LeMoyne Students Celebrate Diversity with Cultural Reflection Journals
Published on 2/28/19
District News LeMoyne Elementary School
“In Syria, they eat rice and chicken!” a young Montessori at LeMoyne student read from her journal.
“This Barbie is from Africa,” another added, holding up a doll. “I know she’s from Africa because of the clothes she is wearing.”
Thanks to a grant funded by the SCSD Educational Foundation, students at LeMoyne Elementary have had the opportunity to learn about their classmates’ cultures – and teach about their own. At LeMoyne, 30 percent of students speak a language other than English, and teacher Michaela Clark wanted to find a way to celebrate that diversity.
Her idea: each student could create a cultural reflection journal, consisting of artwork, coursework content and connections to their own personal experiences and the experiences of their classmates. As they compose their journals, they would have the opportunity to converse with other students in the school – working and learning together.
“For the past two years, I have been working with ENL students in the Montessori program here at LeMoyne,” Ms. Clark explained. “I have been very excited to be a part of the program, and I was looking for a way to make my contribution to the Montessori classroom environment even more meaningful for my students. In addition, I wanted to find a way to have my fifth grade students mentor our youngest students. The cultural reflection journal project is intended to encourage students to write about their own cultural experiences. Students work together and discuss culture, language and their home countries and then journal about what they learned.”
One day, a group of fifth graders from LeMoyne Elementary worked with younger students from Montessori at LeMoyne, using learning tools, toys and crayons to ask about the younger students’ native culture and sharing about their own home country.
The Educational Foundation grant allowed Ms. Clark to purchase journals, art supplies and manipulatives for students to learn with, and a separate Schramm grant enabled her to purchase additional multicultural learning tools – including flash cards, model toys, cultural Barbie dolls and other items.
“These kids are learning about animals and buildings from different parts of the world,” fifth grader Paul Thang explained, as three younger boys played with a pile of toy animals and model buildings. “They’re mostly interested in learning about Africa and Egypt, but they’re exploring everything! It’s fun teaching them, because they’re learning new things from me. They are asking about lions and elephants, and I’ve watched a lot of nature shows, so I can tell them about how they eat, their habitats and what kind of teeth they have!”
“Right now, I’m teaching them about China,” fifth grader Maryah Almasalmeh said of the two younger students she sat with. “We’ve looked at flash cards showing Chinese buildings like the Great Wall of China and we looked at a Viewfinder to learn about animals and how they eat. I’m from Syria, and I taught them about my culture… special foods we eat, special celebrations and holidays we celebrate. We even wrote a sentence in Arabic! I love teaching them because I just love to share information, and it’s helping us and the little kids learn about other cultures!”
Thank you to the SCSD Educational Foundation for bringing this project to life and allowing our LeMoyne and Montessori at LeMoyne students celebrate their #SCSDDiversity!
This is one of 22 projects funded in 17 schools this year by the SCSD Educational Foundation, totaling more than $62,000. To learn more about this year’s grant projects, please visit www.scsdfoundation.com.