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 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”

Nurturing Global Competence in a Connected and Disconnected World at Project Zero

How connected is our world, really? When you touch the seams of your clothing, who touched them first? What are their lives like? Does having internet access really connect us to one another? Our digital “connections” seem to mimic tribal patterns and echo chambers more than avenues of exploration. This is the context of our world today and on in which Veronica Boix-Mansilla establishes for our exploration in our mini course. Continue reading “Nurturing Global Competence in a Connected and Disconnected World at Project Zero”

Thinking Globally With Art at Project Zero

As an AP Art History teacher, and now an AP World History teacher (jumping back into that again!), I find it very important that our students become literate to the world of ideas around them. This takes several forms these days; some will push for a more globally oriented course whereby students become aware of the rest of the world at large in order to increase their perspectives. I appreciate this attempt but I also find that our students, today, are especially illiterate of the ideas that form the foundation of our society – notably those that are at the bedrock of Western civilization.

Continue reading “Thinking Globally With Art at Project Zero”