Culture in the Classroom Discussion – Winter 2011

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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87 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Elim Truong on February 18, 2011 at 12:57 am

    I am Chinese American and I grew up in a predominately Hispanic community. Although I didn’t know any better at the time, looking back, I can see how the Hispanic culture was so integrated in the schools and classes beyond social studies.
    I do not recall any specific homework assignment or specific study in classrooms where I was challenged to explore different cultural norms or customs. The closest thing was watching a Spanish documentary of a Hispanic holiday for Spanish class.
    Being exposed to the Hispanic culture(s) wasn’t a topic of study, it was everyday life – the language my peers or their families spoke and the academia/learning expectations from family were the two most unfamiliar concepts of another culture that I was exposed to from K – 12. My family speaks Cantonese – a dialect of the Chinese language. There was always a parental pressure of getting good grades and doing BETTER than well in school. But many of my peers spoke Spanish with their families and many of their parents didn’t have the same expectations for them than my parents had for me.
    I didn’t have an experience where my culture was included in a classroom lesson, so my teachers didn’t have an opportunity to inspire nor to uninspire me or my culture. However, their lack of cultural sensitivity had long-lasting effects. Because a teacher doesn’t teach about different cultures doesn’t excuse the need to recognize different cultures.
    The article linked in the paragraph above stresses that teachers need to differentiate instruction because not all children learn in the same way. I was quickly reminded of the acronym: VAKT – Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Tactile. Because we live in such a diverse culture, there has bound to be diverse learners!
    Students from different cultures, for example, may not have the same reading skills. But just because they don’t read well, it doesn’t mean they’re incapable of comprehending and understanding. So what better way to attempt to meet all their individual needs than to tackle them all to reinforce what students learn at the maximum level?
    Another section I really enjoyed from the article challenged us as teachers to allow changes to content, channels of input, and means of output to tailor instruction to meet the needs of all students – all very good tips to keep in mind.

    – Elim T

    Reply

    • Posted by Nicholas Meehan on February 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      One’s cultural background can have a huge influence on how one learns. It is vitally important for an instructor to acknowledge that the students in his/her classroom are often coming from diverse places, and therefore teaching with that diversity in mind is essential. Instructors need to get to know their students on an intimate level. The video we watched before replying to this blog was fantastic. This instructor was diving in head first into the background of every child. Documenting the interview on video instead of paper was also wise as it felt more personal, and the students may have enjoyed the process more than writing down their answers to prompted questions. Observing, conversing, and formally interviewing one’s students is a great start in discovering the make up of your students. It is also helpful to interview their families/guardians, and to even do a little research on various cultures. I believe that scaffolding and utilizing Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development are essential components in helping a child progress in their learning, but in order to utilize these approaches and theories, one must be able to connect new information to a student’s prior knowledge. In order to know a child’s prior knowledge, one needs to uncover what his/her students already know. Different cultures place great importance on different things. It does not make sense to teach a student that has just arrived in your class from Mexico the same way you would teach a white, middle class Caucasian student that has lived in this area his/her entire life. They have different experiences, and have learned different things. It is important not to force other students to conform to your style of teaching and your reference points. It is a teacher’s job to learn what their students know and to tie in new information to that prior knowledge. Making an effort to understand the different cultural backgrounds found in the classroom, and implementing different lessons that highlight these cultures can engage one’s students, build self-efficacy, and can serve as a foundation for students to accept and find the beauty in each other’s differences. Teaching to various students’ cultural knowledge is important, but one must still take into consideration the diverse learning styles that exist as well. Beyond incorporating scaffolding that connects to a student’s culture, one must also incorporate a variation of visual, audio, kinesthetic, and tactile teaching strategies in order to help all students in the class progress effectively and efficiently.

      Nick M.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Mary Jane A. on February 19, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Posted by Mary Jane A. February 18, 2011
    I am an American, native to Southern California. My Mother was Canadian, a strict Catholic and my Dad was from Idaho, a devoted Mormon. Back in the day it was unusual for people to marry outside their religion, however my parents loved each other and I grew up in a family that was respectful towards each other and of their religious beliefs; this was “normal” for me. What was also “normal” in my education K – 12th grade was attending schools with equal populations of Latinos and Caucasians. It wasn’t until my second semester of my senior year that we had two African Americans (brother and sister) transfer to our high school. What I recall of high school was everyone spoke English as their first language and it didn’t make a difference what color you were; teachers and parents held high expectations and all students were expected to meet those high expectations.
    In sharp contrast to my early education, my children attended high school where 90% were Latinos and the remaining 10% was comprised of Caucasians, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander. In addition, not everyone spoke English as their first language. I have work in the same district as a substitute teacher for 5 years and have had several opportunities to observe teachers and how they handle such diversity.
    One English teacher in particular does a fantastic job of using different strategies to encompass all of her diverse student’s ability to learn. Every lesson includes reading, a visual clip which aids the student’s understanding of the reading, a summarized handout of what the students have read and a verbal conversation between teacher and students of what they comprehend from the lesson. She also gives a worksheet that each student must express their understanding of the lesson in writing. This teacher does this for each lesson she teaches. She gives each parent her email address, the schools phone number along with her cell phone number. In addition, along with a translator, she calls each parent once every two weeks to give an update on student’s progress. I believe this teacher does an excellent job using different strategies for diverse learners to be successful in their education; she gets to know her students and their families. We can all learn from this teacher’s teaching techniques.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Carleen P. on February 19, 2011 at 1:49 am

    My memory of my elementary days are not very clear and I don’t have much memory of what I really learned in my classes. I do, however, remember learning about other cultures in my History and Art classes in 8th grade. As a Filipino child growing up in a diverse society, I felt like none of my teachers actually took the time to get to know me and my culture since there weren’t many Filipinos at the school. In fact, I don’t remember knowing anybody else in my middle school that was Filipino. My first encounter with another Filipino student in my school wasn’t until I reached High School.
    Up to this date, I don’t recall having any experience where my culture was included in a classroom lesson. I don’t feel like it is my schools fault for not integrating my culture into their lesson plans since there are few Filipino’s that are in the same classroom as I, or none at all, so I figured that it was better to learn about other cultures and for myself to learn more about my own culture from my family. Furthermore, I don’t feel like my teachers didn’t inspire me when it came to learning about my own culture because it was interesting learning about other cultures, such as the Muslims, Indians, and Mayans.
    I think that it is extremely important that teachers incorporate different cultures into their classroom so that students will be able to relate to the topic. For instance, like in the clip, students had a difficult time with the subject of English. It was not the student’s fault that they had difficulties with the English language because one can assume that the children are English learners. Teachers need to understand the struggles that students face when it comes to culture barriers and to give the student time and be patient with them. Some children at early ages may have learning disabilities, and so learning a topic won’t come easy to them. For instance, I just read an autobiography called “Burro Genius” where it was a Mexican student going to school for the first time. He was made fun of for not being able to speak English correctly and when he had to read in front of the classroom, he couldn’t because he didn’t know how to read. The readers later find out that he had dyslexia, which was the cause for his troubles in school. It is not fair that students are seen as incompetent because they are not of the same cultural background as the teacher or other students in the class. It should be required that teachers adjust their lesson plan so that all types of learners will be able to understand the material instead of just focusing on one certain cultural group.
    In order to adjust teachers lesson plans so that all types of learners will be able to understand the material, teachers should use both visual and audible resources. Some students can learn better when they are given examples and can relate to what is being taught to them. Either way, teachers should welcome different cultures in their classrooms and be patient with these different learners.

    -Carleen P.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Maria Smart on February 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Culture Blog
    Self-Realization Fellowship:
    http://www.yogananda-srf.org/

    When I was in high school, I befriended a girl who was Buddhist. There was nothing overt about her religious conviction other than her calm and controlled demeanor and disposition. We lunched together in a small group of about five. In fact, we picnicked. We were among a quiet bevy of teenage girls who just kept to themselves, shared our lunch, and engaged in pleasant conversation each day on the quad. I cannot remember the name of my Buddhist friend, but I do remember her lunches. She was a vegan. I did not know what that was, so she explained. She and her family never ate meat. Each day she had plain yogurt. She mixed in dried fruit, nuts, and sunflower seeds. There was peacefulness about her. She said she and her family meditated. She explained meditation. I told her I did not understand how it happened. She said find your core, clear your mind, and focus on your breathing. Wanting more information, I probed further. She said mediation has to be experienced. I learned from our conversations that she and her family mediated on the weekends. She invited me to attend one of these meditation sessions with her family. I accepted. I still remember that beautiful experience.

    Now, years later, because of this assignment, I decided to go back in time. After an internet search, I found the establishment. Not surprisingly, it is still there. It is called the Self-Realization Fellowship and is located near UCLA in Pacific Palisades.

    That day was serene. We would traverse the grounds, stop, pray, and mediate. I was not very good at meditation, but I respected the family’s practice and was patient. Desperately trying to understand the lifestyle of this religion, I took in as much as I could from my surrounding. At noon, we had lunch (yogurt, nuts, and seeds), and by late afternoon, after more prayer and meditation, we returned home. I remember the beauty, peace, and naturalness of the day.

    To this day, I still cannot meditate. I remember my friend’s kind and patient words about being “patient” and “practice.” In lieu of mediation, those words, perhaps, are the secret of life…

    Maria S.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Shahrzad Ayati on February 20, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I was born and raised in Iran. Both of my parents lived in Iran for most of their lives. Before moving with my family to America, I spent my years in Kindergarten through 12th grade in an all girls’ school in Iran. I grew up in a community with no cultural diversity; all of my classmates were Iranian girls. Because of such uniformity, other cultures never became a topic of study in the classroom nor a significant part of my life. Every one of my classmates in Kindergarten through 12th grade came from the same background. We all spoke Farsi as our main language, and we all studied English as a secondary language. My teachers had never worked with students from other backgrounds, so they never felt the need to talk about various cultures. The teachers never had to accommodate diverse learners because of the sheer uniformity of culture in the classroom.

    At the time, the experience was not miserable for me, but it made me isolated from different cultures and backgrounds. My experience would have been better if there had been more cultural diversity in the classroom. By having students of different backgrounds around me in K-12th grades, I would have become more accustomed to cultural diversity which would have made my transition into the U.S. education system easier.

    As a teacher, I would try to accommodate students from different backgrounds to the best of my ability. Because students from different backgrounds often have trouble in different subjects, diversifying methods of teaching is a key component in making sure that all students can learn to their highest potential. In order to encompass all the students’ diverse abilities, I will try to include some form of textual, visual, and audible explanation in all of my lessons. Using various methods to teach lessons allows students from different back grounds who may have trouble understanding sentences in text can still learn the material using the pictures and audio. This way, students from different cultures, having different learning abilities, will not be completely lost and overwhelmed when coming into a new class. I believe that using different teaching strategies will not only help students who have just entered the U.S., but it will help every student in the class to better grasp the material.

    -Shahrzad A.

    Reply

    • Posted by A.Eshtiaghi on March 29, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      ba salam
      shahrzad aziz, text to ra khandam, baram shegefti dasht. bish az har chizi didane name to. medate ziadist pegire addresi az to hastam .lotfan ba man tamas begir. E-mail;; damavand_13400501@yahoo.com ghorbanat: A. Eshtiaghi esfahan-Iran

      Reply

  6. Posted by Ramirez, R on February 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I am a Mexican American, who grew up knowing the mexican culture, which includes the food, traditions, language, and just the ways they thought and the religion. I grew up a catholic and my beliefs were very strong growing up and still are. I went to a school where there were only 3 mexicans in our school, and we three took the bus to another school for kindergarten, and were transferred out of our home school. When we were returned back to our home school in first grade I had been pulled to go to a class for spanish speaking students that were bussed in from other schools to attend this 2 hour class for spanish speaking kids. Then they discovered after 2 years that my first language was English, I hardly knew spanish, well at least I understood more than I spoke, they thought I was lying for 2 years and they did not understand why I did not say anything. I found that so ridiculous that I was in question about my language after all the testing that I was given during those two years, but they never tested me before they started pulling me out. I remember the reason that they found out that I was an English speaker was because they started to talk to me and I did not have an accent and I used proper language as I spoke to them. They went on the application that my mom submitted to the district that I understood Spanish and spoke it but it specifically said my first language was English, they assumed I only spoke Spanish.

    When they realized that I was an English speaker and writer I had fallen behind in my studies because I was constantly taken out during language arts and so I did fall behind. My mom said her biggest mistake was that she trusted them to do the right thing for me and that is why she left me in that class, she said she still regrets not researching it a little bit more. She did have to find a tutor for me to teach me what I missed and that is how I caught up. I know the school thought that they were doing the right thing for me and were looking out for my best interest, but I never remember taking any test, and they went on my moms application that I knew how to speak spanish.

    I know now that they have students tested of what they know and how much they understand. I think that it did have an affect on my life growing up, because they made me fall behind and I had to play catch up for a long time, and I did feel that I was always a step behind. As a teacher I would make sure that I talk to all my students and try to understand each and everyone of them. I know times have changed and testing is different but that is still what I experienced growing up. On a good note I am still best friends with the other 2 students that were bussed with me, and they are like my family now.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Belen P on February 22, 2011 at 8:40 am

    I grew up in a predominately Hispanic community. As I started kindergarten I was enrolled in a bilingual program. From kinder to 3rd grade, my studies revolved around learning English, American Culture, and Hispanic customs (mainly Mexican). Two out of the four teachers I had so far were of Hispanic origin, and all their TA’s were Hispanic as well. Though Mexican customs were introduced, they were not the norm, it was seen as “the other culture.” My school mainly celebrated the ‘fun’ aspects of my culture, such as Cinco de Mayo, though hardly any student actually knew what it meant. All we knew was that Cinco de Mayo was the day each grade performed a different dance among our peers and parents. The girls wore folklorico costumes while the boys wore sombreros, and we danced songs like El Tapatio.

