Cultural Relevance for Diverse Learners

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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24 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Bell, L on February 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    In my experiences in school, my culture was represented but not necessarily in lessons. If there was a lesson on culture, with me being white, it was on a different culture. This worked for me though. I was interested in learning about new cultures. America is a very diverse nation; this is where much of its beauty comes from. By learning about other cultures, I was able to have a better understanding of the people who were different from me, as well as have a more open mind. The only time I have ever been embarrassed of my culture during a lesson was when the topic of how America was founded came up. I grew up in private schools so I got the “rainbows and butterflies” version of American history. I was shocked and embarrassed when I learned exactly how the land became more of the Europeans and less of the Native Americans. There is nothing I can do to change what has already happened, but I can use this knowledge and the feelings about it to help encourage future students to learn about each other and respect each other. That is the only experience I can really think of where my culture was in the lesson. However, I say this but most of my teachers were white so I am sure I received culture messages without even realizing it. I think it is important to embrace the diversity and add new techniques to teaching. In my opinion, all students would benefit from differentiated instruction. Lecture only works for so much, but some students are bored by this tactic. A more involved lesson structure would lead to better engagement, which could lead to deeper understanding. The world has given teachers and opportunity to shine, in that teachers are going to have to come up with new and effective ways to teach subjects to students who do not speak English. I think this is a great challenge for teachers. Besides, life would be a bit bland if everyone looked the same and came from the same place. Diversity is beautiful and presents everyone with an extra opportunity to learn more about the world. I think it is important for everyone to know where they came from. Without knowing where you came from, how can you tell where you are going?

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    • Posted by Albert Picon on February 22, 2010 at 6:36 pm

      When I was in elementary and middle school, I never learned about other cultures other than in history classes. There was only one time that I do remember I had to talk about my family and cultural customs, which was for a project in my reading class during 5th grade. I remember I had to interview both my mom and grandmother to get specific facts about their culture through the history and their experiences so that I can share to the class. In addition to that, I had to interview some community members of my heritage so that I can get similar information as for my mom and grandmother, but in a different context. That was the only time I can say that I had an assignment that made me learn about other cultures. When I got to high school, I started learning about different cultures through music. My band director always honored different cultures and explain how important it is to appreciate one’s culture. As being part of band for 4 years, each year he assigned everyone had to team up with an individual who share a different culture that his/her own. An example is that I teamed up with classmate who was Japanese. For the whole semester I had to gather facts about Japan such as its customs, history, religion, etc. Then I had to make a power-point presentation and present that to the entire class. My second year in band, I teamed up with a Native American student and third year with an Italian student. My last year in band, I ended teaming up with an African American students. This was a great experience for me because I established a closer bond with these individuals because I knew a lot about their culture, but most importantly their likes and dislikes in specific areas such as their personality. As future teachers, I recommend my peers that it is very important for students to be engage more in learning activities and projects that targets multiculturism. Especially in this State of California where the population is very diverse, students need to be educated not only in their academics, but as well as how to build friendship and trust among different cultures.

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  2. Posted by Cynthia A. on February 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    In elementary and junior high, I don’t remember learning about diversity and culture of other ethnicities. Except, of course, in history class where I remember for one of my assignments I had to make a family tree and do research about my family and do a little report on it. We also, learned about other cultures based on what and who we were talking about that day. We would get a quick explanation of the person and the culture and then we moved on. It wasn’t until I got to high school and had to take a foreign language class is when I learned about other cultures. Also, we did acknowledge black history month, cinco de mayo just to name a few at my school.

    I also, did not feel like I didn’t know or learn about other people’s cultures because I had a very diverse group of friends of all different ethnicities and I felt like I learned a little from them every time they would tell me a story or some little random fact about their culture. I think they learned some from me as well. Whether it is the food they brought to eat for lunch or the traditions that they participated in and would come to tell me all about it. So, from a young age I felt like I was well cultured in not only other people cultures but my own as well. I really loved and enjoyed learning about new things and understanding them.

