3 Creative Ways to Teach Global Awareness

Use these activities to engage students with the global community.

July 06, 2015
Rachel McVeagh
Classroom teacher
Cornell Senior High School
Coraopolis, PA
CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Tools

You've heard it a million times: "Our students must be prepared to compete in today's global society." As if our students are expected to be sophisticated and savvy ambassadors, able to engage with and lead others on an international scale. Don't they realize our classes are short on time as is? There is so much we want our students to learn. How can I add concepts to the learning activities that aren’t directly related to the standards or our content area?

While trying anything new takes time “behind the scenes” for teachers, prioritizing something we feel strongly about doesn't have to take tons of extra class time. Even with all the learning objectives we already have, there's room to help students become globally aware, to realize that they're part of an interconnected society, and to learn how to navigate and ultimately succeed in it.

Even with all the learning objectives we already have, there's room to help students become globally aware, to realize that they're part of an interconnected society, and to learn how to navigate and ultimately succeed in it.

Global awareness is about working to understand a region’s geography, resources, history, economy, religions, and languages in order to gain insight into varying perspectives and ways of being and thinking around the world. Our students are part of something larger than themselves, and an understanding of this could ignite the curiosity to become culturally sensitive, responsible, and productive global citizens.

So, how can you do your part to make sure students can both compete against but also collaborate with people from cultures different from their own? Check out the three activity ideas below as a way to add global awareness to your current content. Any one of them could be tweaked to fit a range of learning situations.

Become consultants.

Encourage students to learn about ecotourism. How and why are countries turning to ecotourism? What are some of the most effective business models that hotels and tourist attractions use? What could be done to make ecotourism even less harmful to the environment? Which places in the world are ripe for ecotourism but haven’t shifted in that direction? Why not? Connect your students with companies or tourism bureaus across the world. Let students collect background information from these organizations, and then offer the organizations free consulting. Task your students with improving and increasing ecotourism by coming up with concrete ideas for the organizations to implement. Use Google Drive or other collaboration tools to get students brainstorming and creating together.

Connect with new people.

Do you want your students to interact with others across the globe and share their knowledge and learning with others? Skype in the Classroom lets you connect with classrooms around the world for free. There are tons of experts in a variety of fields who are willing to spend time talking to students. One of Skype in the Classroom’s most popular features, Mystery Skype, allows classes to play a guessing game with each other to try and figure out where each of the schools are located. You'll be surprised by how many other teachers are interested in collaborating and by how many specialists are so generous with their time and knowledge. It's also worth noting that Skype in the Classroom has become a convenient resource for finding virtual field trips.

Explore a new place. 

With the Google Field Trip app, students can use the map feature or search by area of interest to find great places to explore. Let’s say your students are reading a novel and you want them to learn about its setting in present day. Have students use the map feature to zoom in on the location, and information "cards" will appear describing a variety of interesting sites, ranging from museums and monuments to theme parks and "haunted" hotels. Structure this activity by setting parameters for your students: Give them a geographical area you'd like them to search, the number and types of places you’d like them to find, and how in-depth you'd like their knowledge to be of each place.


How do you incorporate global awareness into your classroom lessons? What great tech tools help you accomplish this? Share your ideas in the comments below!

"A Globe" by Mark Doliner. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.
"Climbing Journal Mount Rinjani package" by Trekking Rinjani. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.
"Skype Classroom - Sharks" by Laurie Sullivan. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.
"Great Wall of China, Mutianyu" by Colin Capelle. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.