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District 128 introduces Global Goals Initiative

District 128 introduced the Global Goals into the school curriculum as part of the new initiative.

Picture Credit: United Nations

District 128 introduced the Global Goals into the school curriculum as part of the new initiative.

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This year, teachers in the district have decided to incorporate more of the United Nations’ Global Goals into school curriculum. The United Nations identified 17 Global Goals to accomplish by 2030. Teachers have decided that the district will first focus on goal five, gender equality.

This is the pilot year for this program in our district, and the impact on students will vary. Some teachers will focus heavily on the Global Goals in class, while others may only mention the topic.

“Students [will] have exposure to the global goals in their curricular and extracurricular settings, so that hopefully students will be able to make connections across their classes,” Mrs. Macias, English teacher, said.

Teachers from both Libertyville and Vernon Hills High Schools came up with this plan last year during a district-wide innovation team meeting. These meetings are an opportunity for teachers to come together and brainstorm ideas for how to make the district a better place. Groups were formed based on common interests, and one of these groups was focused on how to increase student empathy.

Mrs. Macias was part of the group that saw the Global Goals as a way to accomplish increased student empathy.

“Our common concern was that students were oftentimes driven by points or assignment completion, and we wanted to think of a way to foster more empathy and connection with the content,” Mrs. Macias said. “We all shared this vision and thought [the Global Goals] were important things that students do care about and have vested interest in, if we would just find ways to root them in our curriculum.”

Last year, The World’s Largest Lesson a website run by a partner organization of the UN that aims to educate people about the goals focused on gender equality. Their website has extensive resources like lesson plans, pictures, and videos from schools all around the world. All of these easily accessible and convenient resources influenced the district’s choice.

“From here on out, the junior class will choose each year’s goal so that when you’re a senior, you have chosen the goal for the school. We wanted the senior class to be in the building when their chosen goal was being focused on,” Mrs. Macias said.

Teachers will incorporate the Global Goals into quick lessons, long units, or even as an overarching theme to a class’s curriculum. Posters of the Global Goals will be put up around the school, and the term “Global Goal” will be said a lot more now.

“It’s not going to be a club. We hope that clubs and teams might get on board with this too, [but] it’s just a change of focus. The Global Goals will become a common language. That’s how I think it’ll feel to a student — a school-wide push that they keep hearing about in different places from different people,” Mrs. Tolva, Vernon Hills High School Librarian, said.

Mrs. Meister-Louria’s English Language Learners Literacy class is basing its whole year’s curriculum on gender equality. They are relating all of their texts, discussions, and projects to gender equality.

“I think gender equality, for a lot of students who come from different countries, is a challenging issue. I would like them to be able to see areas in their own countries and lives where gender equality might be a problem,” Mrs. Meister-Louria said. “Culturally, they may still see things from different gender roles, but I want them to ultimately see that men and women are equal in value.”

Over the summer, teachers and students from both high schools filmed a three-minute video explaining the goals and the district’s initiative. There will be a staff lunch meeting at the end of September to introduce and provide support to teachers on how to integrate the Global Goals into their lessons. After teachers have been debriefed, the video will be shown to students during the first week of October, and the project will be officially launched.

For some students, the Global Goals may be a reoccurring topic from previous classes and projects. For others, it may be a new idea that shifts how their classes or assignments are structured. However, the objective is for it to be more than just a theme in some classes; it is to be a unifying factor as everyone works toward a common goal and greater awareness.

“It’s very easy in today’s culture for students to think about “me” all the time. Participating in the Global Goals helps students recognize significant issues outside of [themselves] that [they] can have an impact in,” Mrs. Meister-Louria said.

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District 128 introduces Global Goals Initiative