Resources: Connecting Contemporary World Issues with Technology

In order to help teachers incorporate the themes I discussed in my previous Contemporary World Issues posting, this post provides resources and links to activities, lesson plans and content that can aid educators in making their students more globally-conscious learners. Lesson Planet, the Peace Corps website for students and Globalization 101 all provide resources that help teachers bring current events and world issues to the forefront of their students’ consciousness. These resources help students connect the content of the Contemporary World Issues courses with means of pursuing activism against human rights violations and raising awareness about issues of environmental sustainability in their own nation and all across the world. Questions, comments or suggestions, as always, are welcome in the comments section below or on Twitter (@ToriMcDonough22 or @SocialStudiesatCSU)!
Lesson Planet
Lesson Planet is an online search engine of lesson materials and activities that teachers can search through to find resources that pertain to their specific classroom needs. Created in 1999 by a group of educators, the resources available on Lesson Planet on highly reviewed and tested for quality, so that every teacher who uses the materials is assured of the high quality of the content they are adopting into their lessons. Furthermore, teachers can search the databases using specific content or standard criteria so that they only receive search results that meet the content of what they are trying to teach. Within the website, over 1,800 resources are offered that allow teachers to educate their students about Contemporary World Issues. These resources range from lesson plans to activities and videos to worksheets that cover current world issues such as animal and human rights, poverty, nuclear weapons and medical ethics.
On the website, there is a research project which requires students to research a current global issue, conduct a survey among their community in regards to knowledge about that issue and then present all of their findings in a visual and oral presentation. Over the course of 7 lessons, this research activity helps teachers review the mechanics of the writing process, including a discussion about plagiarism, so that their students are adequately prepared to engage in their project with their own critical thinking skills and abilities. The unit review at the end of the lessons helps students clarify the direction of their research project and gives the teacher valuable feedback about how the students feel they can implement the lesson materials into their project and academic career as a whole. This particular lesson activity emphasizes historical thinking as it requires students to analyze multiple accounts, perspectives and contexts in order to gain a better understanding of a current world issue and to appreciate how others around them perceive the issue as well. This series of lessons also highlights the sourcing aspect of historical thinking, as students conduct research throughout several databases and sources of information to learn more about the specific issue upon which they are basing their project.
The only drawback to this particular website is that users must pay a membership fee in order to receive full access to the lesson materials. Fees range from $3.33 to $8.33 a month depending on the coverage of service, but a free 10 day trial is available to teachers who simply want to preview the website.
Peace Corps
Last updated in November of 2013, the Peace Corps student website offers information and classroom resources on a myriad of current world issues, including HIV/AIDS, women’s empowerment, and the environment. Each theme featured includes lesson plans, activities, stories, video and audio clips to help students understand the specific issue or culture being studied. There is also an option the Peace Corps website where teachers can link their classroom to a Peace Corps volunteer who is working abroad, so that their students can connect with that individual and see firsthand the type of work that is involved in their position. Every classroom that participates is linked with a volunteer for 2 years and is able to track their progress through email, video, phone calls and letters to learn more about the unique culture in which they are living and to become more aware of the issues that volunteer might be trying to work through with that particular culture.
On the website, one specific activity relating to sustainability and the environment requires students to work in groups to analyze how Peace Corps volunteers work around the globe to solve environmental crises. Then the students are asked to go out into their own communities and discern what an environmental issue could be for the physical place in which they live. Their group is then tasked with trying to develop a plan for action to help solve that problem within their community and bring awareness to others about the issue. This activity can help develop a student’s sense of historical thinking as they are engaging in the sourcing and context aspects of the definition. Students must conduct research in which they seek out various sources of environmental progress and then apply those principles and concepts to their own unique context in the United States. Furthermore, students are asked to analyze multiple accounts and perspectives on the issue of environmental sustainability in order to better understand how those practices can be implemented within their own sphere of influence.
Globalization 101
Globalization 101 was created in 2000 with the purpose of helping students understand the process of globalization. Run by the Levin Institute, a graduate department of International Relations for the State University of New York, this website provides comprehensive resources on globalization ranging from news media, teaching tools, curriculum, and videos. The purpose of this website is not to tell students whether or not globalization is beneficial to the world; rather, it provides these resources so that students can review the information and reach their own conclusions about the issue. Ranging from topics such as technology, trade, and international law, each topic provides one to two units of lesson plans and activities, so that teachers can adequately explain the issue or topic discussed to their students.
Within the vast amount of resources available on this website, one unit about the role of international law in Darfur stands out. Students learn about how international laws, organizations and the process of globalization have influenced the conflict there. Then they are asked to engage in a role-play activity in which they pretend to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council and develop a comprehensive plan for foreign policy in order to solve the crisis in Darfur. This assignment allows students to develop the multiple accounts and perspectives aspect of their historical thinking skills, as it requires them to think from the point of view of a high-ranking United Nations official or participant in order to solve a crisis in a country they may not know much about. This unit on Darfur also helps students develop their ability to think historically, as they are asked to read and do research on the crisis in Darfur from various sources and contexts from around the world.
Check out this list of resources for Contemporary World Issues courses provided by World Savvy and check back soon for our next series on connecting historical thinking and technology in Modern World History courses!
Works Cited:
Lesson Planet. “Global Issues Teacher Resources”.
Martin, Daisy. “What is Historical Thinking?” (January 10, 2011).
Ohio Department of Education. “Social Studies Model Curricula”.
Peace Corps. “Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools”.
SUNY Levin Institute. “Globalization 101”.