At Meridian, we strive to help our students develop the awareness, skills and knowledge needed for an ever-changing world. In 2006, we developed an interdisciplinary Global Studies program with the goal that Meridian students would view themselves as capable learners and researchers of many regions, cultures, and peoples of the world.
As global structures and systems evolve due to changes in cultural and social ideologies, politics, the environment and technological growth, teaching and learning about the world also needs to be dynamic and relevant for students. At Meridian, we want our students to gain an understanding of how global social and natural systems interact and progress. We also want our students to realize and act upon the notion that: “Thinking Globally and Acting Locally” impacts and creates change for local and global communities for the betterment for all. Our Global Studies program is one way we engage our students in this level of learning, thinking and doing.
Our newly developed Global Competency Matrix details our guiding concepts and learning objectives, through which we measure achievement of our programmatic goals. The matrix identifies essential concepts and skills our students will learn and develop throughout their years at Meridian. Four global domains, Investigate the World, Recognize Perspectives, Communicate Ideas and Take Action further support our school’s commitment in nurturing globally competent citizens of the world.
Throughout the year, students across all grade levels participate in an extensive regional study of one of the continents. The classroom studies are celebrated in May on our much anticipated Global Studies Museum Day. On this day, our classrooms transform into exhibits and students embrace their role as museum docents, eager to share their acquired knowledge and research projects with museum visitors.
Our Global Studies program is enhanced by visits from local experts and programming during Friday Morning Meetings and classroom workshops. Last year our students studied Asia and learned first-hand knowledge from the following workshops and presenters:
- Lakpa Rita Sherpa, renowned Seattle-based Sherpa who shared his experiences growing up in Nepal, including the work he does with the Sherpa Heritage Fund.
- Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo, Asian-American storyteller from San Francisco who shared modern and traditional tales from Asia. Robert also worked with our younger grades in mini-workshops.
- Monica Frisell, local Seattle photographer who shared cultural experiences and images from Nepal.
- Tikka Sears (accompanied by her husband Manuel Castro), local UW theater dancer, and puppeteer who wove story cycles from the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics of South and Southeast Asia through masks, shadow and rod puppets of Indonesia.
This past year, we kicked off our Global Studies learning during a Friday Morning Meeting, where a kindergartner shared the epic story of Ramayana to connect her family’s culture to that of many Hindus in Asia, and around the world. This was one way we connected local knowledge and experiences to global learning. Bridging the concepts of “here and there, past and present” was an important school-wide theme last year, the lens through which our community learned of many untold stories and experiences of the peoples in Asia and Seattle.
Our Global Studies program is further enriched by specialist integration. Each year our specialist teachers weave our annual regional study into their curriculum. Some of this year’s highlights include:
- In honor of our continent of the year, and his circus unit, our Health & Fitness teacher brought in the Chinese Acrobats Troupe, who shared little vignettes about Chinese culture, language, schools and customs between routines.
- During Creativity Lab, our fourth graders researched various Northwest corporations, with a focus on their history and operations in Asia. Throughout this project, students used technology to conduct their research, organize their materials, and locate or create graphics and images to accompany their information. Finally, they created storyboards, recorded narrations, and edited all of their data into informative multi-media presentations.
- In music, the Meridian chorus learned and sang Loy Krathong and Ancient House, which where both sung during our Winter Celebration assembly and at a chapel performance in February. In the younger grades, students listened to music from different regions, learned and sang songs and studied “The Chinese Dance” from the Nutcracker in December.
Last year, Meridian partnered with the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. All students visited the museum for a full day, and Meridian faculty benefited from a curricular collaboration with museum educators. To learn more about this partnership, please read page one of our 2016 Equity & Inclusion Newsletter.