Cultural Relevancy for Diverse Learners (GED 500/400, Section 01)

diverseGrowing up, do you remember being introduced to other cultures as part of your schooling in any class besides social studies? Do you remember being asked to talk about your family and cultural customs as part of a classroom lesson? Did you have homework assignments that required you to speak to people in your family or community to learn more about your personal history so you could share that information with your class (again, in any class except social studies)?

Cultural inclusion or inclusion of the diverse learner is an important approach to reaching your students in a context that they can understand and in a way that interests them. Read this article on Strategies for Working with the Diverse Learner from Montgomery County Schools in Maryland, watch this video on culturally diverse learners, and contribute the following to the discussion: For those of you who have you had an experience where your culture was included in a classroom lesson: Did your teacher honor your culture and accurately represent you or were you embarrassed or uninspired by how the lesson was delivered? What can you offer as a learning opportunity to your teacher-classmates from that experience? If the experience was miserable for you, what could have changed it? How would approach the same or similar topic as a teacher? If the experience was great, what made it wonderful?

Make sure to include your first name and last initial to get credit for this post in GED 500.
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30 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Audrey Hall on November 5, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Unless my memory is horrible, I can’t ever remember a time when my elementary school acknowledged or represented a diverse culture outside of social studies. Maybe this was because all of the teachers were American and of white ethnicity and because most of the students were white. There was no Multicultural Day or any day where foods from different countries were brought in or ehtnic outfits were worn. Maybe this is because the issue of different cultures was not so noticeable as it is now? Twice, we had to interview family members and write about their life but we never presented our reports. In middle and high school the demographics changed with more diversity in students, but the main time we addressed this was in my Spanish classes when we had to bring in some type of food from a South American country. Students embraced their diversity with peers, but it was never brought up in classes.

    I think the lack of cultural experience can be almost as negative as bad cultural experience. True, ignoring diversity lessens the chance of saying something offensive about a culture, but it could also make students feel left out and uninformed. Without any knowledge of the different cultures, students can grow up not knowing the unique traits from people all around the world and students may feel shut down or unacknowledged if their own culture is never brought up. There were many times I would have liked to address cultures like when reading the “Joy Luck Club,” “Bless Me, Ultima” or “Raisin in the Sun” because those would have been opportune times to do so, but it was like we just read the story for the sake of reading it and then moved on. I feel students in my class could have shared some wonderful insights and information during the readings and I could have learned so much.

    As I was reading the responses of other people, I started thinking of all the things I might try doing as a teacher to incorporate diversity in fun ways, not just through reading history books and watching old history videos. I would have loved to listen to ethnic music during class, like during silent reading time or to perhaps enhance a story or lesson. Teachers could encourage students to bring in objects from their own backgrounds, like foods, clothing, trinkets, music, etc., for show and tell, because I know growing up I would have loved to see some of that. If reading a story dealing with a culture, I want to show parts of the culture after the reading because I think that could make students more interested and connected with the material. Since there are more and more cultures in class, hopefully teachers will address this appropriately because I believe it can make students feel good about themselves and create better understanding and thus acceptance of differences.

    Audrey H

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  2. Posted by Bridget Brotherton on November 5, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    I also cannot remember a time in elementary school where my class had an assignment or day where we looked at one another’s differing cultures. There might have been and probably were things my teachers did that promoted diversity but it just wasn’t that obvious perhaps. As Audrey said above, I think the lack of diversity exploration may have had a lot to do with the fact that a large majority of the students and teachers were American and white. This is not an excuse to leave out diversity education it just seems like this may be why it happened.
    In high school my classmates and I were exposed to Spanish, Central American, and South American cultures in my Spanish classes. I had a lot of fun learning about these differing cultures which were quite different than my own. In my high school English classes I learned about other cultures through studying diverse literature. I cannot remember anything specific off the top of my head but I know that my classes would learn about foreign authors and cultures when we would read their novels, poetry, etc. One person I remember learning about was Albert Camus, a French Existentialist author, though perhaps more of the focus was on his being an Existentialist.
    Though I perhaps lacked distinct diversity education, I don’t feel at all sheltered now as an adult when it comes to other’s cultures. I still have a lot to learn about different cultures, but I do not feel naive.

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  3. Posted by Jesus G. on November 6, 2009 at 4:10 am

    Growing up, I can definitely say that much greater efforts could have been made to promote cultural diversity. Social studies always focused on other cultures, but it is sad for me to notice that none of my teachers’ curricula prioritized cultural diversity, despite the fact that the majority of students in my community are overwhelmingly Latino, making up 85% of the population.

    I feel that aspects of the Latino culture could have easily been incorporated in a wide array of subjects other than social studies to make the material much more relevant to students. For example, English could have easily focused on outside cultures. It is sad to know that it took national holidays to take other cultures into consideration, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. I’m glad that he has a holiday after his name, otherwise, the discussion of African Americans would have not even been touched.

    It has felt like culture has become sheltered just as religion; it is seemingly something that has been kept separate from academic settings. I especially noticed this in my earlier years as some of my teachers were very careful to mention holidays (even if they were cultural), as they were careful to offend those students who did not celebrate any holidays.

