Participating in Each Others Stories: Global Connections & Microlending

Our Learning for Life vision statement calls for us to seize the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century by promoting global citizenship by integrating content and relationships that connect us to the larger world and the world to us.


If shown a world map, could I find Uganda or Ecuador?  Do I have any idea how to connect with someone or something in a country that I can’t even find on a map?  How will I find content to promote global citizenship while teaching content that falls under my responsibility?

An email from a blog that I follow arrived on Dec. 2.

From: SimpleK12 Blog <>
Date: Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 4:47 AM
Subject: How You Can Empower Your Students to Make a Global Difference

So I joined Bill Ferriter, Dan Sudlow, and three of their students, E, C, and J, for a webinar discussing their Kiva Club and how they use microlending to help people in developing countries throughout the world.

E and C are 6th graders and J is an 8th grader. With expert and supportive facilitation from Bill and Dan, these young learners taught us about microlending through their experiences and stories. Worth emphasizing…I learned about microlending and integrating content and relationships that connect us to the larger world and the world to us from these three young learners.

The connections to math and geography are obvious to me, but I still have questions.  You can read more about microlending on Bill’s blog The Tempered Radical.  In High Tech High’s video What Project Based Learning Is, Jeff Robin strongly suggests to be successful with PBL you need to “do the project yourself.”  While the math and geography seem obvious to me, what will be learned from a microlending project?  So, I have taken the challenge to learn by doing.  I am participating in funding two loans.

I have a better idea of where Uganda and Ecuador are when I look at a map, and I have the opportunity to connect to these women’s stories.  I also know more about Kiva.  Listen to and watch this beautiful story from Jessica Jackley about poverty, money, and love:

In her talk, Jackley says

The way we that we participate in each others stories is of deep importance.

I am collaborating with 18 others across the world to help Carlina improve her business and family income.  Her dream is to have a well-constructed house; her current home is made of reeds.

Each of the green pins in the map represents the location of a lender.  The map and pins tell part of the story, but while informative, it is not very personal.

Don’t you think there is a big difference in seeing the pins in the map and seeing the faces of the lenders?  The faces show humanity; the faces share more of the story.

If integrating “content and relationships that connect us to the larger world and the world to us” is an essential action, then what do we do? What actions do we take? How do we “do the project” ourselves?  How will we practice? What will we learn?

Still wondering how social media can be used for learning, leading, and serving?  Read One Tweet CAN Change the World from The Tempered Radical.  I cannot physically take my young learners on a field trip to Uganda, Ecuador, or another part of the world.  Social media (blogs, Twitter, YouTube, iChat, Skype, etc.) affords us  opportunities to “connect us to the larger world and the world to us.”

Let’s experiment.

Let’s learn by doing.

One comment

  1. I love it, Jill — and I’m jazzed that our webinar was a lever for your work. My kids will be jazzed too!

    A quick thought for you: How much more powerful would Kiva lending projects be at meeting your learning for life vision statement if you started to partner with other classes to make loans? What if there were regular conversations between classes on the kinds of loans that they believed in and cared about?

    What if groups of kids became parts of lending teams that made their own loans and tracked everything about their performance — from repayment to the countries of the co-lenders that they joined together with?

    What if each lending team had to set up their own criteria for loans early in their work together — “We loan to families.” “We loan to entrepreneurs that want to send their children to school.” We loan to people who are trying to improve their homes.” “We loan to countries that are currently being destroyed by conflict and war?”

    There are TONS of ways that this can fit your vision statement — and that this can become so much more than a math and geography project. While math and geography are often important levers for convincing school leaders to get behind Kiva in the classroom, they’re probably the least important factors for my kids.

    They just love knowing that they’ve changed a real life.

    Don’t forget that there are a TON of handouts for supporting Kiva lending in the classroom on my wiki:

    And don’t forget that our club is ALWAYS looking for partner classes to change the world with.

    Rock on,


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