    When I a teacher I really feel that it is important to learn and acknowledge other peoples cultures and diversity from a young age so that you can learn about traditions, clothing, food, etc… of others. Cause, as people get older they tend to pass judgments and characterize/stereotype others simply based on their culture. If people learned from a young age about the culture I think they might a little more understanding and less judgmental because they know about the traditions. But, I could just be living in a perfect world if this were to happen.

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  3. Posted by Vera Bolotov on February 21, 2010 at 5:05 am

    When I was growing up, I had no idea that I might be introduced to other cultures. Most of my life I spent in only one place, Siberia, where there was no cultural diversity. I was immersed in a homogeneous society. However, when I moved to the USA, I was faced immediately with a wide diversity of people. When I began taking ESL classes, I was asked to introduce myself and my family, where we came from, and what cultural traditions and customs we had. I remember that I brought a Russian matreyshka to my class and explained that these nesting dolls are a symbol of motherhood in Russia. At this time my class shared a variety of food items from different countries. It was a great experience to learn about different cultures and traditions.

    Then last Christmas my church asked my family to share how people celebrate Christmas in Russia. We were delighted to be able to talk to people about Christmas traditions in our country. You cannot imagine how encouraged I felt at that time, and I think I will remember that moment always in my heart.

    Thus I believe that, because we teachers work with a diverse population, we need to respect each culture represented by the students and, as much as possible, include some of its expressions in our classroom projects. Likewise, because of the students’ diversity, we need to take different approaches in teaching them in order to meet their needs and help them be successful.

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  4. Posted by Alison Reese on February 21, 2010 at 7:14 am

    I am not sure if I’ve been out of school so long (since high school that is) I don’t remember, or that my teachers never introduced cultural diversity, or that I didn’t pay attention in class. I can remember in fifth grade completing a family tree project. But I don’t remember being asked anything deeper than just the names of my family members. I do know that the project sparked an interest in me to find out where my family line originated, or came from. I do not have any recollection of learning about other cultures in any classes. Thinking about it now I feel kind of robbed. Diversity is all over, especially in California, and to have more knowledge about other cultures when I was younger probably would have opened up my eyes to a greater life experience.
    I would have loved an assignment given to me in school where I could find out more about my own lineage and heritage as well. This kind of opportunity would have given me a chance to connect more with relatives that are no longer with me now. Also to have been given a chance to share myself with my classmates and my teacher would have given me some sort of boost in self esteem and self confidence. I believe that students who are given this chance experience such feelings. Just to feel like you are understood and possibly not alone.

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  5. Posted by Lisette W. on February 21, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Growing up, I remember being introduced to other cultures as part of my schooling in elementary school. We celebrated Holidays such as Martin Luther King and the African American history month of February. Another one is Cinco de Mayo and the Mexican culture. I remember every year we had a culture fair with different cultures with each table had their own decorations and Flags. Each culture had their own foods such as U.S.A, Mexico, Asia, Japan, Brazil, India and a whole lot of others. There were also performances from different cultures and it was interesting to watch different culture traditional dances. I remember eating all different types of foods and it was all free, and the parents volunteer to make the food and share with everyone.
    I remember for a homework assignment I think it was in Middle school, we had to speak to our family history where we had to do a family tree. We had to create one and present it in the class. It was interesting to know about different diversities in the classroom setting and learn different cultures as well. My teacher was awesome and she honors my culture and other student’s cultures. She treated everyone with the same respect and was happy to have the students learn different cultures.
    What I can offer as a learning opportunity to my students from this experience is that I want to apply different cultures to my students. This world as much diversity and we should learn about them in the classroom setting. I want to apply a mini culture fair for my class, and each student will bring a dish of their culture and share something about their culture. For extra credit students can perform or dress up for their culture. My experiences were great and how it made it wonderful is having the opportunity to know about my family history that I didn’t know about. I grew up with different diversities all my friends were from different cultures and I learn from them as well. I believe young students should learn about cultures at a young age and learn from them and not judge one another or make fun of each other. I was raised well and in learn a lot growing up and learn a lot about cultures.

