Teaching the SDGs

I’ve recently become more involved with an amazing community on Twitter using #TeachSDGs.  We’re a group of teachers around the world committed to bringing the SDGs to our classrooms and communities.  In just the past two weeks or so, I’ve gained a lot of cool ideas from teachers that I want to use in my own classes, notably making children’s books and creating poems.  This is now my opportunity to give back to this community and share what I do in the classroom.

Letter to the Editor
One of the first actions we can take is to first alert local communities that the SDGs exist and that teachers play a crucial role in achieving them.  To that end, I wrote a general 200-world letter that can be used for most newspapers.

SDGs Poster and Icon Cards
I downloaded the logo and icons from the SDGs website (Note: Make sure you follow their guidelines) and sent the files to a local printer to make the poster and icon cards to use in my classroom and for our VAHSAid events.  As a result, I’ve already had interesting discussions with my colleagues and students who aren’t even in my classes.  I’ve also encouraged my students and colleagues to get their pictures taken with an icon card to share on social media.

Global Summits
Basically, this is like a Model UN conference, only much smaller in scale.

The first is the packet introducing the activity.  We are on a block schedule, so where it says three days, that’s about 280 minutes of class time.  We prepare for the summit the entire quarter (9 weeks), but I usually give them only 3-4 days in class to work on it; the rest of the time is research on their own.

The second document is just a sheet that I cut out to put on the backs of their placards to help with parliamentary procedure (I’ll send a pic of a placard to you via DM).  I also show them the two videos from a model UN conference so they can see what it looks like (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYu9mJz6S3I).  The third document are the rules of procedure (I broke it down from one of the Model UN conferences we attend).

The fourth attachment is the resolution prep guide.  Every summit focuses on two of the SDGs.  So, at the beginning I give them the most current UNGA resolution pertaining to each topic.  Then, they fill out the prep guide, and we go over it next class.

The next two attachments are the country roster and organization cheat sheet.  The last one is the rubric for the whole assignment.

From there, the students mostly work outside of class to prepare for the summit.

As an extension activity, I have the students write a letter to the head of the relevant UN body for one of the two topics, explaining their own personal opinion about what should be done to address the issues.  I’ve included the template I give them.  In the past we’ve written to the UNDP, FAO, UNEP, and UN Women.  The students get quite excited when we receive a letter back.

I am the “chair” for the summit, so I call on countries, keep track of the speaker’s list, and keep notes on what students say in their speeches.

  1. Global Summits
  2. Points and Motions for Placards
  3. Rules of Procedure
  4. UN Resolution Preparation Guide
  5. Country Assignments
  6. Countries and Regional Organizations
  7. Business Letter Format FAO and UNDP

Month-Long Units
Of the four different courses I teach, I’ve put together a month-long unit for three of them.  For World Studies (sophomores) and AP US History (juniors and seniors), I had them pick an EU Member State because I also do a lot of work on transatlantic relations and the EU (in fact, I’m taking eight students to Brussels this summer for a week to learn about the EU).  For AP classes, this unit is a nice way to end the year and have something that is academic, but not overly strenuous.  For the children’s books, I’m using The Children’s Picture Book Project lesson plan.

  1. World Studies- SDGs Unit
  2. AP US History- SDGs Post-AP Test Assignment
  3. AP Comparative Government and Politics- SDGs Post-AP Test Assignment

Children’s Activities
For our VAHSAid events, like our 1st Annual Campout to Stamp Out Child Poverty and Food Insecurity, we have a table for children’s activities.  So far, I’ve developed an SDGs Word Search with key words from each of the SDGs.  I deliberately chose not to give the definitions because I want parents to talk with their children about the terms.  Once I create more activities, I’ll share them.

Finally, I recommend following TeachSDGs and World’s Largest Lesson on Twitter.  I’ve also created a Twitter list of all the amazing teachers who I’ve had the pleasure of talking with about teaching the SDGs.

I hope that you’ll find something useful in all of this.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for reading.


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