    As teachers, it is important to be open-minded and to learn as much as possible about other cultures. That will help us clarify a lot about our students’ persona and customs and will allow us to be more understanding of their behavior. We should also do our best to incorporate a multi-cultural lesson plan to interest students more in all subjects. I know that if I were being taught math, and if the teacher used examples relating to Latinos, I would be much more interested as I would feel that the lesson is more personal.

    Teachers also need to be able to tailor to all types of students and realize that some students will struggle a great deal more than others as some students have not mastered the English language. The use of technology is definitely very useful and it is something I have noticed expanding a great deal. I have been observing many EL classrooms over the past couple of weeks in my community and noticed the expansion of the use of technology throughout the district, particularly with smart boards, which incorporates an interactive digital projected board that simulates a traditional chalk board but with easy access to other electronic resources.

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  4. Posted by Kevin G on November 6, 2009 at 5:27 am

    I remember my elementary school days pretty well, but after reading this post, none of the issues of cultural relevancy come to mind as major parts of my schooling. I was never put in a position to consider family history or cultural significance.
    In middle school, we read “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” and maybe one or two other novels that dealt with topics of racism and the interplay of different cultures and minority groups but instructors never made a huge deal about topics like these.
    This lack of culturally diverse education may seem like an isolated incident, but I moved around a bit and attended 4 different elementary schools when I was young. While I can bring back details about all of them (teachers, classmates, units of study, instruction styles), I have no memories of these issues being brought up in an effective manner, if at all, at any of the elementary schools I went to.

    It seems that in public schools (and perhaps all schools), ignoring and blurring the lines between cultures is generally deemed as the “safe route,” one where not emphasizing these crucial issues is the best way to avoid criticism for stereotyping or backlash from parents (re: “Mrs. Jones taught you WHAT about [insert ethnicity] people at school?!). In my opinion, this is a bad idea, especially in a place so diverse as Southern California.
    To effectively promote learning about the many cultures that call Southern California home (and all others), specific units of study should be developed that are age-appropriate for individual grade levels, and the integration should not stop at just reading a book about a particular culture or watching a movie. Instead, all kinds of facets of various cultures should be incorporated into the classroom. If not in a tangible way, then at least in a manner that makes young, impressionable students that there are countless other groups of people and lifestyles out there, and that theirs is not the only one.

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  5. Posted by Lisa Everman on November 7, 2009 at 12:04 am

    I grew up and went to school in a small town in Georgia. Back then, there were only white Americans and African Americans. We didn’t have any classes on different cultures or diversity. We only knew “black and white.” (for lack of a better term). When I moved to California, I was in culture shock. I, as a White American, was the minority for once in my life. I had never been around Latinos and Asians. I didn’t know how to act. After moving to CA, I began college at Mt. Sac, and then Cal Poly and have had many courses on Diversity. I had heard of the Melting Pot theory, and the Salad Bowl theory. I would have to say that California is definitely a Salad Bowl. There is a mixture of all different ethnicities here, and I think it’s great. I never had the opportunity to try different cultural foods and learn about different cultures in Georgia.

    As a teacher, I think it is important to address different ethnicities within the classroom and to expand on all the wonderful differences between cultures. I agree that teaching students of different ethnicities can be hard, especially when you have students who speak little or no English. Again, this is not a problem I saw in Georgia when I went to school. Teachers today have to teach to the English speakers and to the non-English speakers, at the same time, while making sure to teach to the “test”.

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  6. Posted by Lynn U. on November 7, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Looking back on my years as a student in grade school through high school, I can’t recall any specific details of culture inclusion in a lesson plan other than social studies. If there was an aspect of culture inclusion, it was a very quick view of cultures that didn’t go beneath the surface to reach deeper understanding. Now knowing the gap in my learning process as a student, I want to emphasize the importance of making real connections with the real world by showing students that all academic subjects are interrelated in real life.
    To show students this perspective, I need to use differentiated instruction by addressing students’ needs to learn through all their senses, especially visual and audio. Digital text, talking text, and enhanced text will help diverse learners read to understand in a variety of ways. Digital text in different colors cues students’ interest and the embedded information using hyperlinks gives students additional information within reach. Talking text helps students with the pronunciation of words that students would normally skip over when reading. Enhanced text gives students encouragement to understand the information through pictures, timelines, and graphs.
    The “Culturally Diverse Learners” video helped me obtain a clearer idea of how I can be a more effective teacher in a multicultural classroom. Because I am still trying to form what kind of teacher I want to be, I often find myself thinking about my perspective as a teacher and what my perspective of effective learning is. However, the students in the video reminded me in a real way that they don’t only worry about what they need to learn in school. Many of the students expressed the discomfort and sadness of coming to a new country as a stranger. These students deal with issues I never had to get accustomed to, like not seeing one of my parents for a long period of time because he or she was still in the home country or not only learning the academic material, but learning the language the teacher is instructing in as well. I would approach the situation of diverse learners by designing lesson plans that incorporate students’ backgrounds and various learning styles, including partner or group work so students can share their learning steps with a peer. This is an effective way to achieve deeper comprehension because sometimes the struggling student will benefit more from a peer’s explanation than the teacher’s because the peer went through the struggle, too. He or she will know how to translate the information better.

