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"What you have said I will consider. What you have to say I will with patience hear, and find a time both meet to hear and answer such high things." 
Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2

These three lessons are presented as examples of curriculum integration of multiculturalism in the classroom. Curriculum Integration is a curriculum design focus on enhancing possibilities for personal and social integration by basing the curriculum around important problems and/or issues,  rather than by subject area boundaries.  The assessments are based on the idea of authentic assessment, which is an form of assessing students that overcomes the problems of standardized assessment. Some types of authentic assessment include oral presentations, performances, teacher observations, student inventories, student observations, debates, inquiries, portfolios, and more.  In essence, it assesses progress in "real world" arrangements.

I suggest that anyone new to these ideas read: Curriculum Integration by Beane and  Authentic Assessment in Action by Darling-Hammond, Ancess and Falk. As an educator, you will find them stimulating and information filled.

Lesson 1:

Read David M. Soderquist's article on Monoculture versus Multiculture. Explain to the students, if necessary, the difference between monoculture and multiculture. Have students list examples of monoculture in a positive view and in a negative view. Have students then list multicultural examples from both positive and negative viewpoints.  Discuss in small groups or as a class, the reasons for each of the four views. Assist students in sharing their viewpoints in a non-threatening manner. Have students then focus on collectively listing positive issues for multiculturalism. 

Lastly, have each student write on any one positive issue on multiculturalism from someone else's list and not their own.

For example, pure bred animals might be viewed as a positive monoculture.  A student may point out the gentle but possessive side of German Shepherds.  The pure breeding of these animals keeps the culture pure and the personality of the breed, in general, stable and predictable. (This is a positive point for monoculture.)  But shepherds bred with other breed, for instance, a pit bull, could create a gentle looking but possibly non-gentle animal. (This is a negative point for multiculture.) On the other hand, plants are often displayed with a variety of textures, color, species, etc.  Collectively they add height and beauty. This is a positive view of combining culture. (This is a positive point for multiculture.) A negative point for monoculture could be the clearing of pasture and farm land for housing.  NOTE: There can be varied views as to whether something is negative or positive on the same point.  This is acceptable. 

Assessment: Students would be assessed on: uniqueness of ideas and examples, ability to point out examples from their world, manner of discussion and persuasion, manner of attentiveness to classmates (including listening, rather than just hearing), participation, and on their written paper.

Lesson 2:

Have teacher read through the four stages of implementing multicultural education in your school and classroom by Enid Lee.

Stage 1. Surface - signs in several languages, ethnic foods, and festivals. 
Stage 2. Transitional - creating a unit of study about a group of people, that is separate from the main curriculum. 
Stage 3. Integration - including elements of that unit in existing curriculum. 
Stage 4. Social change - a curriculum that leads to changes outside of the school.

Introduce your class to the four stages.  Then have students create some sort of project around the four stages.

For example,

Write a paper how culture affects their family, town, or school.
Create a table of examples of each stage. 
Write a short example of how race, ethnicity, and gender affected your life? 
List, as a class, what cultures the students have been exposed to and at least one thing added to them, as an individual, from each culture.
Draw a collage that display symbols of cultures with which they come into contact.
Discuss how multicultural education could improve in their school giving specific examples of "do-able" things.

Then, have students share insights, ideas and ideals with others. Reflect and reevaluate. Then write a short paper on some aspect they learned from the exercise. This could include information from history, the present, literature, personal interviews, personal experiences, etc. 

Assessment: Students would be assessed on: uniqueness of ideas and examples, ability to point out examples from their world, manner of discussion and persuasion, manner of attentiveness to classmates, (including listening, rather than just hearing), participation, and on their written paper or artwork.

Lesson 3:

Have students begin by writing an autobiography with the focus on their cultural heritage.  Have students prepare by talking to family members about what cultures are included in their family (and family can be as broad as they desire) and some of the traditions of each of the cultures. They should not limit their discussion of who they are to just the traditions that are unique to their culture. Then students can, in small groups discuss these traditions and see how they overlap from one cultural group to another.  Collectively, they should find similarities between cultures and discuss how locale, language, and interaction blend monocultures in a new multiculture. It might be interesting to also discuss how the multiculture changes, evolves with time.

For example, if a child is both Cajun  and American, he may celebrate pagan (Mardi Gras) and Christian (Christmas, Lent) traditions. He may also notice, in discussion that the traditional French beignet  is the same as the Mexican sopipillas (with a different sweet topping.) He should look at how his own traditions are intertwined and accepted as conflicting or non-conflicting. And how his traditions are intertwined with those of other cultures not in his own family.

Assessment: Students would be assessed on depth of information, connections and relationships developed, evaluation of information, reliability and sources of information, participation in discussion, and on the written paper.

Note:

The idea of each of these lessons is to provide students a project that includes basic communication skills (necessary for participating in our society) combined with opportunities that require them to think, carefully choose their words and manner of communicating, practice listening skills (necessary in all facets of life), and write for practice with word choice, grammar, punctuation, etc., all with a multicultural theme.

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Last updated: November 24, 2000.