ESC, partner districts using a global lens to direct students' education
By T.J. Smith
ONET Innovation Specialist
In 2006, the International Education Advisory Committee was founded with the mission of providing Ohioans the necessary knowledge, abilities and opportunities to thrive in a global society. In fall 2008, the committee created the Strategic Plan for International Education in Ohio with the goal of increasing global knowledge in both students and educators.
As Ohio education shifts towards a focus on global awareness, school districts in Central Ohio have been focusing their efforts on preparing students for a future that has become increasingly interconnected. One does not have to look too far to find great things happening in Central Ohio with regards to international education. From in depth language programs, to the implementation of globally focused curriculum, and network collaboration, Central Ohio is looking beyond to increase students’ capacity and understanding of the world around them.
For more information on International Education, the ESC’s Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) Conference will be featuring several presentations focused on International Education this summer. Heather Singmaster from the Asia Society will speak on district strategies to prepare globally competent graduates, as well as how other nations are teaching global skills. The ESC’s George Tombaugh will focus on Fernando Reimers’ presentation when he visited the Columbus Council of World Affairs luncheon in January. Reimers is director of global and international education policy at Harvard University. Bill Manchester of Bexley City Schools will lead an interactive session detailing his work for which he received the model project award from the Columbus Council of World Affairs. His International Videoconferencing and Songwriting project was a collaboration with schools from Venezuela, Tanzania, Ecuador and Singapore.
The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District offers Mandarin Chinese instruction in each of the 11 schools to give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture and language. Launched in 2006-2007, this program has quickly grown to include three full-time and six part-time staff, as well as two graduate assistants from The Ohio State University. This initiative now serves more than 450 students in grades 2-12. In November 2011, the district hosted a delegation of 12 visiting administrators from the Hubei Province in China. As a member of the Confucius Classroom Network, Gahanna-Jefferson was awarded a plaque by the Director of Hanban and the Chinese Ambassador to the United States. To provide additional learning opportunities, the district is offering a two week Chinese day camp this summer for students in grades 6-12 and enrichment classes for grades 1-7.
In Columbus City Schools, Columbus International High School has become a member of the Asia Society’s International Studies School Network (ISSN). They are currently one of the 45 Innovative Grant recipients and a member of the ESC’s Ohio Network for Education Transformation (ONET). Columbus International currently builds on the rich background of the students through language immersion social studies courses that are offered in both French and Spanish. The school has also created a seminar class that is the cornerstone of their focus on college and career readiness. In this class, students educate themselves on various aspects of the ISSN framework, which guides them toward being positive global citizens.
Hastings Middle School in the Upper Arlington City School District has begun the implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP). IB focuses on intercultural understanding and respect to create a better world through education, with the goal of creating a better and more peaceful world by concentrating on the development of inquiring, knowledgeable and caring students. The Middle Years Programme is designed for students ages 11-16. During the final year of the program, students complete a capstone project as the final product that demonstrates understanding and skills that have been acquired.
A group of districts in Central Ohio have joined the work of the Columbus Council of World Affairs to become the first cohort of the International Education Network of Central Ohio (IENCO). The first set of school districts to join the effort to implement globally focused projects into their classes are Columbus, Dublin, Gahanna-Jefferson, New Albany, Olentangy and Upper Arlington. Each of the districts has focused on asset mapping, which gauges their current resources and classroom practices. This guides the necessary steps to reach their goals of increasing connections with other cultures, integrating global curriculum into their existing curriculum, designing collaborative projects with community partners or students in other schools, and focusing on global issues.