Wednesday, November 16, 2016

GO AWAY! Apply Now to the 2017 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program!

This is an amazing program and a wonderful opportunity! It's open to teachers who have taught for three years or more... 

A word to the wise:  Follow the directions carefully and complete the application precisely as asked. 


The FY 2017 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program competition is now open! K-16 educators should apply today! Deadline: December 28, 2016.
US Department of Education Newsletter
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Apply Now to the 2017 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program!

Deadline: December 28, 2016

2016 Seminar Abroad to Peru

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Education provides grants to K-12 and postsecondary educators to study and travel abroad?

The Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program provides short-term seminars abroad for U.S. educators in the social sciences and humanities to improve their understanding and knowledge of the peoples and cultures of other countries. Each seminar features educational lectures and activities specifically designed for the group, including visits to local schools and organizations, meetings with teachers and students, and visits to cultural sites. Participants draw on their experiences during the program to create new, cross-cultural curricula for their classrooms and school systems back in the U.S.

In 2017, summer programs will be offered in Bulgaria, Chile, and Thailand. A total of 48 awards are available (sixteen per program). The program covers airfare, room and board, and program costs. Teacher participants are responsible for a cost-share of $600.
2017 Seminars Abroad
Here's what past Seminars Abroad participants have to say about the program:

"Without a doubt the ENTIRE trip was amazing! All of the activities were related to each other and sequenced in a thoughtful way. All activities were meaningful and left a lasting impression."

"Thanks to the inspired and collaborative contributions from my fellow participants, I return with an arsenal of lessons that bring a modest slice of the world back home to my students."

"My Seminars Abroad experience will allow me to introduce to my students pertinent first-hand information about the world. I plan on doing so through the development of curriculum units that will give my students the opportunity to explore cultural heritage and compare their own culture with other cultures.”

"There have been so many great collaborations to come out of the Seminars Abroad program, and I'm filled with gratitude. The Fulbright-Hays programs have done so much for my research and teaching!"
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2017 Seminars Application NOW AVAILABLE

2016 Seminar Abroad to India
The 2017 Seminars Abroad application is now available on the G5 website at

If you are a new user, click “Sign Up” on the G5 HomepageOnce registered and activated, click on “Package Submission” under Grant Setup. Follow the steps provided, filling out the forms and uploading the necessary files. See the Application package for more detailed directions.

In order to be eligible for the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad program, the applicant must meet the following requirements:
  • Must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States
  • Must hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Must have at least 3 years of full-time teaching or administrative experience by time of departure
  • Must be currently employed full-time in a U.S. school, institution of higher education, Local Educational Agency, State Educational Agency, library, or museum as a teacher/ administrator
  • Must be an educator in the Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences (this criterion does not apply to administrators)
  • Must work at the grade level of the seminar
  • Must be physically and psychologically able 
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Webinar: Application Technical Assistance, December 5

2016 Seminar Abroad to Senegal
Join us for a webinar at 2:00pm ET on December 5, 2016, for technical assistance in preparing your Seminars Abroad application. IFLE staff will provide webinar attendees with guidance on how to use the G5 electronic application system, prepare a competitive application, and troubleshoot technical issues.

In order for the webinar to best serve the needs of all applicants, please submit any questions regarding the competition and application in advance to Maria Chang ( so that we can be sure to address them during the session.

When:  Wednesday, December 5, 2016 (2:00pm - 3:00pm ET)

How to Participate:  Register online at

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Examples of Past Seminars Abroad

2016 Seminar Abroad to India
India 2016Sustainable Development and Social Change
For five weeks in July and August 2016, sixteen U.S. high school educators explored issues, challenges and strategies related to India’s developmental goals. During the seminar, participants broadened their knowledge of India’s past, present and future socio-economic developmental strategies, and learned about the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the country through visits to Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune, Madurai, Kolkata, and Varanasi. The group met with policymakers and planners, academicians, social workers and community members on their visits to organizations working in the areas of environmental protection, renewable energy, poverty eradication, women’s empowerment, and education.

