New Publication from Sharing the Dream Helps Schools Create Global Classrooms

quick start guide coverKeep the Dream Going: A Quick Start Guide to Creating Global Classrooms represents the “best of” a decade of Sharing the Dream, presented in a user-friendly format for schools that want to incorporate international content into the curriculum and increase family involvement in schools.

Download your free copy here.

From international service learning projects, to cultural arts festivals, to adopting a sister school in another country, to engaging parents and families in the international school environment, Keep the Dream Going: A Quick Start Guide to Creating Global Classrooms provides the basics for starting global projects in pre-K-8 classrooms and schools, including:

  • Activity ideas
  • Profiles of model projects
  • Practical tips and strategies
  • Resources
  • Project planning toolkit

Whether your goal is to integrate a single international component to a lesson, or to transform your entire school, this guide can help you in your journey to create a global school culture.

Download your free copy of Keep the Dream Going: A Quick Start Guide to Creating Global Classrooms here.

Keep the Dream Going: A Quick Start Guide to Creating Global Classrooms was published with generous support from MetLife Foundation.

Lesson Plan: TingaTinga Inspired African Masks

tinga tinga maskStudents at Lincoln Elementary in Ponca City, Oklahoma made TingaTinga style masks inspired by Tanzanian painter Edward Said Tingatinga.

The masks were exhibited at the school’s Building Bridges Multicultural Festival for families, funded by a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream Grant.

Download a lesson plan. Read more about Lincoln Elementary’s project here.


Students’ two-voiced poems express complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

peace sign

Sharing the Dream interviewed Sarah Weimer, Head of Curriculum and Instruction at Christal House Academy South in Indianapolis, IN, about Young Voices in Conflict, a project that engages 7th graders in a deep examination of the Israeli—Palestinian conflict.

Young Voices in Conflict– modeled after the school’s innovative Indy2Africa HIV/AIDS project funded by a Sharing the Dream Grant in 2011-2012 – was the recipient of a 2013-2014 Keep the Dream Going Grant.

Sharing the Dream: How did last year’s Indy2Africa HIV/AIDS project prepare or inspire you and your team to explore the Israeli—Palestinian conflict this year?

Sarah Weimer: Students were exceptionally engaged in the HIV/AIDS project and frequently reference it as one of their favorite units of study. Teachers also noted that through the previous project, students developed a sense of empathy and global awareness and we wanted to replicate that with the next group. While the topic changed, the new project still integrates multiple academic disciplines to advance academic knowledge, sparks empathy, creates tangible opportunities and products which provide an avenue for students to “give back” to their families and communities, and it increases awareness and understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sharing the Dream: What activities have the students been involved in so far for Young Voices in Conflict, and what has been their reaction?

Weimer: Students have engaged in a variety of activities to build and enhance their understanding of this complex issue. At the outset, students participated in a gallery walk event, viewing a display of images and historical facts contextualizing the historical and societal circumstances surrounding the founding of the Israeli state and the Palestinian reaction.

In recent weeks, students have also visited the Islamic Society of North America and a local Synagogue to learn about Islam and Judaism. Though these two religions are by no means the sole contributing factor to the conflict, they nonetheless add additional layers of complexity to the issue, and as such are a focus of this project. While there, students were able to ask questions of religious experts, tour worship areas and view religious artifacts, and gain information from unique perspectives that aided them in forming knowledge about the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

Students are also responding to what they are learning through poetry, which affords them an avenue of expression for reacting to this emotional subject. Local poets have visited the Language Arts classrooms to aid students in composing poetry that is both artistic and compelling.

All students were invested in the prospect of their poems being a voice for peace and an end to violence.

Sharing the Dream: Ideally, what do you hope students take away from their participation in Young Voices in Conflict?

Weimer: Of course, we would like students to develop comprehensive knowledge of the historical information surrounding this conflict, as well as poetic elements. After all, we embarked on this expedition with the intent to teach our respective contents in a unique and engaging way.

But academics and standards aside, we would like students to come away from this exploration with a heightened sense of the complexity surrounding much of human life.

