Middle Schoolers In the Big Blue World


Middle School students tend to pretty self-absorbed.  

I overheard this little conversation at the end of class one day recently:  "I mean, you know, he's not dating anyone right now and he'll be at the skating rink on Saturday so yeah I'll go even if I have to donate a can of food."

They are mainly concerned with their own little world and if an issue fits into it, then yeah, they'll go even if they have to donate a can of food.  

Of course, this is a generalization, but I truly think our students' focus today is very narrow and very local.  


"No because maybe they need to focus (on themselves)."

Many of them have no idea what life is like outside of their immediate community.  Only 4 out of my 17 students have ever been out of the state of Florida.  Only one of those 17 had ever been out of our country.  

England might as well be another planet.  Why should they care about the British or any other country?  What do these places have to do with them anyway?


Ah, this is the trick to creating a global classroom:  We need to show our students what the world has done (or is doing or will do) for them.

I started with some bell work questions that we discussed and even some students revised their opinions after listening to answers like this one:




Then we looked at a map.  We marked the places that people in the room have been to so we could see where they were in the world.  It was also interesting to see how far away they are from our town.



It was interesting to discuss what they thought life might be like there.  Some students had various stereotypes to share and some just had absolutely no idea what might or might not be in any particular country we discussed.

As a result, my next move is a trip around the world - well, virtually at least.  :)

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/globaltrek/


The site says "What are the benefits of seeing the world?"  

Indeed.  I hope that something like this helps my students find that out.  There's a big blue world out there just waiting to be explored!

And with the most recent events in France, it is even more important that my middle schoolers understand the impact those events can have on their own lives.  They need to know that what happens in places like Paris is important to us here in America.  They need to know that hate will not drive out hate.  They need to know to look for (and maybe be) the helpers like Mister Rogers said.   It will not be easy, but important things never are.  I plan to use the ideas in this post to help me discuss these things with my students:  




What do you do in your classroom to help create global citizens?  Join in the conversation in the comments or by linking up below!













15 comments

  1. Unfortunately the old adage is true... Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. And it doesn't seem like the lessons will sink in anytime soon, but we should all keep trying! Thank you for your ideas!

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    1. I agree and will definitely keep trying because you never know what impact you may make.

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  2. What a great idea to see where the class has been.

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    1. Thanks! I hope it helps them get a sense of how much more is "out there".

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  3. I love what you are doing in your classroom to encourage students to think globally--it is more vital now than ever!

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  4. You're so right about many middle schoolers being self-absorbed. Thank goodness there are teachers like you shaping their young hearts and minds!

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  5. I love the travel journal that is attached to each destination!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your ideas. To be more familiar with the world is an important step in seeing how you fit and the potential impact you might have. Last year I did a small unit on where our clothes are made. It was powerful to identify the countries that make our clothing and then look at the conditions in those country (and/or factories). It was an easy way for middle school students to see how their choices can have an impact on the lives of others. I'll have to check out the Global Trek.

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  8. I love that you are trying to get your students to really see the world around them and focus less on themselves!

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  9. I completely agree that seeing the world and making those connections is so important for kids to understand this does matter to them!

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  10. This is so interesting! It's quite different here in England (where's that?! lol) because many of our students are usually well-travelled (probably to escape from the dreary weather!). It's great that you are teaching them to think more globally and I really like the global trek site too, thanks for sharing!

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  11. I always remember the first time I led a climbing trip for middle schoolers from LA, to Joshua Tree. This was a private school so it wasn't like they didn't have the resources to get out of the city. We arrived in the evening, with the giant granite boulders of Joshua Tree glowing golden in the setting sun. The students' faces were pasted against the windows, and one of them asked me: "Who put these here?" Speaking carefully I asked the kid to clarify. He told me he had seen such rocks at Disneyland, and wondered if these were also a Disney product. I was blown away, and also honored that I got to be the one to introduce him to geology, and real rocks. Sometimes I think middle school kids mostly just don't know what they don't know, and a cool map or website like the one's you shared will draw in their voracious and scattershot minds. Thanks!

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  12. I live in a fairly rural area, so even my high school students tend to be uninformed about the rest of the world. So I love to make connections to cultures and places around the world, especially since I traveled to 12 countries in Europe after college. Love your map display, too! I want to do this at my school.

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