Multicultural Learning Modules
Multicultural Learning Modules: During the 2003-2004 academic year, the Multicultural Equity Council and the Learning Outcomes Committee sponsored a project in which faculty from across the disciplines were invited to design modules that integrated multiculturalism and that could be adapted by other instructors for use in a variety of classes. The following are the modules that emerged from that project. They are designed for all faculty to use a reference and/or to adapt for their own courses.
Teaching in and Understanding Diverse Classrooms
By Phil Ray Jack
Description: Green River's classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse as more international students are attracted to American classrooms. This provides opportunities for discovery and promoting understanding, but it also creates complex issues. How does one teach a class so that it is challenging for those who are familiar with the language and culture without leaving English Language Learners behind? How can an instructor create an environment where a student feels safe to express themselves and share information about their cultures when the students are feeling insecure about their grades? This module offers suggestions for teaching that can be used in any classroom to meet the diverse needs of the students and includes sample assignments for math, business, and writing courses.
Competencies addressed: This module addresses the "Examining Diversity" Learning Outcome 7.4. It provides support to encourage students to "collaborate and interact effectively, equitably and respectfully in diverse groups within the classroom or campus-related workplaces and practice areas" by helping the instructor create a learning environment where students feel safe to express themselves. Also, it addresses the "Examining Diversity" Learning Outcome 7.1 by creating opportunities for students to "recognize [one another's] social position and geopolitical location, along with the consequences of both."
Assessment: In order to assess the effectiveness of this approach, I am looking for volunteers to work with me. We will develop specific lesson plans that include a preliminary assignment, the presentation of the information, and an assessment of student learning. I will also ask that the instructor complete an assessment form after the assignments are completed. Anyone interested may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Major Authors: A Study in Multiculturalism
By Julie Moore and Elizabeth Brownell
This assignment asks students to write a paper in which they will select a minority author, study one of this author's primary texts (poetry, short fiction, essay, film, speech, or play) and then compare or contrast this primary text to one of three things: a social condition related to multiculturalism (racial discrimination, identity issues, etc.), a historical event related to multiculturalism, or another primary text by a minority author in which multiculturalism is central. In addition, students will complete a Reflective Writer's Memo as a final step to this paper. This module has two options, one geared towards students at an English 110 level and another geared towards students at an English 111, 112, 113 level. The assignment was developed so that it could be applied in a variety of disciplines, from social sciences to humanities, and bibliographies are attached to help faculty across the disciplines integrate texts that would help their students complete this paper assignment.
Description of English 110 Level Module: Assignment asks students to identify a common theme between three different texts by minority authors, then compare and contrast the way this theme is presented in those texts. Students have a choice of texts, but these are limited to ones that have been assigned as readings or shown in class. No Writer's Memo is required at this level. Assignment
Description of English 111 Level Module: Description of the module (may be a repetition of the synopsis on the overview page, or somewhat expanded): This assignment, Major Authors: A Study in Multiculturalism asks students to write a paper in which they will select a minority author, study one of this author's primary texts (poetry, short fiction, essay, film, speech, or play) and then compare or contrast this primary text to one of three things: a social condition related to multiculturalism (racial discrimination, identity issues, etc.), a historical event related to multiculturalism, or another primary text by a minority author in which multiculturalism is central. In addition, students will complete a Reflective Writer's Memo as a final step to this paper. This module has two options, one geared towards students at an English 110 level and another geared towards students at an English 111, 112, 113 level. The assignment was developed so that it could be applied in a variety of disciplines, from social sciences to humanities, and bibliographies are attached to help faculty across the disciplines integrate texts that would help their students complete this paper assignment. Assignment
Competencies Addressed: The specific competencies under the "Examining Diversity" learning outcome that your module addresses: The English 110 module also addresses competency 7.2: Examine economic, political, and social inequalities and their effects on communities.
