The World in Portland

To thrive in a world marked by economic, cultural, environmental and technological interconnectedness and change, young people must develop their ability to understand complex and pressing issues in these areas, to recognize and value different perspectives and to develop a sense of agency to respond to the opportunities and challenges of our contemporary world.  From working to understand and take positive action around climate change to engaging in dialogue with peers—from a distant lands or a different neighborhood—young people are better prepared for their future (and their present) when educators teach for global competence--the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.


Yet, like many important dispositions and skills sets, global competence is not an easy thing to teach or to assess. The World in Portland Project—a collaboration between Project Zero and the Portland Public School District in Portland, Maine—was developed to build our knowledge around what quality teaching and learning for global competence looks like and how to do it more effectively. The project focused on three key areas:

  1. Providing Teacher and School Leader Professional Development: Through monthly seminars and a credit-based course, school leaders and teaching teams at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and across subject matter were introduced to the Global Competence Framework and supported in designing, documenting and reflecting on new approaches to globalizing their curriculum and nurturing global competence.
  2. Creating Milestone Learning Experiences: Developed and piloted over the course of the project, Milestone Learning Experiences (MLEs) are in-depth experiences at each educational level--elementary, middle, and high school--that offer students the opportunity to both develop and demonstrate their developing global competence. One key principle that drives the design of these experiences is to use the community/local environment as a resource (i.e., capitalizing on the diversity of the classroom and community, identifying local issues that have a global scope, tapping local NGOs and businesses, etc.)
  3. Forming Global Learning Communities: We identified and helped to prepare a cohort of global education advocates in the district who could serve as coaches and resources for other teachers--at the school level and across schools--by forming PLCs within their schools, developing partnerships across schools, continuing to design and lead Milestone Learning Experiences, and advising school and district leaders.

The World in Portland Project was funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.