    In fourth grade, I had a Chinese teacher who emphasized her culture, especially on Chinese New Year. I remember she went out of her way to make sure the whole school recognized her culture by hanging a banner outside the school fence reading “Gung Hay Fat Choy.” She made a big celebration by bringing in and showing us how to make dumplings and how to eat with chop sticks (which came in handy when I traveled abroad to China this past summer!). She emphasized her culture and it had a great impact on me. From that point on, well from 4th-6th grade, my best friends were always Chinese.

    My 4th grade teacher had a huge impact on me. And I hope I too can impact my students my emphasizing their individuality, celebrating their strengths and working together on their weaknesses.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Darci Schuman on February 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I have been in private school 98% of my academic career. My class had the same 23 students from kindergarten through 8th grade. My best friends growing up were African American, Filipino and Samoan and Mexican. I never stopped to think about how they were different than me. We were all kids, we all wanted to have fun and we all were in the same class. We didn’t have to worry about different styles of clothes that were different than ours because we wore school uniforms. Therefore, we never really focused on cultural diversity as much as we did religion. Although all of us were Catholic, it was important that our school curriculum include all the world religions. I can remember only one activity where we had to bring in food from our culture and we had a big party in the gym to try all the different foods.
    Culturally relevant pedagogy I feel is an important concept. We are all from diverse backgrounds and being open and knowledgeable about different cultures can help you build rapport with your students. However, remembering that we are all here in school for a reason and that is to be successful productive learners is the key idea. It shouldn’t matter if you are from another country, you are here to learn and the teacher should do anything within their means to enable that child.

    Reply

  9. I am a Mexican American and have lived in Southern California my whole life. The schools I attended had very few Hispanic students. Everyone was Caucasian or Asian. This allowed me to have a diverse group of friends. In elementary school I had one Mexican friend, a few Asian friends, a few Caucasian friends, a friend from India and a friend who was half Mexican and half Jewish. I never payed attention to our cultural differences. I only payed attention to personalities. Once I attended middle school and high school I made more Hispanic friends and some African American friends as well.

    The schools I attended didn’t seem to acknowledge our cultures very much. However, I do recall one of my elementary classes asking for everyone to bring food from their cultural background. I remember my mom cooking flan. Also in high school I had a Home Economics class. In pairs, we had to share a recipe with the class and cook for them. Some people cooked appetizers and some made cookies. Some people made dishes from their culture. It wasn’t centered on diversity but it stands out to me because it was the first time I ate Asian dumplings and I loved them. I also recall a history class asking for us to research our ancestors. I had to ask my grandparents questions about their past and a create a family tree. these are only a few instances, but each experience was fun and interesting.

    I think teachers should ask for students to share about themselves and their background. It’s important to learn about different cultures, especially one’s own. It’s interesting to hear life stories and appreciate other cultures. I have learned more in college about different cultures but I would have enjoyed more cultural activities in K-12.

    As a future teacher I will definitely look into creating lesson plans that celebrate each student’s diversity. It’s also important to realize that while we have different cultures and backgrounds, we also have similarities. An activity that I think promotes bonding and understanding was done in one of my other classes. A line is taped on the floor. Students are given a series of statements about their life and background. If the statement applies to them they stand on the line, if it doesn’t they step back. The statements can be about their family, education, friends, pains and joys. The point is to show that we have things in common with others who may look or seem different than us.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Miriam Llamas on February 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    I grew up in a household where our Mexican culture was very important. My parents never allowed me to use English in the household and constantly told me it was very important for me to keep my Spanish language. I honestly do not know how I made it through my first year of school. I believe I started picking up a lot of English once I started watching English channels on television but I’m not really certain. When I started kindergarten, there were several other students like me. I spoke Spanish and learned more English as the school days passed. I don’t specifically remember if I was ever spoken to in Spanish in the classroom or if I ever had any problems.

    My years in Ventura County were filled with other students like myself. They all spoke Spanish but it was never anything that was talked about in the classroom. It was never restricted that I can remember and our culture was never brought up either. It is incredibly interesting now that I’m looking back to see that culture was not a part of my school experience. The only time I remember it being brought up was when my eighth grade teacher, who was Caucasian, spoke of her husband’s family. She said that when she first met them, they looked at her a bit surprised when she refused to serve him his dinner. She said, “He has hands and legs that work just fine.” She laughed about it but never really mentioned anything else about the culture.

    Later in high school, I was surrounded by the elite of the county. Most students’ families were very well off and got every material possession they wanted. It made it difficult to find things in common with most of them. Especially when they started using pretty heavy drugs. Culture was still something that students shared outside of the classroom and never really brought up in the coursework.

    Later, when I continued my education at SJSU, I turned to the Mexican-American Studies minor program. It became a second home to me. Although I found a second home in the MAS program, I was enthralled by all the cultures around me soaking in all the information I could. Every type of food, every tradition, every language was increasingly interesting to me. I also attended all the different seminars and listened to all speakers that presented at my university as well. They often brought in speakers to inform students of different cultures covering most of the population of the school. Although I loved learning about each culture, I found an even greater love for my own culture in my MAS classes.

    When in my MAS classes, I had assignments that would interview several people in my family. Those were definitely my most valued lessons. I spoke to my mother and grandmother about taboo topics making it all the more hysterical. One of my questions was about birth control. My mother got very irritated and my grandmother made it a joke. My grandmother said, “No mija, we never had birth control in my days. That’s why your mother only had two kids and I had eight!” My mother stopped the interview right then. I definitely had much more of a cultural learning experience in my college days.

    I definitely feel that culture could have been a bit of a focus in my younger years of school. I think that if my parents were more aware of what I was doing in class, it would have been much more beneficial for me. I would have definitely had better grades or gotten more help in the subjects in which I was lacking. I truly feel it is important for a teacher to find out more about their student’s cultures, more so in a younger child’s schooling (K-12), so that they can have the best learning experience possible. I will be working with Special Needs children and will have to reach out to the parents much more so that the parents can be a part of the learning process. My parents did not have the type of interaction they should have had with my sister’s Special Needs teachers. They spoke often of course but teachers did not seem to understand the limitations my parents had. My parents did not understand their role in my sister’s schooling. If teachers would have understood a bit more about their background, I believe my sister would have had more help and would have been much more advanced.

    I will make sure culture is brought into my classrooms and all students are their cultures represented. I will have lots of interacting with parents so that I can understand what works best for them and their children with Special Needs. If their needs are different because of their cultural background, I will accommodate them accordingly.

    -Miriam L.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Laura Cardona on February 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I was born to immigrant parents who immigrated to the United States from Mexico. Accordingly my culture and language was different than that of the dominant culture. Making public school a difficult experience for myself because I was prohibited from speaking Spanish. Consequently, I felt like there was something wrong with my language and culture. Finally in fourth grade I felt a sense of belonging as my teacher, would randomly say a word in Spanish. Her saying a word in Spanish made me feel so happy giving me a sense of pride. I will never forget that feeling which I still feel when I encounter a teacher, instructor or Professor who I identify with.

    Based on my personal experience I believe I would have benefited from cultural inclusion. Given that all I wanted was to feel like I belonged and although my language was different than that of the dominant culture, it was okay. Celebrating students diversity in the classroom, also allows other students to learn about different cultures. This I believe creates community in which we all accept each other.

    ~Laura C.

    Reply

    • Posted by Kellie Hall on March 1, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Lauren i could not imaging that feeling you felt in school because my first and only language is English. I can see your frustration though. I understand trying to get non-native English speakers to learn the English language, but i do not understand completely taking your native language away. After all in this world you can do so much more if you know more then one language! Did you completely loose your first language? Or did you have to relearn it?

      Reply

  12. Posted by Ana M. Frausto on February 23, 2011 at 1:16 am

    I am a Mexican American who grew up in a predominately Hispanic Community. In my early years of schooling, in elementary, I do feel that my culture was aknowledge in my school and teachers made me feel as it was important to my learning; however, as I got older and progresed into more English classes from upper elementary to highschool I started to feel disconnected from school because my culture was no longer aknowledge or important.

    In elementary there were many teachers that were Hispanic and the school had bilingual education in which students began in the primary grades with Spanish instruction and throughout the grades English was increased. I remember Cinco de Mayo being a large celebration in which each class chose a Mexican dance to perform for the community and the school. Mexican food, music, and traditions were celebrated and the whole school and community united and celebrated. Another way in which the school incorporated Mexican-American culture was by creating a Mariachi band. There were two bands the regular band in which we learned classical music and the Mariachi band were we would get to wear mariachi outfits made by some of the mothers. I always felt proud of my culture because it was aknowledge in the classroom and the community. However as my English increased and I went on to all English classrooms, Spanish in the classroom was no longer allowed and most of the time I did not feel I had an understanding with the teachers or a connection to the material.

    During Jr.high and High school is when I encounter other cultures however their representation in the classroom was also absent. I did not learn about other cultures from my teachers or the school but mostly from interacting with other cultures in the school wich was minimal because I did not know much about others and peole sometimes just stick to what they know, so most of my friends were hispanic. I believe that there is definately a lack of representation and acknowledgement about the students who are in the classrooms. In order for students to succeed in school they must feel important and acknowledge of who they are and therefore teachers must be aware of the culture diversity and be able to include that into their lessons and be able to communicate that to students.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Stanley Oh on February 23, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Although my culture was not included in a classroom lesson, I do remember talking about my culture in class. I am Korean-American and I remember talking about Korean food in several of my classes, which made the class more interesting for me. I think integrating each student’s culture into the lesson plan is an effective teaching method because it keeps the student engaged while introducing new information. I felt that whenever culture was brought up in class, I was more interested because I wanted to learn about different rituals and customs.

    I remember coming home from school asking my parents about their history for several of my classes. Although the assignments were all related to Social Studies, I listened to my parents talk about their life in Korea and their transition to America. I think interacting with direct relatives and other people to help understand learning materials is one of the best learning methods a teacher can use. By doing so, a student learns more about one’s culture and is actively engaged with the lesson plan. I believe having different perspectives in life can better educate a person to help better understand different situations. Inside and outside the classroom, a student who has a broader understanding of worldwide issues can contribute more to society than a student without such knowledge.

    As a teacher, I would incorporate different cultures into my lesson plan so that I keep the students interested. I think grabbing the student’s attention and maintaining it are key factors in a student’s learning process. From my experience, I gained more knowledge and understanding whenever culture was integrated into the lesson plan.

    Stanley O.

    Reply

  14. Posted by Joann Su on February 23, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Being Chinese American and raised in a predominate Chinese American schools was not much of a culture shock. Majority of my classmates are Chinese so the teacher was acceptable with the culture as well as others.

    During my elementary school year, most teachers were concerned about students who were learning English as a second language. Therefore, most teachers singled me out that I should be in ESL class because they assumed that I didn’t speak a word of English; when I was young I was very shy towards adults, especially teachers. I disliked this experience because I was pointed out because of my race, which continuously made me miserable and friendless. This feeling and finger pointing lingered on until high school. Therefore, I believe teachers should stop finger pointing on the academics and focus more about student’s well-being.

    Even though my teachers meant well, I learned from them and my classmates, about the commonality and difference between different cultures. Learning about this was educational for my classmates and I because there were things (such as what we eat) were different from one another. We learned them by talking to one another during class or recess and stories that my teacher read to us.

    Therefore, I have friends from different cultural backgrounds and we accept one another.

    Joann S.

    Reply

    • Posted by Elim Truong on March 11, 2011 at 1:26 am

      It’s encouraging to hear that growing up in a predominately Chinese American school wasn’t too much of a cultural shock to you but that’s unfortunate that you were placed in ESL class and felt ridiculed by being an English language learner.

      Do you think things would have been different if you were in another school district that isn’t predominately Chinese American?

      Reply

  15. I cannot recall a single memory of having my culture being showcased in any way during my pre-secondary education years that was not done during a social studies period. Back in my days, teachers tend to only focus on the subject they were teaching. Possibly with English, there were a few times when other cultures were mentioned since it was part of the text studied, but even then I cannot remember anything regarding my particular culture. Being Vietnamese during my childhood was not the best since most people, especially fellow students or younger individuals tend to assume I was Chinese. It seemed like every Asian was considered Chinese from those in my environment growing up. Eventually, I just stopped caring because I just thought of such individuals to be ignorant. I would have clarified things to them had they not been ignorant AND purposely being sarcastic at the same time. It was just pointless and as the years went on, I developed pretty thick skin to such comments.
    Even during moments when cultures were being taught in history or social studies classes, there was a lot of focus on Hispanic or Mexican culture since the population of the classes were predominantly Hispanic or Mexican. Perhaps it was just due to the schools I went along with the era I grew up in, but cultures were not something taught much outside of history classes. Maybe with some students, that may have led them to perceive their own culture or identity differently, but I could care less. Maybe it may have helped with students’ education somehow, but for me I do not think it would have mattered much. I can only speak for myself, of course.
    In today’s cultural setting, the diversity is even more pronounced. Hispanics and Mexicans still outnumber other ethnic groups, especially true in California, but overall minority groups are growing at a substantial rate. Due to this drastic shift and the emphasis of culture in education today, it is crucial that culture is being taught in the school systems now more than ever. Without it, our country would not as great as the diversity associated with it. Imagine the U.S. being absent of cultural presence. How bland would that be then? Fortunately, more and more people are advocating the importance of various cultures. With that in mind, culture should be taught even outside of history courses if only to promote a healthier environment for those of other ethnic backgrounds. When we can do that, we can start focusing on the difference in learning due to cultural significance so that our teaching can be better catered to students of all racial groups.