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  6. Posted by John Whitley Jr on February 21, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    The only times I had some sort of multicultural education or ethnic diversity education was when I took foreign language courses from elementary school through high school. I took French courses at all three school levels and the teachers taught us basic French phrases, sentence structures and the number system. Elementary school was the only time I had a French teacher who discussed the French culture, where she discussed different French foods and living in France. In middle school I took a beginner Spanish course and the teacher really wanted us to know about the cultures of different Spanish speaking countries. She would make us do reports which the students had to examine the customs of several different Spanish speaking countries. Besides this, I went to schools that were mostly African-American and Black Caribbean and the teachers did not teach much about the cultures of both groups. The history books I read in school did not teach much about other cultures, they simply examined how The United States was conquered by The Europeans, slavery and current political events.

    Coming from New York City, which is a probably the biggest “melting pot” in the world, I learned the customs of different cultures by talking to individuals of different ethnicities, eating their foods and listening to their music. I gained more knowledge of other cultures by interacting with them on my own instead of being taught about different cultures from teachers.

    As a teacher, I would not try to make my students to become little militants, but I would teach them about important figures of their races that have made important impacts in The United States. I know I have said this many times, but I want to instill in my students ethnic pride, so they can have a high sense of self worth. With a high sense of self worth I believe that an individual can almost break down every barrier of discrimination that is presented to them. I want my students to believe they are just as good as any one else. Also, I believe the classes in schools and especially in my classroom should have gender courses, so female students will be well prepared to handle sexist discrimination that they will be faced with. I would want my young female students to gain a positive understanding of who they are and for them to have a high sense of self worth as a female. If they have this high sense of self worth as a female they will feel they are just as good as men in everything they want to accomplish.

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  7. Posted by Alyssa Curry on February 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Since I’ve been teaching, I have learned different ways to communicate with English learners whose native language is Spanish. I learned keys phrases in Spanish to use in the classroom, such quiet, come here, lunch time, after school, homework, raise your hand, bathroom, etc. Also, when teaching any subject its best if I’m using my hands, almost speaking a sort of sign language the students seem to understand. I also use a ton of pictures to symbolize our next activity and the time. When teaching vocabulary I use cards that have the English word in bold, the Spanish word in smaller font, and a picture to symbolize the English word. I use a lot of pictures and simple words in power point presentations to allow all students to understand the concepts. Students work together on computers to work on assignments and find information. We are lucky to have a smart board in our classroom that helps with D.O.L. It highlights errors and allows students to make corrections using a smart marker. Using technology is very engaging and exciting for students and it allows them all to learn. I use hard copies of pictures, power points, and the smart board mostly in my classroom. I’ve found that technology is universal and we can all communicate and learn through the use of technology.
    The students are encouraged to only speak English, but one hour out of the day they are can speak Spanish only with their classmates. This way I can see if they are improving. Most students try to speak English only throughout the day, because I only speak English. Also, I read body language to guess what students are talking about to each other. All of these will help a monolingual teacher in an English learner classroom.

    Alyssa C.

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  8. Posted by Allison Yep on February 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Going through elementary school and high school I do not remember any of my teachers teaching about cultural diversities. Most of my teachers in elementary school and high school were too busy trying to get an entire lesson taught from the book in one class meeting so there was not a chance for us to learn anything other then what the class required. I never remembered why certain holidays were celebrated and we got the day off from school. As a child growing up, I always thought a holiday was just a day we didn’t have to go to school because it was someone’s birthday like a President. My elementary school teachers never really focused on teaching the class about different cultures because I attended a elementary school and high school that were dominated mostly by once race, and that was Asians. There were a few other races. I think one reason why my previous teachers never stressed about teaching us about other cultures and races because it might fall into a sensitive issue of religion. Of course we all know that the issue of religion can not be taught in school and often times its a touchy subject.

    The first time I heard about cultural diversity was when I started college. After learning about it, it became very interesting. I believe the first time I heard/learned about different cultures were in my history classes and psychology classes. I think its a great thing to learn about other cultures because it gives us a chance to learn how other people celebrate holidays and pass on any family traditions. Looking back, I wish I had the opportunity in elementary school to learn about this because I would have had a lot more knowledge. Also, I would have liked the chance to tell my classmates about my culture and why we celebrate certain holidays and clear up any confusion about my culture.

