Cultures of The World Fair

Part of our social studies standards are to learn how cultures from around the world affect our culture.  There's no better way to start this standard than to learn about cultures from around the world.  The problem for me was how to teach the students about several cultures within the time that we had available.  This is when I thought of a cultural fair.  I talked my team into teaching  each of their classes about a different country and some of the different cultures within that country.
We had the students research:  food, art, music, clothing, customs, and language.  Each class put together a science board with some of the research.  We also hung other research on the walls outside of our classrooms.  This way the students had plenty of room to read about the different cultures.

 We chose to hold the fair the day before Thanksgiving break.  The cultural fair was so engaging, the students were sure to learn all the way through the end of the day.  We weren't so sure that would happen with our every day lessons.  Each class prepared one of the more popular food or drinks from their country.  I bought prepackaged food from Ikea for my country.  This helps to satisfy the rule in some schools of prepackaged food.  The year before we had a parent make our food at home.  (I did not serve the pear drink.)

Each classroom can have a quick craft inside for the students to complete. We made floral headbands for Sweden.  Most countries have flowers in their culture so this is a wonderful go to craft.  If you search on Pinterest, you will find a plethora of cultural crafts.  We also used the folders that you see below to hold all of our research in reading and writing.

Every student was given a passport with the countries listed inside.  The students were to record details from every country that they visited.  So we allowed students to roam the hall.  They went into the rooms to enjoy food and a craft.  They read information on the countries outside of the rooms.  Their teachers held them accountable for details by checking their passports.  We had parent volunteers to come in to assist the students in moving throughout the hall and into the appropriate rooms.  If you can't do a whole grade level Culture Fair, you can set up centers in your classroom.  You can have groups of students research different countries and share with each other.

Putting together the materials for this unit took quite a while.  If you don't have time to put them together, check out the units below in my store.

Discriminating Teachers

Take a moment to look at this photo and reflect on your thoughts.

Be honest, did you stereotype or have negative feelings when you looked at it?  If you did, it’s o.k. Did you notice that we are a non-traditional family? It’s time that we open up and discuss racism and discrimination with one another without judgment. It's time that we grow and heal together.

Racism and discrimination is a problem that plagues the world.  I’ll be honest; I didn’t want to write this post.  I would much prefer to go about my day and ignore it.  That would be easiest for me, right?  Well, the issue with ignoring something is that it won’t go away.  You shouldn’t act on your prejudices because everyone is the same on the inside.  You should reflect on your thoughts and feelings and deal with them before they come out as racist or discriminatory actions.  The problem with me telling you this is no one wants to be told what to do or to think that they aren’t perfect, so no one will listen to this. 

Lets take a look at why you should be concerned with this topic.   Racism affects us all whether you think so or not.  Institutions are always implementing new rules and regulations to help end discrimination.  These changes affect us all in different work institutions.  As a teacher I have seen a couple of changes in the past few years.  One change is that we can’t staff minority children in contained ESE classes as readily as we used to.  This change came about because the number of minorities being staffed in ESE classes was disproportionate to other students.  We needed to impose strict rules because people were funneling the students that they didn't want to deal with in what they referred to as the "special" classes.  The result or problem that has come about for teachers and students is that we have minority students who need to be serviced outside of a mainstreamed classroom.  Some of these students suffer being in an environment that isn’t right for them.  Without staffing equality in place, we have no choice but to question the motives of people wanting to take minority students out of the mainstream classroom.  If this situation seems very confusing and not readily solved, it's because it is.  Another change that is very recent is writing office referrals for African American males.  In my state, the number of referrals that is being written for these males is disproportionate to their classmates.  Something needed to be done to protect these males from being unfairly judged.  So teachers have been told, don’t write write referrals for these males.  The problem for some of our African American males is that sometimes, just like their classmates, they need discipline and guidance to help them to be the best that they can be. If we don’t take a look inside of ourselves and at those around us, policies are going to get messy and make life much more complicated because we have no other choice but to impose rules to protect people being unfairly judged.  If we don’t change, institutions are forced to put practices into place to help right our wrongs.  It would benefit everyone to make sure that we reflect on our actions to make change.

How can we help end discrimination? We need to talk to one another and look at ourselves without judgement.  If we find that we have been hurtful with our words, discriminatory or have prejudices, it’s o.k. we just need to change our actions.  I’ll share a very personal example with you.  I have some very sweet friends that would do just about anything to help us out.  They would care for my children and speak kind and thoughtful words to them.  These same friends posted some very hurtful literature on Facebook about gay people.  What they don’t know is that my mother is a lesbian.  These words that they post are very hurtful to me, but I’m used to seeing these words so I ignore them and go about my day.  I know that these friends are good people and wouldn’t speak these unkind words to my children because it would hurt my children to have someone speak of their grandmas this way.  They would never look at my family; my mother included, and spew the hateful message that they posted. They will probably be shocked to see that lesbians can raise women to be very productive members of society.  Their thought process is that they will all raise sinful gay children who are a plight on society.  Well here I am world, I have a master’s degree, I’ve been with my husband for 20 years, I have 3 beautiful children, I pay my taxes and I’ve never been to jail.  They have been taught these prejudices throughout their lives just like we have all been taught something wrong throughout our lives.  Come together and open up the dialog.  Share your dialog with Tanesha, Amna and myself in our comments section.  Reflect on all of our stories.  Let’s make a change.

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