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  7. Posted by Johanna Lopez on November 7, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    In my elementary school years I remember that for Cinco de Mayo we had to perform a show in front of our parents and family about the dance of Mexico and we had to perform in beautiful dresses representing Mexico. It did not matter where we were from but the teacher wanted us to participate in this Cinco de Mayo day. She taught us about the culture and what foods they ate and what the dances represented. It was a great and fun show that we performed and the great thing that we got to learn about this culture. Another thing I remember was in fifth grade when our teacher was teaching us about each culture there was. We had to represent our or a different culture that we had learned about. It was great because we got to bring costumes that represented that culture. For example I remember one of my friends in that grade was from Africa and she wanted to represent her culture by doing an African dance it was great. Another student read a poem representing where she was from which was Mexico. Other students represented other cultures that were not theirs, but it was a great experience because we got to learn many new things other than our culture. I remember that even though I did not come from this culture I wanted to represent it because I had learn so much from this culture. It was the Israel culture. I remember that one of my uncle’s travel to Israel and he had brought a hat that they wore, so I wore it. Another day I remember was in High School when my Spanish teacher wanted us to bring a food that represented where our family was from. So I had brought a plate that represented Central America, El Salvador where my parents are from. I brought “casamiento” which is rice and beans mix together that represented their culture. Everyone had fun learning about different plates that represented each culture.
    From the article and video that I saw has helped me to realize that when I become a teacher there will be different students coming from different backgrounds. It’s great because we as teachers should know how to prepare ourselves to help students that their first language might not be English. We have to know in what ways we can help them and how we can help them. The article of the use of technology to help diverse learners is a great way for us as teachers to use. Technology is so important and in the future much more new technology will be developed. I think it’s great to use digital text and audio where children can learn how to read. When I become a teacher I would want to emphasize the different cultures there are in my class so students can learn many great things about each culture. I would want to do art, or performances where students can be involve and have fun in the learning of diversity.

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  8. Posted by Johanna Lopez on November 7, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    In my elementary school years I remember that for Cinco de Mayo we had to perform a show in front of our parents and family about the dance of Mexico and we had to perform in beautiful dresses representing Mexico. It did not matter where we were from but the teacher wanted us to participate in this Cinco de Mayo day. She taught us about the culture and what foods they ate and what the dances represented. It was a great and fun show that we performed and the great thing that we got to learn about this culture. Another thing I remember was in fifth grade when our teacher was teaching us about each culture there was. We had to represent our or a different culture that we had learned about. It was great because we got to bring costumes that represented that culture. For example I remember one of my friends in that grade was from Africa and she wanted to represent her culture by doing an African dance it was great. Another student read a poem representing where she was from which was Mexico. Other students represented other cultures that were not theirs, but it was a great experience because we got to learn many new things other than our culture. I remember that even though I did not come from this culture I wanted to represent it because I had learn so much from this culture. It was the Israel culture. I remember that one of my uncle’s travel to Israel and he had brought a hat that they wore, so I wore it. Another day I remember was in High School when my Spanish teacher wanted us to bring a food that represented where our family was from. So I had brought a plate that represented Central America, El Salvador where my parents are from. I brought “casamiento” which is rice and beans mix together that represented their culture. Everyone had fun learning about different plates that represented each culture.
    From the article and video that I saw has helped me to realize that when I become a teacher there will be different students coming from different backgrounds. It’s great because we as teachers should know how to prepare ourselves to help students that their first language might not be English. We have to know in what ways we can help them and how we can help them. The article of the use of technology to help diverse learners is a great way for us as teachers to use. Technology is so important and in the future much more new technology will be developed. I think it’s great to use digital text and audio where children can learn how to read. When I become a teacher I would want to emphasize the different cultures there are in my class so students can learn many great things about each culture. I would want to do art, or performances where students can be involve and have fun in the learning of diversity.

    Johanna L.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Chris B. on November 8, 2009 at 8:00 am

    I do remember cultural differences being addressed in elementary school. I do not remember my own culture being spotlighted but I do have memories of other cultures. The most memorable was a girl in our class who was Jewish, who explained Haunakah and the lighting of the Menorah. Another girl displayed a type of Hawiian dance. My schools growing up were not very culturally diverse, and my generation was the first in my city that experienced the growing multicultrual shift in that city. I can remember the first Chinese student coming to elementary school, and today the school district has a very large majority of Chinese students.

    Cultural diversity today is an interesting concept. The elementary school I attended, with a high Caucasian student percentage, would not be considered very culturally diverse today. Another elementary school today with the same percentage of Hispanic students, probably would be considered very culturally diverse. So what is cultural diversity? Does it represent overall diversity among a specific population or does it mean diversity relative to the one person who is observing the population? I think it is often viewed as any culture that is different than the “traditional” white american culture. How large can a homogeneous population be before it is considered to be not culturally diverse? It will be interesting to see if the definitions of “cultural diversity” change as the demographics in California continue to change. I know California is ahead of many other states when it comes to appreciating cultural diversity. This state is truly one of the most diverse, and I think this exposure to different cultures gives citizens of California a more natural, less “forced” outlook on cultural diversity.