The Diversity Kit
By Diana Mamerto Holz and Candy Benteu
This "kit" provides tools that may support faculty in introducing diversity activities into their classroom instruction. It includes the following items:
- A notebook of icebreakers and mini lessons that can be used in any discipline
- Two short video tapes on "Talking about Race"
- A teaching manual to supplement the video tapes
- A classroom guide to cross-cultural understanding
- A book of affirmations, quotes, and ideas to spark our awareness
In addition, we have included a cloth that can be used as a table covering to set the tone for your classroom or workshop. We have found that a rich fabric can "soften" the feel of a room. A maraca is included as a prop that can be used to get the attention of the students. We sometimes break students into small groups and then shake the "rattle" when it is time to come together for discussion.
Supports and develops the following "Examining Diversity" competency: This module contains materials in "kit" form that will help students to collaborate and interact effectively, equitably and respectfully in diverse groups within the classroom or campus-related workplaces and practice areas.
Specific Applications and Activities:
- Increases multicultural awareness in the curriculum among students and faculty: The materials and activities within this module will assist the instructor in presenting curriculum that provides an awareness of multiculturalism.
- Demonstrates collaboration between college faculty, divisions, or other organizations: This module will provide an opportunity for various faculty members to use the materials and activities within their classrooms, plus it will be available for other outside agencies to borrow
- Enhances the educational climate on a long-term basis: The module is packaged in a "kit" with materials and activities that are designed to be easily used in a variety of settings (workshop, seminar, classroom instruction, etc.). The kit is something that has lasting value with an option of update and renewal.
- Benefits multiple faculty teaching various courses: The kit can be used in a variety of courses. It is not course specific.
- Provides links to relevant Web sites: Additional activities and icebreakers can be found at:
- Assessment - The instructor will be able to assess student learning through facilitated discussion, observation and evaluation. The kit will contain evaluation forms for students or other participants to complete as well as an evaluation form for each instructor or trainer.
- Other Content or Supplementary Materials - The kit is an expanding vehicle to guide individuals on their journey toward understanding issues surrounding diversity. It can be easily expanded by providing ideas to the Instructional Diversity Committee (IDC).
Bad Sistas: Black Women Rappers and Sexual Politics in Rap Music
By Jennifer Whetham
This module takes both its name and its structure from an essay by Tricia Rose: the course will center around the three central themes Rose claims are predominant in the works of black female rappers:
- Heterosexual courtship
- The importance of the black female voice
- Mastery in women's rap and black female public displays of physical and sexual expression.
The content of the course involves feminist readings of hip hop texts (movies, music videos, and rap songs) through scholarly texts, informal student writing, and class discussions. The capstone of the three week module is a presentation by each student: either a formal essay or a creative project designed by the students, either alone or in groups. The three week module will lead students to discover and investigate the patriarchal discourses female and male rappers operate in, and specifically focus on how female rappers both enter into conversation with and against male rappers. The materials this module provides could be used by both the English Division and the Humanities Division-in an English course, a philosophy course, or a speech and rhetoric course.
Rationale and Brief Overview:Rap music and hip hop culture have a specific use in the classroom as primary sources to encourage critical thinking and writing. In addition, there are many excellent academic secondary sources to supplement discussion and show students the political, economic, social, and theoretical implications of both kinds of texts. This module takes primary texts (movies, lyrics, videos, audio recordings) and secondary texts (scholarly essays) to help students read, annotate, discuss, and write critically and analytically about rap music both in an academic and social context.
Diversity Learning Outcomes: This module meets all four of the diversity learning outcomes. Using rap music in the classroom as literary texts can help students examine economic, political, and social inequalities and their effects on communities, as well as analyze the multiple histories, cultures, perspectives, contributions and/or struggles of various peoples. As Kurtis Blow states in his essay, "The History of Rap," "Hip-hop is the voice of a generation that refused to be silenced by urban poverty, a local phenomenon fueled with so much passion and truth it could not help but reach the entire world."
Unfortunately, students who come from a background of privilege and power often misinterpret the power of such speech. Studying rap music as literature not only helps students analyze and understand the literature of the traditional canon, it can serve as a living, oral history to help students realize the subordination of black culture. As bell hooks says, "In contemporary black popular culture, rap music has become one of the spaces where black vernacular speech is used in a manner that invites dominant mainstream culture to listen-to hear-and, to some extent, to be transformed."