2016 Seminar Abroad to Peru
Peru 2016Exploring Indigenous Heritage
This past summer's Seminar Abroad to Peru offered sixteen K-8 teachers from the U.S. the opportunity to learn about present-day Peru through a guided exploration of the country’s history. The trip featured cultural, political and social visits in and around Arequipa, Cusco, Lima, Madre de Dios, and Puno. Participants interacted with Peruvian specialists in education, history, art, architecture, economic and public policy during visits to urban areas and historical towns, acquiring a unique insight into the challenges facing Peruvian culture in the 21st century.

2016 Seminar Abroad to Senegal
Senegal 2016Religion and Diversity in West Africa
The 2016 Seminar Abroad to Senegal offered an opportunity for sixteen postsecondary faculty from U.S. institutions to explore religious and cultural diversity in West Africa. The seminar explored Senegal as a diverse society with peaceful ethnic and religious coexistence, and participants had the chance to meet with academics, religious leaders, and activists from diverse disciplines and organizations in areas like Dakar, Gorée, Saint-Louis, Touba, Djiloor, Toubacouta, Ziguinchor, and Cap Skirrig. Visits to mosques and churches, historic, cultural, and political sites, civil society groups, and universities provided participants with insight into the expressions of Islam, Christianity, and indigenous religions in the region as well as broad knowledge about the country to integrate into their classes, schools, and communities back in the U.S.

2015 Seminar Abroad to China
China 2015
Sixteen U.S. K-12 teachers traveled to China last summer with the Seminars Abroad Program. The teachers learned about China's educational system through visits to China's Ministry of Education, Beijing's Dandelion School and Nong Jia Nu School, Tsinghua University, Chongqing's Tongliang Middle School, and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, visiting with educators, students, government officials, and public policy experts. Participants also learned about Chinese history, arts, religion, and traditional medicine through visits to Tian'anmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Qin Terra Cotta Warriors, Banpo Neolithic village, Beijing's Dashanzi Art District, the Great Mosque, Jing'an Temple, and the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Questions about Seminars Abroad? Contact Maria Chang at


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Monday, November 14, 2016

Guidelines for Helping Younger Children Deal With the Election


 Posted by Wheelock College, November 2016
Adapted from: Teaching Young Children in Violent Times (2nd Ed.) by Diane Levin, Washington, DC: NAEYC & Cambridge, MA:  Educators for Social Responsibility, 2003.

·      Protect children, especially young children, as much as possible from exposure to news--on the TV, radio or from hearing other adults talk about it. While it’s rarely possible to protect them fully from the news, having safety and security predominate is still vital for healthy development so the more you can limit it the better. The more news bout the election and people’s distress about it that children see, the more dangerous they are likely to think that the world is and the more scary content they will need help working out.

·      Trusted adults have a vital role to play helping children sort out what they see and hear and in helping them feel safe.  When exposed to scary news and election information, children need to know you are there to help them in an ongoing way and that they won’t be criticized for bringing up the issue or saying what they really think.  How you react plays a big role in determining how they think and feel, and what they learn. 
·      Take your lead from what the children do and what you know about them as individuals. Base your responses on the age, prior experiences, specific needs, and unique concerns of individual children.

·      Young children won’t understand the election or what is going on as adults do.  When they see or hear about something scary, they often relate it to themselves and worry about their own safety. They tend to focus on one thing at a time and the most salient aspects of what they see.  Because they don't have logical causal thinking, it's hard for them to figure out the logic of what happened and why, or sort out what is pretend and what is real.  They relate what they hear to themselves, to what is important to them, as well as to what they already know.  This can lead to misunderstandings. 

·      With age, children begin to think more about what underlies an event and possible real world implications.  They use more accurate language and make logical causal connections, but still don't understand all the meanings and can develop misunderstandings and fears.  Find out the meanings behind their language and base your responses on what they seem to know and be asking.
·      Start by finding out what children know.  If a child brings up something about the election and government in conversation, you might ask, "What have you heard about that?" Or,  “What did you hear?”
·      Answer questions and clear up misconceptions that worry or confuse.  You don't need to provide the full story.  Just tell children what they seem to want to know. Don't worry about giving "right answers" or if children have ideas that don’t agree with yours. You can calmly voice your feelings and concerns, and reassure them about their safety.
·      Support children's efforts to use play, art, and writing to work out an understanding of scary things they see and hear.  It’s normal for children to do this in an ongoing way; it helps them work out ideas and feelings; it shows you what they know and worry about.  Open-ended (versus highly-structured) play materials—blocks, airplanes, emergency vehicles, miniature people, a doctor’s kit, markers and paper—help children with this. However, the election does not easily lend itself to working things out in play the way some other scary events do. Some young children might find it helpful to conduct their own election around an issue they care about.