This issue is sensitive, thought-provoking, emotional, and complicated. It is not something that can be explained in black and white terms. Approaching this subject with that outlook in mind, and forcing students to think critically, challenge assumptions, and examine issues with scrutiny is a skill that will serve them well not only in their academic life, but in their personal life as well.

A Dream

Poem by: Folu Famoye

I look out of my window into a gloomy evening
across a small hill there is a house
an Arab house
it looks clean but I know that its stained
stained with the colors of fear and hate
I see
a girl
blue and gray she’s like me
I can tell
her hair, her skin, her age
but she’s not like me its in her blood not to be
a hard rough blanket of sadness covers her heart
her heart must be filled with hate
or perhaps…
a desire for peace?

I turn my head to the west
so I can illustrate thoughts
but instead I see them
the men, the Israelites
watching and fighting back
I want to run but there is no use
it may be like this
but we can change
the innocent souls don’t pass on
like they should
and they won’t until they see that we
have changed
until they see

We are all humans we all bleed red
we are all from Abraham
we all share a similar dream
a dream of hope and happiness
a desperate cry for peace
“If we who have paid the greatest price can talk to each other
why can’t anyone else?”
lets share this dream
for peace.

Students at Storm Lake Elementary continue international journey with Keep the Dream Going Grant

chalkboard world 2Two years ago, Storm Lake Elementary in Storm Lake, IA, used a Sharing the Dream Grant to purchase Netbooks so that kindergartners with no access to computers at home could learn basic computer skills and communicate with children in Canada and China online.

“Those kindergartners are now in second grade,” said Principal Juli Kwikkel, whose rural school serves a high population of students from Spanish-speaking migrant families. “Now that they have experience using computers, and have grown in their reading and writing skills, there can be deeper interactions with children around the world other than just ‘hi, I like pizza.’ They can share their writing and blog together. We can take it to the next level.”

Storm Lake won a 2013-2014 Keep the Dream Going Grant for its “Reaching More Corners of the World Through Technology” project that builds on the original project funded in 2011-2012.

This year, second graders will Skype with children in China, Canada and Africa; work together on projects using Chromebooks; collaborate on blogs; share videos they have produced, and continue building crucial technology skills.

My favorite use of the Chromebooks has been to put my small-group readers in a daily rotation for blogging. They have become so comfortable using the site that this is completely hands off for me. One student was struggling with how to change fonts and sizes today and another was able to troubleshoot that for me, so that I could continue teaching. Their independence is fantastic! A child just asked me today if she was allowed to blog again tonight. This has excited them as writers!”

–Melanie Langner, second grade teacher

With funding from Sharing the Dream, and another grant, “Reaching More Corners of the World Through Technology” has been implemented in every K-2nd grade classroom. Kwikkel’s ultimate goal is to expand the program to all grades, K-4th, providing a seamless progression of technology and global-focused learning for every Storm Lake Elementary graduate.

“We were humbled and grateful to receive the Keep the Dream Going Grant this year,” Kwikkel said. “We have a lot of challenges at our school but we also provide a lot of opportunities. We want to give all our students the same shot at learning.”

Langner added, “I can’t wait to see the continued changes this will make in my classroom! Transforming!”

Sharing the Dream Schools in the News


Gathering for International Night

Centreview, Centreville, VA

Centreville Elementary School held its 3rd annual International Night after-school on Friday, Jan. 10. The event included families who brought display posters with facts about their country, clothes, artifacts and samples of food. Students also performed on the cafeteria stage.

The sixth grade orchestra performed a variety of songs from around the world and other students danced or sang a cultural song.

At the end of all the performances, students who were dressed in traditional clothing were invited to go on stage and then participated in a fashion show walk around the cafeteria.

from centreview article

With the help of third grade teacher, Steve Thorne, PTA grant writer Nadine Kaiser, and school counselor Esther Kang, Centreville Elementary won a $5,000 Sharing the Dream Grant from the National Association of Elementary School Principals and MetLife Foundation.

The money was used to purchase 12 iPads for International Night so that families and visitors could scan QR codes for each country. With the incorporation of iPads and QR codes in International Night, people had more access to each country’s information through the web and were able to learn and view things that can’t be glued onto a poster such as a video of a dance, song or the making of a traditional dish.

