Encouraging Leaders Through Literature

Amazing how a simple conversation between educators can spark a cross-curricular, global, enduring learning experience.  Thanks to Mrs. Kussy & Mrs. Robinson (3rd grade) from Brooks School Elementary for writing up this incredible HSE21 project to share with us, to Mrs. Patrick (BSE Media Specialist) for the video story, and to the many third graders who, through Wikispaces, are teaching the rest of us about some wonderful, insightful books!

It started as a simple collaboration between us and Mrs. Patrick and with a goal: get powerful diverse books into the hands of third graders and effectively use them to help students learn to identify a theme and support it with explicit text evidence. The books the students are reading are in the BSE Library’s collection of diverse literature which was purchased through the “Windows and Mirrors” grant — an HSE Foundation Grant that Mrs. Patrick received in 2015.

We began with three simple goals for our students. First, read and enjoy books with diversity. Second, identify the theme and support it with evidence. Third, share it beyond our classroom walls. Of course, Mrs. Patrick had a brilliant suggestion to create a class Wikispace website as the avenue to share these beautiful books and the student’s thinking and writing. Each class created its own Wiki to do just that. Students are united together in one space sharing their thoughts globally while reading diverse global texts. Students began the year sharing responses and reflections in a personal space, notebooks. Then they moved to sharing reflections via a classroom space, Seesaw. So a natural progression was to move to a global space for sharing, a Wikispace.

Weekly, students are self-selecting diverse books of interest to read and share their thinking. As they do this, they are able to add to other classmate’s posts to support their thinking with more evidence. Our next step is to have digital discussions about their affirmation or opposition to the same pieces of literature.

Throughout this entire process students have had to opportunity to discover that they are connected in some fashion with leaders of the past or present, and realistic fictional characters. Naturally, this had led us as teachers to discuss global issues being addressed through the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Along the way students are discovering leaders, real and fictional, representing cultures and diversity from all around the world and are in turn identifying these places on the world map. As we step back and analyze the work the students are involved in, it is addressing every content area and more. All of this work is “Encouraging Leaders Through Literature”.

Learn about many diverse books on our class Wikispaces!  

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Let’s Talk About Hunger

HSE21 recognizes the value of giving students the opportunity to consider pressing global problems – world hunger, for example. In HSE Schools, issues like world hunger are confronted in manners that are age and developmentally appropriate. For high school seniors enrolled in AP Environmental Science, confronting world (and community) hunger recently meant participating in an in-school Oxfam Hunger Banquet.


Mrs. Safi, AP Environmental Science teacher at HSE High School, used resources provided by Oxfam to host the Hunger Banquet.  Each student drew the role of a specific character  – each character had a personal story. Students sat in groups based on their characters’ economic class; each economic class shared a typical meal. Mrs. Safi led discussion as her students (role-playing the Oxfam characters) shared the stories of their lives. Before class ended, discussion circled back around to the facts of hunger – both in the world and in our local community. From the many students whose meal consisted of only rice, to the two first world students who could choose from a smorgasbord of tasty options, the Banquet was an enlightening experience for all.




Note: The AP Environmental Science curriculum is written by the College Board and approved by individual states. A description of this highly applicable course is in the box to the left.






Education Is Important Because…


Many thanks to Amy Murch for sharing this important global education program! Read on…

Students in Amy Murch’s fourth grade class at Brooks School Elementary recently met global explorer Justin Miles from London, England! How? Through Skype in the Classroom! Through this video conference, Amy’s students learned about Justin’s many adventures, his passions and thoughts on exploration, and his genuine love for learning. Justin taught the students about geography coordinates for finding different locations all around the world, and shared stories from his adventures in the Arctic. Students were able to interact with him by asking questions, sharing stories, and finding different locations around the world using latitude and longitude. Justin’s biggest objective was to introduce  the students to an inspiring challenge, called #educationisimportantbecause or #EAA.

Did you know there are approximately 58 million children around the globe who do not have access to education due to various conditions and situations? Through explorations, adventures, and his work as a children’s author, Justin Miles is spreading the word about the global education program ‘Educate A Child’. He created a website to collect letters from children all around the world on why they think education is important. Please check out this link: http://educationisimportantbecause.org/

murch2Mrs. Murch’s students accepted the challenge and wrote letters to Justin about why they think education is important. These letters are now going global! “It’s just another way to demonstrate the importance and excitement of global learning,” said Murch. “My students LOVE doing Skype lessons each week. We Skype experts into our classroom to teach and demonstrate new concepts of our curriculum, we play Mystery Skype (a geography skills game of questioning, research and adventure), and we meet authors like Justin who help us connect and learn about what’s happening around the globe. Skype allows us to make real life connections which turns into real life learning.”

Follow Justin on Twitter @ExplorerJust
Follow Amy on Twitter @TeamMurch4