·      Be on the lookout for signs of stress.  Changes in behavior such as increased aggression or withdrawal, difficulty separating from parents or sleeping, or troubles with transition are all signs that additional supports are needed. Protecting children from the media images, maintaining routines, providing reassurance and extra hugs can help children regain equilibrium.

·      Help children learn alternatives to the harmful lessons they may be learning about violence and prejudice. Talk about alternative ways to deal with the negative lessons children may be learning from the election, and words and actions of the new president.  Show them how they deal with issues differently in their own lives.  For example, help them look at different points of view in conflicts. Point to positive experiences with people different from themselves. Try to complicate their thinking rather than tell them how to think.

·      Discuss what adults are doing to make the situation better and what children can do to help.  Children can feel secure when they see adults working to keep the world safe. And taking meaningful action steps themselves also helps children feel more in control. Make sure they know it is the job of adults, not children, to keep them and the world safe. 

·      Have regular conversations with parents and other professionals.  Work together to support each other’s efforts to create a safe environment for children.  This includes sharing information that comes up with particular children, developing effective response strategies together, and agreeing to protect children from unnecessary exposure to violence. Talking together can also help adults meet their own personal needs in dealing with the violence that surrounds us.


Strauss Valerie.  Answer Sheet:  The Frightening Effect of ‘Trump Talk’ on America’s Schools”  Washington Post, November 6, 2016.
[This Washington Post entry has a helpful article by Mica Pollack, with useful links and resources.]

Michael, Ali.  What Do We Tell the Children? Tell Them, First, that We Will Protect Them.  Huffington Post.  “The Day After.”
[A useful blog post from before the election. The web site continues to add other entries that will also be helpful.]

Election Processing Community Circle.  [Useful and clear guidelines on how to lead a safe and open discussion with children (not too young) about the election results.]

[1] Adapted from: Teaching Young Children in Violent Times (2nd Ed.) by Diane Levin, Washington, DC: NAEYC & Cambridge, MA:  Educators for Social Responsibility, 2003.

Friday, November 11, 2016

What to Say to Kids...

What to Say to Kids on November 10 and the Days After

Educators and parents had one job yesterday: Reassure kids and help them feel safe in the wake of the most ugly, damaging and high-stakes election in American history. For the foreseeable future, in fact, they’ll need to double down on creating a school climate that’s free of fear and feels safe.

But safety isn’t enough, and it’s not the only thing our children—and our country—need right now. Kids will sniff out false reassurance, and they will learn that the adults who are doling it out can’t be trusted. They desperately need their teachers and parents to tell them the truth: Everything is not OK. We have work to do, and we can do it.
Here are a few of those truths kids need to hear.

Emotions are strong. If you’re feeling hurt, disappointed, fearful or sad about this election, don’t hide it. Hillary Clinton acknowledged the hurt of losing in her concession speech. Don’t put on a happy face; the kids will see right through it. But be hopeful for the future. If you or some of your students are feeling jubilant, don’t gloat. Remind kids that the president must serve all Americans, not just those who voted for him.

The country is divided—and not just on politics. This election has thrown the spotlight on how we see each other: urban vs. rural; coasts vs. the heartland; “common folks” vs. elites; “real Americans” vs. immigrants and Muslims; people who believe they were better off the way things “used to be” vs. those who know they do not want to go back to a time when LGBT people hid in closets, racial discrimination was the law and women’s place was in the home. No matter where your students stand, they need knowledge. Those students who feel dispossessed—and that includes many white folks in the Rust Belt—need to see their realities affirmed and need to know that others struggle too. Your immigrant or Muslim students wonder if the country hates them? Be honest: Yes, a lot of people do hate and fear them, for no other reason than their ethnicity or religion. We have a long history of fearing the “other.” Your African-American kids feel their race counts against them? It does; their opportunities in life are different because they were born black in the United States. You don’t judge them by the color of their skin, but when the world doled out advantages, they got shorted.