    Learning diversity is important also. Different learning styles are just as important to understand as the cultural differences among students. I do not think I noticed how past teachers may have accomodated the diverse types of learners in my early years of eduaction. I hope it did happen. I would guess that the focus on diverse learners has increased significantly in the last 25 years.

    Ultimately I think the focus on cultural and learning diversity is a good one when applied to teaching more effectively, as long as it is in the spirit of inclusion and not in the spirit of emphasizing the differences of the cultures. Sometimes I wish there was a focus on emphasizing how similar people are regardless of cultural differences.

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  10. Posted by Lindsay M. on November 8, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    During my elementary years, I can remember Diversity being brought into Language Arts lessons. We would read “culturally diverse” books and we would be asked to write and reflect on the topics. We would come up with stories that would look similar to Native American legends and myths. We would also include diversity into Art by drawing and doing art projects that reflected culturally diverse topics that we were studying at the time. Diversity was also implemented in P.E. for me. We would act out the Olympics and at the time we were learning about the Olympics and how they originated. We also learned about the diverse holiday’s and cultural festivities. We had to come up with a family tree that included our heritage and where we came from. I think that cultural diversity can be implemented into any subject. The teacher just needs to make the connection available to the students.

    I am going to include diversity into many topics that I teach to my students as well. It is important to celebrate your heritage and learn about it. I never felt uncomfortable or embarrssed by a teacher about my heritage. It is impossible to ignore the differing cultures that are represented in our current public school systems. Students need to be aware of where they came from and learn to appreciate other cultures as well.

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  11. Posted by Daisey Calles on November 9, 2009 at 2:23 am

    When i think back to my elementary days i cannot remember a time when I learned about other clutures. Maybe i did but, it never made a huge impact of how i viewed other cultures. I think the reason for that was because not many spanish speaking children attend my elementary school. As years went by many more cultures enter elementary schools everywhere. I feel that diversity is more recognized now in schools because every person has a culture background. I wish my teachers introduced cultures to our classroom learning because it would have helped us understand one another. To understand that every person is different and that we don’t have to be exact to be friends. Kids learn so much at such a young age. They need to know how different cultures celebrate certain occasions and why they might be a bit different than other cultures.when you introduce diversity into a childs life that child will grow up being more respectful and understanding to others.

    Watching the video about the diverse children made me think about how realistic this situation can be as a teacher. I want to be able to provide to all my students and if i get a student that speaks another language then I want to be able to help as much as possible. Kids just want to fit in and sometimes a landuage barrior can get in the way of that. Not only is it hard for other cultures to adjust to the United States but the have family issues. When I become a teahcer i will teach my students about many cultures.

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  12. Posted by Garrett L on November 9, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I don’t have much connection with foreign cultures in my family. My father is an immigrant from Sweden, but aside from the occasional frustrated exclamation in Swedish and a couple Christmas traditions, everything we did growing up was as American as possible. However, I do remember a couple times during public school wear we learned about Hispanic cultures, usually in the form of arts, cultural foods, and traditions. Not being hispanic, I can’t give a definitive answer on whether these presentations were good or offensive, but I always thought they were done tastefully and that they really represented something I didn’t understand.

    I always appreciated these days, even though I had no inclusion in the culture. It wasn’t just the food either, although to be honest when you’re 10 years old and you actually have a class day centered around eating Mexican food it’s hard to complain. What I do remember is that the lessons on art, lifestyles, traditions, and family beliefs cleared up many of the misconceptions that children are generally subject to. If kids are not taught why different cultures do different things, they will come to their own conclusions. Many times these ideas are way off base and offensive or hurtful to children of that particular culture. For that reason I am a big fan of cultural and familial inclusion in teaching.

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  13. Posted by Adriana P. on November 10, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Fortunately, during my first years in elementary school i did have the opportunity to learn about my own culture a bit, mostly through the celebration of holidays such as Cinco de Mayo. Because my school contained a large hispanic population, I think “hispanicity” was given a greater emphasis than other cultures. For Cinco de Mayo, each class was supposed to present a play or dance and dress up in authentic Mexican clothing. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this but unfortunately i didn’t get passed that Cinco de Mayo cultural celebration, that I remember. I would have loved to celebrate another cultural holiday the way we celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Although I do remember learning about Martin Luther King in January, and about some Jewish holidays but really they were very minor teachings compared to Cinco de Mayo.
    However, I can take pride on the fact that my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade teacher (the same one for each grade) was terrific in supporting cultural awareness eventhough the school really didn’t. Her background being a mixed one stemming from Armenian and Argentinian and she being quadrilingual, she was very open in describing her own culture and telling us about her family. I really enjoyed her teaching us words in Armenian and in French and telling us about her trips to her native lands. Although there wasn’t very much cultural diversity in my classroom, my teacher taught us to respect and appreciate each other. I do remember her having us as a class write a letter to Magic Johnson when he found out he was infected with HIV. She really taught us to see each other as equals and that each culture had something wonderful to contribute to our society.

