Extending Learning Time for Disadvantaged Students - Volume 1 Summary of Promising Practices - 1995

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Cultural Sensitivity

Together, the extended-time programs described in this idea book serve a diverse student population whose cultural heritage is collectively African American, Anglo, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and Caribbean. All selected programs are open to students of all races.8 However, because their participants reflect the racial and ethnic compositions of local communities, several programs serve high proportions of one or two ethnic groups.

In planning the best way to extend learning opportunities for the groups they serve, many programs make cultural sensitivity a priority that manifests itself in activities for students as well as in staff development. In addition, some programs reach beyond the cultures of their own participants to the greater diversity of the larger community.

The Brooklyn Children's Museum, which operates the Kids Crew program, is located in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. This diverse community includes African Americans, West Indians, Hispanics, and Hasidic Jews. Museum staff receive training twice a year in developing curricula that reflect diverse cultures. Many Kids Crew projects take advantage of the racial and ethnic groups in the community. A recent theme, "Celebrations and Traditions," included a walking tour of the neighborhood; staff described how each religion celebrates the holidays during December and explained the religious meanings of the decorations. Many of the children had never visited parts of the neighborhood included in the tour. Students took photographs during the tour, and in later sessions they discussed the differences and similarities of Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Other activities explored how different cultural groups cook, talk, paint, and relate to each other.

Activities for Students

Extended-time programs may include a variety of activities specifically aimed at fostering cultural awareness. The intersession program in the Socorro Independent School District includes bilingual instruction in English and Spanish. Through ASPIRA clubs, middle and high school students explore the contributions of Hispanics to U.S. culture, with the goal of increasing self-esteem and developing a commitment to improving the community. The Summer Institute for At-Risk Migrant Students attempts to eliminate the cultural and psychological gaps between students by scheduling former migrant students who have "made it" as guest speakers and role models. In the Life Options class that Teen Outreach students take during the school day, students discuss their cultural differences and similarities and consider the impact of prejudice and discrimination through role playing.

Staff Development

Some programs also offer staff development in cultural awareness. For example, ASPIRA strives to incorporate culture into science education. Workshops in the Chicago area include such topics as botany and Mesoamerican design, the scientific uses of Navajo plants, and Mayan mathematics. Staff at the Yuk Yau Child Development Center also have participated in workshops on cross-cultural studies. Raising Hispanic Academic Achievement provides tutors with research summaries of Hispanic academic achievement and practices for teaching math to language-minority students.
8 Although they are open to students of all races, ASPIRA and Raising Hispanic Academic Achievement target Hispanic students. Although it would be illegal for any Title I program to limit program eligibility to a particular ethnic group, these programs are included here because they use promising practices for extending learning time in schools with populations of Hispanic students.
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