An important part of teaching is creating a positive classroom environment where students can feel safe taking risks, feel that their opinions are respected, and that they are a valued member of the community. In order to do this, teachers must work to be culturally responsive in everything they do. For my final project, I created a website designed to provide a platform for students to not only learn about “culture” as a concept, but dive deeper into their own culture, as well as learn about their classmates’ cultures and what makes them all unique. The goal of this lesson is to encourage a culturally responsive classroom: one where the teachers and the students have the ability to know and understand one another on a deep level in order to best communicate and relate, and create a safe and supportive classroom environment.
This website was designed for a 4th grade class, and is comprised of a series of activities which the students will work on at home, as well as in class. It could be used at any point in the year, but my idea would be to use it at the beginning of the year (ideally some time within the first month of school) as a way to build community and form relationships that will serve the teacher and the students for the rest of the year. This website will help the teacher to better understand their students, what makes them unique and how they view the world, therefore allowing them to teach in the most effective and relevant way to each student. It allows them to individualize instruction and encourages empathy for each student. It will also allow the students to get to know one another on a deeper level, and will encourage an environment of peer-to-peer support and connection, as well as immense socio-emotional development.
I used Google Sites because I felt that it best lended itself to the variety of activities that I was planning on having the students accomplish, and it allowed me to collect various other technology resources into one organized space. Using a website also encouraged a sense of sharing that I feel is integral to this unit. I wanted students to be able to read one another’s stories and get to know each other on a deeper level, and having everyone’s culture in a shared space allows them to do this. The students can access the website from anywhere, allowing them to not only share their stories with their peers, but with their families as well. Doing this project with technology also allowed me to create a diverse set of activities that would engage all learners. For example, using Flipgrid as a way to have students communicate their feelings about the project allows those students who may struggle with communicating their ideas in writing to flourish and still share their story. This kind of diversification is what the project is hoping to encourage, and promote. By using a website, students have the chance to connect and share their stories in a way that encourages diverse communication of ideas amongst peers in an authentic and sincere way.