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  14. Posted by Seth Halsell on November 11, 2009 at 12:19 am

    This topic is one of the most popular topics to talk about not just in education class but through out college. I always kind of knew that this topic was a popular one for people to talk about but I don’t think I realized how important culture was to a lot of people until I took a class that was designed for people who wanted to tutor at my community college I went to. I had been hired to tutor math at the college but I had to take this class along with other tutors about tutoring techniques and also how to tutor people in the subject we were hired for. We very briefly talked one day about students with disabilities (both physical and learning) and also talked about cultural differences in learning. I had a lot to say about learning disabilities (I have A.D.D and went to special education classes and took ridilin for it when I was younger) but honestly had little to say about culture and learning. I am mixed in heritage with half my family being Mexican and the other half white (English and Italian to be specific). We always spoke English in my household so I suppose that is a major factor as to why I didn’t have as much to say on cultural differences in learning. However, nearly every hand in the class went up and people started to talk about their personal experiences. Tutors from Asian and hispanic backgrounds spoke the most. The tutors of asian backgrounds spoke a lot about how expectations for achievment in their families is extremly high and how they found it hard to adjust in college because they were asked to think for themselves. They said they liked that about the American college system but that it took a bit of getting use to because they were raised in cultures where they were encouraged to listen to the “authority” figure and not challenge things as much as they did in college. Tutors of hispanic backgrounds talked a lot about how it was hard for them to find the balance between learning english and speaking spanish. They said that as they got older it was harder to retain their spanish because when you live in this country you are fully immersed in speaking English but that they found speaking spanish at home helped them keep a balance. After hearing all this I remember wishing that there were more ethnicities in that class (for instance, there were no african americans in that class that time so we did not hear from african american tutors and their cultural learning experiences)so that we could hear more about the differences in culture and learning. I have always remembered that experience since then because it really brought into light for me just how diverse we are as a cultural nation and that we need to be aware of this as teachers since they will all be represented in our classrooms.

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  15. Posted by Truyen P. on November 12, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Growing up, I do not remember ever learning about different cultures in a class that was not social studies. All the family history projects that I did and all the knowledge that I gained about different cultures occurred in my social studies classes. And whenever we talked about different cultures that did not relate to American history, it would always be about food.

    I actually learned about different cultures, not in a classroom, but in a club I joined in high school – the Multicultural Club. Like any other club, anyone could join, but every couple years our club would host a huge event that involved even the community. We had the Multicultural Club Fair in which we required each club from our school to pick a culture to represent and cook food from that culture for the fair. It was a great learning experience because every club chose a different culture and represented that culture through the decorations on their booths and the foods that they cooked.
    Even in my social studies classes, cultures were not represented as a big part of the lesson. We mainly talked about the United States History and the government. My high school world history class was probably the class that talked the most about culture, except we never really went over the small cultures, just the big cultures that we see everyday.

    I believe talking about culture is very important in the classroom because it gives the chance for the teacher and the students to get to know each other better. Food is a fun topic to talk about when it comes to cultures, but there are so many other topics that are not brought up. Each culture has its own holidays that they celebrate or a certain tradition that other people might not know about and these should be brought up. Also, we tend to generalize on various cultures and focus on the huge ones. I think teachers should ask about the culture of everyone in their classroom and then plan a day where the students can come up and share their culture with the class. The information does not have to be just about food (like it usually is), but it can be about traditions and celebrations that go on in their culture.

    In my class, I plan to have a day where every student can share their cultural background with the class. This way, we get to know each other a little better and are exposed to different ideas and traditions in our class.

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  16. Posted by Greg J on November 16, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Other than social studies, I don’t remember a time when my school celebrated a non-American holiday, or even learned about diversity or a different culture. However, I do remember Cinco de Mayo and the Chinese New Year when I was younger, I just don’t remember celebrating them. The only thing I remember about Chinese New Year is that a few of my Chinese friends would bring their little red envelopes to school that were filled with money. I was totally jealous.

    Other than a very brief memory of Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo, I do remember learning about Thanksgiving and Christmas in the form of art or chorus. Also, I remember making a family tree in elementary school, which involved calling as many relatives as possible. However, we never presented it to the class. When I got to middle school, there were of course several classes that were offered to the students, such as Spanish, French, and Chinese. I remember students dressing up for different holidays and festivities that pertained to that culture. However, you weren’t forced to take those classes.

    It’s vital that students learn about different cultures at a young age, especially with how diverse and multicultural this nation is. It not only helps the students become well rounded, but also more open-minded. Cultural diversity can be implemented in any subject area, including P.E. I would definitely incorporate activities or games that encourage diverse learning. For example, whatever sport I’m teaching, say soccer, or football, I could give a history lesson on the origin of the sport. Or, I can have students look up a sport or some activity that was originated in the country they’re from, or where their parents are from, etc.

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  17. Posted by Tiffany P. on November 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    In grade school I don’t remember being taught about other cultures. It wasn’t until I went to high school where cultural diverse lessons were introduced to me. The high school I went to had many different ethnicities and the school did a lot to celebrate all of them.

