In today’s American classrooms, diverse populations can be a blessing or a curse. The beautiful side of variety and the barriers of the same can be a challenge, but one you can be successful at exploring with a little bit of planning. It’s all about how you prepare for any obstacles that may surface as a result of differences in the background of your students.
All educators know, lesson planning is crucial to a successful classroom. Not only must you teach all required subject content, but if you want your students to learn and pay attention, you also have to make it interesting and enjoyable. A few ways to do this is to encourage all students to make your particular subject their own by encouraging them to view themselves as part of the subject area you are teaching.
The following suggestions work well with students from various cultures and backgrounds, and help transition them from passive listener to active classroom participant.
Celebrate Diversity Activities
Student Introduction Cards
This is a first-week-of-school activity in which students create information cards about themselves.This lets the students know you are actually interested in them and who they are.
These can be completed on regular 3 x 5 index cards. Refer to them throughout the year for consistency. You can also get parent contact info, email and customize your questions.
Students can complete a project on family dynamics. Where are they from? What languages are spoken at home? What are special customs and practices in their household?
They can complete the project on posterboard, video, or write a paper. Include extra credit for bringing cultural items to the classroom, such as food, fashion, or pictures.
Influential People Reports
This is sort of a who’s who in race/culture. Have students research important or prominent people from their own background who have contributed to any advancements in the particular subject you are covering. For example, when teaching science, I’ve had my students research prominent African-Americans and their contributions to science. Students research and present their findings.
These are just a few ways educators can include diversity in their curriculum. We as educators must continue to be creative in every way possible. There’s no way around it. Our students are exposed to so much stimuli during a regular day, we must keep them motivated and interested in order to be effective and successful.