In summer 2019, educators from across the Chicago area gathered at the University of Chicago to participate in another year of the Summer Institute for Educators. This is a venue wherein educators from varying backgrounds come together to connect, exchange ideas, and immerse themselves in a two-day professional development designed to support them in bringing global issues and journalism resources into their classrooms. This partnership between the Pulitzer Center and the University of Chicago, now in its fourth year, continues to provide a space for educators in the Chicago region not only to explore and enhance their own professional growth, but also to elevate their classroom successes.
The two-day workshop had specific objectives, and those were to explore reporting to bring back to classrooms, brainstorm and draft extension exercises to connect the reporting to curricula, create a comprehensive understanding of Pulitzer Center resources, and network with journalists in the field, who explained their processes and highlighted the importance of media literacy. Collaboration on a larger scale was the goal, and this was facilitated over the course of the program.
On the first day of the workshop, Pulitzer Center education team members Fareed Mostoufi and Hannah Berk spent the morning session facilitating warm-ups and general introductions among educators to familiarize them with one another before delving into content-based collaboration. For the afternoon session, educators were asked to reflect on their news consumption, and the news consumption of their students. The Pulitzer Center team asked, “What makes it hard to bring global issues into your class?” Many educators answered that students have “no time for the world,” since many students in their classrooms face hardships.
This is a common theme in classrooms, and the Pulitzer Center team worked for two days to prove that the integration of under-reported stories can be done with ease and for the benefit of “igniting compassion,” a phrase that an educator shared during one of the workshop sessions.
On the second day of the workshop, educators created a broad range of extension activities and warm-ups from the reporting presented. They also experienced a Pulitzer Center poetry writing workshop, where educators wrote a short poem by collecting observations and reflecting on their feelings based on an image. A participant responded that "the greatest strength [of this activity] was the explanation of visual literacy and doing a close look at photographic journalism…the examination of the photos by the photographers and journalists…tell compelling stories."
As part of this larger programming throughout the two days, six Pulitzer Center grantees took the stage and presented their stories, not only the reporting that they deliver but also their own personal stories about becoming journalists. Answering questions and providing reflection from the field, these journalists opened a dialogue about connecting classrooms and personal experiences to the world. One participant wrote that their favorite part of these presentations was “the reports that [brought] global issues down to earth, down to individuals and their stories. The connection is stronger with this strategy.”
The presenters included Richard Bernstein, who reported on the political challenges of China as a rising power and its influence over Taiwan and Thailand; Sarah Aziza on the Saudi Arabian government's oppression and censorship during a time of modernization; Jeffrey Stern on the aerial campaign that is destroying Yemen; Amy Martin on the impact of rising temperatures in the Arctic and its people; Perla Trevizo on migration from Central America to the U.S.; and Brian Frank on visualizing the stories of incarcerated young adults in the U.S. A participant reported that this portion of the two-day program was especially impactful because it allowed for “listening to journalists who have first-hand experience in world regions and [could] represent stories that otherwise would remain untold.”
At the end of the two days, educators left the University of Chicago with a new toolkit of information and knowledge for themselves and the scholars they teach and influence.
If you are interested in hosting or participating in a Pulitzer Center professional development in your area or would like to explore ways to bring international journalism into your classroom, reach out to us at [email protected] or explore our online Lesson Builder.
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