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Subject: Social Studies, Language Arts, Technology Literacy

Grade Level: 2nd/3rd Grade


This is a multi-disciplinary project providing an opportunity for a multi-age classroom of 2nd and 3rd graders to explore the concepts of community, culture and acceptance. Students will use e-mail to collaborate with representatives of other cultures, the Internet to research cultures and a web page to post events, products and resources for the community. This engaged learning project emphasizes Wisconsin Model Academic Standards in the area of information technology, social studies and language arts centering on the themes of community and cultural diversity. The project's overall goal is to increase cultural awareness and acceptance in the school and community.

Learner Description/Environment:

The second and third grade students attend school at one of three elementary schools in a university community of about 10,000. It is considered a rural area with close proximity to a metropolitan area. The neighborhood school has an enrollment of approximately 500 students in grades PK-5 with a 15% Title I population. The community and school is predominately white and Anglo-Saxon. There are several African-American students at each grade level, a couple of Korean students and a Russian student at the school. There are 25 teachers in the building. The two multi-age classrooms share a double classroom space without a divider. There are two computer gardens housing seven computers. There is a school computer lab and media center providing access to a scanner, digital camera and print media. The school is networked and Internet access is available in the classroom.

Time Frame:

The project will be implemented for a month with the time frame varying on a daily basis. The instructional period of this multi-disciplinary project will draw from the language arts and social studies periods. Flexible scheduling allows the students to devote an average of 1 1/2 hours per day to the project for four weeks.

Learner Outcomes:

The multiage classroom extend their content area units over a two year period, thus the learner outcomes are the same for second and third graders.

  1. Describe the ways ethnic cultures influence the daily lives of people.
  2. Explain how people learn about others that are different from themselves.
  3. Explain how language, stories, folk tales, music and other artistic creations are expressions of culture and how they convey knowledge of other peoples and cultures.
  4. Volunteer relevant information, ask relevant questions, and answer questions directly.
  5. Use appropriate strategies to keep a discussion going.
  6. Generate and edit media work as appropriate to audience and purpose, sequencing the presentation effectively and adding or deleting information as necessary.
  7. Propose research by formulating initial questions narrowing the focus of a topic, identifying prior knowledge and developing a basic plan for gathering information.
  8. Present the results of inquiry, reporting and commenting on the substance and process of learning, orally and in writing, using appropriate visual aids.
  9. Locate information from Internet sites and web pages.
  10. Select information applicable to the information question.
  11. Develop a product or presentation to communicate the results of the research.


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Authentic Student Task:

A member of a community civic group asks the class for assistance to heighten cultural diversity awareness in the community and to provide support for new Indian families relocating to the communicating. Students will explore the idea of community, culture and acceptance through the investigation of the following questions:

  1. What is a community? What is a culture? What culture(s) exist in your community?
  2. What are groups in your school or community that you've been accepted into or denied participation in? How did that make you feel and what did you do?
  3. What artistic creations are examples of your culture?
  4. How does your culture influence the things you do (i.e. Celebrations, daily routines, music, literature)?
  5. How do people pass their culture from generation to generation?
  6. How would you learn about people from other cultures?
  7. What can we do to make people from other cultures/ethnicities feel more comfortable at our school and in our community?

Students will research cultures in their community, and in the larger community of the nation. They will collaborate with the multi-cultural university student group as well as members of their community and cultures in other areas (countries and/or schools). Students will brainstorm ideas of how they might share their learning about community and culture (i.e. diversity fair). They will identify the groups (within and outside of school) to participate in cultural activities (i.e. food, music, clothing, dance, literature).


A civic group in the community is supporting relocation of families from India. Several new students will be enrolled in our school. A member of a civic group comes to school/class asking for assistance to heighten cultural diversity awareness in the community and to provide support for the Indian families.


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Students will brainstorm as a class what constitutes a culture and what cultures presently reside in the community (questions 1 and 2-from task section). A KWL chart will assess students' present knowledge (know) and define the areas to investigate (what to learn). Groups of students will then investigate ideas relative to questions (3, 4 and 5-from task section) or other questions that students developed in their brainstorming session. The students will determine a product/process to answer the questions "How would you learn about people form other cultures?" and "What can we do to make people from other cultures/ethnicities feel more comfortable at our school and in our community?" The class will then collaborate with the multi-cultural student group at the university to offer a forum to heighten cultural awareness in the community (such as diversity fair). Students will select a culture to investigate, form groups, define roles, determine resources to use, and collaborate with schools and cultural groups. The teacher will facilitate the brainstorming process, assist students in refining their problem or issue, and aid students in accessing their resources to develop their project. The elementary and university students will collaboratively engage the public in cultural activities (food, dance, music, literature and language) and multimedia presentations to heighten diversity awareness.


The second and third grade students will work collaboratively with the university students to develop activities to heighten diversity awareness. The end product will engage the school and community in a variety of activities to explore the cultures that the students researched, including the Indian culture. Performances may be provided by members of the culture that the students contacted through their collaboration process. The student-defined activities may include demonstrations of dance, music, food, literature, clothing, traditions and language. Their products may include performances, multi-media presentations, or engagement of the public in learning about the culture and the student groups will define them. Documentation of the activities and products will be posted on the students developed web page.