    Vince T.

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  16. Posted by Samantha Valverde on February 23, 2011 at 2:38 am

    My father met my mother on a cruise ship. He was born and raised in Costa Rica, where he spoke Spanish. He spoke three languages, none of them being English. My mother is Caucasian, born and raised in California. She only spoke English and had learned some Italian at a Jr. College level. To make a long story short my father married my mother and made California his permanent home. My father learned English and decided he wanted his children to only speak English so that they would not be disadvantaged in school. I grew up in a Caucasian and Hispanic community but the idea of culture was never apparent to me in school. I feel as though I was treated the same as everybody else, even the Hispanic students. Now this could have been my naiveté or the fact that my teachers genuinely did not feel that cultural inclusion was a necessity in the classroom.
    It was not until I got to college and took a credential class about secondary language acquisition that I realized how important it is to address the issue in the classroom. Since then I have learned a lot about how culture and language shape a child’s identity. As an adult I can see the importance of incorporating culture in the classroom to help relate and scaffold information to the students. California is known for its cultural diversity and I believe to help support student success, consideration of this cultural diversity should be considered by every teacher in every subject.

    Samantha V.

    Reply

    • Posted by Elim Truong on March 11, 2011 at 1:23 am

      Interesting that your parents took interest in one another while not sharing a common language.

      I think you’re very fortunate to have not have experienced negative cultural exposures being half Caucasian and half Costa Rican.

      Which ethnicity do you identify with more? Or do you identify yourself equally between the two? Do you think life would be different if your mom moved to Costa Rica instead?

      Reply

  17. Posted by Stephanie Lopez on February 23, 2011 at 2:39 am

    I am a Mexican-American and I have lived in Southern California for all of my life. I have grown up in a predominantly Hispanic culture for most of my schooling. I can say that I had some experiences with different cultures during my elementary schooling. I went to a private Catholic school for my elementary and junior high years. I can remember a specific time when my fifth grade teacher wanted us all to bring in a dish that represented our native culture. Sort of like a pot luck. When everyone arrived with their dish, we all one by one presented it to the class and explained what it was. When the class was finished we each got to try everyone’s dish. Our teacher did not make us feel embarrassed or uncomfortable since she seemed very interested in knowing what we had all brought. I also personally saw her taste each and every dish. It was a fun experience because as a kid I had no idea what other people from other cultures ate for dinner, I was just used to my parents cooking. So it was a good learning experience for me.

    As a teacher I hope to do the same for my students. I would like them to appreciate other cultures and learn to accept them. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel excluded or embarrassed and I would try to create an environment where all my students could get along, no matter what differences they might have.

    Stephanie L.

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  18. Posted by Stephanie Morales on February 23, 2011 at 2:44 am

    I am a Mexican-American, and I don’t recall any bad experiences about my culture or any other cultures. I started out in bilingual classes and so everyone in those classes spoke English and Spanish, when we were all moved into only English classes it was going onto 6th grade, it was mainly with all the same people. I didn’t go through any bad experiences nor recall any at the moment. In my class I would like for all the children to speak about their cultures, to get the rest of the class to know about other culture besides theirs. If I as a teacher were to go through a bad experience dealing with cultures in my class I would talk to the student and the rest of the class and make others realize how bad it is to reject other cultures, we’re all the same no matter our culture.

    Reply

  19. Posted by Julia Chavez on February 23, 2011 at 2:53 am

    Growing up we were never really shown anything about other cultures. My family moved to Hesperia, Ca which was a predominately Caucasian town. There were other Mexican families, but not many. We never had a problem with speaking English, because my mother made sure of it. She grew up in a household with an alcoholic father in San Bernardino. One of the rules in his house was that only Spanish could be spoken. My mother was ridiculed and was thought to be unintelligent. She would say that they would send her to another class where she just sat and colored most of the time. My father on the other hand reminded me of the children’s parents from the video. He too wanted a better life for his family, a life in which he never had. Being the oldest son he was pulled out of school in the 3rd grade by his father so he could help on the ranch. At 18, my father left with his brother and headed for California. All he wanted was for his children to do better than he did. He knew that by us knowing English we would be able to be successful in this country.

    It is so important for us a future educators to be understanding of children and where they come from. Every student has a story to tell, a story that, as it goes on, will mold them into the person that they will become. I don’t know how many times I look back at my teachers and say, “they were amazing and they helped me so much.” It is my goal to be one of those teachers. We need to take the time and actually get to know our students and not just go off one lesson plan that will generally fit the needs of all. We shouldn’t get frustrated with those students, but take the time to accommodate them. We need to do whatever it takes to help a student do his or her best.

    Julia C.

    Reply

  20. Posted by Amber McCall on February 23, 2011 at 3:31 am

    During my k-12 education I did not experience much cultural diversity or of teachers embracing various cultures of the students in our class. I can, however, remember one activity we did one year in I believe the fourth or fifth grade. We had a culture day! What we had to do was go home and ask our parents about our culture and one or two traditions that are related to it. We then had to bring something in that reflected our traditions and present it to the rest of our class.

    I think this experience was quite enjoyable, to be honest, because it was a moment in which I was able to be very proud of who I was and where I came from. Everyone was very understanding and accepting of the various traditions of the cultures and the teacher made it perfectly clear that we had to be respectful of everyone and what they presented during that day. If she did not do this then I believe it could have went very badly because there may have been some prejudice or unkind words spoken to other students.

    One thing I stress is the idea of respect! It is important that all students understand what it means to have respect of others and be respectful of their culture! It is also good that the teacher have the students talk to their parents about the culture so that they know more about their own family and their traditions, because people of the same culture can have varying traditions!

    As a teacher I would really be open to doing this kind of activity with my students because it is an awesome way to learn more about yourself as well as your peers. It teaches respect, tolerance, and understanding of people who may be different from yourself. The kids in the video above clearly knew who they were and where their family came from and that is so important to a child’s identity. When a child has his or her own identity they will be more confident and will do better in school! Teachers can help the students be confident by embracing their culture and letting their students be who they are!

    Amber M.

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  21. Posted by Yolanda E. on February 23, 2011 at 8:10 am

    When my parents wanted to start me off in school they decided to sign me up for pre-school, I was 4 years old, the only problem was that I only spoke spanish. The ladies in the office told my mother that i would not be able to attend pre-school because i needed to know how to speak English. Therefore, i did not attend pre-school and my parents decided to teach me English, even though at the time they were not very fluent. This has stuck with me for years because i have never felt comfortable speaking English, I feel as if I am not saying it right or that I amd not sure if I am using it correctly. It also affected me because I wanted to make sure my children knew how to speak English so I really did not teach them to speak Spanish because I wanted their English to be perfect. I did not want them feeling the same way I did frowing up. It also affected me because I would not get up in front of the class to speak, no matter what grade I was in I was scared to death about speaking in front of the class.
    One activity that keeps coming to mind about a class activity to honor my culture was not in any of my classes but in one of my sons classes and it not only covered my culture but other cultures as well. The teacher asked all the students to bring in bread, enough for the whole class, that was associated with your culture. I mean what child does not like to eat so I thought this was a great idea, my son wanted to take Pan Dulce (sweet bread) to class because that was his favorite. He explained about his bread, where it came from, how it came about and why he liked it then everyone was given a piece to try. All the students were given the opportunity to share their bread and culture. I thought this was a great way to introduce someone culture’s because all culture’s have a bread thatis associated to them and then you can always upgrade to having them bring in a favorite dish or maon meal that is associated with thier culture. You can even get away from food and have them bring a favorite outfit, song or story that is associated with their culture.

    Reply

  22. I was born and raised in Southern California during most of lifetime. I briefly lived in Northern Colorado for a few years. I felt that during my short time in Colorado, I was asked more from people over there about my family, ethnicity, and race than my time here in California. I believe that it due to a lack of ethnic and cultural diversity in a predominately conservative state like Colorado. However, during my time in both Colorado and here in California, I did remember that I wrote an essay about my Korean ancestry and I was able to discuss it with my fellow classmates. I explained about how different it was, “culturally” and “linguistically” between me and my parents.

    While my childhood and my educational development for most students were filled with happy moments, mine was mired with some bad ones. Students teased me and bullied me because of my ethnicity and racial background. I felt that most of the teachers didn’t quite understood about the constant harassment and racism that I received from a group of bigoted kids who were never exposed to diversity. In the end, I felt disappointed that some of my teachers didn’t fully understand my situation and their lack of understanding different cultures and diversity, has really put my educational experience on pause during my youth.

    With this bad experience, I believe that as a future teacher; I will do whatever I can to cultivate diversity and instill them to my students. The method that I want to emulate is what Dr. Reese (my professor) has done through his Colorful Flags Program. His program taught students the value of fostering good relationships with people of different ethnicity and cultures by knowing five basic expressions in languages other than English and also understands important facts in each country. His program has impacted my understanding of different cultures and I want to reciprocate this experience to my future students.

    Richard W.

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  23. Posted by Carmen Murtada on May 10, 2011 at 3:02 am

    I come from a Romanian background. My parents immigrated from Romania to America so as to flee communism and to acquire the American Dream. I was born in Southern California. English and Romanian were my primary languages. After all, my parents spoke to me in Romanian while my older siblings spoke to me in English.

    I vaguely recall my primary education. I remember being pulled out of class with my twin brother. We were taken into another room where a Romanian woman instructed us. It was a confusing time for me because she spoke in both Romanian and English. She tutored my brother and I in reading, spelling, and speech. Personally, I did not understand why I was being pulled out from class to learn how to read, spell, and pronounce words. I did not feel like I was struggling with the English language. On the other hand, my twin brother struggled in reading, spelling, and speech, up into his later years. Nonetheless, I did not want to be tutored because I felt that it was a waste of my classroom time. In the classroom, I never recalled experiencing cultural diversity aside from history.

    As a teacher, I would try and adapt and modify my teaching skills to the learning skills of my students. I will use aides to assist struggling students in my classroom. I do not like the idea of pulling students out during instruction because it can take away from student learning. As for cultural diversity, I will integrate it into my instruction by encouraging students to participate in Show-and-Tell. Here, students can bring artifacts that represent their culture and explain the purpose of the artifacts. Artifacts can range from pictures, music, clothing, foods, etc. In the end, I want my students to embrace their culture.

    Carmen M.

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  24. Posted by Denisse Lopez on May 10, 2011 at 3:41 am

    The school I went to from Kindergarten to 8th grade was 63% white, with only 1% of the student population being ELL students and 10% qualifying for free and reduced lunch. I grew up in a very traditional Mexican family since my parents both had immigrated to the United States from Mexico as teenagers. As a child Spanish was my first language and we were on the lower end of the socio economic ladder as well so I didn’t feel like I fit in at school because the students at my school didn’t look or sound like me. Feeling as though I didn’t fit in made it difficult for me to feel comfortable in school and made me very shy. Because I didn’t have any children to speak Spanish to and because I spent so much time speaking English in school, my Spanish skills began to suffer. It wasn’t until I reached high school that I was able to meet more students that came from similar backgrounds as me, and so I was able to open up more and feel more comfortable in the social aspect of schooling.

    Based on my experiences in school I feel that it is important to be a culturally relevant teacher and to teach cultural inclusion. This is why I have chosen the path of Gender, Ethnicity, and Multicultural Studies with a pre-credential option as my educational path. I believe that it is important to know and understand students’ backgrounds in order to give them the respect and validation they deserve.

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  25. Posted by Karla Vasquez on May 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Since being a Guatemala American I been raised in Southern California most of all my life. I went to a private school from most of my elementary up to six grade. The most of the students were 85% white and few Hispanic students. Me and my sister never felt as “outsiders” in this private school. The good thing about this school was that, they celebrated world cultures. During the month of April the school would have a whole of week looking about different cultures. Each every student would have an opportunity to share about their culture in term of a Show and tell to the class.

    Since my family were from Guatemala, I got the opportunity to share a little about our culture customs and food. Everyone enjoy it. The teacher would incorporate this into a lesson plan. Once a student a share, everyone would have a class discussion on what they had learned and what they found interesting about their discoveries. Having this type of activity done in the classroom and throughout the school, I felt that my fellow classmates were able to understand me better.

    Studying to become a Teacher through my positive experience I will try to in cooperate learning about different cultures in my classroom. I think it is important to understand the form and customs of any cultures. Also is a important way for students to understand the diversity of everyone in the class room and to respect one another. Just as my sixth grade teacher did, my class will learn about everyone culture and understand it. It would be more as a Show and tell just like I did in sixth grade, students would ask to either bring a food, pictures, or anything that respect their country and culture. By time students leave my class they will all have a better knowledge of backgrounds around the world.

    Reply

  26. I am a mix of many different races Lebanese, German, French but I was raised American. I do however love my Arabic food. I was born and raised in Southern California, I went to school from preschool to junior high in Pomona which has been a culturally diverse city since forever. So I have been raised around all sorts of cultures. I even remember having a couple of cultural fairs at school when I was young and I would bring stuffed grape leaves, hummus and pita bread and in turn I was able to try different foods from other cultures. I never had to deal with the issues of culture shock that I have heard about from others. So I guess I can consider myself lucky that I grew up in a state that is so culturally diverse as this one.

