Flat Connections

Transforming learning through global collaboration

I have been thinking of potential topics for my global collaborative project for a couple of weeks now and have honed in on one that I am genuinely interested in.  I have been collaborating for the past couple of years with our 7th grade Social Studies teacher as she did the American Revolution unit, and I always wondered if teachers taught the American Revolution in England?  Do they have a different name for it?  Do they take a different spin on it?  Do they present a different perspective being on the other side of the proverbial coin?  I got to thinking about this in terms of other conflicts, especially those that are more current and haven't had the time to settle into an accepted story of what happened.   What stereotypes, blind spots or misunderstandings do we have versus the what the people have who are on the other side of the issue?  What does having differing perspectives do to us?  What would learning about other perspectives do to help us?  I am sure that some countries don't even talk about the American Revolution.  Why not?  Why should they?  Should they? 

So, this project would partner together students in countries that might hold different perspectives on a the same topic.  Students could explore what they have learned to be true, compare and contrast what other students have learned to be true and see how they do or do not match up.  The more perspeciives on a topic the more interesting the discussion might be.  They could create the "real" truth which is more balanced and culturally sensitive.  Or, who knows, they might find out that their knowledge and understanding is the same.  How did that happen?  Where did they get this authoritative information? 

I think that a project like this would make learning about historical events, which often don't relate to students' own lives, interesting and current.  It broadens their thinking to a global level.  They would become more culturall sensitive and more critical thinkers and evaluators of information.  They would become...Perspective Detectives!  Here's the link to my project-in-progres Perspective Detectives.  I have more work to do on it, obviously, but it's a start.  What do you think?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

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Comment by Vicki Davis on February 15, 2012 at 10:17pm

Personally, Cynthia,

I'm blown away by the concept. I love it! It is incredible. Your trailer is great. Your design title is catchy. It has a clear story. You've made an incredible trailer. Many times an incredible project starts with an incredible idea that meets a need. You've done that here. The details can come once you have a great idea. Wow! I'm tremendously impressed and hope you'll consider incubating this. 

Here's my blog post on this one - http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2012/02/perspective-detectives.html

FC Global Educator
Comment by Cynthia Sandler on February 7, 2012 at 7:30am


Thanks for commenting on this idea.  I love the question of "how does local curriculum reflect the needs of the country."  I will add that to my guiding questions on my Project Design.  In that Project Design, I do consider definitely going beyond the US.  I had just used that as a starting point as to what got me originally interested in the idea.  That is so interesting to hear about your students in Beijing who learn about Ancient Rome while being surrounded by Chinese history!  I think it would be amazing and so interesting to see what other countries focus on and don't focus on.  But your idea of connecting it to what does that show about that country (in terms of what it chooses to do or not do) really broadens the discussion.  It takes the project to a larger scale or deeper level or something like that.  I'm going to think more about this...  Thanks!

Comment by Julie Lindsay on February 7, 2012 at 12:49am

Cynthia, this is is a great topic, thought-provoking and potentially life-changing. I encourage you to think broadly, and even thought it sounds like it needs to align with a history class, try and weave in other ideas and topics and guiding questions that could allow students to think in different ways. Maybe start even very simply with the concept of 'History happens to us all' or 'History is all around us - what are you looking at'? where students get to share what they are exposed to. On one hand it is not about who learns US history and how they learn it, it is about nationalism and cultural differences and how local curriculum reflects the needs of the country. Think also about what the US does NOT teach as well. Do you ever teach Australian history? Why? Why not? Why does a history teacher in an international school in Beijing teach about Ancient Rome when we are surrounded by Chinese history.......?

FC Global Educator
Comment by Cindy Schultz on January 20, 2012 at 1:13pm

Cynthia,  I think you have some great ideas and I would love to give you some feedback but when I clicked the link I got "problem loading page."  Can you make sure the link works because I am not able to access it.

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