    Hopefully, in my classroom I would be able to incorporate lessons that teach my students about different cultures because it is important to be culturally diverse. Having the opportunity to learn about others is very interesting because its a understanding why we celebrate holidays and observe others. We are all different for a reason and that makes us all unique!

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  9. Posted by Bumee R. on February 22, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Other than social studies, I can only recall being introduced to other cultures in my high school English class. We would discuss and write about how culture influenced the novels we read. If someone was able to identify with the culture being discussed, this would trigger some discussion. However, the discussions were few and limited. I, too, remember having to complete a family tree, but it was simply a homework assignment, and only a few students were able to discuss their family roots.

    The impact of honoring a student’s culture is significant. The video from Montgomery County Schools in Maryland was an excellent example of how knowing your students will improve student learning. Making assumptions and failing to incorporate practices that celebrate diversity and each student’s culture is a lost opportunity for teachers to impact student knowledge and awareness. One person commented that they felt kind of “robbed” of not learning about other cultures. Disregard of diversity in education is robbing students of a quality learning experience and preparation of entering a world full of various cultures.

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  10. Like many of the previous posters, I had the requisite experiences that typify schools’ commitment to teaching other cultures. I participated in my fair share of Cinco de Mayo celebrations; I folded one or two origami cranes; I learned songs from around the globe. While I enjoyed those experiences, they always presented sanitized and safe versions of culture, nothing too deep or meaningful.

    In all my years of school, I don’t ever remember learning about my own culture or being asked to share anything about it. When I reflect on my experiences confronting culture in school, what really comes to mind was this quiet project to equate “American” culture with White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture. For example, I remember learning about the four seasons. Now, I understand that the four seasons are astronomical phenomena tied to scientific concepts like solstices and equinoxes. However, nothing about those facts necessarily leads us to teach the human experience of the seasons to our students the way that we do. We all know what the “traditional” seasons are like: the rain and emerald green of spring, the sun of summer, the changing leaves of autumn and the snowfalls of winter are tropes firmly ingrained in our psyches. I don’t have anything against the four seasons and enjoyed them when I lived in a place that actually had them. Yet I think few of us consider how these characterizations of the seasons are tied to a specific and regional culture and is imposed on all of us. You don’t have to be an ethnic or racial minority to experience the disconnect between the winter we learn about in school and the reality of our California winters. Indeed, we can go so far as to question the very idea of four seasons to begin with. While solstices and equinoxes invariably affect everyone, my native land, for instance, divides the seasons into two: a wet season and a dry one. Now this is a small point but it illustrates that nature of culturally specific knowledge and how it is passed on as a universal truth to us all. Could this be the case with all knowledge? Even logical systems like math have been found to be culturally specific and embedded (see Helen Verran’s An African Logic).

    Anyhow, I’m not quite sure what I can offer as a take-away point from my experience with or thoughts on culture in schools. I’ll try anyhow. In a previous post, someone wrote about not wanting to make our students “little militants.” First, we need to acknowledge that sometimes there is reason to be angry: an earlier post’s reference to the history of European’s treatment of Native Americans is one of many good examples. I think the possible militancy that comes from reflection on culture (and the ways some cultures have been devalued and even targeted for destruction) is something we have to live with. Or, we can continue on with our safe and superficial consideration of culture. Though it’s hard, we should think about the assumptions we bring to the classroom and acknowledge that they matter. I’ve notice this attitude among some that this is all some sort of politically-correct conspiracy dreamt up by left-wing crazies. But because teachers hold such powerful positions of influence, we should always be wary of the ways our own cultural pre-conceptions affect students. But can we step outside of the perspectives we take for granted? Sometimes I wonder.

