Digital Tools for the Global Classroom

1. TED talks:
There are so many amazing TED talks out there that it can be overwhelming.  I use Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "The Danger of a Single Story" in my Global Studies class, and the idea of challenging the single narrative of a culture or people has become a major theme in my class.  Here is an assignment and writing prompt related I use before we study Achebe's Things Fall Apart.  Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani's TED talk "Did you hear the one about the Iranian-American" draws attention to discrimination against Muslims and Arabs using comedic humor.   Dayo Olopade's TED talk, "The New African Narrative," pushes back against the persistent Western worldview of Africa as a dark and miserable continent.

2. World Music! Digital Subscription Music Delivery Services (and/or YouTube):
I personally love to use Rhapsody to find music from around the world and deliver it to my students. Students are listening to music they've never heard before almost every day of the school year. Most of the time, it is my "hook" and leads them into the day's studies. They walk into my class dancing!  Students tell me time and time again how much they enjoyed and learned from the music intros. There are many different subscription services out there, and you could even use YouTube if you know what you were looking for. I have learned about world music through radio programs, PRI "The World" and their "Global Hit" segment, music festivals, etc. I LOVE world music, and if I wasn't a teacher, I'd be an ethnomusicologist. 

3. Blogs
My students blog regularly with a class in Morocco using Blogger. My partner teacher in Tangier and I built the program from the bottom up. We design the writing prompts to which our classes respond, and then students comment on each others' ideas and writing. Connecting my students in rural America with mostly Muslim kids in Morocco is one of the most important things that I do as a teacher to promote tolerance and respect. When they talk to each other, animosities melt away and trust develops. See an extended discussion of this project here on my Teaching Globally in the Boondocks Blog. Even though we built our blog project from the bottom up on our own, there are myriad organizations out there who could help you on your journey of connecting your classroom with another in the world.  Check out,,, and Face to Faith.

Innumerable opportunities to see the ways in which media from different parts of the world cover issues of global significance. If you're studying a region, why not also follow their news? Or perhaps looks at the differences between our media sources and international sources. Limitless possibilities for global connections. 

5.  Instagram
Secondary students are all about Instagram at this point.  This could change.  Facebook is no longer favored by teens because their parents are all over it, but Instagram gives teachers a way to connect to kids through their own authentic photographic lens.  Throughout my travels this summer to the Philippines (and later, Costa Rica), I had about 80 of my students following me and engaging through my photos.  I even made many of my photos contests that required students to do a little research for the chance to win souvenirs from the Philippines.  They really go into it!  Check out my Philippines Instagram @kajtaniakinthephilippines:

6. Skype in the Classroom:  
Connect with classrooms all over the world, play Mystery Skype, take virtual field trips! 
7.  Digital Learning Environment Inventory:
The questions in this inventory help teachers get a snapshot of where their school is in terms of digital capabilities.

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