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Cultivating A Global Perspective Through Geography With Oral History Projects

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Cultivating A Global Perspective Through Geography With Oral History Projects
Bullis Series: Faculty Presents
By Stacey Roshan

One of the most incredible things about teaching is being part of a profession filled with lifelong learners and some of the most generous sharers you will ever meet. In my experience working with Bullis faculty for over 15 years, I can confidently say that they are some of the most innovative, collaborative, forward-thinking, and enthusiastic educators in the field.

Attending and speaking at professional conferences is one of the best ways to stay fresh and inspired, while also giving back to the larger educator community. That's why Bullis teachers are encouraged and supported to take advantage of continual professional development opportunities and to pursue speaking opportunities.

Preamble

Over the next several weeks, we will highlight recent presentations delivered by Bullis faculty at conferences and workshops throughout the DMV region. In addition to benefiting our school by showcasing our exceptional students and faculty, these speaking engagements also provide unique opportunities for teacher growth and reflection.

Liz Jacobi and Kara Mazie | Fourth Grade Teachers
Global Education Benchmark Group Conference

​ Cultivating A Global Perspective Through Geography

About the Project

Global Education Conference

The 4th Grade Oral History Project allows children to learn and teach others about different cultures and places in the world. Students interview immigrants to learn about their experiences. They develop questions to ask about life in their home country and what it was like to adjust to a new country. Each student researches their subject’s home country and learns about the challenges of moving. They record interviews, write their subject’s immigration story, paint their portrait, and display both in the Lower School Art Show. Students also illustrate and bind books that they present to their interviewees. This end-of-year capstone project provides an invaluable opportunity for students to learn more about people and see them in a different light while also connecting with human geography.

Significance of this Project

The Oral History Project helps children learn and teach others about geography, history, and culture through a social-emotional learning lens. In addition to learning about geography, history, and what it’s like to emigrate from their subject’s country, they build social awareness and relationship skills. They learn firsthand about the push and pull factors of immigration and the challenges of moving to a new country. Students write and present copies of their original biographical picture books to their subjects as a thank-you for sharing their stories. Through the process, students to learn more about someone in their family, a family friend, neighbor, school staff member, nanny, housekeeper, or coach, and form a lasting relationship. This project goes far beyond a local interview — its lessons connect students to people and geography.

Why this topic?

Cultivating A Global Perspective Through Geography With Oral History Projects

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Ms. Liz Jacobi uses interview projects in her classroom to help students grow academically and socially. By conducting interviews, students learn important skills like how to frame questions, listen deeply, synthesize information, and infer and develop overarching themes. Ms. Jacobi shares that "socially and emotionally, students get to connect with a person on a whole other level. For example, if a child interviews their parent, there will be things that they learn about their mother or father’s home country, they will hear stories perhaps they have never heard, and learn what it was like for their parent to adjust to a whole new country."

This project is about uncovering layers of people so our students have more empathy for the people in their lives. The same goes for a Bullis staff member. Ms. Liz Jacobi, 4th Grade Teacher

Recognition

Liz Jacobi and her former 4th grade colleague, Ms. Jenny Campbell, earned the 2018 Global Education in Thought Prize for this project. Liz and Jenny presented this project with Bullis colleagues at the Passports and Pedagogies Conference in 2019. More recently, Liz shared this at the 2021 Middle Atlantic Race Ethnicity and Place Conference with the Maryland Geographic Alliance.

How Did This Speaking Opportunity Come About?

The speaking opportunity at the Global Education Benchmark Group Conference came about because of Ms. Jacobi's willingness to step out of her comfort zone. After engaging in a professional learning opportunity through the Association of Independent Maryland & DC Schools focused on tips to help teachers publish and share their work, she had the motivation and resources to submit the proposal that was ultimately accepted.

Cultivating A Global Perspective Through Geography With Oral History Projects