Pulitzer Center Update

The Global Lens: Examining How Students Can Learn With Journalism

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Samira, a senior at School Without Walls, reflects on her experience using the "Beauty and Truth" Global Thinking Routine in her class as part of the Global Lens seminar work. Screenshot of video by Carey Averbook and Amanda Ottaway. Washington, DC, 2015.

“What are some simple yet powerful techniques that teachers across disciplines can use to engage students with global journalism?”

We set out to answer this question last year with a team of teachers from Washington, DC public, charter and independent schools, and Veronica Boix Mansilla of Project Zero, a research institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The Longview Foundation supported the project as part of a larger collaborative project that we called “The Global Lens.”

The Pulitzer Center education team has seen teachers use our journalism projects in some creative and effective ways recently, from writing and sharing lesson plans in our new Lesson Builder to far-reaching school-wide explorations such as the Social Justice Days held by our friends at the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush.

These approaches can be quite different depending on the learning goals of the teachers. But no matter which projects teachers use, in whichever way, they have some common needs. How can we help students understand what is most important about a piece of reporting? How can we cultivate a lasting appetite for good journalism? How can we get them to think more deeply?

Veronica contributed a compelling approach: the use of “global thinking routines.” They involve patterns of intellectual activity that are repeated over time, shaping the fabric of a globally oriented thinking classroom. These routines draw from a long-standing line of work at Project Zero aimed at nurturing dispositions among children. Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karen Morrison, along with Veronica and other researchers at Project Zero, have developed an existing body of thinking routines that address essential cognitive tasks such as introducing and exploring ideas, synthesizing and organizing ideas, digging deeper into ideas and making local-global connections.

The Global Lens team set itself the task of creating some new routines more specifically tailored to journalism. We would like to share one of the routines, called “Beauty and Truth,” and we encourage teachers to use it. This routine works especially well with photography, inviting students to learn about how quality journalism uses beauty to engage us to learn more about an issue and seek truth. We have built it into our Lesson Builder using Micah Albert’s photographs of the Dandora trash dump in Nairobi, Kenya. (Watch video interviews with Xavier and Samira, two students who tried out the routine with Albert’s photography in their high school class.)

Go to the "Beauty and Truth" lesson