Crafting Cultural Connections with Grade 2

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I am presently working in a rather homogeneous and privileged school in Chile. Statistics show that the majority of students at schools in this country remain here until postgraduate studies when those wealthier students may go overseas to pursue a Master’s degree. Understanding this I feel that global education needs to begin quite early in order to raise students that are culturally sensitive and open-minded. The following is one of the recent lessons that did that I feel supported this idea.

It began when our Grade 2´s were doing a Unit of Inquiry on the effect of Culture on Literature. As a technology integrationist I wanted to use this opportunity to use technology as a window to the world.  In class we played around with settings and discussed how to find cultural influences that can be seen in most stories. Here is an outline of project that worked well.

Lesson 1: We began by listening to an audio version ( of the traditional tale of Little Red Riding Hood where we listened and began to pick out the clues that indicated where the story took place (food, animals, housing, landscape & clothes). We began to discuss what would happen if we were to retell this story from another location. We discussed the story and what Little Red would have in her basket should the story take place in Chile (empanadas, choclo etc)  We made guesses as to where the story of little Red originated. Some of their guesses were excellent, guessing Italy and United States while other wilder guesses, such as Alaska and Africa provided a good catalyst for deeper conversation into what evidence or cultural clues would the story need to include if those guesses were to be correct.

Lesson 2: We chose three countrys/continents to study.  On the iPads they used the non-fiction e-books I made to find information. I did this as I was having difficulty finding content geared at an appropriate reading level. The children did  research in pairs and created mind-maps to record their information.

Lesson 3
: Finally they used to create a title page for their new version of the story incorporating the new information they had learned about their chosen country.

A Voicethread is an asynchronous platform where we can record audio, video, text and images and share this with others.

Lastly, we used the Voicethread to tie it all together. We hope to create an ongoing dialogue with children in other countries.The students are learning that the best way to find information that is to ask an expert. What better way to learn about a country than to learn from the people who live there? The Voicethread was made with the information that came up in the first lesson when we discussed our own country and imagined how the story would change if it took place here.

The biggest obstacle to this project was getting volunteers to participate.  Even though I used twitter and strategically hashtagged to get the maximum exposure it was still difficult to get participants. This was largely due to the fact the activity was badly timed to correspond with the Northern Hemisphere´s summer holidays. If you would like to get your class to participate in this activity- we look forward to hearing from you. We will leave the VT active indefinitely and see where it leads.

For more samples of the final product check out  or participate in our VoiceThread at  Copies of the e-books used for this activity are not yet available through itunes but global classroom readers can email me directly for a copy


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