Monday, March 6, 2017

Global Competency, Part 2: Resources for Expanded Learning Programs

By Sam Piha
Sam Piha
If young people are going to be prepared for work and citizenship in our global community, it is important that they develop global competency. 

Below is part 2 of our interview with Heather Loewecke, Senior Program Manager of Afterschool and Youth Leadership Initiatives at Asia Society. It is important to note that the effort to promote global competency is not a "pile on" to the California Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs. Instead, global learning and global competency are intertwined with the existing standards for quality programs.

In Heather's response to our question about resources, she listed a great list with links. We urge any program leader who wants to explore global competency further, to check out these resources. To view her PowerPoint presentation that she offered at our recent How Kids Learn VI conference in Los Angeles, click here

Q: What would be examples of how an afterschool program might
Heather Loewecke
promote global competence? 

A: Here are several ways programs can start integrating global content into programs:

Create a Culturally Sensitive Environment
Staff and youth can work together to create a set of group guidelines that outline expected behaviors. Include strategies for asking respectful questions about people, cultures, or ideas that are unfamiliar. Introduce youth to new countries and cultures, including those of students in your program and of people in the community at large. Present balanced viewpoints during learning activities and remind participants that everyone’s ideas are valid. If possible, include decorations and snacks from different cultures around the world and set up space to promote collaboration.

Make Community Connections
Take stock of existing partners and stakeholders or conduct a community assessment to identify additional potential assets and partners in the community. Invite partners to events and festivals or to be guest speakers in the program to share their global connections and resources. Take youth on field trips to museums, nearby neighborhoods, and local businesses to enhance and deepen learning. Coordinate with local schools or nonprofit organizations to set up service learning efforts that promote youth’s civic participation to address local issues while increasing their leadership skills. Develop partnerships with programs in other cities or countries to provide participants with virtual exchange opportunities with peers. 

Photo Credit: Asia Society

Integrate Global Learning into Existing Activities
Go beyond flags, food, and festivals. It’s not necessary to overhaul all activities or create new programming to get started doing global learning in afterschool, but it is important to provide sustained and regular global learning activities in order to develop youth's global competencies. Start by focusing on one programming component or learning unit:

  • Is there an example or a piece of content in an activity that could be replaced with one from another country or culture?
  • Could an activity be augmented through the addition of a globally oriented extension project or field trip?
  • Or, perhaps an activity could be transformed by aligning an existing goal or outcome with one of the global competencies listed above.

For example, read folktales and poems from other countries during literacy time. Or, include games from other cultures in your health and fitness component. During cooking club, teach students to prepare healthy foods from other cultures.

Design Thematic and Project-Based Learning Units
Once staff are comfortable infusing global content into existing activities, they can go deeper by using globally significant topics when planning new activities. Topics such as water access, human rights, health care, and education are relevant both globally and locally and increase youth’s academic knowledge and social-emotional skills such as empathy and compassion. Teaching about these issues across program areas helps young people to become informed, global citizens through integrated and interdisciplinary study.

Develop these topics further into project-based learning units that begin with an essential question or problem that interests participants and guides them through research toward an action project.

Photo Credit: Asia Society
Q: Does Asia Society have any resources on global learning for the expanded learning community?
A: Yes! Here are a few resources to support the suggestions noted above:
  • Global leadership performance outcomes and rubrics benchmarked at grades 3, 5, 8, 10, and 12. Use these when planning learning units and giving feedback to youth on their projects.
  • Global learning “quick sheets”: One‐page examples of developmentally appropriate unit plan outlines in typical afterschool content areas. Each activity in the unit builds upon the last, connects across the four domains of global competence, and leads to sample program outcomes. We developed these with the support of the Statewide Afterschool Networks, and we are creating more. 
  • “Global Learning in Afterschool Self‐Assessment Tool”: Programs can use this tool to reflect upon their practice and guide the development of quality improvement measures. It can be used in conjunction with other quality improvement processes and self‐assessment tools.
  • Expanding Horizons: Building Global Literacy in Afterschool Programs: This guidebook lists strategies and resources for the afterschool field on how to integrate international knowledge, skills, and experiences into its program activities.
Take a look at our global learning blog on national newspaper Education Week, follow us on Twitter, and join in to our weekly Twitter chat (#globaledchat) Thursdays at 8pm ET / 5pm PT for more ideas from practitioners and education leaders. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at

Heather began her career as an English teacher at a high school in New York City where she implemented interdisciplinary curricula utilizing a workshop format for developing students’ literacy skills. Then she managed capacity building projects and coached educators in various topics such as conflict resolution, lesson planning, social-emotional learning, behavior management, among others. Heather was a member of the Children’s Studies faculty at Brooklyn College and taught an undergraduate course called Perspectives on Childhood. She joined Asia Society in 2012. 

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