Educating Globally Minded Problem Solvers

Citizenship. Digital Citizenship. Global Economy. Globally Minded. Empathy. Creative Problem Solvers. Bringing real-world issues into the classroom. These are all big topics being discussed and addressed in education, now more than ever.

And rightfully so.

I’ve really developed a passion for global learning and helping teachers develop connections with other classrooms around the world through my Innovator project Classroom Bridges. I’m always looking for resources to help teachers break down the physical barriers and “flatten” their classroom. I recently connected with Josh Brake, the founder of Kutoa, and he filled me in on the organization and their mission. It seemed like a perfect fit, so naturally, I had to share.

Kutoa is Swahili for “to give,” and that’s exactly what they do! In fact, Josh described their organization as a “gateway to give” when we spoke. SO how exactly do they give?

Kutoa partners with a different registered charity every month who provides Kutoa with three different projects with sustainable solutions. Every Kutoa user then votes on their favorite of the three projects, and a final project is selected to receive all the money raised that month. So about this money raised… each individual may contribute no more than $1 each month. It’s the “power of one” idea that Kutoa promotes; that one person and one dollar really can make a difference. What a great message to give kids! Plus, they give 100% of the money they raise to the chosen organization and project that month.

To give you an idea of the types of topics, this month’s (February 2017) theme is all about child soldiers and the partner organization is the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. The three projects users can vote on are:

  • Researching Prevention– which helps Dallaire “to further tailor our training and engage in practical solutions to the prevention of the use of children as weapons of war while also engaging youth in interdisciplinary issues.” If this project wins, the money raised by the whole Kutoa community will go to research initiatives.
  • Knowledge is Power–  The Dallaire Initiative works “with local community partners and international experts to develop, produce and distribute new education resources that specifically target children and youth who are at risk for recruitment, as well as community educators that interact with these children.” If this project wins, the money raised by the whole Kutoa community will go to education initiatives.
  • Tools for Training– Dallaire “has developed the world’s only preventative training on the subject of child soldiers. Their training is participatory and scenario-based, requiring the learner to consider the challenges children in armed conflict present and encouraging actions that help to prevent harm to children in the first instance.” If this project wins, the money raised by the whole Kutoa community will go to these training initiatives.

Talk about becoming globally aware, empathetic and coming up with creative ways to solve serious, real-world problems!

Kutoa did not begin with educators in mind, but it’s obvious why so many teachers wanted to get their students involved in these projects. So, they developed Kutoa Classrooms. Classrooms gives teachers analytics about what’s going on in their individual classroom, allows each student the opportunity to vote on the project of their choice, and Kutoa provides lesson plans to help teachers have age appropriate conversations about the issues. Josh told me their primary goal is to educate students about these issues around the world and the secondary goal is to have the students raise awareness about the issues and get others involved. Josh also personally offers each class a 15-20 minute Skype or Google Hangout session to allow the students to ask questions about the process and the organization. That’s pretty awesome of him! He also told me that they’ve had everywhere from Kindergarten classes to college business classes use Kutoa Classrooms, with the “sweet spot” being grades 3-8 and high school world issues classes. Watch the short video below for more information or sign up here!

There is a small fee to set up Kutoa Classrooms ($1 and some change per student, per month). If you use the code “FORWARDEDGE” (case sensitive), you can get one month free (minimum four-month purchase required)! Kutoa is a registered charity in the US and Canada, and they do provide you a tax receipt.

I do want to clarify that Kutoa is not a platform to collaborate with other students in other classrooms, although you could certainly develop a project and collaborate with other classrooms you connect with around the theme presented on Kutoa for the month. Kutoa does, however, flatten the classroom walls by educating and raising awareness for global issues that students otherwise may never be exposed to. It also empowers students by voting on their favorite project and developing strategies to raise awareness about the issues. There is a Facebook Group for teachers to connect with other educators using Kutoa in their classrooms if you wanted to get some ideas from other educators.

If you’re as sold as I am on the power of Kutoa, you can sign up here. So, what do you think? Have you heard of Kutoa? Would you use it with your students? If so, what types of activities might you plan around Kutoa projects? Share your thoughts below in the comments.

Tech To You Later!

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