    Reply

    • Thats really cool. Being that I was raised in a predominately Hispanic community, I was not introduced to other foods until I attended college and was invited to friends houses. This area is indeed very diverse.

      Marco

      Reply

  27. Posted by Jann Garcia on May 15, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    I was born and raised here in southern California and have lived most of my life in or around Upland. My dad is half German and Irish while my mom is full blooded French, both were born and raised in the mid-west before moving to California. So culturally it is fair to say that I am European caucasian. When it came to celebrating cultural day during my early years in elementary school I only remember bringing to school German cookies that my grandma taught me how to make. But the other kids in the class which were predominately hispanic, came to school wearing brightly colored clothes and carrying in a variety of dishes filled with everything imaginable that related to Mexican heritage. Outside of myself there was two other caucasian girls, an African American boy, and twin Chinese boys; what we all contributed to that day paled in comparison to what the rest of the class had contributed. The teacher was of Spanish decent and did little to help incorporate the rest of us into the fun of cultural heritage day, essentially the majority of the class received the attention while the rest of us just sat there. My experiences with culutural day did not get any better in junior high, there I endured the taunts of being part German and the ridicule of the Holocaust. Finally I just stopped saying what my heritage was, it made it easier to get along with the other students. So the next time cultural day came around I would just spend time enjoying the cultures of my group of friends that I had at the time. We were a very diverse crowd that greatly appreciated each other for what we each contributed to the group.
    Since I was in the first grade I have wanted to be a teacher. I knew then as I know now that I would have to learn how to make heritage day a fun time for all of the students regardless of their nationality or family heritage. Children need to learn to be accepting of others in their communities. By learning about a varity of nationalities and giving each the same importance is essential.
    Diversity goes even much more deeper than just being tolerant of other nationalities but also being accepting of different learning abilities and different ability students. Students need to be more understanding that some students may not read as well others or have trouble speaking or understanding the English language. Instead of these children with these learning disabilities being made fun of in class they could be paired up with another student in the class to work as a team. This scenario creates tolerance, leadership, friendship, and a win win situation for both students involved. Classrooms are seeing more and more different ability (wheel chair, leg braces, and blind, ect.) students are being placed in regular education classrooms. With guidance and encouragement from the teacher these students can be accepted by other students in the class. A great system that I have seen implemented in an elementary school was the buddy system, where a regular ed. student is paired with a special ed. student. They have recess together and may even have lunch together not with just the regular ed. student but with their friends included. I would definitely like to implement this system when I start teaching special education.
    Remember diversity is not just accepting different nationalities and cultures but also the acceptance of different learning abilities as well as capabilities of all people, young and old.

    Jann G.

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  28. Posted by Steve P on May 15, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    I found the video very inspiring. I look at those kids and see a little bit of me. Although I was not born in another country and then brought to the States, I was born in a all Spanish speaking house hold with immigrant parents. My background was of a Mexican culture and would remember watching and going to celebrations at Placita Olvera and celebrating September 15th of Mexican Independence. At school it did not really seem like culture teaching was understood or even encouraged. Although I remember participating in a traditional Mexican dance once a year and sang Christmas songs in Spanish during the Christmas show, the only value I saw in it was that it made the parents proud and happy. The teachers however did not reinforce the teachings or value behind everyones culture and therefore made it seem more like a out of the way task to do to please someone or to just have a performance ready. Today as I am going to become a teacher however I see the importance of learning about culture from kids like Anthony, Arturo, and Chelsey from the video and get them to see that their culture is valuable and not a impediment to their education. We need to practice equality within our class rooms so that our students can feel safe, important, and self secure with who they are and understand that they have something to contribute.

    Reply

  29. Posted by Jennifer Contreras on May 16, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Growing up I attended a school and lived in a community that was very culturally diverse. While in school I remember my teachers would making it a point to show appreciation for the many different holidays that were celebrated through out the many cultures. For example I remember when December came around we would work on many art activities that represented the many different cultures, like Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. Looking back at things I think the way my teachers did things in Elementary school were the right way because it helped me as a child as well as children see what there many different type of holidays but that there is not one that is better than the other, it just helps children respect and gives them a sense that there are many different type of people out there that may or may not share same values and holidays but that is okay.

    Overall through out the years I feel that I had some teachers that honored my culture more than others, and thankfully I have not had a bad experience in a way a teacher had delivered a lesson plan that has made me feel humiliated in any way about my culture.I actually have always been proud of everything my culture represents. In the future when I begin to teach, I want to make sure I incorporate lesson plans in which I can have my students share and learn about each others cultures and also let them know that t is important that they are proud of it.

    Reply

  30. Posted by Jennifer Contreras on May 16, 2011 at 12:20 am

    Growing up I attended a school and lived in a community that was very culturally diverse. While in school I remember my teachers would making it a point to show appreciation for the many different holidays that were celebrated through out the many cultures. For example I remember when December came around we would work on many art activities that represented the many different cultures, like Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. Looking back at things I think the way my teachers did things in Elementary school were the right way because it helped me as a child as well as children see what there many different type of holidays but that there is not one that is better than the other, it just helps children respect and gives them a sense that there are many different type of people out there that may or may not share same values and holidays but that is okay.

    Overall through out the years I feel that I had some teachers that honored my culture more than others, and thankfully I have not had a bad experience in a way a teacher had delivered a lesson plan that has made me feel humiliated in any way about my culture.I actually have always been proud of everything my culture represents. In the future when I begin to teach, I want to make sure I incorporate lesson plans in which I can have my students share and learn about each others cultures and also let them know that t is important that they are proud of it.

    Jennifer C

    Reply

  31. Posted by Jonathan N on May 16, 2011 at 2:03 am

    There are 2 distinct memories I have of a time when a teacher honored back cultural background: the first time was in the kindergarten and the second was in the 5th grade. I remember both these times being extremely enjoyable because the experiences made me feel special and proud in a good way of my background. I went to a culturally diverse school so various student backgrounds was normal. In the first experience, my mother came dressed in a formal Chinese dress called a “peishou”. It’s red, silky, flowery, and simple. She came to describe the Chinese culture to the rest of the class, sang a song, and even did a small dance. I was extremely fortunate to have a parent that was invested in my educational experience. From this, some advice or insight I might be able to give to other teachers is to encourage parent participation. It’s one thing to ask a student to come prepared with food items or pictures or a story – it’s a completely more in depth experience to have a parent or relative from that country come to represent it with first hand stories. In the 5th grade, I remember bringing food that was traditional Chinese. I felt very honored by my teacher because he ate a “ha-gao” (Cantonese for shrimp dumpling), smiled, and said, “Wow Jonathan this is very good!”

    If this is something I would do in the future in my own class, I’d encourage my students to use the internet and technology to convey their own cultural background to the rest of the class. Aside from that, the other mandatory “must” would be food! No culture inclusion day would be complete without food – this is so essential to understanding another student’s background. From food we can learn about agriculture, family cooking and the role of family, and trends.

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  32. Posted by Lauren on May 16, 2011 at 3:07 am

    I am American, a born and bred California girl. I was born in San Jose, California in the heart of the Silicon Valley. While the area as a whole is predominately Asian my particular neighborhood is quite unique mix. On my street there is Caucasians, Asians, African Americans, Hispanics and even Indians. For me this was the perfect type of environment to grow up in especially being multi-cultural myself. On one half I am a unique blend of English, Irish, and Scottish decent and on my other half I am a 5th generation Mexican-American. Being of mixed race I have always found it somewhat difficult to fully feel a part of either one. Another big fusion that happened because of my parent’s marriage was that of religion. My mother came from a Presbyterian and Catholic religious background whereas my father came from an exceedingly faithful Baptist background. The mixture of these two was extremely difficult at first but like everything other obstacle in their life my parents worked it out.
    Throughout K-12th grade I really don’t recall being introduced to other cultures as a part of schooling outside of Social Studies or any other History classes I took. I do remember talking about family however we didn’t really get into details about cultures more just the structure of the home. We would talk about how many relatives we have and how big our immediate family was and maybe if we had any pets. Unfortunately during grade school I do not recall any lessons on the different customs related with other cultures and if I did experience any then they obviously weren’t very influential. Thinking about my time in school I really wish that my teachers had paid a little more attention to the cultures within my various classrooms. I went to a private Catholic grade school K-8 and continued on into a private Catholic high school. Clearly the focus in my schools was on the religious aspect being added into the curriculum and not the cultural. Therefore I never had an experience where my culture was included in a classroom lesson so unfortunately the teachers didn’t take the chance to inspire me or my culture. I think that living in such a diverse neighborhood and going to a school that was diverse as well gave the teacher and the school a huge opportunity to teach the students about give them an immense amount of knowledge and ability to further understand all of their fellow peers in their very unique and diverse classroom. If this were my classroom I would definitely embrace my student’s diversities and in planning a lesson would ask for their help in explain the customs of their cultures to the rest of the class. I think that it is also just as important to appeal your different types of learners as it is to recognize different cultures. It is important to constantly change your teaching style so to appeal to all learners whether they are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or tactile.

    Lauren N.

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  33. Posted by Luzarely Gutierrez on May 16, 2011 at 3:20 am

    I am Mexican American and grew up in a community that was mostly Caucasians. Later on it became a lot more diverse. I remember when I first started Kindergarten I was in an all-speaking Spanish class. There was a lot of culture imbedded in that classroom. When I started first grade I moved and so I went to a new school, where they did not have Spanish classes. I recall only a few students that knew Spanish to help me out. After that I caught on quickly. The first years in this community I mostly recall Hispanic and Caucasians, there were very few African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders. I recall the schools being more diverse during High School. The high school I went to was predominantly Hispanic. There culture was embedded a lot more than in elementary school. There was the Asian Club, and Mecha to those students who wanted to join.
    I believe that teachers and schools should let the students show and share their cultures. I think students should know that we all have our own customs and culture. I hope to show students this and have them understand it. I would like to have a day of show and tell, where the students would let us know about their cultures.

    Reply

    • My High School was comprised of approximately a 97% Hispanic population. Most of the clubs in High School were geared towards the needs of the hispanic students. I remember my junior year the African American students and their families filed a complaint because the school was not meeting their students cultural needs.

      Reply

  34. Watching the video posted on the Culturally Diverse learners brought back memories of when I first came to the United States as a 5th grader. They gave me an English language test to determine my english proficiency and I was placed in a dual emergence program where half of the day was spent on a bilingual (spanish taught)class and the remainder of the day in a english class. I loved my bilingual education class because my teacher (who was an awesome caucasian lady) spoke broken spanish like I spoke english. She really tried to make me read and write in English. I knew she was making an effort and it was evident that she cared because she gave it 100% everyday. Mrs. Frazier has been my favorite teacher because she cared and made learning fun and interesting. Everyday was different with her.

    The community and school where I attended was primarily of Mexican descent as we were pretty close to the border in San Diego (Chula Vista). Because most of the students were Hispanic, I never really got to experience my culture in the classroom because we never really had the opportunity to do so (unless you count 5 de Mayo celebrations). I don’t really feel i learned about my culture or others until i reached college. Its truly a shame because kids need to know about who they are in order to become more rounded. Unfortunately for me, I never got the opportunity to explore education from my cultures perspective.

    Reply

  35. Posted by claudia V. on May 16, 2011 at 7:02 am

    I am Hispanic and growing up in my years was a bit difficult. As a bilingual student I was not allowed to speak Spanish in school. I remember my best friend in high school did not find out I was bilingual until after high school. I do recall, My fourth grade teacher being the only one taking interest in my culture. Though she did not teach it much in class; she did become my family’s friend.

    Now, in college I understand the importance in teaching cultural diversity. I have been able to understand others as well. Also, the importance of teaching other cultures values to today students is great inorder to help them grow in becoming a well rounded individual. An individual with an open mind about others-opinions, race and just accepting who that person is; as well as the students being able to accept him or her self.

    Claudia V.

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  36. Posted by Phuong Le on May 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    When I was in the 5th grade, during around the time of Tet (Lunar New Year), my teacher celebrated and acknowledged the holiday by choreographing a dance for her students which we then performed during a school assembly. She provided traditional Vietnamese dresses and matching ribbons for about six girls who danced while the rest of the class stood in the back waved red envelopes and paper dragons. Vietnamese-inspired instrumental music was played while the girls whipped their ribbons in circular loops while the rest of the class showed off their red envelopes and dragons.

    I thought that my teacher addressed and represented Vietnamese culture appropriately to the class and in front of the school. And she used VAKT technique to do it. Rather than just lecturing, we were able to put together a presentation (performance) with music and visuals and even costumes. My classmates were also able to see some traditional Vietnamese clothing and hear traditional music. I liked how my teacher used non-lecturing techniques while still being able to respectfully portraying Vietnamese culture in my opinion. I cannot speak, or remember, if this had any effect on my classmates or if they learned anything from it but I did. When I was younger, I grew p absorbing American culture instead of learning my parents. As a result, when it was the New Year, the only thing I knew was that I got money in red envelopes. So basically, I was almost on the same level with my other classmates when it came to knowing about Vietnamese culture. However, with the activity and lesson plan that my teacher put together, I was able to fully do things relating to my culture that I hadn’t done. It was the first time I wore on a traditional Vietnamese dress and dance to a Vietnamese song. Therefore, I believe the cultural activity was effective because it was able to give students more perspectives about a different and be more open-minded of it because they were able to experience a part of that culture.