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  11. Posted by Lilia Garcia on February 22, 2010 at 6:21 am

    I remember in elementary school my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teachers did honor my culture. The school I attended was predominantly Latino therefore the Spanish language had a strong presence. My teachers in earlier grades did not encourage their students to speak Spanish at all within the classroom, but as I got older teachers began to promote the literacy of both English and Spanish. I believe language plays a large part within ones culture, by having my teachers acknowledge my native language and use this as a tool to acquire new knowledge this did not make me feel embarassed but I did not think they accurately protrayed the Latino culture at times.
    Reflecting back on my exprience I would encourage all of us to become familiar with the various cultures that will be found within each of our classrooms. I saw both sides of the argument, whether students should be encouraged to practice their native language. As future educators we should motivate our students to keep and pratice their native language. I do realize that English is the language we use in the U.S. for communication, but nonetheless if one knows more languages this would be to ones benefit.

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  12. Posted by Lilia Garcia on February 22, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I remember in elementary school my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teachers did honor my culture. The school I attended was predominantly Latino therefore the Spanish language had a strong presence. My teachers in earlier grades did not encourage their students to speak Spanish at all within the classroom, but as I got older teachers began to promote the literacy of both English and Spanish. I believe language plays a large part within ones culture, by having my teachers acknowledge my native language and use this as a tool to acquire new knowledge this did not make me feel embarassed but I did not think they accurately protrayed the Latino culture at times.
    Reflecting back on my exprience I would encourage all of us to become familiar with the various cultures that will be found within each of our classrooms. I saw both sides of the argument, whether students should be encouraged to practice their native language. As future educators we should motivate our students to keep and pratice their native language. I do realize that English is the language we use in the U.S. for communication, but nonetheless if one knows more languages this would be to ones benefit.

    Lilia G.

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  13. Posted by Bradley M on February 22, 2010 at 6:29 am

    I was raised in chino starting from 3rd grade on up. Mostly all of the cultures I learned about were threw social studies. One thing that really stood out was the way my 4th grade teacher tried to get us embrace the Native American culture. I remember prepared traditional native food for us to try. I thought that was pretty interesting. I can also recall learning about Cinco De Mayo. I remember all the students being asked to bring in Mexican food and we all had a class party. We also discussed why we celebrated that day. I can recall being asked to do research on constructing a family tree. I had to ask my parents and my grandparents questions to be able to trace back our family lineage and also to find out where we came from. I don’t recall the teacher having us discuss our cultures. We pretty much just came into the classrooms to learn, sadly not learn about ourselves and where we came from. I feel that this would help strengthen the unity in the classroom. Looking back, I wish my teachers would have asked me to find out what my culture is. I would like to have been proud of my culture. Sadly, I believe that teacher don’t see the importance of getting to know your students. I think that they are so stressed about teaching was it required for the state tests that they don’t believe its relevant. They may also have trouble fitting it into there tightly framed schedules. I believe that it is truly a disservice to the students and to the teacher. You can see the success from a program that actually gets to know there students by watching the video in the blog. The students have learned so much in just one year. There are students in some school that cant even talk that good and have been in our schools for 5 years. It is truly impressive and inspiring to see that hard work does pay off. I hope that as potential teachers that we learn from this video, we should try everything in our power to find the method that helps every child learn the best. We shouldn’t be content with teach in a way that most of the students learn because the few that don’t learn will suffer. This is the sad reality for many students in the California school system. Bradley M.

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  14. Posted by Juliana Capra on February 22, 2010 at 7:16 am

    n Elementary and Middle School classes besides Social Studies, education did not include any formal teachings about various cultures. Up until High School I learned quite a bit about other cultures from my interactions with my peers and classmates. I supposed the most cultural learning took place at the lunch table. Since my school was home to several cultures, the lunch table was quite an interesting place. Students would eat everything from dumplings, arroz con pollo, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the mystery food from the cafeteria, and beyond. Not to mention the various conversations that were held about cultural happenings, holidays, family stories, and what my peers did last weekend. Yet it was not until High School where I had the opportunity in class to explore other cultures in the classroom outside of Social Studies class. For instance in my English class we read stories about families who immigrated to the United States, in my Spanish class I had the opportunity to explore various cultures from Spanish speaking countries, and in my Orchestra class I had the opportunity to play string pieces from all around the world.
    I do remember in my formal K to 12 education having to explore my family and cultural customs. I recall from one assignment having to interview at least two people from my family on the subject of my ancestors and culture. But as I recall, none of this was outside of the Social Studies class.
    If I recall correctly, I do not remember any of my teachers including my culture in a classroom lesson. I think that this may have to do with the fact that my cultural background was not that of a minority culture of my school demographics. I do remember learning about other cultures, such as learning about other cultural holidays and celebrations such as Lunar New Year, Hanukah, Dia de los Muertos, to name a few. Nonetheless I was excited as a child to learn about other cultures and the various holidays and traditions that they have. It was something new that I could come home from school and share with the rest of my family at dinnertime. I feel that it is a great opportunity for teachers to include learning about various cultures in the classroom. It helps the students, including me, to develop an appreciation for the diverse and interesting society that we live in today. In addition, multicultural education ensures that every student feels respected and welcomed in the classroom, and is appreciated for being unique. I think that it would be a great idea for the teacher to have a class cultural day, where each student would present to the rest of the class their cultural background and what makes them unique.

