How can teachers make global connections?

EdTech Ideas of connect and share geographical features of the planet

As a geography teacher, I’m often asked how to set up links that have a global connection. Indeed, as a geographer, I am often called upon to teach about places, concepts and processes that I have no direct experience of.

I’ve been lucky in the past to be involved in setting up a school link with a secondary institution in South Africa, and the British Council (britishcouncil.org) can help here greatly. However, global links needn’t be epic to be memorable and, through new technology, it’s possible to bring the idea of global development into the classroom. Here are five simple tools to help open up the world:

Digital Explorer

The digitalexplorer.com team are brilliant. A dedicated team that share expeditions and explorations with classrooms around the world. In particular, check out their Oceans Live initiative.

In terms of global cultural understanding, check out these pages that compare life in the UK with Pakistan. Some powerful learning opportunities.

Gapminder

It’s hard to think that some geography teachers may not already know about Gapminder.org. This powerful tool visualises development information from around the world. Students find the interface really engaging. The site can be used to reinforce mathematical skills (such as describing and predicting correlations between variables) as well as exploring some of the factors affecting development.

Mapping the Tweets of London

twitter.mappinglondon.co.uk is a really interesting resource to start off a unit on global connections. Start with asking students to describe how the distribution of Tweets in each language is spread around the capital before starting to research the areas. Use Google’s Streetview to see if there is any evidence in the built environment to reflect the concentrations, for example, do the tweets match up to the location of embassies?

Bing start page

Whatever you think of bing.com as a search engine, it’s daily image is a stunning way to introduce different places around the world. Display the image with a simple thunk, such as ‘What evidence is there that this place is developed?’ This can create some lively classroom discussion before students delve deeper into the location. It’s a very useful way to tackle the misconceptions that students have about how development can be measured.

Public Profiler

Another useful little tool for demonstrating the connections that young people have with the world through their surnames.

Set homework to use the site and then see if your young people can investigate and uncover any real connections with the places shown. Also a useful suite for practising exam skills such as describing geographical patterns.

Finally, head over to the Geographical Association’s Global Learning Programme pages at geography.org.uk.

This article originally appeared in the May2015 edition of the UKEdMagazine – click here to freely view.

David Rogers is a multi-award winning teacher, author and wannabe ultra-marathon runner. As an Assistant Headteacher in Brighton, he helps lead Teaching and Learning across the school. David doesn’t like desks but has sat behind one for long enough to write textbooks and educational resources, becoming Microsoft Innovative Fellow and Google Certified Teacher and Mentor along the way. David is most proud of being a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and winning its coveted ‘Excellence in Geography Teaching Award’ in 2013. This year, his challenge is to learn to ride a unicycle. Find him @davidErogers and read his ramblings at davidrogers.org.uk

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