    Phuong L.

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  37. Posted by Nancy Aguirre on May 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    I don’t remember ever really having to speak to the class about my culture. The only time we would discuss culture was when holidays presented and opportunity for a lecture or a lesson. For example, the first week of May the teacher would discuss Cinco the Mayo, a day that has a great significance to the people of Mexico because it was the first battle they won the French. On this day, students would volunteer to bring food that was from a Mexican origin. Students brought many different dishes like enchiladas, arroz, frijoles, quesadillas, tacos and the teacher brought us nachos, which I’m not sure has a Mexican origin but they were great to have either way. For Chinese New Year, we learn about their calendar and their traditions. I remember being a little jealous that my Chinese friends had a holiday where they received money from their love ones. It was neat to learn that everyone has a distinct way they celebrate important days from their culture and origin.
    I think having an opportunity for students to discuss their culture could be extremely beneficial to them. They would be less prone to prejudice and racial discrimination because they would discover that everyone comes from different backgrounds and has some history to tell.

    Nancy A.

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  38. Posted by Alvaro L on May 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Being a Mexican American and growing up in a predominately Latino community, there was a strange intermixing in public schools when it came to learning about different cultures. For example, for many of my fellow peers and I, English came to be our second language. While I failed to recognize it then, our culture was commonly frowned upon in that we were punished every time we conversed in our native language (Spanish). I even recall how a couple of years ago my mother and I were going through some photo albums of when I was just starting kindergarten and first grade. In many of the pictures I was dressed up as a Vaquero, wearing cowboy boots, a sombrero and belt buckle. My mother recalled how I would always love wearing these things to school (before uniforms became mandatory) and my kindergarten teacher would send home notes with me telling my mother I needed to dress in a more “normal” attire. With many of the students like myself being second generation Mexican-Americans, our schools practiced the customs of Americanization. As I grew older, especially when I reached middle school, I witnessed how everybody was transforming their ways and I did everything I could to try to fit in, from changing my hairstyle to the popular “spiky” look to wearing the name brand clothing styles. With La Puente, which is where I have lived my entire life (excluding the four years I went to college in Santa Barbara), being about 94% Hispanic I felt as if the public school system did everything in their power to Americanize their students. Yet, as noted before there was a strange intermixing between excluding and including our Mexican-American culture. For example, in elementary school we always had a HUGE celebration of 5 de Mayo. Our teachers made us rehearse and perform the Macarena and various Folklorico dances in front of a huge audience (mainly our parents) while serving many of our custom foods. It is interesting to recognize how many of our customs and traditions (e.g. Dia de los Muertos) were celebrated to the maximum extent, yet at the same time our schools and teachers did everything in their power to Americanize their students so we can successfully integrate ourselves into our society. Ultimately my schools “served as an entry into the American society, exposing them (us) to the language and culture of their new country.” (Donna L. Wiseman, Becoming a Teacher in a Field-Based Setting, 134).
    I knew nothing about cultural diversity up until I left to college in Santa Barbara. I experienced a HUGE culture shock as I switched roles form being the majority to becoming the minority. As a history major I made sure to take as many courses dealing with the history of other cultures from my own. Learning about cultural diversity and befriending many people from many different backgrounds was a norm in our university, an experience I am really glad I experienced. For example, in a History of Immigration course one of the requirements was to interview a student from a different cultural background and write a 10 page paper about their family history coming into the United States.

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  39. Posted by Wendy A. on May 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I live in a Hispanic and African American community. However, growing up I usually went to schools in predominantly Caucasian communities (Westminster Elementary in Venice, Paul Revere MS in Brentwood and Palisades HS in Pacific Palisades). I have to admit, though, that these schools were always very diverse. We always had Black History Month assemblies, we always had something for Cinco de Mayo or Cesar Chavez Day, etc. I remember at least once in elementary, middle school and also high school that we had a potluck where you had to bring something from your country. There was even one class I had where we had to bring an object from your country. We would watch videos and would have to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and write diaries. Even in my second year of college, my English professor had us interview someone born out of the United States. I interviewed my grandmother who was born in Mexico and my friend who was born in Russia. Even little assignments like this bring so much diversity and culture into the classroom. Students, and especially teachers, need to know that everyone comes from different backgrounds and everyone has their own story to tell. It’s just a matter of bringing the culture into the classroom; that is when students will better understand the world around them. You’ll see that not everyone learns the same way or thinks the same way. You will see that the student sitting next to you in class may learn in a complete different way than you.

    I feel that my teachers and professors represented each culture very well. They would refer back to someone of that culture and ask if what he/she was saying was correct. However, one thing that I do remember that angered my classmates parents as well as my parents was getting letters in Spanish. Some teachers ask what language the student’s parents want the letter in, English or Spanish. Other teachers would assume that just because a student was hispanic that the parents didn’t know English. So, we would always get stuck with the Spanish ones. I’m sure my parents didn’t mind, but surprisingly there are some things that my parents don’t understand in Spanish so they’d rather read in English. This example wasn’t about teaching, but the little things do get to people and I feel that teachers have to be cautious of things like that as well.

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  40. Posted by Linda N. on May 16, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I was fortunite enough to experience learning about different cultures in my school. My school had cultural celebrations for the entire school. Cinco de Mayo was celebrated at our school and the students who were Mexican could (didn’t have to)write poems and recite them at the school celebrations. We could perform a dance. We could basically contribute in any way as long as it was approved by the school prior to the celebration. Parents were invited to participate too. It was an all day celebration with food, entertainment and contributions from the students and staff. During the week leading up to the celebration the teacher would have small lessons about the culture we were learning. We celebrated many different cultures throughout the school year. I loved learning about all the different cultures and I feel like mine was well received. I wasn’t ashamed of my culture, if anything, I was more proud of it. I think this was a great way to encourage students to be proud of their culture and also be open to learning about others culture. This was a great idea and the best part was the parents always looked forward to attending it every year.

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  41. Posted by Mario Carrillo on May 16, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I have always lived in predominantly latino residential areas. Although, I share some cultural similarities with many of my community members, the Spanish language is not one of them. Growing up in Los Angeles in the 60’s and 70’s, my parents’ home language was Spanish but in school, they were not allowed to speak Spanish at all. My parents feared Spanish would never be excepted in schools, so they decided not to teach their first language to their children. English as a Second Language classes were started when I began the first grade and began to understand how difficult it is for students to learn a second languge. I was placed in the ESL class because of my name and not my language ability. The class was taught in pure Spanish to which I had know experience or knowledge with. I was to scared to inform the teacher about my spanish deficiency, so the first week of the school year it seemed that the teacher was speaking gibberish to me. I looked forward to group work in order to catch on looking at how the other students did things. After the frist week the teacher noticed I only knew English and I was switched to an English only class. I look back now and have a real appreciation for students learning English as their second language and realize how easy it is to get lost when learning a new language. I realize the Spanish teacher thought all his students were Spanish, so he might not have thought about strategies to help second language learners.
    Watching the video and reading the article have given me a tool which to operate from. I know you can include cultural diversity in every subject not just social stufdies. Group work, pictoral representation, clear instruction, and extra time as the students in the video expalined all help SLL students acquire their second language.

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  42. Posted by Erinn Gaeta on May 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    I have a hard time understanding how ignorant people can be when it comes to education. I have learned in previous classes how many students in the past have been placed in ESL classes based only on their last name and not at all based on their language skills in English, Spanish or any other language. To me this is just another form of racial profiling.

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  43. Posted by Erinn Gaeta on May 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    In my own experience, I come from a family with several different ethnic backgrounds. My decedents come from many places including Spain, Mexico, Italy and Ireland. As a result, I have been raised speaking only English. My parents speak only English and I have one great grandmother who speaks Spanish. Growing up, and even now I feel I have missed out on a lot of culture. Judging by my skin tone, many people have assumed I speak Spanish. When this happens I often feel culturally inept. I very much wish i did speak a second language and knew more about my different ethnic backgrounds. I have never had any problem in school with other students on any ethnic background but on a very personal level, I never really felt like I fully fit in with any ethnic group. I had many Hispanic friends who all spoke Spanish and had wonderfully ethnic households. I also had many Caucasian friends whose households seemed much like mine, although I never felt that I physically fit in with them either. As an adult I try to learn about all of my ancestors backgrounds and have felt that I can fit in with many groups of people because I can relate to many different groups of people. This has helped me to enjoy all of my family’s different cultural backgrounds.

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  44. Posted by Ashley N. Marshman on May 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I was born and raised in a little town of Glendora. Well, to be honest its not very little but it feels pretty small compared to other cities around us. While i was growing up and attending school, i was not really exposed to other cultures. My town was primarily made up of white middle to upper class families. It was not culturally diverse in my schools. it was not until i was graduated high school and traveled europe that i realized how important it is to be around or learn about other cultures. it helped me to understand people and their beliefs about life. i truly believe that being exposed to different cultures and other peoples traditions help teach children to be more respectful and accepting of people from different backgrounds. it takes the whole meaning of “different” away and makes it more as what i think of as unique. This i believe is through language, traditions, dress, belief, ect. As a future teacher i hope to educate in a culturally diverse school not only to benefit our future youth and to further expose myself to new and interesting cultures of others.

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  45. Posted by C. Garcia on May 17, 2011 at 7:04 am

    I was born in Mexico and was raised in Southern California since the age of 4 yrs old. I have spend most of my elementary and secondary school in two cities: Baldwin Park and El Monte. The neighborhood I grew up were predominantly Hispanic and the second biggest ethnic group were Asians (mostly Chinese or Vietnamese). The interesting thing is that I have always been surrounded my diversity and I have enjoyed it since kindergarten. I love food and enjoy eating different ethnic food from Italian to Thai Food. I have traveled a couple of states around the U.S. and have to say that L.A. region and New York are the most diverse places I have been. Just living in SoCal can expose you to so many cultures around the world that it feel like you come into contact with almost every part of the World. In my experience, schools didn’t really embrace diversity, even though they usually mentioned it somewhere in their school’s mission statement or school philosophy. The reality was that there was more exclusion of cultures than inclusion. If my schools embrace diversity it was usually half-hearted. Language was a very controversial thing in my schools. Most of my peers spoke another language (Spanish/Cantonese) but the school didn’t capitalize on these second language. Now that I’m older I realize that it would of been academically beneficial for my schools to initiate foreign language classes as early as elementary and many of us would of probably graduated from high school literate in more than one language. Most of my peers went into school knowing two languages (Spanish/English) and come out knowing only English….

    C.Garcia

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  46. Posted by Melinda S. on February 24, 2012 at 6:48 am

    I grew up in a fairly diverse community in terms of socio-economic status, culture, and religion. I don’t ever remember any teacher distinctly teaching us about any of this diversity in-depthly with the exception of Social Studies teachers, which is maybe what inspired me to be a History major in college and become a Social Studies teacher myself. There is a good chance that these discussions had to have come up at some point throughout my K-12 career; however, if I don’t really remember it, obviously they didn’t have a significant impact on me.

    When I did my student teaching at Irvine High School, which has an extremely culturally and ethnically diverse population, I remember the overall atmosphere of the school to be embracing of diversity. The campus had a Diversity Club that hosted a Culture Day. Most of the other clubs on campus hosted food booths and others performed traditional dances in traditional costumes. It was a lot of fun and something that all students were able to participate and engage in. It’s purpose was not to provide a thorough understanding of each culture, but rather to give a brief representation, spark interest, and of course have fun.

    Although I think Diversity Clubs and Culture Days are a great idea and wonderful learning opportunity for students, I realize that there are more “practical” everyday opportunities to integrate teaching cultural diversity in the classroom. As a Resource Specialist, I currently spend a large portion of my work day in small reading groups with students. I have realized that the curriculum adopted by our district actually lends itself to the potential of great diversity learning opportunities. Our Elementary School uses Houghton Mifflin curriculum and I can think of several stories in the anthologies for grades 2 and 3 (I’m sure there are also great stories for the upper-grade students as well but I am not as familiar with them) that lend themselves nicely to lessons in cultural diversity and are great discussion starters in which students could reflect upon their own backgrounds and share them with their peers. For example, there is a story in the 2nd grade anthology called Jalapeno Bagels. Its a cute story about a little boy who’s mom is Hispanic and his dad is Jewish. The boy has to bring a food dish to share with his class for International Day. In the end, the boy decides to bring Jalapeno Bagels to share with his class because it represents a little of his mom and dad, just like him. This particular story contains both Spanish and Yiddish vocabulary and touches on traditions and recipes from both cultures. If well planned and taught and if a cultural climate of acceptance and openness already exists, this story has great potential to inspire students to reflect upon their own families, backgrounds, the languages they speak in their homes, and the traditions that they celebrate and share them with their peers. Similarly, the third grade text contains a story about a little girl Russia, a little girl who’s family is from Ghana, and a little Mexican-American boy who competes in rodeos in Arizona. Like Jalapeno Bagels, all of those stories contain vocabulary in other languages and touch on the family, cultural, and religious traditions of each child. By no means am I arguing that reading these stories in themselves would serve as a sufficient lesson in diversity. However, I have witnessed the power of a skillful teacher being able to use stories such as these to open up much larger and meaningful discussions that apply to the lives of the students.