Using rap lyrics, rap music, and other hip hop texts (books and movies) to analyze not only African-American culture, but also how power and privilege empower some members of society while marginalizing and disenfranchising others can show students the relationship between race and power. A discussion of rap music in the context of an art form in the college classroom can transform student readings of a group traditionally marginalized. This module accomplishes two major goals:
- Giving rap and hip-hop culture the recognition as a serious art form.
- Inviting members of the "dominant mainstream culture" to listen, hear, and analyze rap music-to be transformed.
Content of Module In addition to teaching crucial scholarly skills and helping students meet the learning outcomes of the "Examining Diversity" Learning Outcomes, this module will empower students to critically read cultural texts. This particular module takes its title from an essay by Tricia Rose. In her examination of texts from a feminist perspective, she provides a new and exciting reading of black women rappers. When speaking of feminism, sexuality, and rap music, conversation is usually focused around the sexism of rap music. Rather than blaming black male rappers for creating and reinforcing sexism and gynophobia, students will discuss the sexual politics black women rappers create and discuss in their music. The module focuses specifically on feminist issues in rap music and hip hop culture: the module takes its structure from the three central themes Rose claims are predominant in the works of black female rappers:
- Heterosexual courtship
- The importance of the black female voice
- Mastery in women's rap and black female public displays of physical and sexual expression
As a class, students will analyze the ways black women rappers work within and against the dominant sexual and racial narratives in American culture. Through the work done in this module, students will not only have a more sophisticated reading of rap music and hip hop culture, but also come to understand more about patriarchy, racism, and sexism in American culture. Most importantly, students will come to a deeper understanding of feminism-particularly black feminists and the struggles they experience.
Classes Suitable: The materials this module provides could be used in an English course, a philosophy course, or a sociology course. The content of the course involves feminist readings of hip hop texts (movies, music videos, and rap songs) through scholarly texts, informal student writing, and class discussions. The capstone of the three week module is a presentation by each student: either a formal essay or a creative project designed by the students, either alone or in groups. The three week module will lead students to discover and investigate the patriarchal discourses female and male rappers operate in-and specifically focus on how female rappers both enter into conversation with and against male rappers.
The texts I have gathered for this three week course would lend themselves to a number of disciplines: communications, psychology, anthropology, literature, and/or music. The particular slant of the following texts, however, will help students learn three basic skills: discussion, writing, and speaking, using primary texts taken from hip hop culture and rap music, and scholarly sources written by history and literature instructors.
Links to Materials and a Word on Assessment: In the materials provided, you will find a working bibliography of texts, an adaptable two week schedule of readings and discussion prompts, and a final essay assignment. In addition to providing journal prompts as pre-writing for that final essay, you will also find a rubric with which to assess student papers. The journals assigned during the two week schedule can be responded to by the instructor with a simple comment or mark. The primary mode of assessment, however, is the capstone of the final essay.
Final Thoughts: Students are invigorated and excited to study the things they are already familiar with. By building on this particular alternative literacy, we can push them to not only come to a deeper appreciation and understanding of the political, theoretical, and historical underpinnings of rap music and hip hop culture, but help students come to a deeper understanding of class, race, and power.
The Harlem Renaissance: A Time of Great Hope and Endless Possibilities
By Brad Johnson
The Harlem Renaissance learning module explores the spiritual and artistic awakening of the "Negro" brought about by various social and economic forces, resulting in one of the richest, most vibrant artistic eras of the early 20th century, while recognizing that its legacy has influences in today's music, literature, the arts, and scholarship. The activities and resources allow this module to be used in the K-12 classrooms and post-secondary schools. This particular module will be a 6-8 day unit. Various programs and divisions at Green River can utilize these materials, namely Project Teach, Early Childhood Education, the Social Sciences, the Humanities, and English. Courses where this may be used include art, speech, philosophy, history, political science, social science, and music classes, to name some. Student activities/assignments for this module include maintaining daily journals; taking quizzes on novel, film, and lectures; sharing written responses to the visual arts presentation; participating in literature-based seminars, class discussions, and reading journal assignments; and collaborating on a final 3-5 page written project.
