Sustainable Development Goals in the Middle-Level Classroom

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Classroom Application
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Problem-solving is a crucial skill we teach our students through in-class experiences to prepare them for their future. One of the most critical problems our students can solve is the challenge of sustaining our planet for future generations. In 2015, leaders from the 193 countries of the United Nations created a plan with 17 interlinked global goals to achieve a better and more sustainable world by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to connect and improve people’s lives worldwide. The SDGs address poverty, equity, and climate action and incorporate the four underlying principles of people, planet, prosperity, and peace and partnership. Sharon Hall shares more details on the SDGs in her post, Bringing the Sustainable Development Goals Into your Classroom.

Middle-Level teachers play a vital role in showing students they can positively impact the world now and in the future. The SDG framework can enrich traditional curriculum experiences. Integrating SDGs in your classroom encourages real-world problem solving and global digital citizenship.

TeachersFirst’s Across the World Once a Week (XW1W) is a fantastic way to broaden students’ knowledge about the world around them and support the integration of SDGs. Developed as an educational opportunity for students all over the globe, XW1W utilizes Twitter as a means to connect individuals through social discussion. XW1W incorporates higher-level thinking, data analysis, conversation and debate, writing, and digital skills while supporting SDG implementation. It offers elementary and middle-level students opportunities to connect with peers worldwide and understand the similarities and differences among varied locations and cultures. XW1W provides a focus on global citizenship, allowing students to understand their place within our world. Furthermore, global citizens are active within their communities and focus on improving our world, another SDG objective.

Teachers need not be an expert on the SDGs to use XW1W to facilitate learning. Explore the XW1W questions with your students and plan ways to take action and inspire change. While XW1W can be implemented easily, listed below are activities to extend the initiative in the middle-level classroom.

  • Encourage students to find themes connected to the XW1W weekly question in fiction or nonfiction literature they’ve read.
  • Ask students to create a form using Google Forms (reviewed here) to share with their school community or surrounding community to solicit responses to the XW1W topic of the week. Students can organize the answers and include community connections in their reflections. 
  • Challenge mathematics classes to analyze statistics and numbers connected to the topic. Create infographics using Canva Infographic Maker (reviewed here). 
  • Integrate research skills as the students find articles and resources connected to the week’s topic. Then, the students can create presentations using Microsoft Sway (reviewed here) to share their findings. 
  • Create opportunities for your students to make posters on the SDGs using Canva (reviewed here). 
  • Have students create animated videos with Animaker (reviewed here) that extends the weekly XW1W topic. 

Inspire students to make positive changes in their local and global communities through hands-on, minds-on SDG experiences. How are you integrating SDGs in your classroom? We’d love to hear your strategies in the comments below! 

About the author: Kevin Bower

Kevin Bower has 21 years of elementary teaching experience, is a certified reading specialist, and teaches instructional technology to pre-service and practicing teachers. He has presented nationally, had his teaching practices cited in various publications, and published a collaborative article on infusing technology into the balanced literacy classroom. Kevin’s research interests focus on using technology to best meet the needs of students with diverse abilities.

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