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  47. Posted by Jennifer Cole on February 25, 2012 at 2:31 am

    I do not remember learning about different cultures outside of history classes during elementary school. I do not even remember having students from other countries or with a language barrier in any of my classes. I am Caucasian and have always just followed my culture because most of my teachers were Caucasian. I remember doing country reports which gave insight to different cultures, and we got to bring in food that is eaten in our country. Besides history class, I never learned too much about other cultures. My dad is from England, but that never made me feel like I was part of a different cultural background.
    I know that today, teachers need to be very prepared to teach in a diverse setting, especially in California. I have been observing a 5th grade class at an elementary school, and I found it very interesting to see the teacher speak to her students in both Spanish and English. She has two students how have only been in the country for 2 years; one is from Columbia and the other Mexico. They speak broken English, and she explains things in Spanish to them if they are having trouble. I know that it is hard to find bilingual teachers, but I think this is very motivating for these students because they have help and the teacher does not leave them to learn on their own. The teacher will also go over vocabulary words in English and Spanish for the whole class so that they all are learning both languages. I think this makes those students who have a hard time in school due to a language barrier feel much more comfortable and accepting of their culture.
    I know that some teachers try and celebrate different holidays according to the different cultures of their students. During Christmas, this can be difficult for students who do not celebrate that certain holiday, or celebrate it in a different way. I think it is important for teachers to acknowledge all of their student’s special days and try to allow them to share what they do with their families. I think this also helps students to respect each other’s differences and learn from each other.

    Jennifer C

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  48. Posted by John Withey on February 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Attending the third most diverse university in the U.S. on a per capita basis, I was fortunate to be exposed to the importance of inclusion and diversity inside and outside of my classes. At this small liberal arts university, I had friends open my eyes to societies for instance, that viewed women as subservient to men, societies whom publicly celebrate age over youth, incredible tasting food and past times of different cultures, and how policy can be different.

    I remember giving a presentation on my culture in an international studies across cultures class. I vaguely remember the discussion, but remember that the professor linked it to how it defines our ongoing story. I wish it was applied better to how culture is useful to learn maybe even in a business context, and that it was defined in more specific terms as I think that it is a general ‘umbrella-like term.” I remember feeling included, but not really excited.

    John W.

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  49. Posted by Kellie Hall on February 28, 2012 at 2:09 am

    I am a native of Southern California, so my culture was nothing new or special in the classroom. All of the schools I have attended have all been very diverse. I was exposed to many different cultures on a daily bases. I don’t however, really remember many of the cultural activities that we did. What I do remember is doing California Mission projects but it never really represented who I was or inspired me. I can remember in junior high having to do research on history of my grandparent’s and where they came from, which I found very interesting. This gave me some insight of what kind of culture my family experienced before me. In one of my classes I was in charge of Yugoslavia because my dad is half Yugoslavian. Even through I don’t feel that it is very much apart of my culture as it is to my father, it was still fun and interesting to know that in a small way I am apart of that. I was able to learn quite a bit of what my grandmother would have experienced living there. This was fun and inspiring to me. In high school we would have cultural fairs where each club would be in charge of a certain country and they would have to decorate their booth accordingly and make food that represented that country.
    One thing that I do now with some of my clients at work, who are adults with developmental disabilities, is to incorporate their cultures into activities like arts and crafts, or when we listen to music. Its important for the staff to acknowledge that we are all different and to help bring that feeling of their past and home culture back into their lives. I believe that in a classroom that it engages the student so much more when you make an effort to learn about where they came from. You cant stop there, you need to allow your students to understand where each other came from and be able to have discussions about it. Not only will students feel more accepted and comfortable in the classroom, you are exposing them to ideas and thought that they may have never known or learned about. I could do cultural fairs and have students look into their family history to learn where they came from.

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  50. Posted by Ariana Villavicencio on February 28, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I grew up in Mexico and attended elementary school in Mexico. I came to California when I was 12 years old and started seventh grade. During my first year I was placed in ESL classes with students that had a common background like me. At the beginning it was very challenging to learn the language, and at the same time to learn the content of different subjects. During my first year our teacher had us bring different kinds of food to share with our classmates. We were like a family. The first year in middle school made me feel like I was at home because I as able to speak Spanish with my classmates. On the other hand, when I was in high school I was placed in regular English classes. Being in regular English classes I did not have any teacher that had us share our culture, except for my 11th grade English Teacher.
    My eleventh grade English teacher had us make a project in her class where we had to write an essay about our culture or anything that represented us. She told us it could be from music or anything we wanted to share with our class. This was the opportunity for each one of us to show what we really enjoyed.
    I think that this project was very important because it made students in my class feel that we were sharing something that was of importance to us. Our teacher was very interested in every presentation and we all enjoyed doing this project in class.
    As a teacher I will encourage students to do an activity where they can share their cultural background or their interests. I think that by doing this students will feel happy that they can share what they like with everyone in the classroom and at the same time as a teacher I will learn from every student in the classroom. This will also be a way to know each other and to respect different cultures and interests.

    Ariana V.

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  51. Posted by MInda Mireles on February 29, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I don’t remember being introduced to other cultures often in my k-12 education. It happened occasionally, but I don’t recall any specific examples. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood that was predominately Caucasian. I am Hispanic, my parents were immigrants, and my family was poor. I loved school and everyone was nice, but there were times when I felt like I didn’t fit in. I feel education has changed a lot since then. My son is currently in preschool. In his class they attempt to incorporate different cultures in several different ways. They sing songs that introduce other languages, read books that introduce different cultures and traditions, and celebrate not only the typical holidays (such as Christmas and Easter) but also others like Cinco de Mayo, and Chinese New Year. I think it is great. Exposing kids to other cultures and traditions not only makes them more empathetic and tolerant of others, but it also helps them feel like they are part of the class. It makes kids from other cultures feel a part of the group too.

    Minda M.

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  52. Posted by Michelle Acosta on March 1, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Growing up I switched schools quite a bit. In most of my experiences, I do not recall learning about other cultures. I feel it is very important to learn about other cultures because we live in such a diverse population. As a future teacher, I feel it is extremely important to not only familiarize myself with other cultures but also, introduce various cultures to my students. Teaching children about many other cultures teaches them to be understanding and respectful of cultures that are different than their own. I feel that it is very important to provide a very culturally rich environment for all students because it helps them feel comfortable and teaches them to be proud of their culture. I can recall when I was young, certain instances in school where I felt out of place because I had a different cultural background then most of my classmates. I attended an elementary school that was primarily White students and because I am Mexican, I felt that I could not fit in with my peers. This made me feel different and often uncomfortable because all I wanted to do was fit in. On a more positive note, I attended a different elementary school later on the following year that was very culturally diverse and at this school we were often introduced to many other cultures. I can recall having some of the students bring in various foods from their culture and also having their parents come to the school and speak about their culture to our class. This was a very positive experience for me because for the first time I felt comfortable in the classroom and I felt that it was ok to be different. Other than this particular school, I most of the other schools I attended never really offered any methods to introduce cultures to students. Reflecting back on this positive childhood experience, I feel that it is so very helpful for students to feel comfortable knowing that their culture is equally embraced by a classroom of their peers as well as their teacher. When teachers are familiar and knowledgeable of other cultures, they can teach it to their students. Providing a culturally relevant teaching style helps students learn because their teacher is able to link concepts to the students background and prior knowledge. This is a very good teaching strategy for teachers to use. The fact is we are all different, and the differences we have should not only be accepted but also embraced. Children need to learn at a young age that every culture should be viewed as beautiful, and as a future teacher, I feel it is our job to instill this positive attitude into our students.
    -Michelle A.

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  53. Posted by Claudia D. on March 1, 2012 at 7:01 am

    I don’t recall anything about my teacher honoring my cultural throughout my school year. I do remember celebrating 5 de Mayo at my school, since it was a predominant Mexican students. My teacher made the whole class participate in a play for the whole school. The name was “La Batalla de Puebla” I had to do it because it was part of my grade. I think that this teacher should have asked the parents or the student who wanted to participate or not. I do not have anything against Mexican, I thing in fact that I know more about Mexico cultural than my own culture. What I did hated that every year the whole school celebrated 5 de Mayo and that teacher should have at least had some other culture beside Mexican cultural. I think that a teacher should be aware that not every students are Mexican and that they should try something new. I think that a teacher should be opened minded about other student culture.

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  54. Posted by Claudia D. on March 1, 2012 at 7:06 am

    this post was provide by Claudia D.

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  55. Posted by Jon Ross Alexander on March 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    As an African American student, there wasn’t a lot of emphasis put towards my cultural background growing up. I started my early education in the Los Angeles Unified School District, at schools where our population was practically split down the middle between blacks and hispanics. There was never a time where I remember my teachers asking us to bring in a traditional african or southern dish or anything other big activity as a means of celebration as opposed to something such as a Cinco De Mayo and even once in a while Chinese New Year . This was made even more apparent when I moved to the high desert and my high school’s black population plummeted from 50% to 11%. There was little to no mention of my culture or it’s traditions. It never bothered me as I did a lot of self teaching about my history and where I come from.

    Jon Ross A.

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  56. Posted by David P. GED 500 on March 1, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    I remember in my elementary school we had a lot of diversity. The diversity was not only in the classroom but it was taught and recognized throughout the school. In the years from k-2 I remember having 3-5 students in each class where they or their parents were born in another country. I remember having students from Mexico, Korea, Japan, South Africa, Nigeria, and Argentina. For a while I really didn’t feel that it was that different or weird because it was early in my school years and I probably just assumed that’s how it was. But even throughout k-6 I always remembered having some students in my classes that were not from this country. It didnt seem like a big deal and was kinda cool. They students werent put on display like some cool new toy but we were taught that they were one of the class and that was that. What I really enjoyed was that once a year my school would have something called International Day. This day each classroom would represent a particular country. The whole class would be decorated and there was a representative of that country, usually a parent. During this day the students would go to different classes and sit through some presentations and learn a little bit about the country, eat some traditional food and maybe participate in an activity. We all had our own “passport” that would get stamped that showed which country we went to. This was a really fun activity and really showed how diverse the world and our school was.

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  57. Posted by Toral on February 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Growing up I never realized that the school I went to was diverse or that our teachers tried to introduce us to diffrent cultures. And I would like to think that is a good thing, becuase now i realize that some of my teachers integraded learning about other cultures so well that it was just a natural part of our lessons. The area I grew up in steadily became more and more diverse as I got older, unfortunately I moved away before I could see a majority of it. When I was little I was the only Indian in my school and I always felt a little left out. While we did learn about other cultures, mine was not really included and while it didn’t hinder my learning I always felt left out and diffrent. In fact there were a lot of time I wish I was white, so I would be like the other kids. In terms of learning I had a lot of support from my parents, who always stressed the importance of education so cultural learning didn’t have a big impact on my academics.

    During one lesson that we had in 3rd grade, we would read books about diffrent cultures and our teacher would bring in some food from that cultures. The focus of the lesson was reading but we got to imerese our selves in other cultures. Later on in 7th grade our social studies objective was to explore other cultures and periods. We had lessons on Midevil Europe and the Middle East. Our teacher had us participate in activites such as caligraphy, kneeling for 20 min, vows of silence, writing arabic, trying some Middle Eastern food, read books about the place, etc. What was really intresting was that during the Middle Eastern section we had students from Egypt come to the class (by coincidence). We also had a country project in middle school in which we wrote and essay on a country of our choice, but it wasn’t very intresting and could have been a really good assignment like our state project. For our state project the 5th grade class was split up into groups and each group represented a state. We did a report but also built a float and a display. For a day we all got togeather and had a States Fair, It would have been cool to do something similar for different counties.

    Toral S.

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  58. Posted by Nicole Stutzman on February 25, 2013 at 3:04 am

    In elementary school I don’t really remember being introduced to different cultures during class instruction (other than pilgrims and indians during 3rd grade social studies), although the school I attended was probably 50% caucasian and 50% hispanic. I remember learning a song at some time in elementary school that went like this “I’m a world citizen, step up and shake my hand, I’m not just from Wisconsin, I’m not just American. I’m a world citizen, home the whole world round, you and I can break those borders down.” It must have really stuck with me because I still remember it after so many years.

    Although I would consider myself an open-minded child, I wasn’t exposed much to other cultures (I am caucasian). I think that I was really aware of the hispanic culture, but it wasn’t until junior high and high school that I began to learn more about different cultures both in class and because of the diversity of my schools. In junior high I remember learning about the Japanese internment camps during World War II while reading “Farewell to Manzanar.” This is when I became more aware of the prejudices and maltreatment many immigrants (or even American citizens) had to face. Other than from the curriculum, I don’t remember my teachers going out of their way to teach about the cultures of the students in my classrooms. As a teacher in southern California, I think it is very important that cultural diversity is shared in the classroom so that all groups feel included and welcomed. The classroom needs to be a safe place so that all students can be involved and have the best opportunity to thrive. This also means as a teacher I must be aware that I may have to tailor my lessons so that English learners have access to quality education as well.

    Nicole S.

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  59. Posted by Juan N. on February 26, 2013 at 9:20 am

    When I was in junior high, one of my favorite classes was language arts. I remembered that we did a lot of work in this class and no one complained. As a matter of fact, we (the students) enjoyed doing the work and we were always engaged. The teacher of the class incorporated activities that were really fun and facilitated learning. For instance, one time we created a CD about the novel “Roll of Thunder: Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor. For this assignment, we chose one of the characters from the novel and we created a music album as if we were this character. We wrote the lyrics to songs, designed the illustrations of the cover and most importantly, our work reflected the knowledge of the content depicted in the novel and the ability to infer the thoughts and emotions of the characters from the novel. The teacher pushed us to think critically and encouraged us to question the text to get a better understanding of the character interaction. Most importantly, the teacher held high expectations of everyone in class and assured that every student rose to these standards by providing additional support during class and after school. The teacher’s commitment to the students was clear and we did not want to let her down.

