Area Educators Exchange Ideas for “Creating a World~Class~Room”

Author: Leonor Wangensteen-Moya

By Lenor Wangensteen-Moya

You don’t have to go far to experience the world when you have great resources like the ones teachers discussed at a summer workshop held at Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies in June.

“Creating a World~Class~Room” gathered over 40 teachers from 32 area K-12 schools to share proven strategies for creating classroom environments that welcome diversity and integrate cultural awareness.

TDGThe Kellogg Traveling Trunks are key resources for many educators, providing a diverse set of materials about eight regions of Africa and Latin America.  A new China trunk was unveiled at the workshop, while two more Asia trunks are in the works.

“There is something for every kid in the classroom, from the artist, to the reader, to the musician,” said Jessica Bundy, a teacher who has used the trunks in her world literature class at St. Joseph’s High School in South Bend. 

Students have been energized by researching artifacts from the East Africa Traveling Trunk while reading The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, an inspiring true story by Malawi author William Kamkwamba, she reported.

The trunks are useful in a variety of settings, including art, math, and ELL, among others.  Luisa Tremmel, who teaches English to non-native speakers at Madison Primary Center in South Bend, discussed how she uses the materials in her classroom.

By teaching through authentic objects from around the world, the teacher becomes “a role model for showing warmth, understanding and sensitivity to other cultures,” she said.

“The Traveling Trunks are excellent tactile scaffolds to learn about diverse cultures,” she explained. “They come with curriculum guide, books, music CDs, instruments, and artifacts.”

In presentations and discussions, teachers exchanged ideas for extending international learning and cultural awareness in their schools.
“The best resources are the families and parents from our own community,” pointed out Mabel Boyajian-Migliaro, a Spanish teacher at South Bend’s Kennedy Academy Primary School. 

Spanish teacher Priscilla Dressen of Mishawaka’s John Young Middle School presented creative activity ideas and best practices for Cultural Awareness Days, interdisciplinary school events that expose students to multicultural traditions through art, food, clothing, and languages from around the world.

Celebrating different worldviews helps students overcome prejudice and promotes social justice and tolerance of diversity in schools, Dressen explained.

Becky Hope, an art teacher at Mishawaka’s Penn High School, summed up the workshop well: “I was thrilled to interact with other teachers and hear how they used multicultural activities in their classes—it was wonderful to hear how they break down barriers.”

The “Creating a World~Class~Room” workshop was an outgrowth of the Kellogg Institute’s International Teacher Discussion Groups, which gather area educators several times a semester to discuss international topics. Through an innovative outreach program to K-12 educators, the Kellogg Institute helps bring the world to local students.

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies promotes scholarship, learning, and linkages that address issues of critical importance to our world. The key themes of democratization and human development are at the center of its interdisciplinary work.

For more information on our outreach programs, please contact Anne Pillai.