One of the challenges facing many academic institutions is how to design a curriculum that reflects on the dynamics of the classroom; these include cultural diversity and individual differences among the students. Every classroom is a representation of the cultural diversity that exists in many countries and for successful learning to take place; a multicultural approach must be applied when designing the lesson plan. Such a lesson plan must be targeted towards making the students appreciate each other’s culture to avoid the biases or stereotypes that the students may develop of other cultures (Gomez, 1991). An appreciation of other cultures also improves communication among the students and they are thus better- placed to participate in social activities in the classroom (Delpit, 1995).
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Addressing the cultural needs of various groups or individual students also, enables the students to participate effectively in the classroom activities.
The paper aims to discuss how a lesson plan is to be revised to cater to a multicultural student.
The learning outcome in the earlier lesson plan indicates that the students read a range of texts on less familiar topics.
Considering that the class consists of students from many different cultures, the learning outcomes must be reflective of this (Knefelcamp, n.d.). I realized that if the learning outcome were not channeled towards making the students appreciate cultural diversity, then the concept of promoting multicultural class activities would have been a failure. To achieve this, the students must read materials based on other cultures to enable them to get information about other cultures. Instead of the students reading texts on less familiar topics, they should read books that focus on other cultures. Judging from this realization, I revised the Outcome to be that of reading a wider range of texts that talk about or give explanations on the beliefs of different cultures.
The students being able to understand other cultures in all dynamics should exhibit this. This includes their history, religion, arts, beliefs, institutions and all the other activities that pertain to the daily lives of these cultures.
I also revised the second learning outcome that requires the student to recognize that different types of predictable texts have different organizational patterns and features. I saw that for the multicultural student to know other cultures, he/she has to be able to recognize the difference between the meanings of identical signals or visual images in different cultures (Christensen, 1990).
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The students should be able to assess the meanings of the different visual images for some cultures other than theirs. I realized that a failure to understand the meanings of visual images or signals in other cultures might lead to conflicts among the students. A student could use a signal for a noble reason but another student from a different culture to mean the opposite might misinterpret this. The student must be able to explain these differences of meaning using free-flowing English to the other students.
The Lesson Topic
The Lesson Topic, like the outcome, must be geared towards the student’s learning and subsequent appreciation or understanding of the other cultures. I realized that the lesson topic dictates what activities that the class will participate in for the rest of the lesson and even after the class sessions. The choice of the shared reading must be made about the intended learning outcome. Since we are dealing with a multicultural student here, the shared reading must be a title that informs its readers of other cultures. An example could be a poem or novel that is written in a different language and culture but translated into the English language (Marsh, K., 1995). Such a reading material, though written in English, contains aspects of the culture from which the original article came.
Once the students read it, they exchange their ideas on the different meanings of occurrences during the novel or the meaning of the terms used in the poem. Something unique about such translated works is that they normally contain terms or words that were not translated; hence, these can be points in which the students can further develop knowledge of the language, hence culture. A student who comes from that culture or speaks the language can then be chosen to translate the texts into English. He /she could also interpret the meanings of different actions or events to other members of the class. Such books include Desert Exile (Asian- American culture), The Grass Dancer (Native American culture) and The Devil’s Arithmetic (Jewish culture). The books must be easy to read and interesting to capture the students’ attention (Clegg et al., 2010).
Student’s Prior Knowledge
Effective learning of the students can only be achieved if they have some idea of the content that they are about to be introduced to. I have often found out that when I link new ideas to the students’ prior knowledge of the idea, their interest and curiosity on the subject increases (Moses, 1990). To this effect, I revised the ‘Students’ Prior Knowledge’ section of the lesson plan to test their knowledge of foreign languages in comparison to their meaning in the English language. In addition, their pronunciations of these foreign phrases, words or sentences s a need to be tested. Their knowledge of foreign words used in the English language should be tested during the prior knowledge stage (e.g. insignia, matador, salsa, siesta e.t.c).
The students can identify these English words with foreign phrases and attempt to find their meaning in those foreign languages; this creates an air of curiosity among the students and necessitates the learning process.
How will everyone be included?
A teacher must devise strategies by which all students will be included in classroom activities, this ensures that every student gets the knowledge that the teacher is giving to them. This is through making the students participate in reading the book, this helps in exposing those with reading problems so that they are given the necessary assistance. Because of the importance of this stage of the lesson, I placed strategies in ensuring everyone’s participation through random questions to the students. Each student also gives an account of the sequence of events in the book, starting with the first student to the last. The students can also ask questions on phrases or terms that they never understood during the reading process.
