Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Massachusetts Classroom Gets Global


How global is Massachusetts?  Well, the infographic below might be helpful.  But, the real question we need to ask is: How global are Massachusetts classrooms that are preparing Massachusetts students?
See more statistics on global education around the United States at Mapping the Nation
I'm just at the beginning stages of this new pedagogy of global learning. I wish I'd arrived at it sooner.  Last week my sophomores had a 45 minute video chat with the expert historians Jamie and Darren at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England.

After studying the evolution of textile machinery, they got to see a prototype Arkwright Water Frame live via Google Hangout.

They learned about urbanization, the health of women factory workers, Luddite protests, and the enslavement of orphan children.


After being part of an international chat, my students wrote about what they learned and how it was different than typical classroom experiences.

Kate said:
I did learn a lot because I was interested in the topic and could interact with the person who was teaching. I liked that we could see him actually touch the machines and turn them on so it could be demonstrated the way it worked [sic]. The only thing that was bad when how the sound and picture were getting delayed. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

Cassie talked about everything she learned, including the horrible treatment of orphans:
The mill owners didn't care very much about the conditions of their workers and fatalities because they just cared about their profits. They even used orphans as workers so they wouldn't have to pay them.  All they had to do was feed them and give them a place to sleep.

Perhaps Alisyn said it best:
This was a very memorable event, and a few months from now I will remember this unique opportunity and the information about the factories much more than I would have remembered it if we had just copied notes or listened to a lecture. .. The experience got us engaged in the information, and I would definitely want to do this with other experts on different topics throughout the year.

My new challenge as a teacher is to keep my students connected to the outside world. If I'm preparing them for a global workforce, they must be learning globally now. Real life doesn't happen inside the 4 walls of a classroom.

...Not to mention that I couldn't help but get caught up in the fun myself.