Week 3. The theme is: Connecting Students and the World
When I think back to my elementary and high school education, ‘connecting students and the world’ revolved around ‘Current Events’. Current Events consisted of paying attention to the news, what was happening in the community and the world. Once we found a story, we would stick it into a notebook and then we would write about it and sometimes, we would share them orally with the class. This was part of Social Studies classes.
Having taught and substituted in a variety of classrooms, what I have seen regarding ‘connecting students and the world’ consists of a similar program that I have experienced. I unfortunately don’t remember the name of the program, but it consists of news stories that are happening in the world. Students read them and answer questions and extend their learning on the topics of issues happening today. The booklets come out each month I believe, and I have seen this become a part of Social Studies curriculum.
I have also heard from friends who are teachers who have completed Mystery Skype activities with their students, to connect their class with another classroom around the world. I have also seen pen pals and different writing activities take place between different schools. Now with blogging, there are potentials for students from all over to connect and share thoughts and provide feedback to others. I have also seen classrooms from different schools complete book studies together. With technology, there are many more opportunities today to ‘connect students and the world’.
What I find interesting however is the idea that our classrooms are becoming more culturally diverse through the students we are teaching. We are using a curriculum designed to benefit students who bring with them cultural capital, prior knowledge, and we teach them the dominant ideas and values of society. Overall, I believe that our curriculum does not take into consideration students from culturally diverse backgrounds. If teachers are committed to teaching to all of their students, it is up to them, in the units they plan and the resources they use, to include their students funds of knowledge, ways of knowing and culture. I believe it requires a commitment from the teacher for all students to be seen and acknowledged within the classroom. Even though our curriculum includes ties to First Nations knowledge, ways of doing and knowing, it is still up to the teacher how they teach this knowledge and make these links.
When it is easy for us with technology now to connect and learn about the world and different groups, I would like to see more connections and learning for all students in the classroom that helps them be a part of the classroom, to be represented and to learn about themselves as well as others. While heritage fairs and cultural days at school are good in one sense, they do not offer students enough. They allow them to share their culture, their identity for a day, which often does not translate to this happening in the classroom regularly.
So ultimately, I believe it is important to ‘connect students to the world’ by including the cultures and knowledge that students bring with them when they enter our classrooms first, before ‘connecting them to other parts of the world’.