    There was weeks during the school year that were designated for the cultural diverse learning. We were taught about customes, clothing, foods, and politics. It was a great experience and all of the student body would look forward to cultural week. It gave us the opportunity to celebrate our roots as well as learn about other classmates cultures.

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  18. Posted by Sandra G on November 16, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Looking back to my elementary experience, there were a few instances of culture inclusion, besides social studies class. I remember reading a couple of books, Sadako and the1000 Paper Cranes and In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. These books in particular were very meaningful during the time we read them since the school was experiencing an inflow from the Asian population. When visiting that city I attended elementary school I see that the population has drastically changed there to mostly Asians. It wasn’t until High School though, that I saw more cultural inclusion around the Hispanic population. However, the High School I attended was about 90% Hispanic, which is probably why they were so inclined to celebrate Hispanic culture.
    The video reminded me of something my husband always tells me. You see, my husband was born in Nicaragua and came here when he was about 15 years old. My brothers and I were born here, and our parents emigrated from Mexico. My younger brother, who is also the middle child, did not finish High School and pretty much spends his time doing what he wants. My husband, having to work as soon as he came to this country to get through High School, is always telling me how he doesn’t understand my brother. A child born here, having working parents, having all the possibilities in the world to study, and he chooses to not do anything with his life. The video reminded me of this, because all the children were trying hard to learn the language and had goals set for themselves. It has often been my experience, that children whose parents come here looking for a better life work harder in school.
    Therefore, embracing cultures, knowing what students need, and helping them learn will help us become better teachers. By making all students aware of different beliefs and different customs they will be able to embrace the differences in their classmates. As a teacher I will make certain that students respect each culture through different activities that will enhance their knowledge of different cultures.

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  19. I went to Yorbita Elementary School where there was a diverse student population. During 4th grade students were given special attention when it was a student’s birthday. On this day the entire class would celebrate this special day with cake and punch. I do not remember a particular activity that required the students to share their cultural experiences with the entire class. I do remember that in 6th grade I had to do some kind of science project and I was paired with a student from Japan. This project gave me the opportunity to get to know Yumi’s cultural when I went over to her house to do our project. I do not recall any other activity which promoted cultural diversity. I do remember in 11th grade my Chemistry teacher had us sing a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Song in which the names of the reindeers were change to the names of the noble gases in the periodic table. Overall, I had positive experiences during my elementary schooling. I remember that most of my elementary teachers were kind, patient, and loving. When I become a teacher I plan to have each student compose a book about their family and their interests and have them share this information with the rest of the class. During my observations for TED 405 and TED 406 I saw that the kindergarten teacher had each kindergartener write sentences about his or her interests and compile them in a form of a book. On a given day, a different kindergartener was given the opportunity share with the class information about his or her family, and his or her interests. This is a good example of promoting cultural diversity because it allows kindergartener to communicate by writing and speaking. Also, oral presentations allow the students to get to know each other when they share their interests with the entire class.

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  20. Posted by Rebecca Romero on November 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I can remember from my elementary days of school many different cultures in my classroom. There was a majority of one race but I feel that’s the case in different communities. Teaching the different cultures helps the students on a majority of different levels. Students can embrace the other cultures that they might may not have know before. I remember my sister having a best friend of another race, and me never knowing things about her. I always thought she was weird because she ate weird things, and talked another way because I was so little. This made me want to learn when I was a little girl about her culture and wanted to eat the things she ate and talk the way she did. I feel that children get this feeling to if they are taught the right way about different cultures. In high school it became a more greater subject because teachers tend to focus a little more on different cultures.
    As teachers I feel this is important to teach because our students need to be taught from an early stage about different cultures so they can experience cultures rather then their own. Our students have to have respect for different cultures and by teaching them they will have a better knowledge and be less likely to judge.

    Rebecca R.

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  21. Posted by Trisha Owen on November 16, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    I don’t recall being taught about different cultures or diversity in my school days except for in history. In our history lessons my reachers taught us certain lessons on people and groups but once that lesson was over with for the day i don’t recall ever talking about it. the sad part too is that i grew up in Glendora, which the school district was about 90 percent white, so i had no experience with any different race. That was until i went t college at Cal Poly Pomona where i was experienced with all types of different diversity of people.
    I wish my teachers would have engaged us more with different cultures and showed us that there are different ways of living in the world besides our own. When i become a teacher, i will do my best to introduce diversity and different cultures in my class. It will be more challenging though because i want to teach Physical Education, but there are many different ways to do so, such as, explain how different parts of the world work out or perform certain exercises and also maybe have my students perform certain activities in that way if it is possible.

    Trisha O.

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  22. Posted by Michael Robbins on November 16, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Throughout my k-12 education, there was not much emphasis placed on cultural studies. I can remember in third grade or so when we celebrated a “cultures” day where groups in each class focused on a particular culture and represented it by bringing in certain foods unique to that culture. My “culture” was Hawaii and the only thing I really remember about it was bringing in coconuts and cutting them up; that and all the other classes’ food. All of it was just a food tasting day; there was no other study or mention of anything else about the culture itself or what it was about. I walked away with the fact that coconuts came from Hawaii and that was all.
    In high school we learned about other cultures through history texts, but it was always through the eyes of the past and there never was any application or relevancy of it in the here and now.