    Another aspect that I enjoyed about this class was the readings. After we finished a novel, we would move on to other equally engaging novels. Nonetheless, the importance of these novels was the inclusion of various cultural groups and illustrated the lives of other children and their struggles in other parts of the world. For instance, the novel already mentioned above depicted the lives of an African American family during the Great Depression in the state of Mississippi. Another text that we covered in class was “The Clay Marble” by Minfong Ho. The novel by Ho follows the life of Dara and her friend Jantu in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge wars. The protagonist is separated from her family and her goal throughout the novel is to find them. Last, another memorable text from that class was “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya.

    All of the texts covered in this class presented the coming of age of various protagonists, their struggles and their resilience as they continue to navigate through the hardships of life. Once again, what was important about these texts is that the teacher introduced us to other cultures and history, all while she made learning fun and interactive. Although the class was made up of mainly Latinos, that did not stop us from connecting to the protagonists and their cultural background. This cultural inclusion highlighted the commonalities of humans regardless of ethnic backgrounds and presented themes that we were all able to connect with. In addition, the teacher incorporated the inclusion of diverse learners in the class through the numerous activities that accommodated various learning styles. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, at the end of every unit, we were responsible to present the acquired knowledge in the form of innovative projects, which tailored our learning needs.

    Juan N.

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  60. Posted by Hanan on February 26, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    I spent all my school years and my collage education in my country Egypt, so I didn’t pass through the experience of being learning in diversity group. However, I have passed this experience when I came to the USA and start to take ESL “English as a second language” classes. I have met students from different countries and different back grounds and in the classroom I notice how the teachers are prepared to teach and deal with all students from different cultures.I spent two years in the ESL classes, during this period I have learned a lot of things from my ESL teachers and also from other students.
    First, my instructors in the ESL program cleverly use materials that related to foreign cultures so that it could relate to students and encourage them to know more about each other.
    Second, my instructors mentioned the positive points in each culture and give the student s chance to talk about their countries and the cultures they belong to.
    Third, the instructors put the students in different groups to discuss different topics so they can share and exchange knowledge and information about each other cultures.
    During my study at ESL program,my English language has improved, I have known more about many learning strategies to deal with culture diversity in class room. Also, I have learned a lot about other cultures and I have gained new friendship from all over the world.

    Hanan Z

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  61. Posted by Chris R on February 27, 2013 at 6:23 am

    My first experience with diverse learners was when I started student teaching during my teacher education program. Even though the English class curriculum focused on American novels like The Grapes of Wrath and Steinbeck’s The Pearl I included Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street to appeal to the Latino students.

    Though it is important to read great novels that are well written and explore complex themes including content that ties in with the cultural background of the students is also important. It helps the students relate to the contents of the class and also provides an opportunity to share cultural affliations with the assigned reading. Since some of the students have trouble with English, assigning material that the students have some familiarity with is very helpful. The students can relate to the characters in a novel that shares the same cultural background as they do. It gives students an opportunity to share personal experiences that are similar to events in the novel. Including material that ties to the students cultural background is a positive acknowledgment of the value of their heritage and builds goodwill between the students and the teacher.

    Chris R

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  62. Posted by Diana on February 27, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I remember in fourth grade, most of my classmates were Catholics, regarding Hispanic, Vietnamese, or African American backgrounds. However, it was this girl whose name was Angelina; she was coming from a Hispanic family in which Catholic religion was not practiced. This was a significant difference for the group, especially during celebrations such as Halloween and Christmas. Angelina used to say that Halloween was a celebration for demons; and therefore, she was not allowed to celebrate it or get involved into activities related to it; she used to miss school every year in Halloween, and her excused was just that “It was Halloween!” In the classroom, I remember that Angelina was as any other girl, the teacher never did any distinction, and when Angelina was there on the week before Halloween, she used to ask her to pass out materials, or do some other academic activities instead of do whatever we were working on.

    On the other hand, the information presented in the video about “Culturally Diverse Learners”, was not relevant for me because I have migrated to this country as them. In addition, I have seen how many students like the kids in the video come to this country having great aspirations about learning and becoming “someone” in life. I consider that the students presented in the video showed honest impressions that are generally shared by “immigrant” students; they expressed the necessity for being understood without feeling shame for them; as many of them said, “I am learning, I only need time to understand and become better…”

    Diana Z.

    Reply

  63. Posted by Jennifer U. on February 28, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    I grew up in a predominantly caucasion area and went to a school with very few, if any, non caucasion children. Although I was not exposed to different cultures at my school or in my neighborhood, my mother taught at a predominatly hispanic school. When I would go to her school I was amazed when the children would talk in Spanish and then be able to respond to me in English. My mothers school had celebrations on Cinco De Mayo and I had no idea what the holiday was. One year I got to go to the Cinco De Mayo celebration which was very interesting to me as a young child. They had women dancing in their native attire, hispanic music playing, mariachi band, and mexican cuisine. This was a very fun day for me as my school had never done any such thing. As I grow older and watch my kids go through school I am noticing a great difference in the things they are learning about other cultures. My son is 14 and my daughter is 7. I even notice a difference in what my son has learned of other cultures and what my daughter is learning. At christmas time my daughter brought home, Hanukah, Kwanza, and Christmas assignments. We did not choose which assignments to do we participated in learning about all three cultural holidays. A boy from China has recently entered into my daughters class and he speaks only a few words of English. I am amazed each week when I help in the class to see how quickly he is learning the English language. I believe that kids in todays classrooms are learning much more about other cultures than I had the oppurtunity to learn about. Although I believe that children should learn about other cultures, I do not believe that the holidays that we celebrate in our country should not be celebrated at the risk of offending another culture. As a kid growing up Halloween was the best day of the year, now, many schools have banned this holiday all together. Christmas break was called Christmas break not Winter Recess. Easter Vacation was not called Spring Break and we actually had the week of Easter off. Now it is Spring Break and sometimes 2 weeks before the actual holiday. I do believe that we should learn about and include all cultures, but, not at the risk of eliminating the holidays celebrated in our own country. Not everyone has to participate in the cultural holidays that we celebrate in The United States but, they should not be eliminated from public education. Learning about cultures is exciting and interesting for children, and adults if you never had the oppurtunity to learn of them. I have witnessed the incorporation of different cultures within our schools as I watch my kids go to the same schools that I went to as a child. They know more about other cultures than I ever did and now I am learning of the differnt cultures right along with them.

    Reply

  64. Posted by Megan Ashdown on February 28, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Growing up, I remember being introduced to other cultures because of a multi-cultural event my school offered every year. Every class would learn a dance from a different country and some of the parents would make food from these countries. We also did activities that related to the country and decorated our classroom. We would travel to different classrooms and learn about the different cultures. We were each given a fake passport that was stamped at each classroom to show where we visited. In eighth grade my class was assigned a family heritage report where we were required to find out about our family history. The assignment required us to fill out a family tree and to color a map of the world of where our ancestors had come from before coming to the United States. This was a requirement for our Social Studies class. We did not have to give a presentation about our family and I don’t remember discussing our unique backgrounds as a class. This project required me to talk to family members and ask them questions I probably would have never asked. By doing this project, I found out that my grandmother had contracted polio as a child and I learned about the struggles she faced in recovery. I felt this assignment gave me a better appreciation and understanding of my family. We also made a collage of our family. I can’t really remember a time when I felt like the teacher embarrassed me because of my culture. I think the only issue I have had with teachers is making generalizations. As a teacher, I will be sensitive of cultural groups and I will invest in my students respect and tolerance of others. I will encourage my students to be open-minded and curious about traditions that are different than their own.

    Megan A.

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  65. Posted by Edward L on March 1, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I grew up in Southern California and have developed friendships with people of various backgrounds. My K-12 years I went to schools that were predominately Hispanic. If I remember correctly my high school was more than 80 percent Hispanic. Naturally, my friendships included Hispanic people, but they were diverse themselves. My Hispanic friends included immigrants from Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and had a black Jamaican-American friend, all long with Hispanic 1st and 2nd generation Americans. Seeing how different everyone was amongst my friends I never felt out of place, I felt as unique as a saw everyone amongst me as unique. To a passerby, they might only notice one white person, me, and a few “brown” people, but to me, I saw one Costa Rican, one Mexican, one Hispanic American, etc.

    The other part of having a diverse group of friends that I enjoyed was that we never were shy to talk about our differences. We all realized that we were all different and we enjoyed that about each other. We were never shy to ask each other question. There was no shame in being a “border baby” or that someone’s Grandmother had to flea El Salvador, essential as a refugee.

    I was very lucky to not have race as a stigmatizing factor in my childhood. I let me appreciate the diverse culture of the world

    Edward L.

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  66. I remember being introduced to other cultures throughout all of my middle school program. I went to a GATE Magnet school that had a diverse population. In sixth grade every week was a different culture. One week was Greek Week and everyone had to make their own Tunic. Another week was ancient China and we had noodles at the end of the week. We eventually went through a series of cultures throughout the school year and when someone could relate to the culture during the week they were welcomed to bring something that was relevant from their culture (food, artifacts, traditions, etc).

    Throughout middle school there were many assignments where we needed to ask parents about their siblings and family and make a family tree. I also remember having to discuss our holidays and traditions with fellow classmates.

    My teachers were great at honoring the cultures they were teaching (or learning) and accurately represented each one. I for one and I’m sure others were a little bit embarrassed at the fact that they heard something that was a little shocking about their culture but it was educational none the less. I believe that being truly interested in the culture and exaggerating the culture could be beneficial to the students watching. As a future teacher, I believe that I would incorporate acting out the culture and also giving the students opportunities to discuss what goes on in their daily lives.

    James R.

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  67. Posted by monica becerra on March 1, 2013 at 7:33 am

    I was born in Mexico and came to the United States at the age of 10. When I started school the year was ending. I came to the end of third grade. It was very hard from me, but my mom told me that I had to be strong and keep on going. I do not remember the many thing about my days in elementary. But the only thing that I remember was that when I enter 4th grade I still did not spoke the English language very well and I had to present myself and my culture for my class. I started good but some of the words that I was saying were not sounding good. My pronunciation was the problem and one of my classmate started making fun of me and I got nervous and started cried. My teacher was mad with my classmate because he had being discourteous with me. Then, I was so embarrassed and I could not finish my presentation. After this day I was embarrassed to speak English and I was only speaking my native tough which was Spanish. I believe that because of this experience I have not being able to speak English perfect and also my writing is not great.
    My teacher saw that this experience was miserable for me, and that I was not trying to speak English. She decided it to help out with this problem and ask me if I wanted to stay after school for a couple of hours and learn English with her. I did not wanted to accept her help, but when I remember what my classmate did to me I decided stay with her after school I did not wanted to pass for this same situation once again. For this experience what we could get out is that teachers should have a conversation with all students about English learner students, and tell them not to make fun of them when they are speaking instead to help them pronounce the word for them so that they could get to heard the correct way and they could learned it. When I become a teacher I plan to have this type of conversation with my students since the first week of school. By doing this I will not let any student to have the same miserable experience as me. I thank my 4th grade teacher for all her help and time she put for me, and thanks to that I am graduating from college.

    Monica B.

    Reply

    • Posted by Anne Franck on March 4, 2013 at 11:39 pm

      I had an experience similar to Monica’s in the 4th grade. Shamefully, I was on the other side of the situation – making fun of a student who was learning to speak English. I was born in Montana, and had started school there. Montana is not diverse. It is almost 90% Caucasian, and the largest minority is Native American, and two thirds of Native Americans in Montana live on reservations. When we moved to Berkeley, CA it was a big change. The schools in Berkeley were quite diverse, with students of all races and many English language learners. I recall that it was a very big deal to my family that my brother’s two new best friends were Indian and Korean. It was in this environment that I entered the fourth grade. My seatmate was a Chinese boy, who had very recently immigrated to the US. I recall him being very friendly and making a concerted effort to learn English. My friends and I used to try to get him to say funny things. We equated his not having mastered the language with his being unintelligent. I cringe now at the thought of it. It is one of my greatest regrets from childhood.

      This is not the way I want my children to treat their classmates, and the shame I feel at this incident informs what I teach my children. Whenever my children make a comment about a classmate not being able to speak English very well, I ask “How well do you speak Spanish?” “They speak English much better than you speak Chinese.” “Don’t you wish you could speak another language?” “It must be very hard to speak more than one language.” Perhaps my guilt causes me to go a little overboard with my lesson, but I want my children to be not only respectful but in awe of their classmates who in addition to learning everything else in school are learning it in a new language.

      As a teacher, I hope that I can create an environment in my classroom, where English language learners are esteemed as the brightest students in the class are. I want them to feel proud of their cultural heritage and language, and to be championed for learning a new language. In addition, I want the other students to have empathy for what it would be like to go to school that was taught in a new language.

      Anne F.

      Reply

  68. Posted by Chris R on March 3, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Just by reading through the postings on this discussion board I have been exposed to a rich variety of diverse learner experiences. I agree with Jennifer that a country’s holidays should continue to be observed and not ignored or modified because of fear that it might offend someone. Clearly, if you have students from other countries, doing something for Cinco de Mayo or Chinese New Year helps kids learn about other cultural traditions. Several of the entries make the point that exposure and learning about other student’s backgrounds helps make you more understanding and accepting of other students. This helps when you travel.

