Ann Viegut, this week’s Educator of the Week, encourages her students to make global connections in their everyday lives. Ann is a geography teacher for 5th to 8th grade at John Muir Middle School in Wausau, Wisconsin.
Activity: My International Morning
Grade Level: 5-8
Time Commitment: 2 class periods
Developing Global Connections
My students began by reading Lizzie’s Morning, a story from Nat Geo Education that follows one girl’s experience with globalization through the objects she encounters. I then asked the students to identify all the places mentioned in Lizzie’s story and color them on a paper map.
Next, the students examined their own lives and wrote the stories of their mornings, highlighting the countries they encounter through the items they use or activities they engage in. I introduced them to the National Geographic’s MapMaker Interactive, and they created a digital map featuring the countries from their stories.
As a class, the students shared and discussed their maps. They noticed commonalities such as a lack of pins in the southern hemisphere or Africa. Many students were fascinated to see how many products actually came from countries near the U.S. like Canada and Mexico. They had expected almost everything would have come from Asia.
This activity helped my students understand and analyze human wants and needs beyond their immediate surroundings. They were able to observe the way their daily activities connect them with the rest of the world.
Do you have any advice for educators interested in teaching students to think more globally?
I think it’s easy to teach what you know. So, when you’re trying to teach about the rest of the world, seek opportunities to travel. You can also invite people into the classroom to share their travels and/or or culture.
My classes regularly learn new things about the world from each other since some of my students have moved to Wausau from other countries. I always tell my class that when you can learn from other people about their personal experiences, you have to grab that opportunity. You just can’t read about that.
Do you have a favorite book, blog, or quote that inspires your teaching?
My students know that when we answer the classroom phone, we always say, “Without geography, you’re nowhere. Ms. Viegut’s classroom!” I do think you have to know where you are to determine where you would want to go.
If you could take your students on a field trip anywhere, where would you go?
I’d like to take them to a developing country to help them understand wealth in a broader global context. I’d like them to realize that most people in the world don’t have the luxuries that they have. If they could understand that some people have to walk to get water, don’t have electricity, and don’t have diets that vary on every whim or craving, it would be life changing.
Do you know a great educator who teaches about our world? Nominate a colleague or yourself as the next Educator of the Week!
The Educator Spotlight series features inspiring activities and lessons that educators are implementing with their students that connect them to the world in bold and exciting ways