Monday, February 11, 2013

Culture Celebration 2013

Tonight we had our culture celebration, and it was a big success.

As I spoke to parents I shared two powerful quotes that provide a wonderful rationale for this project:

"It is time for parents (and teachers) to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength." - Maya Angelou

"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." - Marcus Garvey

This is the third year we've facilitated this project as a grade-level team.  I've written a lot about the event, and hope to connect all the posts soon.

As I noted earlier, this year's project presented some new challenges, but at tonight's celebration, I realized once again that the project is worthwhile for all.

Attributes of the project include the following:
  • Students are engaged.
  • It's a chance to guide research and writing with a meaningful topic.
  • Students practice speaking with a "headline" introduction to their exhibit at the celebration.
  • Students learn from each other as they visit each other's classrooms and study exhibits.
  • The project fosters community and cultural exchange as family members, educators and students celebrate and learn together.
  • The project broadens students' world view and understanding.
This year's project benefitted from the following efforts:
  • Our PLC revised the project, and we had lots of help from special educators, teaching assistants and specialists.
  • We added many research resources to the project website to assist with all aspects of the project.  This is an area we still have to improve further.
  • Like last year we provided students with the trifold posters, letter making machine, colored paper and other special exhibit materials. Everyone completed a terrific poster.
  • Students practiced their headline announcements with videotaping, and that helped to foster stronger speaking skills. Parents remarked on students' ease and skill at public speaking.  I believe this is due to our increased use of digital tools and the inclusion of voice in most projects. 
Future considerations include:
  • Should we move the event away from the snowy winter months--the big storm presented some complications for the project and parking?
  • We need to give more thought and efforts related to guided research and the inclusion of new standards.
  • How much time should we set aside for the project?  For some of us, this year's project was a bit rushed due to the fact that we had other projects going on too.
It's always a lot of work to do an extra project or celebration, but once the event is over and you look back you realize that the extra effort is worth it because events like this one develop the learning community with confidence, pride, respect and engagement.