    Another important point that is made in several entries is to be courteous when a fellow student is having trouble pronouncing words. You need to put yourself in that person’s position and imagine you are a student in China learning Mandarin for the first time. Students and teachers should regard each other as valuable resources to tap to learn about another person’s culture and language.

    Chris R

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  69. Posted by Robin B. on March 15, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Growing up I never truly identified with another culture. I knew I was half Mexican, thanks to my mother, but I looked White, thanks to my father. The other kids were always astonished when I brought up my half- Mexican heritage, claiming “No way! You’re so white!” Sure, I would’ve loved to throw out some Spanish and prove to them that I wasn’t just another white girl, but I had no substantial Spanish in my vocabulary until high school (and that was only 3 years of Spanish classes, none of which I remember now). I cannot recall a classroom in elementary school where we really focused on tying together our culturally diverse classroom. Frankly, I’m sort of upset by that. With the education I’m receiving currently, I want my own classroom to be respectful of other cultures and to celebrate them all. Having students be culturally aware of their peers and the rest of the world will only help them in the long run. It will also help them by preventing them from becoming ignorant, at least that’s my hope.

    I want students to enjoy the different aspects of other cultures and find commonalities. This will really help them in their endeavors to be better students and people overall. I want to inspire my students to embrace one another in their differences.

    Robin B.

    Reply

    • Posted by Rebecca P. Suarez on February 27, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      Robin B. it is very interesting to me that like you there are so many students here in Southern California that they have problems identifying themselves to one culture only, since many kids are mixed or have grown up with a caregiver that is other race. In my case I was born and raced in Ecuador and moved to the U.S. when I was 13, however, as soon as I came to the U.S. I felt that part of my culture was shut down and that I had to learn not only the American culture but the Mexican culture as well because that was the ethnicity that I identified the most with in this country. Today I feel like I am a third Ecuadorian, a third American and a third Mexican, all three cultures have helped me be and have all this culture appreciation and I find it fascinating learning about other cultures and the experiences that other have had with other cultures.

      Rebecca S.

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  70. Posted by Jessica Clark on February 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    Culture is constantly a topic in the classroom, especially during the beginning of the school year when everyone is learning about each other. Many teachers find it extremely important to learn and understand others’ cultures. This is great because it helps bring everyone together.

    All of my teachers honored my culture as well as everyone else’s by allowing us to speak about it through a lesson they had planned. Usually, these lessons consisted of telling the class something they may not know about the culture. Some form of artwork was always included too, which was fun since it gave the class a visual. Since these teachers had the student present information about their own culture to the class, it was accurately represented. There was never any embarrassment, neither was I uninspired by how the lesson was delivered. This is because the teachers were always very considerate and loved learning about the different cultures they came across with each student.

    Through these experiences, I was able to offer my teacher-classmates knowledge about a culture they may not have known about before. This was a great learning opportunity for them. These experiences were always great because it brought many students closer to one another, which can be very difficult at any level. As a teacher, I would approach the topic of culture with care and consideration. I would let my students know how important it is to not only know about others’ cultures, but understand them as well. Communication is key and I would definitely have my students speak openly about their cultures within my class as an open class discussion. I would also like to make a small group project out of it. In this project, I would like to group students (all with different cultures) to work together to create one presentation board filled with art and facts about each of their cultures. This would allow them to learn with each other and about each other.

    -Jessica C.

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  71. Posted by Liska Wolny on February 27, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I attended a private elementary school growing up. We had a variety of different teacher and student ethnic backgrounds, however we never talked about cultural differences as a class. Each Friday was show-and-tell, and many students brought things from home that had a cultural value to them, and they shared that with us. I am an American, and at least the last four generations on both sides of my family were born in America.
    Once I reached high school we spent a lot of time talking about diverse cultures in all my English, Spanish, art, and history classes. In English we read novels or poems and other writings from different cultures and had in dept discussions about them. In one of my history classes we had to interview family members and do an ancestry assignment so that we knew who we were and where we came from. We shared our findings with the other students in our class via PowerPoint presentation. We also did a similar assignment in my Spanish classes, and we studied different Spanish based countries and cultures, each with variations of a Spanish dialect. I took an Art History course, that spent half of the time talking about the culture the art and artists were from, so that we could understand their identity and why they paint or draw or sculpt the way they do.
    I cannot remember a time I was embarrassed or uninspired by a lesson that was presented about my culture. I view myself as an American – not German, Danish, and Polish like my ethnic background reflects. I am embarrassed by things that some of these nations have done, but have never been uninspired by the lesson presented. I aim to change how my future will be, and not to commit any of the same mistakes these countries made in the past. I view each lesson as a lesson, not a reflection of myself, and I enjoy learning. My culture is American, and in American schools, there is not much teachers will say that would embarrass me or be incorrect, because they are also Americans.
    In my classroom, my goal is to teach students about the various differences and similarities between everyone, by showing students that everyone is equal even though we all come from various backgrounds. I will teach all of my students that I believe in them so that even if they come from poor backgrounds, either in poverty levels or poor education, that it is not their fault and that I have faith in their abilities to succeed. Their success is based on their own ability to critically think and problem solve that is useful in every aspect of their lives, even beyond the classroom.

    Liska W.

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  72. Posted by Aaron M. on February 28, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I remember in fifth grade my class had to do an assignment called “Student of the Week.” In this assignment we had to write a report about ourselves, including our hobbies, interests, talents, and of course our cultural backgrounds. We read this report out loud in front of the class when it was our week to present, along with a poster that would describe us individually. I thought it was pretty interesting to see everyone’s cultural background and have a better understanding of the other students based on their individual backgrounds. Some students were born in America, some were born out of the country, some still practice traditions and customs from their native country, and some shared information on the foods they eat that were way different than what I’m used to eating in my family. I’m Spanish American, meaning that my family background originated from Spain. Growing up there was some confusion about my ethnicity. Whenever I told people I am Spanish they would say, “Oh so you’re Mexican!” I would then correct them and say how even though both Mexicans and Spaniards speak Spanish, Mexicans originate from Mexico and Spaniards originate from Spain. I thought it was interesting because a lot of students that I’ve met had misunderstandings about cultures and always made assumptions about people and their cultures. For example, some would see an Asian person and assume that they came from China, even though that person could also be Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc. Also, some students would assume that Hispanic people are all Mexican, even though they could be Cuban, Guatamalan, El Salvadorian, etc. That is why I feel that students at an early age should learn more about the people around them and the cultures they represent, that way won’t be stereotypical towards certain people on where they come from.

    Over the years I’ve had many friends from many different backgrounds. In the area I grew up in it mostly consisted of Hispanic and Asian backgrounds. Even though I had many friends in these two ethnic backgrounds it was interesting to know that they were either Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc. But what I found most interesting was how they live differently from other cultures. I had a friend who was Chinese and he invited over to his house one time for Chinese New Year. I don’t celebrate Chinese New Year in my family, but it was very interesting to see, tasting the different foods that were different from mine, and experiencing the traditions they do on this holiday. It was a lot of fun being there because it was something completely different than what I’m used to. I feel that if people experience other cultures the way I did, then they would learn more about the people around them, especially those who are close to them.

    Reply

  73. Posted by Jessica Pavone on February 28, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I grew up in a community that was mostly caucasian and hispanic. I grew up in america, so I identify as american and a world citizen, though I am of mostly italian and german decent. Sometimes in talking about cultural diversity I felt a little out of place, or perhaps more like I didn’t have a very exciting story to tell. There were so many kids with parents from exciting and exotic destinations but my family pretty much stayed on the same street my whole life, and I had to dig pretty far back because my family has lived in america so long. I felt like my stories were really boring compared to other kids.

    In elementary school, we learned about all the winter holidays, christmas, hannakah and quanza, as well as the chinese new year. I had freinds of various ethnic backgrounds, though most of whom grew up with me in the united states. The first time I made freinds with someone who grew up totally outside US culture was my freind Fino from Hong Kong who was in some sort of foriegn exchange program, she was very nice and often brought little gifts and things from her culture to share with her freinds, like snacks and sea weed. Her english was pretty good, though she struggled at times, and she was always smiling. We were all sad when it was time for Fino to go back home, but I still kept the yellow scarf she gave me for many years. I feel like the experience of meeting someone from another country across the world was fun and enlightning, and I feel like contact with people from other parts of the world would greatly benifit my students.

    I can’t really think of time where my heritage was mentioned in a positive or negative way because cultural diversity was rarely a part of the curriculum in any subject. However I do feel like learning about other cultures is both fun and vital for our increasingly global society. You don’t know how often I have lamented not having learned many langueges as a child, that I might have more opportunitys to travel and meet people, and I now feel that foriegn langedge should be a required at an elementary level when children are at the perfect age to learn and that they should be inspired to see the world in all its wonder.

    -Jessica P.

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  74. Once, in the fifth grade, my teacher asked everyone to pinpoint where their family was from, and attach a sticker with their name to a huge world map . She said that if your family was from multiple areas, then you were supposed to choose one. When I told the teacher that my family was from Arkansas she did not accept that as an answer, and told me that only Native Americans originated in the United States. She then made me describe what my family looked like, and then decided that I was from Africa, and made me choose a country in Africa to place my sticker. At the time I did not understand the implications of that, but since then, I have come to realize that perhaps that wasn’t the best decision ever for the teacher to implement. My father is Caucasian, and my mother is mixed with a lot of things including Italian, Irish, and African American. It would have been better for the teacher to send a note home informing parents that we would be completing this assignment in class so that my parents could have told me where my family came from. Also, I do not think that it was a good idea for the teacher to make each student choose one area, especially since there were other students of mixed ethnicity in our class.

    Culture, and cultural identity are a fragile aspect of one’s identity. When a teacher decides to teach lessons that are culturally relevant to students, it is important to make sure that it is implemented in a culturally sensitive manner.

    Reply

  75. I have had very few extreme situations where my background was questioned or where it was an issue. I believe focusing on diversity is important, but I think that it’s always a symptom of other underlining issues such as economic class and social skills. A poor man will have a hard time making healthy friendships while a rich man with bad social skills can have a hard time keeping a healthy social environment. Schools do great at including everyone,And yes sometimes each teacher will tend to show favoritism because each person has preferences. It’s only an issue when having preferences comes into alienating a student and handicapping his or her ability to contribute just because a teacher overlooked a student based on preferring a specific cultural group.

    Reply

  76. Posted by Tuan Tran on March 14, 2014 at 1:33 am

    “The linguistic landscape of American schools is changing rapidly. In the decade between 1992 and 2002, the enrolment of English Language Learners (ELLs) grew by 84% while the total K-12 population grew by only 10%.” (Walqui, 2006: 159)

    Aida Walqui continues to mention the phenomenon that 57% of them are not first generation immigrants, but second and third generation. To be clear they are American citizens. I think it is safe to assume that Los Angeles, California was and still is one of the key destinations selected for immigration. I think it is also safe to assume that the 57% of second and third generations, again, American citizens, are of Latino descent. Another conjecture would be that the advent of having foreigners be the majority of the classroom, on a district-to-district level, will of course create communication breakdowns on a massive scale, therefore individual academic struggles on a massive scale. The result of this crisis is the failure of our school system in providing adequate access to education for English Language Learners, until recently, as strategies and methods have been developed – and continue to develop – to remedy the issue.
    However it will take much more than simple methods of teaching aimed at supporting the culturally diverse student population that while, American still retain, through their family, the heritage of their family’s country of origin. It’s going to take some understanding of their student’s family background. A little of their student’s history. Teachers have to be actively engaged with their students almost as equals, I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s possible to discover the correct combination of authority and equality. Patience it also required. Having the right character that compliments the scaffolding methods is a necessity. The methods without the appropriate ethos is a sure failure. Their psyche must experience positivity and acceptance of their differences in a genuine manner. Xenophobia needs to be a dirty word and understood in all it’s capacity as disliking to racial profiling to teasing someone because of their cultural differences. It shouldn’t necessarily have to evoke hatred or fear to qualify as being xenophobic.

    Tuan T.

    Reply

  77. Posted by Mona on March 19, 2014 at 4:57 am

    “You’re a terrorist” “ You love Osman Bin Laden” she would say in front of all our friends at school. I will stand there crippled, not knowing what to do next, how to react. I didn’t know who Osama Bin Laden was. I didn’t know what the twin towers were or where they were located. I didn’t know who the terrorists were supposed to be. The only terrorist I knew was she, whom made me worried to go to school. I didn’t know I was supposed to be different. She wanted me to believe I was different. How could we be different when we were learning the same subjects, had the same friends, dressed the same and listened to the same music. For the first time, I realized getting an education was more than just mastering subjects. If I wanted to learn history, math, English, religion and science I would have to do it while mastering the challenges that life presented. If I wanted to continue my educational journey, I would have to overcome my fears and the ignorance of her and make it to the end of the 7th grade. My perseverance enabled me to discover an inner strength that I held, while showing me that education could empower me to over come the ignorance of others.
    I believe as an educator, my story should be heard. There are many students from diverse backgrounds that experience discrimination. We as educators have a responsibility to educate and make our students feel they belong to a community of learner. Based from my experiences as a student, I plan to make sure that all my students are accounted for throughout their learning experiences. I plan to approach this by utilizing Ladson Billing pedagogy for culture relevance, which aims to empower students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by maintaining students identity and integrating whole context information for students to have a depth knowledge in the arts and who the students are as individuals.

    Mona P

    Reply

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