    J.Capra

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  15. Posted by Jasmin M on February 22, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Throughout K-12 school years I do not recall learning a lot about diverse cultures. The culture that everything seemed to be based on was the american culture, so there was not a lot of learning done about other cultures. However, I did learn a little bit from cutlures like the Native American culture in history, the African American cutlure during black history month and the Mexican culture in Spanish class. Although I did not learn about other cutlures in education, other then a sprinkle of various cutlures learned in social studies and foreign language, I attended a private school in West Covina which had many diverse students. As a Mexican I was able to learn more about other cultures, because I had friends from other cutlures. However, I would have loved to learn about other cutlures not only on a personal level through my friends but on an educational level. It was not until college that I learned how different cultures actually contributed to history and I was amazed at all the knowledge I was not given prior to college. I remember feeling mad, almost as if I was robbed, becuase no student should have to wait until they are in college to really learn about other cultures, especially when many students never even attend college.

    As a teacher I am determined to make sure that I implement various cultures into the learning objectives. I feel it is important for students to learn about the different cultures around them, because when they get out into the real world they will have to interact with people from various cutlures. Not all children have the chance to interact with kids from different backgrounds and learn about their cutlure, like I did, especially in many public schools whoes student population is the majority from the surrounding community.

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  16. Posted by Lisa C. on February 22, 2010 at 8:34 am

    In my K-12 years, all of my teachers briefly incorporated cultural diversity to the lessons. There is however, not a memorable event that I can remember that was significant or important to me specifically. In all of my experiences, Asian culture never seemed to be a very interesting topic for class discussion. When the teacher did host discussion for the Asian culture, some information did tend to be accurate; but things discussed were only parts of the whole picture. These lessons were often uninspiring to me and left me slightly embarrassed about my background because it didn’t appear to be interesting enough for discussion.

    The beauty that is America is that it’s so diverse. There is acceptance of diversity and every culture should be heard. As an Asian American I feel that I understand both worlds, which could be advantageous. I have and can provide insight to both the Asian and American cultures.

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  17. Posted by Lisa C. on February 22, 2010 at 8:40 am

    In my K-12 years, all of my teachers briefly incorporated cultural diversity to the lessons. There is however, not a memorable event that I can remember that was significant or important to me specifically. In all of my experiences, Asian culture never seemed to be a very interesting topic for class discussion. When the teacher did host discussion for the Asian culture, some information did tend to be accurate; but things discussed were only parts of the whole picture. These lessons were often uninspiring to me and left me slightly embarrassed about my background because it didn’t appear to be interesting enough for discussion.

    The beauty that is America is that it’s so diverse. There is acceptance of diversity and every culture should be heard. As an Asian American I feel that I understand both worlds, which could be advantageous. I have and can provide insight to both the Asian and American cultures. Something that could have improved my experiences and that I could implement into my classroom would be find out about every students culture and background. Give an opportunity for each student to be proud and have their moment; to express themselves freely among their peers. This exercise would positively affect students’ attitudes towards their heritage.