No one really knows what this election means. Pundits and scholars will spend months analyzing why half the country voted for a man with no experience in government, who ran on a platform of fear and nostalgia and who is widely seen as a demagogue. We’ll hear about misogyny, xenophobia, a revolt against the political establishment, the effects of globalization and rapid social change, the culture of celebrity, economic stress, and white anxiety in the face of a browning nation. Resist the urge to explain it to your students; you can’t. Not yet. That’s going to be a job for historians. Tell them you don’t have all the answers, but here are some explanations being offered. Be willing to discuss and explore the possibilities, even if they are ugly or uncomfortable. No one wants to tell a roomful of little girls that maybe the country wasn’t ready for a woman president, but chances are they’ve already figured out that they are treated differently than the boys.

Voting matters, but it doesn’t happen on its own. It takes work to make sure that everyone who is eligible to vote is registered, has knowledge about the process and gets out to vote. Some of us were lucky to have a long list of advantages that make voting matter-of-fact. My parents voted, for instance, so I learned about it early and developed the habit. That’s not true for people whose parents were excluded because of felon disenfranchisement, voter-suppression laws or their status as non-citizens. I have a job that allows me to take as long as I need to vote. That’s not true for hourly workers. I have a car and it’s easy to get to the polling station. Not everyone can say that. Today, we don’t know exactly how voter turnout in 2016 stacked up historically, but it’s clear that lots of people didn’t participate. Talk about that and about the obstacles they face, including apathy, with your students.

Voting matters, but it’s not the only thing that does. Citizens and non-citizens alike have a role in shaping the future of this nation, and they do it in many ways. They serve in the military and on juries. They volunteer in their communities, attend school board meetings and work with others to get things done. In the face of injustice, they organize to bring about change. In the past, for example, women organized and fought for 72 years to get the right to vote. African Americans put their lives in danger to end legal segregation and secure their right to vote. Chicano and Filipino farm workers organized to get paid a living wage and be treated with respect. Today, members of the Standing Rock Sioux nation and their allies are fighting an oil pipeline in North Dakota that threatens their water and land. Black, white and brown Americans are joining together to confront racism under the banner of the Movement for Black Lives. Citizenship is something you do every day, by raising your voice for what you believe in, and sometimes—as those who signed the Declaration of Independence vowed—putting your “life and sacred honor” on the line.

The majority isn’t always right. Majorities famously have little regard for minority rights. The framers of our Constitution feared nothing as much as mob rule and put checks and balances into place to prevent an ill-informed majority or a special interest (they called them factions) from having too much power. In the past, voters have chosen to uphold Jim Crow, to limit marriage for LGBT people and to support one religion over another. Two core American values, the idea of majority rule and the idea of individual rights, often come into conflict. Protecting minority rights is core to who we are as a people. 

The majority doesn’t always decide, anyway. At this point, it appears that the winner of the Electoral College didn’t win the popular vote, let alone a majority of the eligible voters—preliminary numbers suggest that 44 percent of those eligible to vote didn’t. The more difficult subject, though, is the Electoral College, a legacy from the Constitutional Convention that was created, along with the infamous three-fifths clause, to privilege slaveholding states. Even though we no longer have slavery, the setup continues to give a decided advantage to less populated rural states. How? The formula for the number of electoral votes a state gets is simple: It’s the number of representatives the state has in the House plus the two Senators each state has. The result is that North Dakota gets one electoral vote for every 224,000 people while California gets about one for every 677,000 people. In the end, both the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College give an advantage—and a louder voice—to lower-population states.

Kids really are our future. No lie. It can sound like a cliché, something adults say that has little real meaning. But it is true. John Dewey argued that humane education of our children, one that ensured equal access and opportunity, was the only way to preserve and advance society. The children in the nation’s public schools are the leading edge of the demographic future: They are poorer, as a group, than the average American. Increasingly more are black and brown. We generally don’t do a great job educating children in poverty and children of color. Can we afford to keep that up?

Costello is the director of Teaching Tolerance.