“Equity in education is a measure of achievement, fairness, and opportunity in education.” The six principles of connected learning, interest-driven learning, peer-supported learning, academically-oriented teaching, production-centered classrooms, openly networked and shared purpose have led me to create connected learning and equity a reality in the world, well at least create an idea (which I hope to implement in my school) that encourages equity!
My final make is a proposed plan for a multicultural event in my district. In a world that is constantly evolving, the cultures around us can help us evolve. In a world where we are fighting prejudice and stereotypes, an event like this can aid us in accepting and understanding others. In a world where we want all educational opportunities to be fair and available, this will allow students, families and staff to collaborate, communicate, socialize and create (what they want). Families will be invited to the school to help their children and the staff share elements of their culture or ethnicity with members of the community. Events will be student and staff and even family created.
The inspiration for the make comes from my own observations. I’ve lost count of the times I have heard, in my class, “Why are we learning Mexican?” It is a constant battle to make students aware of cultural differences, including the difference between a language and a nationality/ethnicity. And even more recently a lack of disrespect of a specific group really affected me. I saw a student draw a swastika on another student’s arm. They referred to the symbol as a window. I immediately became upset. Why would a student do this? But, then I also thought, do they know anything about this symbol? And the answer is…no. I discussed my observation with some of my classes. So many of them didn’t know the difference between a swastika and the Star of David. I then touched upon some history of the Holocaust and they immediately became embarrassed for the student that did the drawing.
Before presenting the idea of a multicultural event to my students I wanted their opinions and views on diversity and culture in their community. My classes were quiet, like really quiet. And then one brave hand went up…
“We don’t have a lot of diversity.”
Then, this comment opened the discussion of their own observations of racism, discrimination and prejudice…
“Our generation doesn’t value culture.”
“I like eating different kinds of food.”
“My neighbor is Amish.”
“Everyone in my neighborhood is white.”
“My family is Swedish and so are some of my friends.”
Some comments came as a surprise and others I expected. Then, I presented the idea of a multicultural night, that will function a lot like a Stem Night that the school just hosted. And all are on board!
“I think an event like this sounds cool!”
“It will definitely be interesting.”
“We should learn more about other cultures.”
“Experiencing different cultures could end stereotyping.”
“Will there be food?”
So, why a multicultural event? Will an event like this really help us recognize and understand the cultures around us? Would an event like this make us more tolerant to the differences we see among our classmates and community members? Absolutely! All of the planning and implementing will include these principles of connected learning: interest-powered, peer-supported, production-centered and shared purpose.
After cohort groups are formed, either by related ethnicity or interest, students, staff, family and community members will collaborate and create the activities and materials for each room for the event. The planning process and preparation for the night, I anticipate, would take about two weeks. Teachers and students will share a purpose and that is to educate themselves and others about the cultures around us in our community. Students will have to opportunity to work on what interests them, whether it is creating Middle Eastern art, constructing the letter home, tweeting about the event, seeking sponsors to help with the event or participating in digital storytelling. Some rooms will require activities to already be made, while others can be created with the help of active participants. All in all, collaboration is evident, support is evident and equity in connected learning is evident! All interested in helping can help. Help can take place wherever and whenever. Students, teachers, families and community members will have to problem-solve, communicate, collaborate and connect and most importantly learn from each other in a 21st century learning experience.
With keeping my original inquiry question in mind, about connecting with colleagues, I think teachers will be honored to share their expertise and drive to create equity with the students and community.
- To educate students, families and staff about different cultures in the school and community.
- To create connectedness among students, staff, family and community members.
Step 1: Find volunteers (students, staff, families and community members)
- What do you know about your ethnicity and culture?
- What role do you want to play in the planning process?
- Create cohorts (including students, teachers, family and community members)
Step 2: First meeting
- The goal
- Size of the event
Step 3: Advertise it! Offer incentives!
- Post the event on the school website
- Tweet the event
- Create posters (pass out in the community and send home)
- Create phone message for all district recipients
- Students who attend are rewarded (ie pajama day)
Step 4: Plan the night!
|Room 1||African||Digital storytelling (biography)
**reading and writing
|Room 2||Variety||Social norms/Helping students feel comfortable in the classroom and community
(demonstration of traditional interaction)
|Room 3||Haitian/Creole||Recreate/rebuild villages and communities destroyed by the earthquake
Problem-solve and determine best options for rebuilding
(utilize apps like minecraft)
|Technology and science teachers|
|Room 4||Middle Eastern||Create modified /traditional art and other artifacts||*authentic cuisine/snack
|Art teacher/Tech Ed Teacher|
|Room 5||Middle Eastern||Participate in traditional dances and listen to traditional music||*authentic cuisine/snack
|Room 6||Hispanic||Provide technology tutorial to help navigate Schoology (the district’s LMS) in the native language
|Room 7||Korean||Play and create abstract math games||*authentic cuisine/snack
|Room 8||Egyptian||Take a tour of ancient ruins through Google Earth||*authentic cuisine/snack
|Social studies teacher|
Step 5: Create materials
- Map of the building, including where each room/culture can be found
- Passport for “traveling” community members and students
- Letter home
Step 6: Cohort groups meet
- Plan and create (digital stories, math games, google earth tour, schoology tutorial, art, music, minecraft examples, etc)
- Plan food menu
- Practice any necessary presentations
Step 7: Execute!
After the event…
Ideally, I would like to receive feedback in the form of a survey. I would create something like this.
**This is a tentative plan that I would really like to bring to my district, so all feedback is welcomed!**