As a Social Studies teacher with the responsibility of covering World Geography for 10/11 year olds, it is difficult to make choices that are relevant, exciting, but safe and appropriate.
I will admit that choosing to study Ukraine this month was risky.
But we had finished a unit on Russia and the students understood the basics of the Soviet Union. There was the concept that the Independent States formed at the breakup have many issues to contend with even 30 years later.
And how much more relevant to make that point than the recent news!
As this unit develops, literally I have to modify curriculum every day, the kids have made connections to .. other protests and civil wars, government systems (Crimea giving its citizens the right to express allegiance to Russia), military deployment, language and culture regions determining support, the importance of warm weather ports (why is Crimea so important to Russia?) How can and should the United States become involved ?
Last week a student asked.... If Vladimir Putin says he won't use force on Ukrainians, why would he send people with guns ?.... hmmm... yes this seems shady.
I love that my students are having relevant conversations about current events at home with their families and sharing that in school with us. We use a student news source (CNNstudentnews) that does a fabulous job of making the news kid friendly.
I must admit that along with my normal prayers that the world stays safe and peaceful, I have been praying extra hard that this region can work through these conflicts without a major act of war.
So far it has provided many discussions about people, places, resources, geography, culture, use of force, and historical connections.
I hope to make students aware that they have a responsibility as world citizens to stay in touch with what happens in our ever shrinking world. Picking my next unit now.... any suggestions ??