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Articles: Global Learning

Improving relations with Cuba have renewed interest in educational travel for some U.S. schools this year, with teachers eager to show students a country on the cusp of historic changes.

Students visited Paris on a trip organized through the Student & Youth Travel Association in July 2014. Some district administrators cancelled trips to popular destinations including Paris, New York City and Washington, D.C., in recent months after terrorist attacks or threats on those locations.

The November terrorist attack on Paris and ensuing threats to major U.S. cities led many administrators nationwide to cancel class spring break trips in efforts to keep students safe. The decisions, in many cases, disappointed students, parents and city officials in popular tourist destinations.

 Harrisonburg City Public Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner has seen the refugee population more than double in six years.

Tucked among the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia is a high-poverty school district that looks a lot like the United Nations. And helping Kurdish, Eritrean and Paraguayan refugee students become part of the social fabric is something Harrisonburg City Public Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner is most proud of.

Cleveland City Schools Director Martin Ringstaff saw a personalized learning opportunity in a school trip to Nicaragua.

An engineering project in a Tennessee high school grew into a mission to build an innovative dome to grow fresh food for a Central American orphanage. The adventure inspired Cleveland City Schools Director Martin Ringstaff to spread a personalized, project-based learning approach to more of his students.

This required curriculum for kindergarten through grade 10 at Chicago Public Schools celebrates the growing diversity in the district.

Responding to the growing diversity of its students, Chicago Public Schools has launched a new curriculum focused on the cultures of Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Teachers from Teachers College, Columbia University's new program visit nations like Colombia and then build capstone projects to bring their global learning back to U.S. classrooms.

Students join African drum circles in Virginia, debate immigration in the Bronx and participate in overseas book clubs in Minneapolis and Philadelphia. Teachers have brought these activities and others to their classrooms from a growing number of globally-focused teacher prep and professional development programs.

Students participating in the virtual field trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden watched horticulturalists demonstrate tree removal and the environmental impact of an invasive beetle.

Students from around the world have been traveling virtually to the White House, the Antarctic and the International Space Station thanks to a Google+ program that helps classrooms confined by budget cuts explore the world outside of school.

At the Sherli Drukdra School in Saldang, Nepal, students say morning prayers as the wind turbine churns in the background.

During the past school year and into last summer, one class at the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford High School in Connecticut worked with a utilities expert and neighboring corporate partner United Technologies to design and build a solar-powered wind turbine that would generate electricity for a rural school in Saldang, Nepal.

Amanda Ripley says schools overseas do a better job teaching students critical thinking skills.

When journalist Amanda Ripley was assigned to learn why the United States fared poorly on the global PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test, she was in for a surprise. PISA, administered every three years, evaluates education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in 70 countries. Ripley found that the highest ranked countries, not previously known for their “smart kids,” had made remarkable turnarounds in recent years.

Saikaly and his team make their way up Mount Everest.

Adventure filmmaker Elia Saikaly was approaching the top of Mount Everest Friday when he took some time out of the climb to speak to a high school classroom in Canada about his journey.

Students talked via Skype to Saikaly at his base at the mountain’s Camp 2, about 22,500 feet above sea level. They asked him about adjusting to the cold climate, his diet (lots of eggs, meat and potatoes), how to train for such a feat (plenty of exercise and hiking trips), and what keeps him motivated (hot showers, strawberries, and his family).

U.S. education is increasingly going global: The U.S. Department of Education recently announced its first-ever, fully articulated international strategy, designed to strengthen schools and advance the nation’s international priorities.

Odvard Egil DyrliGrowing up in a bilingual home near New York City, where my brother and I were the only ones who spoke Norwegian in our elementary school, I remember being asked to translate for newly-arrived Scandinavian students whose parents were assigned to the UN.

Girl learns Chinese

Bibb County, Ga. is better known for being at the heart of confederacy than for its international interests—until now. This fall marked the beginning of a new curriculum for the school district, with Mandarin Chinese classes now required for all pre-K12 students. Haitian-born superintendent Romain Dallemand’s goal is to have all students become fully bilingual in English and Mandarin by high school graduation.

Lakeside High Ga. compete

In the weeks leading up to a presidential election, it’s hard to dismiss the importance of civic education, with campaign speeches, debates and advertisements blaring everywhere. Yet the National Assessment of Education Progress reports that only one-fourth of high school graduates are proficient in topics such as the American political system, principles of democracy, world affairs and the roles of citizens.

Oh, What a Beautiful Oklahoma

In the curriculum feature story “Geography Ed for a Flat World” (June 2012), writers list several states that require geography and test it. Your article left out Oklahoma.

Oklahoma requires geography in the sixth and seventh grades. There is a statewide mandated test for seventh grade. That course and the testing have been in effect for well over 10 years. Most districts also offer full-year geography courses in high school; however, there is no mandated testing for geography at that level.

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