Pulitzer Center Update

Chicagoland Educators Build Lessons on Local Connections to Global Issues

Educators at the Summer Teacher Institute in Chicago discuss what their students need while reviewing post-it notes on the topic prompt provided by Fareed Mostoufi, Pulitzer Center senior education manager. The University of Chicago and Pulitzer Center co-organized the two-day institute. Image by Evey Wilson. United States, 2016.

Grouping post-it notes by theme over a prompt provided by Fareed Mostoufi, educators discuss common obstacles to teaching global issues to their students. Image by Evey Wilson. United States, 2016.

Educators across K-12 and post secondary school levels exchange ideas on how to bring global awareness into the classroom. Image by Evey Wilson. United States, 2016.

Educators explore reporting and global topics with journalists who presented earlier in the day. Image by Evey Wilson. United States, 2016.

Fareed Mostoufi explains Pulitzer Center education initiatives during the Summer Teacher Institute, co-organized by the University of Chicago and Pulitzer Center. Image by Evey Wilson. United States, 2016.

Dominic Bracco II provides a visual to illustrate the history of violence in Juarez, Mexico. Image by Lauren Shepherd. United States, 2016.

An animated group of secondary and post-secondary teachers gather around a giant poster that reads, “My students need....” The poster had just been flooded with multi-colored post-it notes that captured the responses of some of the more than 40 educators participating in their workshop. This smaller group of educators is tasked with summarizing major themes that emerged from teachers' responses to the prompt.

“My students need to see themselves as agents of change and love," one teacher says. "They need an appreciation of the world outside themselves," another adds. "They need empowerment of their voices" a teacher speaks loudly enough for the entire room of educators to hear. "They need understanding and access."

The teachers were participating in the Summer Teacher Institute in Chicago, an intensive two-day workshop co-organized by the University of Chicago and Pulitzer Center. The workshop, attended by K-12 teachers and community college professors from Chicagoland, introduced educators to the power of global reporting and documentary storytelling to engage students in exploring local connections to global issues.

On the first day of the workshop, participants began with an interactive reflection on their goals for their students, and the challenges they face in globalizing their curriculums. They also heard from six Pulitzer Center grantees, each of whom reported on a global issue that was told through the harrowed and inspiring stories of people amidst the conflicts and new journeys: Dominic Bracco on violence and community rebuilding in Mexico, Eli Kintisch on the impact of climate change on the Arctic and in turn the rest of the planet, Eleanor Bell Fox on resource-extraction issues in Africa, Karim Chrobog on comparing responses to food waste in the U.S. versus South Korea, Alexandria Bombach on conflict and emigration issues in Afghanistan, and Robin Shulman on refugees and immigration policy in Syria and Canada.

Giant posters along the walls of the lecture hall read: "Global journalism can..." “My students need…” “What makes it hard to bring global issues into your class?” and “In this workshop I hope...” Once educators had a chance to write down responses to these prompts on their own post-it notes, they stuck them to the poster issue they most wanted to address and began grouping the ideas together in themes. The room was a buzz with anecdotes about students and obstacles resulting from lack of resources.

Those issues and more were addressed on the second day when teachers worked with journalist Robin Shulman, senior education manager Fareed Mostoufi and education outreach coordinator Lauren Shepherd to explore reporting skills and engage with the Pulitzer Center Lesson Builder. Teachers explored photo analysis exercises, brainstormed how they might report pressing stories in their communities and ultimately began designing lesson plans using Pulitzer Center reporting.

By the end of the workshop, several teachers had finished lesson plans and published them to the Lesson Builder community page. Educator collaboration resulted in new lessons including evaluating the Syrian refugee crisis with Shulman’s reporting; investigating efficient ways to reduce waste by drawing from Chrobog’s reporting; and using creative problem-solving to address climate change with Kintisch’s reporting. Several drafts are in the works connecting Bracco’s reporting on families recovering from violence in Juarez, Mexico, to students telling stories about their communities battling violence in Chicago. Others had collaborated to design projects that would use reporting to connect schools from different parts of Chicago.

If you are interested in working with Pulitzer Center to plan a professional development for teachers, contact us at education@pulitzercenter.org.