Best Use of Technology:

Students will use the Internet for researching information related to their selected culture. This will include information regarding traditions, foods, literature, lifestyles, etc. Students will also use online communication tools available to them (listserv, e-mail, bulletin boards) for contacting organizations that support various cultures in other communities. Each student group will use e-mail to maintain contact with the University student that is working with their group. Students may link with schools/cultures through penpals.

Technology might be used as part of the presentation of their product in the form of a multimedia display (HyperStudio/KidPix/PowerPoint). Students will also use digital still picture and video cameras to record the events (diversity fair) and products. The pictures, as well as information and resources gathered about the community and culture, will be posted on each groups student developed web page which will be then be linked off the class web page.

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The assessment of studentĀ¹s prior knowledge will be done through the brainstorming of what constitutes a culture and what cultures presently reside in the community. The teacher will facilitate developing a KWL chart with the class as a model for the class. Each group will begin their project by developing a KWL chart for their particular culture. At the end of the project each group will be responsible for completing their KWL chart as part of the assessment.

A process rubric, defined by the teacher, will be presented to the students to guide their work. The rubric, assessed on a weekly basis, will include the categories of action plan, meeting timelines, collaboration, researching information, and team roles. Each group will meet with a teacher weekly to jointly assess their progress. The teacher and each group will maintain their rubric weekly and will summarize the results at the end of the project. Each student will be responsible for maintaining a weekly journal summarizing his or her own work.

The final products, presentations and activities will be assessed by using a rubric developed earlier in the project as a class activity. Each group will complete a rubric for their own project, each student will complete a rubric for one of the other groups and a teacher will complete a rubric for each group.

Project Evaluation:

Effectiveness of the project will be evaluated using a variety of tools. The KWL charts will indicate prior and new knowledge for the class as well as smaller groups and provide a measurement of the content learning. The process rubric will chart the development of the groups over the four-week period. The individual student journals will provide a student reflection of the project. Teachers will maintain a daily log to detail the highs and lows of the project. The final product rubric will be used in association with the content and process evaluation tools to determine the level of student achievement and effectiveness of the project.


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Alignment with Wisconsin State Standards:

Social Studies Standards:

The Behavioral Sciences: Individuals, Institutions, and Society: Students will learn about the behavioral sciences by exploring concepts from the discipline of sociology, the study of the interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions; the discipline of psychology, the study of factors the influence individual identity and learning; and the discipline of anthropology, the study of cultures in various times and settings.

E.4.4 Describe the ways ethnic cultures influence the daily lives of people.
E.4.9 Explain how people learn about others that are different from themselves.
E.4.11 Give examples and explain how language, stories, folk tales, music and other artistic creations are expressions of culture and how they convey knowledge of other peoples and cultures.

Language Arts Standards:

Oral Language: Students in Wisconsin will listen to understand and will speak clearly and effectively for diverse purposes.

C.4.1 Students will communicate information, opinions and ideas effectively to different audiences for a variety of purposes.
C.4.3 Participate effectively in discussion

Media and Technology: Students in Wisconsin will use media and technology critically and creatively to obtain, organize, prepare an share information; to influence and persuade; and to entertain and be entertained.

E.4.3 Create products appropriate to audience and purpose
E.4.5 Analyze and edit media work as appropriate to audience and purpose

Research and Inquiry: Students in Wisconsin will locate, use and communicate information from a variety of print and nonprint materials.

F.4.1 Conduct research and inquiry on self-selected or assigned topics, issues, or problems and use an appropriate form to communicate their findings

Information and Technology Literacy Standards:

Media and Technology: Students in Wisconsin will select and use media and technology to access, organize, create, and communicate information for solving problems and constructing new knowledge, products, and systems.

A.4.4 Use a computer and communications software to access and transmit information
A.4.5 Use media and technology to create and present information

Information and Inquiry: Students in Wisconsin will access, evaluate, and apply information efficiently and effectively from a variety of sources in print, nonprint, and electronic formats to meet personal and academic needs.

B.4.1 Define the need for information
B.4.2 Develop information seeking strategies
B.4.5 Record and organize information
B.4.6 Interpret and use information to solve the problem or answer the question
B.4.7 Communicate the results of research and inquiry in an appropriate format

The Learning Community: Students in Wisconsin will demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively in teams or groups, use information and technology in a responsible manner, respect intellectual property rights, and recognize the importance of intellectual freedom and access to information in a democratic society.

D.4.1 Participate productively in workgroups or other collaborative learning environments
D.4.2 Use information, media, and technology in a responsible manner

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Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author(s): Trish Graves, Lois Martin, and Sue Selbin
School: CESA 11, Turtle Lake, WI
Created: February 15, 2001 - Updated: April 18, 2001
URL: /lincon/w01/projects/diversity/present.html