Gray Matters

Keep up with all things Capitol Hill Day School by reading Gray Matters, the monthly blog written by Head of School, Jason Gray.

Gray Matters (February 2018)

Teaching & Learning Global Competence

As I said in my September Gray Matters, much of our professional work this year is focused on global competence. Simply put, global competence is defined as the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance. Going a layer deeper, experts in the field put forward four interconnected ways in which a learner demonstrates a capacity for global competence:

  • Investigate the World: Students investigate the world beyond their immediate environment.
  • Recognize Perspectives: Students recognize their own and others’ perspectives.
  • Communicate Ideas: Students communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences.
  • Take Action: Students translate their ideas into appropriate actions to improve conditions.

At Curriculum Night (Thursday, March 8, at 7:00pm), we are excited to share insight into the depth of our curriculum planning and our work to incorporate global competency capacities into learning experiences.  During the evening, parents will have an opportunity to examine student work and engage in lessons developed to demonstrate evidence of global competence understanding. Here is how some of our teachers describe what you can experience:

Early childhood teachers will present a gallery devoted to the question "what does global competence look like in early childhood?" See photographs, student work, and teacher reflection on how children learn to investigate the world, take perspective, communicate ideas, and take action within their world: their home and school community.

“What can a portrait tell us about a person?” Earlier this year in art, 5th Graders explored this very question, using portraiture as a lens to understand identity and representation. This unit culminated in the students creating self-portraits that emphasized important (self-defined) aspects of their identity. They were challenged to make content and stylistic choices to generate a work of art that goes beyond capturing a likeness, but speaks to who they are at this point in their lives. 

In the elementary identity workshop, entitled "The Stories That We Tell Ourselves," we explore the way our brain tells stories about other people. Using an interactive protocol, the workshop actively engages us in creating stories about others, though they are entirely unknown to us. In reflection, we recognize that our brain undertakes this process of story-telling, however unconsciously, all the time. We confront the assumptions and biases that exist in the individual and the collective. Ultimately, we remind ourselves to challenge these stories and to get to know others by asking about their lives and experiences.

Eighth Grade French students engaged in high-level thinking and discussion in the target language. In class, students watched the cult-classic “Les Intouchables” and used the film as a vehicle for breaking down stereotypes through cultural and linguistic exploration.  Through a “think, pair, share, chalk-talk” progression and a whole group discussion, students drew conclusions about the roles stereotypes and stigma play in society.

Please join us on March 8 for Curriculum Night when faculty will make our learning visible, and guide you in experiencing global competency learning. After School Program staff will provide childcare for a fee of $10/family; please email Njonjo Smith at by Friday, March 2 if you would like to register your child.


Jason Gray
Head of School