This “vibrant mixture of cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and experiential plurality (has) profound implications for developing instructional programs at all levels of education that respond positively and constructively to cultural diversity” (Gay, 2004) One of the greatest challenges for today’s teacher is developing lesson plans and classroom activities that embrace the cultural diversity of their classroom. Whether it is selecting cultural diverse literature to identifying behavioral learning cues based on cultural differences, teachers must shape their curriculum in a way that can connect students from all different ethnicities.
In order to correlate multiculturalism with skill-based learning, teachers must develop a variety of instructional practices that will foster a culturally sensitive environment. Attempting to utilize a one size fits all teaching method will not meet the needs of America’s diverse classrooms. Whether it is religion or ethnicity, there are three fundamental methods that will assist in the development of a cultural diverse classroom and a cultural diverse learning style:
- Incorporating Visual Aids
- Teaching Tolerance
- Embracing Differences
- Instructional Differentiation
Incorporating Visual Aids
There are a number of different ways to incorporate religious and ethnic events into the classroom. One of the most classic methods is by utilizing bulletin boards. The most efficient strategy is to create a monthly or seasonal bulletin board [Seasonal bulletin board attachment]. By using a seasonal or event bulletin board, teachers and students can incorporate religious and cultural events each season or each month. During this time, teachers can place symbols and images that will symbolize these occasions. Some of these symbols and images can include the Christmas tree (Christianity), the dreidel (Hanukkah), the Star of David (Passover), Diwali or the festival of lights (Hinduism) and the crescent moon and star (Ramadan). The bulletin board can also include pictures of individuals and their major contributions to society:
- Martin Luther King
- Elijah Muhammad
- Albert Einstein
- Harriet Tubman
- Helen Keller
“By (the year) 2020, almost half of the U.S. school population will consist of members of non-Caucasian cultural groups.” (Kauchak, 2005). In order for students to overcome their cultural biases, they must first become cognizant of them. Teaching tolerance in the classroom is a way to accomplish this goal. One of the primary ways to develop a teaching tolerance strategy is through cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is a teaching method that allows students to work in groups to accomplish a specific task. When teachers incorporate cooperative learning into lessons and activities, students can began valuing the differences and involvement of others. A lesson plan that can help develop this goal is a lesson in human rights. The lesson could include real life events (through print media or video) which demonstrate individuals of different races being denied certain rights. Afterwards, students can discuss the affects and implications of being denied human rights while in their cooperative learning groups. The lesson plan can move forward with presentations, essays and etc.