Practical Suggestions for Teaching Global Education. ERIC Digest. 

by Taylor, Howard Eugene 

Teachers may be convinced of the need to teach for a global perspective, but are often at a loss when confronted with everyday concerns about teaching global education. A literature review reveals a preoccupation with implementing global education with preservice and inservice teacher education programs. Missing from the literature is a significant perspective of teachers knowledge resulting from classroom experiences with global education. This Digest draws on current practices in global education to provide teachers with practical suggestions regarding instructional and technological resources as well as the use of cooperative learning for teaching global education.



Of the many instructional resources teachers can use to teach global education, none is more practical than those found in local communities (e.g., Anderson, 1990). Volunteer organizations, businesses, and churches are excellent resources for illustrating how local communities and economies are connected to other peoples and nations. The World Affairs Council Network and the Peace Corps (World Wise Classrooms), among others, have developed educational programs and materials for teaching global education that K-12 teachers can access at little or no cost. Through exploring the purpose and role for these local-global connections, elementary and middle school students can develop an appreciation for the roles their communities play as members of an interdependent global network. Other organizations (e.g., Veterans of Foreign Wars, colleges/universities, and Sister Cities International) have members who have engaged in international activities and as guest speakers in a classroom can share stories from the field, enriching student comprehension of and perceived need for cross-cultural awareness.

Teachers and colleagues

Cross-cultural experiences of teachers and their colleagues are another readily accessible instructional resource (Merryfield, 1995; Taylor, 1995; Gilliom, 1993). By identifying colleagues who have studied/taught abroad, participated in various international activities, engaged in international travel, and have family members living overseas or spouses with military experience, teachers can open a door to a world of experiences that address a variety of interests, beliefs, and practices of other cultures. Teachers can identify colleagues' cross-cultural experiences by conducting an informal survey. Through collaboration with colleagues, teachers can increase the potential for developing integrated global units, creating global support networks, and conducting global service learning projects (e.g., organizing hunger drives for oversees operations, purchasing acres of rain forest, and collecting school supplies for students in other countries).


Having students with cross-cultural experiences (e.g., international, English as a second language--ESL, and study abroad) enhances the potential for teaching for a global perspective (Merryfield, 1994; Taylor, 1995). Teachers having students with international experience or students who are ethnically diverse can conduct in-depth studies of cultures and countries that students otherwise may not have studied (Merryfield, 1994; Taylor, 1995). Additionally, teachers can draw on ethnically diverse students' knowledge and experiences to address cross-cultural conflicts prevalent in their communities (Merryfield, 1994).

Students with ESL skills and competence are particularly resourceful members of a global classroom. Working with a colleague who teaches adult ESL students, Taylor (1995) implemented an "ESL pen pal" project between seventh graders and immigrants from Asia and Latin America. Elementary and middle school teachers may want to involve ESL students as pen pals, guest speakers, or conversation partners (Wilson, 1993) or have students work with ESL students to host a community cultural arts festival.

Again, informal surveys can also be used to identify cross-cultural experiences of students (and their relatives) as well as to solicit student participation in demonstrations of global artifacts. From drawing on their own experiences and resources (or those of classmates), elementary and middle school students can create any number of projects (e.g., bulletin boards, travel brochures, display cases, mobiles, 3-dimensional books, newspapers, poems, and skits) to demonstrate new knowledge and appreciation of other cultures. To further encourage value of cross-cultural experience, middle and high school students traveling abroad during the school year could keep a written or video-taped travel log that would not only alleviate the need for teachers to create alternative lessons for absent students but promote the role of student as cultural diplomat.

Field trips

Field trips to local sites that demonstrate community and regional global historic connections (e.g., missions, ethnic communities and shops, shipping ports, military bases, embassies, and battlefields) are also excellent instructional resources. In planning field trips, teachers may want to contact local World Affairs Council Network offices, some of which offer preplanned trips for visiting embassies and participating in programs with international businesses and military bases. Students could take trips to historic sites, host local historians, research historic archives (e.g., newspapers, court records, and photographs), visit local museums and historic societies, interview immigrants, and tour ethnic communities.

When field trips are not possible, teachers should contact museums, historic societies, and other community organizations for free and inexpensive instructional materials (e.g., videos/video uplinks with study guides, CD-ROMs, and printed materials).

The Internet

Of the innumerable sites available on the Internet, global educators may find a few particularly resourceful:

Global SchoolNet Foundation ( is a multiactivity program for elementary and middle school students that includes "Where On the Globe Is Roger?," a project hosted by a former U.S. Marine Corps combat pilot visiting schools and reporting on cultures and geography while driving around the world, and a step-by-step classroom tutorial for "harnessing the power of the Web."

