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Using the SDGs to Globalize Your Classroom

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created by the United Nations in 2012.  There are 17 goals that are meant to help with the environmental, political and economic challenges facing all nations on earth.  These goals are not exclusively meant for governments.  They are meant for all people on earth with the understanding that when we take local action on a global problem, we are collaborating towards solving that global problem.  These goals go hand in hand with the 4 Domains of Global Competency.  The SDGs were created to build off of the Millennium Development Goals which were created in 2000 by the United to address poverty world wide. The SDGs expire in 2030.

After learning about these goals from Fulbright Teachers For Global Classrooms, I attempted to begin to incorporate these goals into my teaching.  These goals can incorporated in all subject areas because of their global breadth.  Upon reflection, I realized that I had addressed some these goals in our Socratic Circles during the previous school year when we investigated climate change and hunger with articles from NewsELA.  However, the SDGs gave me the language to leverage these topics as themes in my Read Alouds, Social Studies and Close Reading Lessons.  Below is one example of how I used the SDGs with an after school club as well as a list of read alouds that could be used to introduce the SDGs.  Additional work will be featured in future blog posts


Human Rights Club - Using the SDGs to build a Mission Statement

During 2019-2020 school year, we incorporated the 4 Domains of Global Competency and the SDGs into our Human Rights After School Club.  In its second year, Koreen Valtierra and I really wanted to spend the first few sessions building community and giving students the language to discuss humanity's problems before jumping into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

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The Water Princess by Susan Verde

SDG #6 - Clean Water & Sanitation

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Follow The Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau

SDG #14 - Life Below Water

SDG # 15 - Life on Land

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The Youngest Marcher by     
Cynthia Levinson

SDG #16 - Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

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Ada's Violin by Susan Hood

SDG #1 - No Poverty

SDG #12 - Responsible Consumption & Production

SDG Read Alouds

At our second club meeting, we asked the students to work in small groups to list out the problems they believed humanity faced.  We asked them to put each problem on a separate post-it.  Afterward, we used the video at the top of this page to introduce the SDGs to the students and we discussed as a group, how our club actions from the previous year fit within the SDGs.  Next, we directed the students to the bulletin boards where we had placed chart paper with each of the SDGs listed out.  We asked the students to work in small groups to sort the problems according to the SDGs.  The students made some important discoveries!  They noticed that many of humanity's problems could fit under multiple SDGs.  They also realized there were problems they must not know about because two SDGs did not have any post its:  #9 - Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure and #12 - Responsible Consumption & Productions.

At our next club meeting, we used the SDGs to help craft a club mission statement.  Students were given sentence frames and they worked in small groups to describe who we were as a club and what our mission was going to be.  We wrote down everyone's ideas on chart paper, sorted according to sentence frame.  We read each idea as group.  We crossed out repetitive ideas and combined ideas we really liked.  In the end, the students decided that they didn't know enough about the SDGs to just pick one or two to focus on this year.  Instead, they decided that they wanted to make an effort to learn more about the SDGs so that in the future they could choose one SDG to take local action on.  Across our next few meetings, we began each meeting by reading our Mission Statement.  Our completed mission statement is in the gallery above.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Pandemic and the abrupt transition to remote learning ended our club early during the 2019-2020 school year.  However, it is our hope that we will be able to bring the club back during future school years.

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