The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 30

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I decided to use multicultural literature to discuss the students’ cultural background and how multicultural authors used illustrations to represent their cultures. I connect the learning experiences from the Readers’ Workshop with the ones from the Writer’s Workshop. I communicated my idea to parents and as a learning community, we were committed to embrace culturally relevant learning experiences as a part of our classroom culture. I invited parents to come as guest speakers to share about their cultural backgrounds. They came to read books to the students that depicted their cultures. The students were welcome to bring their own books in which they found characters with which they related. The students became very engaged and always asked to share with the class about what they had learned.

During reading aloud, I read two books and we created a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the books. The students commented about how the illustrations represented a specific culture and how the books related to their own lives. I gave the students the opportunity to choose the books they wanted to compare and contrast. They did the same activity in small groups, and the result was outstanding! It was hard to believe that they were just in first grade! Through this compare and contrast activity, I was able to observe my first graders assimilate important cultural concept. “As they learn about themselves and others around them, they see differences and similarities and learn to appreciate both their and other’s cultures” (Lowery, & Sabis-Burns, 2010, p. 51). After reading the book Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down (Pinkney, 2010), I asked the students to write a note to the characters. What would they ask the four friends if they had the opportunity? One of the kids wrote, “Thank you! Because you were brave I can eat anywhere I want.” Students were able to understand complex social concepts, such as prejudice, equality, and segregation.

The Writers’ Workshop project was to write their own stories that somehow represented a culture of their choice. It was a requirement that their illustrations matched and added to their stories. The students used the classroom iPads to take pictures of the illustrations of the books that represented the culture they chose. They used the pictures as a base to their own illustrations.

In my perspective, multicultural education should not focus only on minorities. All students are equally important, although different from each other.