Don’t let me give you the impression that this is the only focus for the project. As the saying goes, there is something for everyone! Other areas in this project which were derived from the main theme, Food and Culture, are outlined as Issues and Themes. We will be adding suggestions for Big Questions for each theme; these can guide the individual class projects and collaborative explorations.
Teachers are invited to look them over, to select one or more they feel would be a good fit for their students, or to come up with another issue/theme (this list is certainly not all inclusive of significant possibilities). We are asking that each participating class contribute to the overall final project outcomes through these minimum requirements – submitting recipes, photos, artwork and essays to the Global Kids Cookbook; submitting at least 3 student-produced videos; and that teachers submit recommendations for at least three titles in children’s literature written by authors from their country. The goal is to have a Global Children’s Literature database which will be online and available to everyone.
I am anxious to have many teachers and students involved in this project. We do need people to sign up as early as possible so that we can organize connections for classrooms to collaborate, and you will need some time to start thinking about how you want to participate and do some preparation.
I believe very passionately in what I do, and I am absolutely certain that the kind of curriculum and instruction I promote are what are best for students. I am equally certain that the way the current, mainstream educational system is organized and run is bad for students. Teachers are being asked to do the impossible when students are changing class every 55 minutes (7 or 8 classes per day), and teachers are responsible for 120 students. It is ludicrous to think that threatening teachers and pressuring them for higher test scores - without providing them the context and support for success - is the answer.
When I was in the classroom I usually had a self-contained class. That way I could arrange our daily schedule to fit our needs. I had no "gifted and talented" students. They were regular ed, some special ed, and one year there was a boy who had been failed/held back the year before and had been recommended for placement in the class for the emotionally disturbed (that was my dear Drew, whom I will never forget), about half the students came from homes where Spanish was spoken, about half the students were from very poor homes, some with serious problems (financial, emotional, legal). Because I implemented curriculum that was structured similarly to the Food and Culture project, and provided support and had very high expectations ALL the students excelled. There were virtually no behavioral problems (some with Drew, but he made enormous, spectacular progress that year), and although it was not my sole purpose or goal, it turned out that my class achieved higher scores on their standardized tests than any of the classes in the school - including the GT classes!
By the way, the principal did not heed the recommendation to place Drew in the ED class; instead he placed him in my classroom because he knew that was the best place for Drew. And it was.