Global Competency for AP World History

I am currently planning for my one section (yay!) of AP World History, which I haven’t taught since 2013-2014, and running through the various materials to make sense of everything. As I noted on my AP World blog over on Ricard Academy, this course is a bit of a monster and requires some wrangling to make sense of it.

After you get past the scope of the course (a history of the entire world!) you then have to sort through the stereo instructions that is the Course and Exam Description (CED) which is supposed to help you figure out how best to teach the course. Yeesh.

Yet, having gone through the Project Zero Classroom institute this summer, I can take a deep breath and apply some tools to simplify things. Reading the aforementioned blog post, you can see that I created my throughlines or overarching understanding goals from the CED’s disciplinary practices and reasoning skills (p. 9 of 2017 CED). That alone is going to save my life and help me transition from “busy” to “productive”.

At PZ, I was struck by the notion about “global competency” that Veronica Boix Mansilla was presenting on and attended her session. I wanted to get a handle on what it was so that I can look into applying it into my courses, namely AP Art History and AP World. I took her working definition and turned it into my first overarching goal, hoping to make it a primal focal point for both myself and my students in our study of the history of the world.

Boix Mansilla’s definition, once again was:

  • Global competence is the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.

What I really enjoyed about this definition is the focus on a disposition or development of a mind set. In today’s world, we need more awareness but we also need to temper our actions – or inaction. Most of today’s tension portrayed through the media lens is due to a lack of acknowledgement and a need for quick judgements formulated around labels. If we can not only be aware of what others are thinking and concerned about in other parts of the world, and acknowledge what they are thinking and feeling, we can take a step closer to diffusing any potential conflict. At least, its a working theory of mine.

To take it one step further, acknowledgement does not mean agreement. We should be able to make up our own minds despite the input of information. In other words, we need more listening and less talking at or about each other.

So, in order to help bring this awareness about, and develop this disposition towards global competency, I rephrased the definition into the following overarching understanding statement and question:

  • Am I globally competent?┬áStudents will develop the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.

By offering this constant opportunity for reflection, students can self-evaluate their growing state of global competency. When an important issue arises in today’s context, hopefully they will be able to apply it to their study of the past to help flesh out what is going on and then consider what the proper course of action will be.

Tips for Teaching for Understanding: Ongoing Assessment

How do we navigate an open-ended classroom, with students working collaboratively while at the same time accurately assessing individual understanding? This is one of the primary challenges teachers face when making changes to their practice and adopting new techniques.

We want students to be driven by their innate curiosity and interests, but how can we chart this evenly across the entire roster of our class?

This simple question forces us to look into our philosophy on assessment. What is the purpose of assessment and how is it being used in our classes? With a shift towards understanding, over coverage, our assessments need to chart understanding and not simply give an evaluative snapshot. Let’s take a look at ongoing assessment. Continue reading “Tips for Teaching for Understanding: Ongoing Assessment”

Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Performances

Previously, we summarized what Understanding Goals are and their placement within the Teaching for Understanding framework. Let’s take a look at Understanding Performances to see how they relate.

The major difference between understanding goals (UGs) and understanding performances (UPs) is UGs state what students should understand while UPs are what students do to demonstrate their understanding. Continue reading “Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Performances”

Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Goals

According to The Teaching for Understanding Guide, there are four components to the framework:

  • Generative Topics
  • Understanding Goals
  • Performances of Understanding
  • Ongoing Assessment

We looked at Generative Topics here and that would be a great place to start if you are considering retooling your practice. Here, we are going to take a look at Understanding Goals and how they can be implemented. Continue reading “Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Goals”

Tips for Teaching with Generative Topics

One aspect of developing a practice of teaching that focuses on understanding is using what is called “generative topics”. These are topics that are both interesting to students and to teachers and often reach across curricula. Because of their open-ended nature, they are accessible to students of various abilities and also can yield a wide range of resources.

Yet, with so much open about generative topics, how can we as teachers use them to bridge our students towards thinking, learning, and ultimately understanding? Continue reading “Tips for Teaching with Generative Topics”