    From watching the video and attempting to not repeat the same mistakes I encountered in my education in regards to cultural relevancy, I believe one of the best ways to be culturally inclusive is to study and celebrate as a class the many different holidays in the calendar year. It may seem like not doing enough, but in reality it would be impossible to give equal support or enough support to all students in a class if there are as many as four different cultural groups. I think it’s important for students to learn and recognize the qualities of the different cultures that surround them and how this diversity is what makes America great, in that we are a nation comprised of individuals with the opportunities to contribute positively to society and that each culture can have a unique approach to this, with ideas and values that can translate into success.

    Michael R.

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  23. Posted by Ryan V on November 16, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    I remember two situations in particular where I felt my culture was being honored by the lesson the teacher did and another that I was embarrassed by the lesson the teacher did.

    At my elementary school, we had a Cinco De Mayo celebration every year. This would include a festival at the of the the celebration. Each grade had to contribute something to the festival. They could preform a dance, sing a song, or provide food for the festival. Usually, each grade would have students do a dance or a sing a song. Not many teachers had the students make food.

    In kindergarden for Cinco De Mayo, my teacher decided we would perform a traditional Mexican dance. This was the situation were I felt my culture was being honored. I felt this way because of the way the teacher went above and beyond for our performance. First of all, she worked with the parents to create costumes for each of the students. The costumes were traditional Mexican clothes that went along with the dance. The costumes turned out well and I have a picture of me in it hanging on my wall. Second of all she was very active when she was teaching us how to dance. She would go slowly making sure everyone understood what to do before she moved on to the next step. This was very helpful because I had no coordination as a child. I was very clumsy and often tripped over my own feet. She also seemed like she wanted us to do well on our performance and provided us opportunities to practice outside of the classroom.

    In fifth grade for Cinco De Mayo, my teacher decided we would do the Macarena. This was the situation were I felt embarrassed by the way the teacher taught us. I felt this way because she had a negative attitude towards us doing something for Cinco De Mayo. First of all, she decided we would do the Macarena a day before the festival. This only gave us one day to prepare the dance. When I was dong the traditional Mexican dance, we had about two weeks to prepare. She could have given us the some amount of time if she just took fifteen minutes each day so we could learn it correctly. Second of all, I was appalled by the idea of doing the Macarena. The teacher was of Caucasian descent and she had the idea that all Mexicans went around doing this dance. This was not the case because the Macarena was a fad ant it wasn’t part of the Mexican culture. I would have done some research and found something else to do. Also, I would make sure I seem like I want to teach my students something about their culture.

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  24. I enjoyed the video on Cultural Relevancy Diverse Learners. The most interesting part was how the person interviewing showed these kids as real people and at the end and have them tell the audience as to how long they have been in the country. It was amazing to see how fast these children were able to pick up the language. I was able to witness different types of students from many different types of foreign countries. I feel it is important understand and appreciate the needs and backgrounds of each student in order to help them learn and be effective in English. While I was growing up I attended a private school and often I was asked to talk about my family and culture. I did not mind because all of the students were hispanic and I did not feel singles out. I really found it useful to do culutral projects to build pride and knowledge. As a teacher I will be careful and take consideration when dealing with cultual diverse learners

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  25. Posted by Brenda A. on February 19, 2010 at 6:56 am

    The only time i remember my teachers talking about other cultures was when i was in elementary. I remember they would talk a little bit about the culture and ask students to say something about themselves. One time that i would never forget is when i was in third grade my class was to perform on Chinese New Year’s a song to the entire school, which i thought was fun because everyone was able to learn about the Chinese culture. Once i grew up and went to middle school my teachers would not really talk about different cultures. As i grew older i heard less and less about different cultures. I think that it is sad because i went to a school that was very diverse and it would have been nice to learn about other cultures. I believe that as a future teacher i will teach my students about diversity because they are around it everyday and it is good for them to know about other cultures.

    Reply

    • Posted by Jeanne V. on February 20, 2010 at 7:36 am

      No, I do not remember being introduced to other cultures as part of my school in any class besides social studies. I do not remember being asked to talk about my family or cultural customs as part of a classroom lesson. No, I did not have homework assignments that required me to speak to people in my family or community to learn more about my personal history so I could share that information with my class. I attended a Catholic grade school and high school and we did not have lessons about other cultures besides social studies. I learned about some cultures from my parents, and my friends who were from different cultures. I found learning about other cultures was interesting.
      I have seen my son learn about various cultures since he started Kindergarten. The cultures he learned about were from his classmates, teachers, and librarian. In Second Grade, he had to research the origin of his last name. When the class completed the assignment, his second grade teacher talked about the various cultures. At his elementary school, the librarian was a world traveler and she would share cultural information with the students during library time.
      I would model teaching cultural inclusion similar as to how my son was exposed to other cultures at his elementary school. In a school newsletter, I would encourage parents to take their children to various functions and events as they occur throughout the school year. I think when students want to share information about themselves and their cultures is a great opportunity for teachers to set aside a few minutes so all the students can learn about different cultures.