Another strategy aimed at making every student participate in class activities is by breaking the class into groups to discuss the questions made by the teacher. The teacher then informs the students that he will randomly choose a student from each group to present their work in front of the other class members. The teacher can also assign each student a task relating to the book and they present their findings to the rest of the class in turns. This ensures the participation of every student in the discussion.
At the introduction stage of the lesson, the student’s motivation becomes the desire to learn about other cultures through the shared book and from the students who relate to the culture. Apart from getting to know the culture from which the shared material originated, the students also get the motivation to learn about other cultures from their classmates. The teacher can increase the motivation of the students by giving them an overview of the book and relating it to multiculturalism. He picks one copy and shows it to the class, asking who among them has previously seen the book, and what they know about the book. The teacher can also ask the students to give examples or instances in which they interacted with people from other cultures.
During the learning sequel, the students derive their motivation from reading the book and learning how to read and pronounce the foreign phrases that may be present in the book. A student who understands the language can then volunteer to give the meanings of these words and even give other words and phrases in his mother tongue together with the meanings (Gibbons, 1991). During this process, the students get to learn about the meanings of different happenings in the book and their significance in building up the book’s theme. They also get to give their interpretations of these events before finally getting the right answer from the teacher (having studied the book before). Students who speak a different language from English can also offer to give translations of the foreign languages in the book in their own mother tongues (Fillmore, 2000). While reading the book, the students can also come across English words whose meanings they do not know, I propose in my revised lesson plan that the teacher can seize this moment to pick anybody at random from the class to give the meaning of such words. This also ensures that everybody participates in-class activities.
The Retelling/recount session is the most important stage in testing the students’ understanding of the lesson concepts. The students derive their motivation from giving their overview of the whole lesson and the concepts that they have grasped from the lesson on multiculturalism. The students are supposed to give a brief summary of the poem or novel that they have just read. Apart from testing the students’ understanding of the book, it also tests the students’ writing skills, the teacher can walk around the classroom to guide the students on the format for writing the summary. Retelling also helps the students recall important events or details of the story and improves comprehension. The teacher can also ask the students to give the foreign words that they can recall and their meanings, including those that they learned from fellow students. It is at this stage that the teacher seeks to know whether the objectives of the lesson have been met; he asks the students to give their opinions on multiculturalism and why it should be embraced.
At the Lesson closure, the teacher gets to wrap up the lesson by hearing from the students. Motivation to the students comes from a presentation of a summary or overview, alternatively, the students can engage in a brief discussion on what they learned about multiculturalism. The teacher must be keen on the students during this final stage to clarify areas of confusion and add some context to the lesson.
As per the timing of the different stages of the lesson, I saw it better to allocate 20 minutes to the Learning Sequence stage since the reading process is likely to take the most time, 15 minutes to retell and leave all the other time durations as they were in the original Lesson Plan.
Multicultural education does not only entail teaching the student about other groups or cultures, the child also becomes used to the notion that there are many ethnic groups, cultures and groups (Poynting, 1995). The main purpose of such studies is to help the student appreciate the existence of many cultures and have positive feelings for multicultural encounters, the student also learns to be respectful and welcoming to people from other cultures. A well-prepared lesson plan can assist the teacher in making the students embrace multiculturalism.
Through multicultural lessons, the students become aware of the fact that all cultures have greatly contributed to the civilization process. For multicultural studies to be more effective, the students must be allowed to play a greater role during such lessons, ask questions and interact among themselves.
Christensen, L., M., 1990. Teaching English Standard: Whose Standard? National Council of Teachers of English.
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Clegg, L., B., Miller, E., Vanderhoof, B., Ramirez, G., Ford, K. P., How
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Fillmore, L., W., 2000. Loss of Family Languages: Should Educators Be Concerned? Journal of Theory into Practice. Vol. 39, No. 4, pg. 201-210.
Gibbons, P., 1998. The mother tongue in the classroom. Primary English Teaching Association. Rozelle, NSW.
Gomez, R. A., 1991. Teaching with a Multicultural Perspective.
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Poynting, S., & Noble, G., n.d. Racism and the ‘common sense’ of ‘learning styles. Journal of Education Links, vol. 51, pg. 16-19