Centreview, Centreville, VA. Published: January 30-February 5, 2014. Used with permission.

Monitor Elementary in Springdale, AR, expands winning family-outreach program with Keep the Dream Going Grant

Monitor ES bilingual books

Springdale, Arkansas is home to the largest community of Marshallese families outside the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. At Monitor Elementary, Principal Maribel Childress and ESL Specialist Julia Crane used funds from a 2012-2013 Sharing the Dream Grant to organize a series of Marshallese Academic Achievement Nights to make parents feel welcome, and to involve them more fully in their children’s education.

The initiative was so successful that this year, with funding from a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream–Keep the Dream Going Grant, the school started a similar program for Hispanic families. Families read books together, work on projects, and are trained in using mini iPads pre-loaded with educational apps that they can “check out” on weekends to support learning at home.

“Nearly 300 of our students are from Mexico and El Salvador, speaking Spanish as their primary language,” Julia Crane said. “Many of our students are migratory, as they move with the family in order to follow work. Parent involvement has been such a challenge for us.”

Monitor’s Family Digital Literacy Project was introduced to families at a school-wide evening academic night in February and parents were quick to sign up. “At least one participation form has been turned in daily,” Crane said.

She believes, “Successful schools with high numbers of English Language Learners have one key component in common: parental involvement. Adding the Latino parent class this year will allow us the opportunity to build trusting relationships with these families as we learn from each other how to celebrate their culture and the academic success of their children.

“Hearing that we won a Keep the Dream Going Grant for this new facet of the program was an exhilarating moment for us!”

Example of Parent Session: Picture Walks

–Julia Crane, ESL Specialist

Our parent classes focus on techniques and strategies that are supported by current research. For example, it is suggested that parents are taught specific strategies that they can use to help support their children with school-related learning.

In a recent class, parents observed a lesson taught in a classroom, where the teacher covered all of the words in a book, only discussing the pictures with the students by asking questions such as ‘what do you notice?’ and ‘what do you think is going to happen next?’

The teacher was able to clearly demonstrate to parents that reading a book was about more than words on a page. After visiting the classroom, I guided the parents through an exercise doing these ‘picture walks.’ The parents then partnered up and practiced this new skill with each other, walking through a book asking simple questions to engage one another in the story.

The object of the lesson was that parents did not need to be able to read in English, or any language for that matter, to facilitate comprehension of the story and enjoy reading with their children.”

For Massachusetts students, global art exchange paints a picture of cultural identity, connection

paint for lowell articleLowell Community Charter Public School, in Lowell, MA, welcomed families back to school with an International Potluck, kicking off the school’s Global Lowell Program, a year-long exploration of culture through the arts, funded by a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream grant.

Lowell’s students have ties to 23 different countries, and 60 percent speak a language other than English at home. “Ensuring that our curriculum and enrichment projects are culturally relevant to our students and community is one of our top priorities,” said Trent Ramsey, the school’s director of communications and development.

Through OneWorld Classrooms, Lowell students will exchange original artworks with children in 10-12 other countries that will be displayed at an exhibit for parents and the community on April 17, 2014. Sixth graders, who are being trained as guides, will lead guests through the show.

Lowell was introduced to OneWorld Classrooms last school year, when a parent sponsored an online art exchange. “It was inspiring because many of the art pieces that our students viewed from other countries were the art of their home countries: Brazil, Africa, Cambodia,” Ramsey said. “This year, we wanted to expand the reach of the project and involve the community.”

Along with working on art projects for the April exhibit, students are taking Google Earth tours; interviewing family members about their own immigration stories; participating in workshops with an artist-in-residence; and learning about the history, music, family life and customs of Cambodia, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Kenya, Brazil and other countries.

Lowell is also hosting OneWorld Classrooms’ Boston 140 exhibition in March 2014, featuring artworks by K-12 students from Greater Boston and 38 countries.

“For our school, winning a national grant for such an important project was a milestone for us,” Ramsey said. “Thanks to Sharing the Dream, we are able to give our students a unique hands-on way to connect and share with each other about individual cultures, as well as learn about parts of the world they haven’t experienced.”

