Global education for grades 1 – 4: A Classroom Case Study

A diverse school district + 10 Global Connectors

The motto of Bentonville public schools in Arkansas is “Excellence With Every Step”.  This symbolizes their innovating approach and dedication to “educating all students for a successful future in a changing world, preparing the youth of [their] community to become caring, contributing citizens, and creating and maintaining exemplary programs for teaching and learning.”  

Over the last several years the district has seen an increase in international students, partially due to the arrival of new diverse foreign employees at the Walmart headquarters, located in Bentonville since 1950.

In response to the increasing diversity of their community, the school district wanted to teach students more about the world and cultures around them.  In 2015 the district developed a new activity class called Global Connections for the 6,680 students in grades K-4.  Just as with music, art, and gym classes, once a week all elementary students would have Global Connections in a dedicated classroom and with a dedicated teacher.  

Focus on diversity, respect, tolerance and bullying

The 10 Global Connections teachers agreed to start the school year with a month-long focus on diversity, respect, tolerance and bullying. Subsequent months would focus on holidays and different areas of the world including India, South America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

Each teacher was given the freedom to prepare and present the topics as they wished. Hallie Rowell of Elm Tree Elementary searched the web for global education materials that would make the diverse world relatable for her students. She found One Globe Kids and signed up to join our annual Fall pilot.

Exploring Haiti, Indonesia and Burundi with One Globe Kids

Ms. Rowell first introduced the One Globe Kids story of Valdo in Haiti with her 3rd and 4th grade students (250 students).  In preparation for the lessons, she read the Globe Smart Teacher’s Guide about Haiti, including background information on the country, discussion questions about water, electricity and transport, and activity ideas for writing, math and art.  

Her students took turns reading slides Valdo’s story aloud from the SmartBoard. They studied carefully the photos that accompany each slide and answering questions she posed from the education supports.  Ms. Rowell then had students independently compare and contrast their life to Valdo’s.

“The kids surprised me with great questions and the length of time they were able to discuss Valdo’s story. I was amazed at how they responded. The slides were so easy for my kids to relate to and sparked great questions and connections to their own life.  It was a great way for them to learn how kids live around the world.”

Next, Ms. Rowell introduced all 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders to Aji in Indonesia (500 students).  In addition to reading his story together, she had younger students complete a fill-in template while listening to Aji’s facts about Indonesia. Using the proposed “play” discussion theme for Indonesia, students in each grade wrote short essay answers to different questions.  (Ex: Have you ever built something to play with?  What was it? What materials did you use?  How did you build it?)

“My kids all loved learning about how Aji plays in Indonesia. I heard some of my kids even played squat tag at recess! We all played pingsut (Indonesian rock-paper-scissors) in class as well.”

Next, her students met Jenissa in Burundi.  After reading Jenissa’s story together, Ms. Howell focused classroom discussion and activity on the discussion themes markets and food. A lively conversation about negotiating prices and shopping followed. Students drew comparisons to where they shop in Bentonville compared to the central market where Jenissa shops with her mother. 

“There are so many ways I could use the stories.  Each one could easily be used over 2 – 3 weeks.  What a great resource.  I told everyone about it!”

Both teacher and students had a great time working with the One Globe Kids materials, and we can’t wait to hear where they will go next!

Stay Globe Smart, Sanny Zuiderveld


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