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  18. Posted by Geovanni Garcia-Hernandez on February 22, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Thinking back on my own experience from elementary school I can not recall on my teachers talking about cultures other than for social studies. I remember that we did take about the holidays that we had but not much in retail. I guess we just learn about them in a nutshell. I remember is one class activity that we were making some Native American “bags” out from brown paper bags and we even had some beef jerky. But to be honest I don’t remember what the whole purpose was.
    As teachers in a multicultural setting I feel that we should not only talk about different cultures but also to learn to embrace them. By this I don’t mean that we just but up pictures of famous people from different cultures in the walls of our classroom. we should take it even further and ask our students to share they cultures with the class for certain assignments. I know that integrating cultural assignments into our curriculum would be a bit difficult but we should really do our best in doing so.

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  19. Posted by Osvaldo Noriega on February 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Growing up in a city that was primarily Hispanic, I never had a teacher focus on our culture before until my sixth grade teacher. She didn’t make it flashy or in your face about our culture. Her goal was to have us learn a bit more about where our families came from. The whole class was Hispanics and since Cinco de Mayo was approaching what better time to learn about our culture. The assignment was simple ask your parents where our families descended from and investigate and write on that. On Cinco de Mayo the class had a pot luck. Our teacher sent a letter asking our parents if they can prepare a dish from their native region and those who did not cook brought sodas and plates. She also asked the parents who wish to come on that day and visit the class, so that the parents can listen to the children read their reports to the class. I was never embarrassed about this experience, because it was a fun lesson to do. My 6th grade teacher understood that just because you are Hispanic doesn’t mean that we are all the same. If there is anything that we can learn from this lesson is that we should be able to look past simple classification of a culture. If you would do anything with regards to a culture in your own lessons one day make sure that the lesson can inspire all your students. One day I hope to be able to teach a lesson similar to that. Depending where I would teach I would like to spend some time and get to know the community that I would work in and base the lesson on culture around me. Also I would work hard on making sure that none of my students feel offend about the lesson that they would have to do. What made that experience wonderful was that we were able to be with our parents and enjoy some authentic food from Mexico, Central and Southern America. The reports were great to listen to also because we learned where our friends descended from. Even our teacher read her report of where her family descended from also.

    Osvaldo Noriega

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  20. Posted by Jorge Garcia on February 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    I clearly remember when I was in 5th grade we were told to bring a dish that would represents our culture. I didn’t know what to tell my mom to cook because I was so scare that people would reject my Hispanic culture. Being a 5th grader your so conscience of the little things that you do. So I ended up telling my mom to cook some rice Mexican Style. I went so conservative so people would not judge in a bad way and say negative things about my culture. I took the dish to school and everyone took all kinds of dishes that were new to me. In our class we had people from China, Vietnam, Mexico, Salvador, Korea and many other countries so we were very diverse in that way. When it was time to see what everyone brought I was so shy and I just hoped that nobody would say anything. Sure enough it was time and we ate like a big united family. It feels like we did this type of learning to get a feel for other cultures that are very different form ours. This would allow us to be better preparing in the future. some people later started to make fun of people dishes and I cross my fingers that it wouldn’t be me. It was a girl her name was Maria and she was also Hispanic, but for some reason stared making fun of all the people that were Hispanic and it was all fun in games but at the time I was embarrassed. Now that has helped me look at things in different perspective. Getting to know all kinds of culture and being respectful show how educated a person can be. This is very important not to be rude and say negative things about a culture even if you don’t like the way they do things just keep it to your self and don’t make a fool of yourself.

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  21. Posted by Travis B. on February 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Culturally diverse education has not really been part of my academic experience. Such an education was never presented to me as important or relevant. It was not until I began taking credential courses at Cal Poly that I had even heard of culturally diverse education.

    My ethnic background is varied. My family history consists of Mexican, Russian, Czecheslovakian, and possibly other ethnicities I am not aware of. I grew up and spent my elementary years in a primarily Latino community. There were students of various ethnicities, but the demograhic was primarily Latino. Many students spoke Spanish as a first language, and I did not. I would be at school wondering why I was unable to understand my peers when they communicated with each other, but not with me. I had friend I spent my time with, but when I saw people playing sports, I wanted to play, and I did not care who was playing. I grew up not caring about who was from where, and in the end, we all just played sports.