      Reply

  26. Posted by Desirree A on February 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    As I reflect on my education, I realize how difficult life was, as well as how difficult I was. There definitely was no multicultural education. Besides briefly learning about the Hopi Indians and reading Island of the Blue Dolphins in the fourth grade, multicultural education was practically nonexistent. I grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, and at the time everyone was white and everyone had money. In fact, I remember one time someone came in and took a census of my fourth grade class. I watched as all the other students were separated from me. I literally stood alone as the only minority in the entire class. It really hurt my self-esteem. To make matters worse, no one really talked to me about my culture at home. I definitely wasn’t proud of who I was. I went through my teen years feeling bad about myself and denying who I truly was.
    Diversity is important. NOT ONLY AS EDUCATORS, BUT AS A SOCIETY, WE SHOULD EMBRACE MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION. We can only flourish by celebrating each other. At one time, America was looked at as a melting pot. It was expected for new arrivals and minorities to assimilate to America’s Eurocentric society and views. I think now this idea is being rejected. During the 70’s, a major civil rights movement was taking place, and so began the shift of this paradigm. WE ARE NOT A MELTING POT, INSTEAD, WE’RE MORE LIKE A SALAD BOWL. It’s okay that we’re different. It’s great that we’re different. This is the view that should be taught in our schools. I know it’s difficult because there is a great, big world out there and teachers can’t possible know everything about every culture, but we can try. We can make efforts to know our students and let our students teach us.

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  27. Posted by Evonne D. on February 21, 2010 at 3:47 am

    After reading Strategies For Working Diverse Learners and watching Culturally Diverse Learners I truly felt challenged to broaden the way that I teach students. I realized that I have been ignorant to think that every student will learn or receive information the same way. I truly would be doing my students a disservice by not incorporating new types of technology or new techniques of learning in my lessons. The challenge for me would not be so much honoring other cultures but really it would be how I teach my diverse learner classroom. In other words I cannot ignore the fact the children learn different ways, and at different paces. Also some students may be advanced and others just normal. It will be my job to make sure that I try to address my students’ different learning needs.
    Growing up my heritage was never talked in classrooms except for in social studies. I actually did not feel neglected because I took it upon myself to learn more about my own culture. In my elementary and middle school I learned about Mexican/ Mexican American culture and honestly I loved it. It really intrigued me as a child how cultures can be so different from one another yet so rich. The only advice I would give to my old teachers would be to grow and evolve as your school grows more diverse. That way every culture could some how be represented at the school. I absolutely love other cultures and purposely am brave to explore new ones. I hope to take that same attitude into my teaching career. No matter how different I hope some how every student in my classroom will have a voice. I will definitely try to incorporate ways for students to represent their culture in a respectful manner.

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  28. Posted by Gabrielle Madrigal on February 22, 2010 at 6:33 am

    I do recall a few times during my pre-college schooling were we touched on my mexican culture as well as others besides in social studies. the first time i can remember was in elementary school. I went to a christian k-8 school. we had many cultures there. once for cinco de mayo we were told that we could dress up in a costume of the mexican culture . From grades first through sixth we were to attend music class twice a week. Our Teacher was of african America decent and i recall her being very passionate about the equality of all cultures, of course hers especially. Every year around martin luther king day she would show us videos on him. i loved the time we spent watching them and i feel i learned more about him to this day because of her.
    the next experience would be my science class in my freshman year and sophomore year of high school. i had both classes geared toward the future farmers of america program. the teachers for those classes had us write an essay on Cesar Chavez. we were told to write what he did for the mexican population and the farming community. i thought it was great that even if the teachers themselves were not hispanic and definitely not mexican themselves , they still thought very highly of Cesar Chavez . I don’t know if Spanish class is counted as a social studies since it is the study of were the language is spoken and their culture. In my spanish one and two class i had the same teacher , but i did have a spanish one class before those two which had a teacher that was very academic about the language and didn’t teach us anything besides the words. so i was very happy when i took it again with a different teacher ( both of these teachers ethnicity was caucasian) who was not hispanic got very involved about each of the different spanish speaking cultures

    Reply

  29. Posted by Gabrielle Madrigal on February 22, 2010 at 6:45 am

    continueation sorry i didn’t finish
    were you embarrassed or uninspired by how the lesson was delivered? My teachers inspired me very much on how they spoke on their or others cultures. they taught me a lot on inclusion of other cultres and embracing them especially you own. my first spanish teacher was the only one i have encountered that put others down based on their ethnicity . he spoke highly of his own and even though he was teaching a spanish class put those down that were hispanic and once i told him i was in fact mexican my grade dropped and he started to pick on me. What can you offer as a learning opportunity to your teacher-classmates from that experience? Make sure to include all cultures at all times if you can . never put anyone down for who they are, even if it is just a joke. If the experience was miserable for you, what could have changed it?i don’t think i could have changed it. i wouldn’t have lied about who i was . How would approach the same or similar topic as a teacher? If the experience was great, what made it wonderful?i would like to follow in my teachers’ footsteps and celebrate cultural holidays even if it does not relate to the class it self or some how integrate it.

    Reply

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