Global Resources for Schools:

edmodo imageExchanging letters through the mail used to be the only feasible way for students to communicate with children in other countries–a process that might provide a couple of exchanges a year given the distance letters had to travel.

Now, with, an award-winning, safe social learning network with more than 17 million users worldwide, making those connections is a lot easier.

Susan Christy, 8th grade history department head at Florence Middle School, in Florence, Alabama, uses Edmodo as a vital component of her 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream project, Adventures Through Global Weather.

“With Edmodo we can reach out to other schools to interact about weather all over the world. It’s a fabulous tool,” Christy said.

Christy’s students are making a video about weather in Alabama, which will be posted to Edmodo. Children around the world will be able to view the film and share about their own weather, giving insight into how weather effects agriculture, housing, clothing, and customs around the globe.

While many teachers use Edmodo to make international contacts, others use the platform to connect with parents right in the neighborhood.

In Springdale, Arkansas, parents who immigrated to the United States from the Marshall Islands, use Edmodo to network with teachers and other parents, to practice English language skills, and to share thoughts about what their children are learning in school.

The exchange is part of Monitor Elementary’s Family Literacy Project, expanded this year with a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream-Keep the Dream Going Grant to include Hispanic parents.

“We set up a blog for Marshallese parents to reflect on their experiences and learning in the classrooms with their children, and it was very successful,” ESL specialist Julia Crane said. “Parents really enjoyed using iPads to create presentations about themselves, and to post their reflections. We will be training our parents to set up their own blogs to be a voice for Marshallese and Latino parents in the community.”

Do you use Edmodo in your classroom, school or district? What features do you use? Have you used Edmodo to reach out to classrooms in other countries? Would you recommend it to other educators? Tell us about your experiences in a comment.


Global Resources for Schools is our feature highlighting international focused organizations, educational websites and resources to support educators in their efforts to create globally oriented schools.

Do you have a website, organization, resource or idea to share? Contact us!

Learning about African & Native American culture through music and art

This guest post is by Amy Muegge, music teacher, and Janice Wooten, art teacher, of Lincoln Elementary in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Their students are learning African drumming and creating Native American-inspired cultural artworks in preparation for a Building Bridges Multicultural Festival for families in March, funded by a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream Grant.

Lincoln drums

Three days before the beginning of winter break, the World Music Drumming set that we ordered with Sharing the Dream Grant funds arrived. One of the 5th grade classes helped carry the boxes down to the Music Room when the UPS driver dropped them off. The students were so excited that we had to open the boxes immediately. They only had time to play one rhythm pattern, but as they walked out the door they couldn’t stop smiling. All of our 2nd-5th grade students had the opportunity to try out the new instruments before school let out for the holidays.

Since coming back, the 3rd-5th graders have been studying the African continent and have been practicing West African drumming. In our drum circle, the students are learning about the tradition of listening and working together by having mutual respect for all members of the circle.

lincoln buffalo hide art

In our art classes, students are studying the social aspect of art and history of Native Americans. The children first started out learning about Native American history in the 1800’s and how all the social turmoil continues to be felt in the modern world.

After gaining knowledge of historical events, they created a reproduction of a buffalo hide storytelling piece of artwork. The artwork represents tribal stories of the plains. Pictures often expressed stories of historical events and people of the tribe were honored with images of animals, plants and other environmental symbols.

A Home for Every Culture at J.S. Clark Elementary

JS clark school

At J. S. Clark Elementary in Shreveport, LA, pre-K–6th graders studied the currencies, weather, geography, art, literature, music, food and governments of Mexico, the Philippines and Africa — selected because a majority of the school’s students and staff identified with those cultures.

Activities included a field trip to an international market, Spanish language instruction, multicultural read-alouds, and an International Festival for families featuring student projects, a quiz bowl, and international foods.

J.S. Clark Elementary’s America: A Home for Every Culture project was funded by a 2012-2013 Sharing the Dream Grant.

Sharing the Dream

Grants for pre-K-8 school projects that create global classrooms where children—and families—can safely connect, exchange ideas and learn together.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.