By Eric Goldstein
Executive Director and Founder
One World Education
“Now I get it,” replied 14-year-old Jamal to his teacher after reading a One World Reflection on the lack of freshwater in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Reflection was written by a Washington, DC, high school student named Josh, who visited Zambia and then wrote about its water crisis. He published his essay through One World Education (OWEd), a nonprofit organization showcasing student writing with project-based activities and assessments built around it.
Although the teacher had used other reading assignments, Jamal was able to relate to Josh’s words, and to finally understand the connection between freshwater and educational opportunity for millions of African teenagers.
Can student understanding of issues like this promote global literacy?
Can middle school and high school students actually be engaged in the classroom with learning opportunities that connect to their lives? At One World Education, we think so.
In 2006, I asked my students at the SEED School of Washington, DC, a public charter school in Southeast DC, to write about issues that were important to them. Their writing was then used as the foundation for lesson plans to engage the class with youth perspectives on diversity, culture, and global topics.
A year later, I transitioned OWEd into a nonprofit organization offering two programs that responded to clear needs in DC’s schools, where 88 percent of students in grades 8-12 write at a “basic” or “below basic” level and 40 percent of teachers have less than five years of teaching and curriculum-development experience.
OWEd’s One World Writing Program provides students with meaningful writing opportunities to improve their literacy skills, publish writing, and learn from the writing of other students. The One World Curriculum responds to teachers’ need for standards-based curricula to engage students to critically think, write, and better understand culture and global issues through a growing database of curricula built around this student writing.
The results speak for themselves.
Students learning with our programs have been shown to be more engaged, cause fewer classroom disruptions, and complete classwork and homework at increased levels. Ninety-four percent of recent participants said they improved their writing skills as well as learned something new about a global or cultural issue.
OWEd has now worked with more than 1,500 local student writers and 325 teacher members, offering—at no cost—almost 100 project-based lesson plans and more than 100 comprehension assessments to prepare students for their exams. The DC Public Schools System recognizes OWEd as an official curriculum provider.
As our base of student writers continues to grow, so will the diversity of the One World Curriculum topics. New units, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards, are published monthly and are freely available online to our teacher members.
To really see what our programs accomplish, take a look at some of the most recently published student writing:
- Cyber Bullying, by Tanith Ramon-Ibarra
- Tales of Adoption and Courage, by Michael Song
- Deforestation in the Amazon, by Emma Walsh-Alker
- Childhood Obesity, by Nancy Jin
- Language in America, by Rashida Asante-Eccleston
- Single Parent Families, by Denver Edmonds
About Eric Goldstein
Goldstein has been an educator in public, charter, and independent schools and earned a US Department of the Interior Partners in Education Award while teaching in Southeast DC in 2006. He has led learning programs for American students in Greece and Zambia and participated in educator programs in China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.
Goldstein expanded One World Education from his classroom into a nonprofit organization in 2007 to grow the program’s impact to more students and educators.
For more information about One World Education, visit www.oneworldeducation.org.