The Harlem Renaissance learning module is designed to introduce, define, and help students explore what this important movement signified- a spiritual, political, and artistic awakening of the "Negro", brought about by various social and economic forces dating from Reconstruction to the recent close of WWI, manifesting itself into one of the richest, most vibrant artistic eras of the early 20th century America. The cultural capital of Black America gave rise and voice to some of the most talented and creative writers, singers, painters, artists, actors, and musicians. A black identity was forged which introduced many black themes into American modernism. The central goal of this unit is to bring the Harlem Renaissance to life in order to allow students to gain an appreciation of the profound cultural, literary, political, and artistic contributions of the "negro" in Harlem during the 1920's and 1930's, which have evolved into an integral part of American culture and society today; another goal is to provide African American students with a stronger sense of their proud, vital, and creative heritage and history. The competencies that this module will address are the following: 7.3 and 7.4: 7.3. Analyze the multiple histories, cultures, perspectives, contributions and/or struggles of various peoples. 7.4 Collaborate and interact effectively, equitably and respectfully in diverse groups within the classroom or campus-related workplaces and practice areas.
Student activities/assignments will be comprised of the following: maintain daily journals and class notes; share written responses to the poetry and visual arts presentation; take quizzes from the novel, video, and lectures; participate in a seminar based on the novel and class discussions; and collaborate in both defining assigned glossary of terms and writing the final project paper (list of topics attached).
Other activities and resources accompany this learning module, specifically a curriculum guide booklet* for preschool and K-12 classes that includes an overview, purpose, materials, activities list, and outcome for six assignments. Each assignment comes complete with a list of 12-15 age-appropriate books, along with a brief synopsis of each. This 30 page booklet is truly tailor made and ready to go for Early Childhood Education teachers or elementary Project Teach candidates wanting to explore picture books or stories for younger children, or for high school Project Teach candidates and faculty noted in divisions stated above who wish to explore either Black themes, culture, history and/or consciousness.
Prior to beginning the unit, students are to have read the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. Ten journal entries (one page minimum) are required, one for about every twenty pages, where students will have many response options: character development; structure; her narrative technique of alternating between highly figurative narration and colloquial dialogue- the Southern vernacular; imagery; setting; central conflicts; symbolism (must discuss the use of the horizon); power relations; issues of race; how speech is both a mechanism of control and a vehicle of liberation; the role of silence; and then, draw parallels from relationships, issues, conflicts, etc. within the novel to today. Students are to have their journals/notes prepared for a seminar that will take two class periods. Handouts on how to conduct and lead a seminar will have been handed out, as well as the selection of student leaders (two) for each day. Students will be graded at seminar not only on the quantity of notes (approximately 10 pages) but also on the quality of notes that are to follow the format of having textual quotes and plausible analysis of the quote to support an interpretation. During seminar, students must also intellectually participate with insights, questions, suggestions, and/or criticisms by referencing the text or notes in order to receive points.
What is Terrorism?
By Lisa Trujillo
In this module/lesson, students work to define terrorism and then apply the definition to world events. The materials come from "Rethinking Schools" (Bill Bigelow) and Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine curriculum; in addition, there are two articles provided which will complement/supplement. This lesson has thus far been used at Green River in an HSC Civics class and in both levels of reading classes. It is well-suited or adaptable for social science courses--history, political science, sociology, philosophy-as well as many writing courses (ENGL 100, 110, 112, for example.)
What is Terrorism? (Competencies 1, 2, 3, 4) This module/lesson has students work to define terrorism and then apply the definition to world events. Materials from "Rethinking Schools" and Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine curriculum.
- Bowling for Columbine DVD for excerpts
- Scenarios from Bill Bigelow's lesson in "Rethinking Schools"
- Reading: Mark Hertsgaard's "The Oblivious Empire" and/or
- Reading: Joel Andreas' "The War on Terror"-a "comic book," but serious
Steps: Pose the question of why the US government uses the words "terror," "terrorist," and "terrorism" all the time but has never defined them.
First, students will create an individual definition of terrorism, keeping these questions in mind: "Does terrorism have to involve the killing of many people or can it affect just one person? Can it involve simply the destruction of property, with no injuries? Can governments commit acts of terrorism, or is the term reserved only for people that operate outside of governments? Must terrorism involve people of one country attacking the citizens of another country? Does motive make a difference? Does terrorism have to be intentional?"
