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Three Ways to Integrate Community Partners and Global Learning Into an Expanded School Day

Expanded learning models create opportunities for schools and community partners to work together to offer more time for a balanced curriculum with engaged and personalized learning. TASC supports a network of 30 schools known as ExpandED Schools that add two to three hours of additional learning time every day for students to build their academic skills, develop socially and emotionally, and expand their horizons. Saskia Traill of TASC shares how global learning fits in.

By guest blogger Saskia Traill

Global learning and expanded learning are a natural fit: Expanded learning gives schools and community partners a framework for a deeper, more integrated relationship so they can, in turn, offer a deeper, more integrated learning day to young people. Leaders in ExpandED Schools seek to build power skills, as outlined by the Common Core State Standards—including critical thinking and analytical skills—for success in the 21st century. To achieve these goals, they advance instructional strategies among teachers and community educators and offer enrichments that engage students in hands-on, project-based learning experiences and expand their horizons and exposure to the world around them.

At one school, P.S. 188, social studies had been squeezed out of the traditional school day for extra English and math. By adding time, the school was able to bring in a teaching artist to take a group of students on a "trip around the world," each week exploring a different culture through language study, art projects, and cooking classes. The teaching artist worked with a certified teacher who helped align the activities with the school's academic learning goals for students. As a result, the students' global exploration included reading non-fiction texts and arguing from evidence as they worked in teams to prepare presentations. Students felt their global studies were a part of a seamless learning day that values building their global knowledge and 21st-century skills. Many more examples like this one are possible when teachers work alongside community educators and when they collaborate regularly.

Here are some of the necessary ingredients for integrating global and expanded learning for student success:

1. Leadership commitment. The principal commits to a longer school day in partnership with the community organization. This is in many ways a mindset shift, building understanding among the entire school faculty that the learning day extends past 3 PM and that there are a variety of educators who can help young people learn. This approach enables schools to bring in community resources and assets to help globalize the curriculum. Many school leaders encourage their faculty to view the extra time as a platform for innovation to integrate global learning strategies into their core courses, perhaps using technology for international video chats with young people or engaging students to contribute to a blog about international and public policy issues.

2. Diverse staff. ExpandED Schools bring a mix of teachers, community members, teaching artists, and others who bring multiple perspectives to young people. African drumming, capoeira, samba, and other art forms from around the world are taught by professionals who lend authenticity to global experiences in a local classroom. Community educators with similar backgrounds to students can help add personal connections as young people connect global issues to their own communities. For example, a discussion about the environment or inequitable access to clean drinking water across the globe might lead to a community project studying pollution in a nearby river and advocating for clean-up. 

3. Collaborative planning and professional development. ExpandED Schools and their community partners develop common goals for the school and recognize each other's assets in meeting those goals. This allows for common purpose, connected learning, and mutual respect among adults in the same schools, recognizing that everyone brings unique talents to reach the same end: children ready to succeed in the next chapters of their lives. This helps support the youth-centered and inquiry-driven instructional strategies that are essential to developing young people's understanding of the world and their place in it. And it enables schools that articulate global learning as a goal to use every asset throughout the learning day to meet that goal. To enable this alignment and respect, educators must have time to plan and build their capacities together.  

Resources

Here are some tools to integrate community partners in global learning goals through an expanded learning approach:

  • Watch a case study about balancing the curriculum.
  • Watch a video showing a teacher and community educator's collaborative approach to planning and creating interdisciplinary units to bring new learning strategies to life.

Saskia is the vice president of policy & research at TASC. Follow TASC and Asia Society on Twitter.

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