Thursday, December 19, 2013

Class World Tour

This bulletin board represents all four classes in the grade. 
I've always thought it would be fun to be able to bring my class to places near and far, big and small in a moment's notice like Ms. Frizzle--what fun to learn by immersing yourself in a hands-on way with a topic. To date, we're unable to quickly morph our classrooms to a Ms. Frizzle atmosphere, so we settle for the second best solution, virtual tours.

Yesterday, we created a virtual, hands-on world tour as students moved from classroom to classroom to view each other's culture projects. It was interesting to see the large number of cultures students studied, both cultures of interest and cultures that represent students' histories.  I found children's personal stories fascinating as they relayed stories of family vacations, visiting relatives in other countries, speaking multiple languages, cultural interest, and favorite foods. I asked a child who studied a culture other than her own why she chose the culture, and she replied, "It's pretty," and continued to point a finger at all the beautiful jewelry, fabrics, clothing from that culture."
    I asked, "Have you always felt that way?"
    She replied, "Yes, I've always felt that way?"

A couple of times I became teary as students gave a fourth grade version of immigration or migration for which I understood the social/political roots--stories of war, aggression, or oppression. Our fourth grade students were introduced to cultures throughout the world in a child-friendly, personal way which I believe is the best way to begin global study. Not only were they interested in the variety of cultures, but it was equally interesting to see how a classmates depicted same cultures with different emphases depending on children's interests, family histories, or regions.

Soon children will share these stories with the adults in their lives. Like me, I'm sure that the family members visiting our class will find children's culture stories both interesting and educational--a rare chance to share with their neighbors, friends, and community members the stories of origin, culture, interest, and identity.