Intercultural E-mail Classroom Connections (IECC) ( can be used by elementary and middle school teachers to connect classes with other countries and cultures through classroom e-mail pen pal and project exchanges. IECC and "ESL pen pal/conversation partner" programs are a particularly effective means of avoiding a show and tell approach to global education.

Using Metacrawler Beta Server ( middle and high school students can use key words and phrases to conduct data searches on any number of peoples, places, and topics.

Additionally, from accessing the Internet Public Library ( high school students can draw upon a wide array of information (e.g., government/law, science, business/economics, and the environment) for development of a global perspective.


Being challenged to prepare students for responsible global citizenship, teachers need to use instructional strategies that reflect the increasing diversity of today's global society (Becker, 1990). Through cooperative learning activities, which "assume heterogeneity and emphasize interactive opportunities," teachers not only meet the needs of diverse students but prepare all students for successful global cooperation and competition (p. 81).

Teachers may be concerned about using cooperative learning strategies, especially with lower-achieving students who may not have the academic skills and self-control needed for successful participation in such activities. However, through providing clearly stated directions, including rewards/reprimands for desired/inappropriate behavior, and allotting enough time for implementation, lower-achieving students can attain the goals of global education through participation in cooperative learning activities (Taylor, 1995).

Additional suggestions to consider when using cooperative learning strategies include: (1) leading a discussion on the need to work in heterogeneous groups to develop appreciation for diversity and skills needed for success in the global workplace; (2) providing students with team-building activities; (3) maximizing heterogeneity (e.g., create groups that are diverse in ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, ability level, and types of intelligence and personality); (4) determining a signal to get students' attention when needed; (5) preparing an alternative assignment and designated time-out area for continually disruptive and uncooperative students; (6) explaining the alternative assignment before initiating the cooperative learning activity to raise students' level of concern about behavior and productivity; (7) having students select roles for each team member (e.g., task organizer, time keeper, and recorder); (8) grading students individually; (9) having students complete peer reviews of cooperative effort; and (10) including in assignment directions achievement targets and times.


Some of the most effective, cost-efficient, and readily accessible resources for teaching global education are resources that walk into the classroom everyday and are found in every corner of the community. Teachers can discover a whole new world of innovative instructional resources for preparing students for global responsibility through a heightened awareness of the innumerable connections in the classrooms and communities and linkages to our global society. Accessing these resources through participation in cooperative learning activities, students are able to develop skills necessary for success in the 21st century.


National Office of World Affairs Councils, (202)785-4703.
Peace Corps World Wise Schools, 1990 K. Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20526 or 1-800-424-8580, extension x2283. (

Sister Cities International, 120 S. Payne Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, (703)836-3535.


References identified with an EJ or ED number have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should be available at most research libraries; most documents (ED) are available in microfiche collections at more than 900 locations. Documents can also be ordered through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (800-443-ERIC).

Anderson, C. C. (1990). Global education and the community. In K. A. Tye (Ed.), Global education: From thought to action. The 1991 ASCD yearbook (pp.125-141). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ED 326 970

Becker, J. (1990). Curriculum considerations in global studies. In K. A. Tye (Ed.), Global education: From thought to action. The 1991 ASCD yearbook (pp. 67-85). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ED 326 970

Gilliom, M. E. (1993). Mobilizing teacher educators to support global education in preservice programs. Theory into Practice, 32(1), 40-46. EJ 463 372

Merryfield, M. M. (1995). Institutionalizing cross-cultural experiences and international expertise in teacher education: The development and potential of a global education PDS network. Journal of Teacher Education, 46(1), 19-27.

Merryfield, M. M. (1994). Shaping the curriculum in global education: The influence of student characteristics on teacher decision-making. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 9(3), 233-249. EJ 481 258

Taylor, H. E. (1995). Teacher research and reflective narrative analysis: Methods of learning about and from implementing global education. Dissertation Abstracts International 56(4), 1310. (UMI Dissertation Information Service, #9526094).

Wilson, A. H. (1993). Conversation partners: Helping students gain a global perspective through cross-cultural experiences. Theory into Practice, 32(1), 21-26. EJ 463 369 

Library Reference Search

Please note that this site is privately owned and is in no way related to any Federal agency or ERIC unit.  Further, this site is using a privately owned and located server. This is NOT a government sponsored or government sanctioned site. ERIC is a Service Mark of the U.S. Government. This site exists to provide the text of the public domain ERIC Documents previously produced by ERIC.  No new content will ever appear here that would in any way challenge the ERIC Service Mark of the U.S. Government.