America today is filled with people from all over the world – different cultures, different customs, different beliefs, different religions, different backgrounds. American classrooms need to reflect that, and need to use the varying backgrounds of its students to facilitate the learning of its students. After all, students learn most effectively when new material is built on a foundation that is familiar to them.
How can teachers effectively teach lessons in multicultural classrooms? How can classrooms become inclusive to all students? Below are some tips to help schools and teachers celebrate the diversity in the school, and use that diversity to reinforce academic lessons in the classroom:
- Hang up a world map in your classroom, and have students put a pin in the area where they (or their family) is from. Then, use the map as a conversation starter to build understanding and awareness in the students..
- Have multicultural literature available for students to peruse in your classroom. Use the books in lessons, or allow class time for students to browse through the books on their own..
- Bring in artifacts for students to examine. Anything “hands-on” allows students to connect more effectively with the culture..
- Have a cultural food day in the school. Allow students to bring in samples of a favorite cultural food. Students can tell about the food: where it is from, what is in it, when it is eaten, how it is made, why it is a favorite for them, etc. Students can taste other cultures in this activity, and can talk about the experience in the classroom. This could be a fantastic project with both academic and personal gains..
- Use cultural stories as journal prompts or other writing activities. Anything that students can relate to personally is much easier and more effective than random subjects..
- Encourage group work. Create projects and activities that require partners or small groups of students to work collectively and cooperatively to achieve a set goal/purpose. Outline the project guidelines and grading procedures, so that students know what is expected of them. Allow them to make decisions and solve problems as a group..
- Create a project that focuses on researching and designing a display about the countries represented in your classroom. Assign countries to small groups of students, and have them put together information about that country. You might include maps, flags, customs, history/background, photos, etc. Students can present this project to the class. Keep the displays – put them around your classroom!.
- Play multicultural music in the classroom…
- Invite family members to share about their background to the students.
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