Another year is here! For 2014, learning more about other cultures is a great New Year's resolution, and these activities help students learn more about others' lives. The more we know about others' cultures, the more patient and understanding we can be when helping others become acquainted with Western ways. Also, students are more prepared to enter the real world with its diverse population and many viewpoints.
I've often thought about teaching abroad. I follow Heidi Raki's website, Raki's Rad Resources, and many days I'm envious at the open attitudes to teaching concepts in schools in other countries. For example, my children learned math while sitting in single rows in classrooms and rote memorizing formulas then working problems on Smartboards or as homework. But, Heidi's students learned math concepts by cooking! Measuring ingredients and following recipes produces great end results, usually. Probably, mure more than just math was learned, and consequences and problem solving skills are part of Common Core Standards. Heidi makes me want to become a student in her classroom!
Several years ago, I was on a hiring committee that interviewed one of California's Teacher of the Year. I asked, "What make your teaching different from that of other educators?" His response was, "I teach math through real life skills--for example, my students go outside and measure and plan if new construction is going on." Ah-ha! Even I could understand math if taught through real-life skills. How about learning percentages through sales at clothing or grocery stores? Now, that's my kind of math!
I teach English, so how can these skills be taught using real-life application? Newspapers' Letters to Editor columns are good places to begin. This requires research so students understand background knowledge of problems, and it requires putting together facts and using quotes in ways readers understand and make sense of them. Plus, it requires great writing skills! How about entering writing contests? I entered Good Housekeeping's contest before the holidays. Students helped me revise my introduction to make my writing better, and students listened and helped with other corrections in my essay. Students who entered the same contest earned extra credit points.
Making learning interesting and relevant means tying it to real-life. "Why do I have to learn this stuff?" is answered. Imagine classrooms where students love learning and using real-life applications, and where diversity is celebrated everyday. Use real-life learning to introduce, engage, and inform students about the world and its unique cultures.
Celebrate Diversity and Real-Life Learning through Chinese 2014 New Year Make a Book and Activities (this product updates yearly):