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Global Classroom: Teachers Travel to Learn

From the Trojan Horse in Turkey to the mystique of the Galapagos Islands...our members are learning outside the classroom to further enrich their students’ lives.  Recently, two members Bill Murphy from Belfast EA By The Bay and Rolande Paolino from Gorham TA traveled overseas as participants in programs run by the non-profit organization Global Exploration for Educators (GEEO).

Ancient History, Stunning SceneryBill Murphy sits with bronze statue of a Roman Warrior in Antalya, Turkey

Murphy who is an English and History teacher at Belfast Area High School, visited Turkey to learn about the culture and historical richness of the land.  He teaches, along with Mike Bailey (Belfast EA By The Bay) the Global Classroom for 9th graders which combines world literature, composition and world geography.  “Students in Waldo County have, if I may be permitted a generalization, limited experience of the world beyond eastern Maine.  I believe that the stories of my travels help to broaden my students’ minds as well,” said Murphy.  The high school teacher also says being in Turkey helped him explore and understand Greek and Roman mythology on a whole new level.  “The more aware I became of Turkey’s cultural and historical richness the more I wanted to see it for myself,” added Murphy.

While in Turkey, Murphy coincidently ran in to his teaching partner Bailey. Faux Trojan Horse in TroyThe two are now using their experiences as part of lesson plans in the classroom.  Murphy uses his photographs of Troy while his students read The Iliad.  The high school teacher says the class focuses on Homer’s description of scenes and battles and then compares them to the current ruins, which students learn about through their teachers’ tales and photos.  Murphy says the difference between the ancient poetry and the modern landscape gives his students insight into the “transformative power of time.”

Top of the Equator

The adventure and endemic wildlife that inhabits the archipelago drew 5th grade teacher, Rolande Paolino, from Gorham Elementary School (Gorham TA), to the Galapagos Islands.

Rolande Paolino in the Galapagos IslandsPaolino says she has been interested in visiting the islands for years, curious about the unique geography of the land.  While Paolino says she loves to travel, this trip took her outside her comfort zone to a place where English is not commonly spoken.  Despite the language barrier, Paolino learned her time on the Islands will improve her students’ education in several different areas of study.

 “I quickly discovered that science is not the only content area where the Galapagos Islands can be embedded into the curriculum,” said Paolino.  The 5th grade teacher plans to have her students complete research reports incorporating the experiences she shares.  Paolino says the students will choose a different part of the Galapagos Islands, things like wildlife, volcanoes or plate tectonics.  The final project, Paolino says, will cover several Common Core Standards for nonfiction reading and writing.Galapagos Turtle

Oddly enough, when asked separately why as teachers they felt it was important to travel to help educate their students, both members quoted Mark Twain: “Travel broadens the mind…things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  It is with that spirit these teachers say they work to educate their students who may never get to see the world as they have… so they take them there each day in their classrooms.

Murphy and Paolino traveled with GEEO and both highly recommend the program to all teachers. They say it provides affordable opportunities for educators who can feel comfortable as a single traveler because GEEO groups are made up of teachers from around the country traveling together with a native guide.  Bailey was one of four teachers from Maine selected to attend a two week summer study tour of Turkey funded by the Turkish Cultural Foundation and the World Affairs Council of Maine.

For those that participate in the GEEO program you can earn CEUs required to authenticate intellectual development.

To find out more information about all of the travel programs:

MEA Benefits Trust

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