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Adding a Global Touch
By Nancy Craker-Yahman 19-Apr-17
Classroom Displays Your classroom wall space and bulletin board displays are an important part of your learning environment and it’s important that you use these supportive showcasing tools appropriately. There are many things to consider when creating a bulletin board display, such as, What is the display’s purpose, its message? Who is the target audience and what do I want observers to walk away thinking or feeling? As you prepare bulletin board creations, one of the most important items to consider is teaching your students how to respect, care for, and admire the diversity of our world—how to include a global connection. Adding global connections to classroom walls, bulletin boards, and common school spaces helps to increase student awareness with respect to global issues and encourage students to pause, think, and reflect on the message being shared. Adding a global touch should relate to aspects of your curriculum; new displays should be created each month to highlight global awareness. Here are a few examples to get you started. Global Teaching Ideas Teaching students about the world helps them to form a connection to it and assume their place in it as a global citizen. Through class research and hands-on involvement in global awareness activities, students form a connection to the cause they are supporting or topic of study they are researching. Universal global connection ideas could include the study of peace, heroic leaders, archeological landmarks, global diets, contact with pen pals, a study of the continents, or honoring world events such as Earth Day and United Nations World Food Day. Designing a global a word wall or providing each student with a global word journal that can function as a personal dictionary helps support the development of global knowledge. Each display should include student work that demonstrates their understanding of lessons and highlights their growth and achievement. It’s also important to showcase your students’ creative talents in a variety of ways when sharing a global message. Make available a variety of art and craft materials so that students can experiment with different types of creative materials to support their developing talents. A laminated world map is an item that can be explored by eager fingertips. Bulletin board creations that appeal to the senses are always appreciated, and these types of displays allow students to make a visual and tactical connection. A touch-and-feel display can incorporate string, fabric, tissue paper, and stickers. A map made from such materials will encourage students to become more familiar with the location of countries, continents, oceans, and regions. When maps are placed at the appropriate eye level for viewing and for hands-on discovery, they help support student understanding to world geography. Incorporating the use of color adds a wow factor; when a variety of different colors are used, particularly earth-tone colors, this helps students to form a connection to earth’s contrasting landscapes. Borders help supply an outline. Certain designs available for purchase in teacher catalogs include those featuring planet earth, global textile designs, multicultural handprints, the solar system, and natural elements, such as plants, trees and animals. The style of print a student chooses to use in their writing matters. It is important that their work be legible and that students understand why neatness counts. I also recommend the use of globally patterned fabric, table cloths, and decorative wrapping paper that feature international images. Bulletin Board and Wall Space Ideas Bulletin board displays should include topics with which students can identify. When they become curious about a topic or discover a connection with a global theme being showcased you have captured their interest, which makes them yearn for more. By displaying a multicultural alphabet you are having young students review their alphabet but are also introducing them to a new set of global vocabulary. It’s important that displays incorporate student perspectives and creations. Check in with each student individually; ask them to help you choose which piece of their work should be placed on display and have them explain why it should be showcased. Your bulletin board or wall space needs to feature a title or an introduction to your theme. It is important that the title of your creation be displayed using larger-style lettering and that it that be printed in bold. As you spend a school year together it is important that you take time to learn of your students’ interests and that these are reflected in the classroom wall space. Create an “In the News” bulletin board where students are able to read about current events in their home community and from around the world. Popular topics of interest range from animals to sports to how students can be of help to a community or nation in need. The use of colors and other global reference images will help make your message and bulletin board creation stand out. Global connections can easily be made with references to literature, the arts, world events, and even a class- or school-wide community service project. When adding supportive pictures to a display, it’s best to incorporate student illustrations and photographs. Recycled calendars from UNICEF and images from magazines such as National Geographic that feature world landmarks work well. The integration of photographs allows you to showcase the world, its people, cultures, animals, and historic landmarks in an approach that helps to capture the beauty of our world in a realistic manner. When students view photographs of people engaged in activities that are similar yet slightly different to their own, they are able to make a global connection to the people and places of the world. Conclusion Students are always looking to identify with things that relate to their own background and cultural heritage. When a classroom teacher helps by supplying positive global messages and images, and when this becomes a school-wide practice, we are doing our job right. Sharing global perspectives serves a meaningful purpose. A global learning experience allows students to connect to their place in the world and helps them to develop a positive and respectful attitude towards the world’s people and places. Including global connections can be as simple as decorating a classroom doorway with the word “Hello” written in different languages or by creating a global word reference wall. These simple yet effective ways to share the diversity of languages spoken around the world supports students from a variety of backgrounds encouraging them to form a stronger connection to the world. Global classroom experiences and bulletin boards that showcase positive and realistic global images allow students to reflect on their purpose and encourages them to think about what types of contributions they plan to make. The focus of global bulletin boards and the effective use of classroom wall space should be on our teaching minds. Teachers should plan time to discuss and share their ideas on global displays that would work best for their school. The sharing of ideas is often an inspiration to teachers and they return to their classrooms with new and creative ideas ready for implementation. A global display’s main purpose is to invite conversation that leads to discussion about the world. Students have inquiring minds and they are eager to learn about their peer’s backgrounds and other people’s ways of life. Through global message boards and classroom activities devoted to exploring and learning more about the world, its people, places, and offerings, the more our future generations of students will embrace, welcome, and respect the commonalities and differences that exist among us world citizens. Nancy Craker-Yahman is a former international and public school educator who has lived and taught in 5 different countries. She currently works as a Program Supervisor with Mount Holyoke College and mentors beginning teachers. She holds a Master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies and an advanced certificate in International School Administration from the University of Buffalo, The State University of New York. Nancy is always creating and planning new ways to highlight and support diversity and global connectedness in classroom and school environments.
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