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Around the world: Education reforms in South Asia, Singapore, Sierra Leone and Ireland

Minnesota Public Radio posts a column by Nsikan Akpan connecting Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize to a discussion of successes and failures in expanding educational opportunities for girls and for the poor around the world, mainly in South Asia. (But the United States gets an F: “No Child Left Behind has not worked. In fact, it’s failed.” Read it here. What do you think?

My last post linked to an article about Finland; another country often raised as an ideal system is Singapore. Cathie Norris and Elliot Soloway post a dialogue on THE Journal about education in Singapore. The page is a bit of a promotion for their newsletter, but the information they provide is interesting and worth looking in to: “Singapore’s MasterPlan 3 explicitly states that pedagogy must move from direct instruction, with its focus on content testing, to inquiry-based ….” Read it here.

Probably the view of Africa by most Americans imagines it as disconnected and isolated from the modern world, and the portrayal of the Ebola crisis isn’t helping change that view. This article might: Silicon Republic reports on schools in Sierra Leone using various forms of distance learning to keep children learning if they attend schools closed due to the outbreak of the deadly virus. Read it here.

One of the things that stuck with me from the presentations at our Broward Global Education Symposium in March was the importance of students learning the so-called “soft skills” of teamwork, empathy, and grit, along with the Common Core standards and technology skills. Here’s an article from the Irish Times about a movement at primary schools in Ireland to help students develop those “soft” skills. To supplement this piece, here is an article from the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development about how to set up collaborative learning in your classroom.

What would Finland do?

CNN has finally jumped on the Finland bandwagon with its report on how the structure of education there contributes to its excellent international results. If you’re not familiar with this story or would like a refresher, the link is here.

U. S. Department of State announces scholarships for American high school students to study abroad

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) offers merit-based scholarships to study one of seven critical foreign languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajiki), Russian and Turkish. The NSLI-Y program is designed to immerse participants in the cultural life of the host country, provide formal and informal language practice, and spark a lifetime interest in foreign languages and cultures. The application deadline for summer 2015 and academic year 2015-2016 programs is October 30, 2014. Visit for more information.

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad Program offers merit-based scholarships to spend an academic year in countries that may include Bosnia & Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Oman, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, and Turkey. This program increases understanding between people in the United States and people in countries with significant Muslim populations. Students live with host families, attend local high schools, do community service, and complete a capstone project. Applications for academic year 2015-16 programs are due January 7, 2015. Visit for more information.

The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX) offers merit-based scholarships to spend an academic year in Germany. The program was established in 1983 to celebrate German-American friendship based on common values of democracy. Students live with host families, attend local schools, and participate in community life in Germany. For more information and application deadlines, visit the organization in charge of recruitment for your state at

For more information on exchanges sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, visit or watch this video about U.S. high school student exchanges. To receive printed brochures and/or posters about our study abroad opportunities, send an email with your request to

For information on having an international experience without leaving home, consider hosting a Department of State- sponsored exchange student. Learn more at

Happy Teachers Day’ from India!

Teachers’ Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated on different days around the world. From our Chinese classes at Pompano Beach High School, I received a large card on Sept. 10, the day Chinese students celebrate their teachers.IMG_0032 IMG_0034

In India, Teachers’ Day is celebrated on Sept. 5. Maya Menon, founder of The Teacher Foundation and a tremendous friend to all of us from Teachers for Global Classrooms who traveled to India in Summer 2013, wrote this blog post seeking not only to inspire India’s teachers but also its educational and political leaders, as the country undergoes a massive transformation in education due to the Right to Education Act, constitutionally making free compulsory education a fundamental right of children aged 6-14. I hope her message inspires you as well!

More links to look at

Tomorrow I start my first day at school for the new school year. But 58 million children around the world will not have that first day this year. A World at School is an international nonprofit group seeking to ensure every child around the world realizes his/her right to go to school. Visit their site here: perhaps a good opportunity for some global project-based learning in your classroom.

This article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review describes four schools (two in India, one in South Africa, and one in North Carolina) building entrepreneurial skills in their students.

The White House asked students from around the country to make films explaining the importance of technology in education. Sixteen were selected to be screened at the White House, and you can watch those 16 here.

I’ll admit I’m a bit behind on this, but James Mulhern, an AP English Language & Composition teacher from Atlantic Technical School here in Broward County, Florida, has put together, on his excellent website, a good list of links related to globalization and technology that can support your curriculum.

Teachers in the United States spend 80 percent of their time teaching, 20 percent planning. The average in the OECD is 67 percent teaching. But here’s a report on 17 high-performing and fast-improving schools where an important part of their culture is increasing time to plan and collaborate to 40 percent.

The only short film to win the Academy Award for best screenplay has no words and was made in France. It’s 34 minutes long, and it can be used as a basis for a variety of classroom discussion topics at all grade levels. If your school has YouTube access, you can watch The Red Balloon.


Recent links to browse

I know I’ve posted before about planning time; here is an article from the Tampa Tribune on a survey of local teachers’ desires for time–which are a lot like mine!

Here is a CNBC article reporting on yet another round of test results (this one from Pearson, which makes a lot of money off of this) that show Asian countries well ahead. An interesting quote from the report though points out that if the skills developed in school aren’t practiced in adulthood, they start declining at age 25.

Finally, bravissimi to a bunch of Haitian immigrant students in Miami who developed a game to help with learning English vocabulary. The game is called Word Avenger, and the article comes from the Miami Herald. See the YouTube ad here.

Links to check out

Just a quick post with some pertinent resources:

Primary Source has put together a good Pinterest page on the crisis in Ukraine.

Fernando Reimers is a professor of education at Harvard who writes often about the need for global education. Read two of his important papers: Education for Improvement: Citizenship in the Global Public Sphere and Educating for Global Competency.

In our acronym-frenzied industry, I’m sure you’re familiar with PBL and STEM. Well, here’s one I hadn’t heard before: STEAM. It takes the science, technology, engineering, and math of STEM and adds the A for arts. Here’s an Edutopia blog for incorporating all these letters: PBL and STEAM. Here’s another Edutopia blog encouraging incorporating the arts into all subjects: We Are All Artists.



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