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Global Citizens Right Here

April 25, 2022 | Heather Palmer Welesko

Welcome back from Spring Break!

Before the break we started our Global Expo Unit. First the class discovers and explores the countries of the world–mostly through text–and then each student is assigned a country. The goal is that each student will become an “expert” of his/ her country. Each expert will know basic geographical information about their chosen country, the most practiced religion and language of their country, and some cultural elements of their country.

This unit is great for engaging students and broadening knowledge. We also discuss how to be respectful when learning about different things. For instance, switching the word, “new” or “different” instead of using the word “weird.” This unit challenges students to make maps and recreate some art from their country. More academically, the Global Expo unit meets the following standards:

  • Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
  • Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
  • By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Students must read informational books as part of their study and be able to recount key details. Furthermore, to accomplish the second standard, Ms. Lowe and I have invited several volunteers to join our class and teach us about their country of origin. In this way, students can ask questions and gain real “on the ground” information about what it’s like to grow up in a different country.

The first speaker we invited was actually….my sister, Kelly Kirsch! She has lived in Germany now for over ten years, and her kids were born and raised in Germany. Her whole family–Lukas, her husband, and her two children, Ruben (8) and Ellen (6),  joined the zoom call.


In these two pictures, you see the class gathering around the zoom meeting. We prepared a list of questions for Kelly to answer, and children also asked questions as they heard her explain and discuss German culture. In the second picture, Kelly and Ruben share the screen. You can also see the third grade has joined us in this zoom call.

This call gave the class more than information, it exposed them to real people living in another part of the world. This kind of experiential learning allows students to see and interact with people who are different than them, and to start to open up to new ideas, views, understandings, and references for what is “normal.” It’s exciting to see them be so excited.

We have just begun our new study, and have several interviews lined up. We also heard from Mrs. Creighton, and it was a pleasure to have her (even though we neglected to take pictures–we were so caught up in the moment–learning about Mexico!).

Some forthcoming interviews include Mr. Ou-Tim (talking about South Africa) and Ms. Goddard (talking about England). Don’t be surprised if we reach out to you asking you to come talk to us! We are recruiting as many people as we can!

We will close out this study with our Global Exposition, wherein students showcase their knowledge on their country. We know they will excel!

Heather Palmer Welesko

Literacy and Assistant Teacher, Grades 4 & 5

Heather Welesko has taught at Mustard Seed School for nearly a decade as a literacy and assistant teacher. She has taught literature and writing at Kean University and Harold Washington College of Chicago. Heather holds an MFA in writing and poetry from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA in Leadership and Spiritual Formation from Evangelical Seminary.

Ms. Welesko is enthusiastic about professional development, and has advanced training in the Handwriting Without Tears program; the Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading Program, and the Responsive Classroom/ Development Designs Program through Origin. She continues professional develop through The Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. She’s passionate about literature, creativity, comprehensive education, and believes strongly in teaching identity and diversity awareness and inclusion.

Ms. Welesko is a poet, artist, and yogi, and is still, always learning.

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