5 Thinking Activities for Global Competence

A tree with 11 features of global competency on it like bubble fruit: Global awareness, global responsibility, global experience, open-mindedness, self-awareness, inquisitiveness, motivation, respectfulness, intercultural competencies, general knowledge, humility


"How to be a Global Thinker" (post) outlines several activities to "weave opportunities [for students] to inquire about the world, take multiple perspectives, engage in respectful dialog, and take responsible action as a routine and integral part of everyday life in the classroom."

"Global Thinking Routines ... are ... micro-teaching tools specifically geared to nurturing global dispositions."

  • "Meant to be used frequently, across content, and as an integral part of the learning environment, these routines help create a classroom culture of global competence over time."
  • "They are open-ended, assuming no right or wrong answers."
  • "They are simple in design ... yet cognitively sophisticated, providing extensive room for growth and refinement."

1. The 3 Ys

a. "In this routine, students ask" ...

  • "Why might this (topic, question) matter to me?"
  • "Why might it matter to people around me (family, friends, city, nation)?"
  • "Why might it matter to the world?"

b. "The 3 Ys can be applied across ... disciplines to invite students to ponder why a given topic matters."

  • "The routine's simple reflection process sparks students' intrinsic motivation to investigate a topic, make local-global connections, and situate themselves in a global context."

c. "[S]chools seldom teach students how to determine whether something matters to them and why."

  • "Sometimes, a topic's significance is personal ... [and] compels the learner emotionally or cognitively."
  • "Other times, it is generative (it generates new questions, lines of inquiry, or work); explanatory (it enhances our capacity to explain why something happens); or ethical (it helps us discern the right course of action)."
  • "Significance is not a fixed quality of knowledge—rather, it is constructed by learners."

d. "The 3 Ys routine can help students" ...

  • "[E]ngage in a new writing task"
  • "[G]ive feedback for one another's writing"
  • "[M]ake the case for why a story is worth telling"
  • "[R]eflec[t] about global, local, and personal significance" 
  • See "a purpose worthy of their efforts."

2. "How Else & Why"

a. This routine "seeks to nurture students' disposition toward thoughtful communication, encouraging them to recognize that they have communication choices and to consider how they may interact respectfully across cultures and situations."

  • This "is crucial for global-ready citizens, who will need to adjust the way they express themselves to deal with complex cultural, social, and linguistic situations."

b. "[S]tudents move through multiple reflective iterations of a particular claim (a comment, story, or question)":

  • "What I want to say is … (The student makes a statement)."
  • "How else can I say this? And why?"
  • "How else can I say this? And why?"

c. "At each turn, the same student considers intention, audience, and situation to reframe his or her language, tone, body language, and use of various technologies and media."

  • "The question repeats through as many iterations as appropriate."
  • It can "prevent ... budding heated discussion from hurting feelings ... [and] cultivate ... students' disposition toward respectful dialogue, especially when differences in perspective are to be expected."
  • "Slowing down the discussion open[s] a window into students' thinking, empowering them to be more deliberate in their communication choices."
  • "[I]t help[s] students understand that each communicative expressions (verbal, body, visual, and so on) carries an intended or unintended message about oneself."

d. Phrasing Models

  • "In one sentence, what do you want to say at this point in the discussion? Write it down!"
  • "Now consider how else you might say this, and why? Keep in mind the many rich cultures and points of view we have in our classroom."
  • "You can rewrite your sentence several times, thinking about how else you could say this, and why."
  • "Remember—our goal is not to vent, but to learn through dialogue with others."

3. Beauty and Truth

a. "This routine ... help[s] students navigate the overwhelming quantities of accessible information they encounter in an increasingly visually informed world."

  • "It invites students to engage in broad, deep conversations about a news photograph, picture, or textual work of art."
  • "It sets the stage for students to think about the nature of beauty and truth, as well as how journalists and artists comment on and communicate ideas about the world."

b. "Students respond to the following prompts":

  • "Can you find beauty in this story/image/photograph?"
  • "Can you find truth in it?"
  • "How might beauty reveal truth?"
  • "How might beauty conceal truth?"

c. "These questions spark a rich discussion about the role of [art, images,] photojournalists [etc.] in engaging readers' attention to consider" the folowing:

  • "[P]ressing issues of our time
  • "[H]ow beauty and common human experiences can help us bridge cultures and contexts"
  • "[T]he importance of critical consumption of world news."

4. "A Disposition to Understand Perspectives: Step-in, Step-Out, Step-back"

a. "This activity invites learners to take other people's perspectives (religious, cultural, generational, and so on) and recognize that understanding others is often an uncertain process to which one brings one's own lenses and experiences."

  • It "invites learners to take note of their own biases and preferences as playing an important role in their efforts to understand others."

b. "Choose. Identify a person or agent in the situation."

  • "Step-in. Given what you see and know at this time, what do you think this person might experience, feel, believe, or know?"
  • "Step-out. What else would you like (or need) to learn in order to understand this person's perspective better?"
  • "Step-back. Given your exploration of this perspective so far, what do you notice about your own perspective and what it takes to take somebody else's?"

5. A Disposition Toward Taking Responsible Action: Circles of Action

a. "This routine raises students' sensitivity toward opportunities to act in their everyday lives."

  • "It invites students to recognize multiple spheres of influence at the personal, local, and global level."
  • "Teachers may use the news, science reports, or a school conflict as a provocation and invite students to put their ideas in concentric circles to make their thinking visible."

b. "What can I do to contribute?"

  • "In my inner circle?"
  • "In my local community?"
  • "Beyond my community?"
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