    Middle school was spent at a primarily cauasian school. Did I approach this school any different than my elementary school? No. I was there to learn the material presented by the teacher. When my peers were playing sports, I wanted to play too.

    High School was spent at a primarily Latino private school, with a large population of students of Asian/ Pacific Islander descent. Culture was celebrated in various clubs and organizations, which were of a voluntary nature. Perhaps the most explicit culturally aware instruction came from my Spanish classes. Other than that, we all learned the smae material from the same teachers. And whenever my peers were playing sports, I wanted to join, and thus I spent 3 years competing in high school sports.

    A Culturally diverse education, in my experience, as been everywhere except in the classroom. I have encountered more people of different ethnic origins in my extracurricular activites than when I am in the classroom. I have not had to see people as different from me, and they did not have to see me as different from them. When I went to their house, I obeyed their rules. When they came to my house, they respected our rules. I have not had to worry about learning so much about culture; I have had the opportunity to meet many people of many cultures, all of whom I respect and all of whom have made me the person I am today. People earn respect. They have earned mine, and I have earned theirs. Its all about respect.

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  22. Posted by Stella Bello O'Byrne on February 22, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I think my case would be very isolated. I did not go to school here in the United States. I was in a private bilingual school in Panama. I was from kindergarten to high school in the same school: Instituto Pan Americano (IPA). This school was considered as one the best schools in Panama during my time. It is very difficult for me just write about diverse learners, because we all spoke Spanish as our primary language, we were there to learn English. Most of the subjects were in English, except Spanish (Spanish Literature-of course).
    As far as I can remember, I had friends from other countries, but we never actually saw any difference between us. As I became older, of course you start having your own friends, in groups, according to our personal likes and dislikes. I did have very good friends from Ecuador, and Colombia. I still keep the friendship up to today. One of them is my son’s godmother, who lives in Florida. When we are planning to visit our country, we tried to make it at the same time, so we can all have fun in Panama together.
    It is here in the States that I started to have conscience of the diversity of people and started to have notion of what the differences were. Since then, I have really paid more attention of what the languages barriers we have, and what some words mean for Mexicans. For example, telling a Mexican-American that you are “pendejo” means something really bad. In my country means something like dumb, with no major significance. So I have learned the hard way to watch what I say and to whom.

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  23. Posted by Shayla C on February 22, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    When I think about my Elementary School experience regarding culture, I remember going to school with mostly Whites and Asain’s. The only thing not included in our lessons that we would honor or celebrate was Chinese New Year. Other than that, I don’t remember learning about any cultures that weren’t in our Social Science lessons. As a pre-service teacher that is going to teach in the Social Sciences, this makes me upset. I would have loved to learn about other cultures growing up. I plan to include lessons on other cultures for my students. I know this will create a lot more work on my part, but I think in the long run, my students will appreciate the work I will contribute to enhance their learning experience. I would love to have Cultural Days in my class where students can research a culture, and we can have a day where we will share this research and eat foods from the culture. If there is a game that is big in a certain culture, we could play it too. For example, in Hispanic cultures, at parties they have pinatas. I think my students would love to be able to participate in a culture day that would include a pinata.
    When I was in High School we would have a school wide cultural day twice a year. On this day school clubs and sports teams would choose a food from a specific culture and bring it to sell during a longer lunch period. This was really fun, but not educational in any way! I would love to take this concept and implement it in my high school (but with free food). This way, I can teach my students something through Cultural Days. I think I would have benefited from a Cultural Day experience.
    The two aspects of my cultural that I identify with is being Irish and Native American. We learn a lot about Native American’s in school because it is a part of our History. I loved this and really got into it because I felt connected to it on many levels. I remember being in the honors 4th grade class and being allowed to put on a school wide “exhibit” of Native American artifacts. We got to create most of these artifacts and if someone had real artifacts from tribes, we could bring them in. I was able to do both and I felt very included and important. I think that is a great thing to give to student, the feeling of inclusion when it comes to culture. I can’t wait to give my students this positive experience in their education. It will allow me as the teacher to be creative, as well as allowing lot’s of creativeness come from my students!

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