza campus for discussion, debate and contemplation, and to come together as together to realise our potential as co-inhabitants of a shrinking planet. .
Looking forward to welcoming you to PGL2013.
Chair, PGL 2013
- John Denny “Empowering a Nation: Transforming Myanmar into a Member of the Global Community”
- Akemi Shimada “Fostering Ainu Youth”
- Gerry Yokota “Engendering Communities of Peace”
- Kip Cates “Teaching for Peace in the Global Classroom: Information, Inspiration, Action”
- George Jacobs “Promoting Peace through Eating More Plant Foods”