Second, students get into small groups to share their individual definitions to see if they can build consensus on a definition.
Third, scenarios are presented (using fake names for countries and people involved so that students will look at them objectively.) Students are informed that all of the scenarios are real. They then attempt to apply their group's definition to each scenario.
Fourth, 1) Have small groups report out on their scenarios and what they decided about them. If they made a diagram (on large paper or overhead transparency paper), have them show the class as they explain. 2) Tell the class who the scenarios actually involved (many involve the US.)
(Possible extension: Economic Terrorism-see website)
Fifth, Show clip of Bowling for Columbine
This clip is very brief. It shows a series of events containing US foreign policy decisions.
- Have them read "The Oblivious Empire," which discusses the fact that so many Americans really don't see America objectively; thus, they cannot see why there is so much anti-American sentiment worldwide.
- Have them read "The War on Terrorism" by Joel Andreas- These readings have questions and suggestions for other activities and/or writing assignments.
- Have them do outside research on US foreign policy decisions (a good list from Michael Moore's teaching manual that goes with Bowling for Columbine) and report back by presenting the information to the class with poster, PowerPoint, triptych, etc)
- Reflective writing assignments (create your own or link them to readings above)
Beginning to Understand the Language and Social Constructions of Gender and Sexuality By Lisa Trujillo
This Module has two parts-you can do either one or both. This module addresses Examining Diversity--Competencies 2, 3, 4.
- Social Construction of Gender
- Sexual Orientation (terms and homophobia)
In the first part, students will be starting with gender roles and how they are transmitted. Students usually have a good time with the activities. The article is quite useful, and there is a short quiz provided for it. The second part involves learning about the terms used in discussing gender and sexual orientation. The videos address homophobia and gay bashing, and the DVD interviews can be borrowed from Lisa Trujillo (x4200) if there are other aspects of the issue that instructors would like to address. This lesson could be used in writing courses, gender studies courses, sociology, psychology, and reading, among others.
Module has two parts-you can do either one or both. Social Construction of Gender Sexual Orientation (terms and homophobia)
Examining Diversity--Competencies 2, 3, 4: This is a pretty "safe" lesson/s as far as issues of sexual orientation/gender identity are concerned. It is fairly informational and, for the most part, stays away from the "it's right or wrong" discussion.
This is the way I have generally proceeded with this lesson:
For gender roles:
- Students write in class about what they think their lives would have been/ would be like if they had been born the opposite sex. Then I collect their papers and read to the class from them.
- Play "Girl" by Jamaica Kinkaid (on CD) If you don't have the CD, you can read it aloud in just a few minutes.
- Split the class into two groups-male and female. Each group lists things that were taught to them by members of the same sex.
- Discussion: Share lists with the large group and look for differences, categories, etc.
Readings I have used:
"Becoming Members of Society: Learning the Social Meanings of Gender" by Aaron Devor (Discusses acquisition of gender roles/the social construction of gender, etc.)
This article is quite informative. I often split it up and have groups present the information using different strategies. For the first section on acquiring gender awareness/roles, and they create a timeline; for explaining the Personal "I," social "me," "generalized other," and "significant other," they draw a visual representation; for the info on male/masculinity, they create a map; and for the female/femininity, they create a chart or outline. I have a short quiz (included) that will assess their understanding of those concepts.
Another Activity: Send students out to a shopping mall and have them go to departments that are traditionally catering to those of the opposite sex, and try to get help from salespeople. For instance, a man might go to the makeup counter and ask for help buying the right colors etc. for himself. Then have students write a reflective piece about the experience.
For sexual orientation:
First, distribute the GLSEN handout for individuals to complete.
Then collect the papers (no names are requested on the handout) and discuss some of the responses, taking notes on the board if desired.
Note: You don’t have to collect the papers, but I find that it is easier for students to be honest if they aren’t afraid of being labeled either queer or homophobic. They seem more willing to discuss issues raised by the class as a whole.
GLSEN handout "What We Really Think"
Second, explain that part of having a dialogue includes making sure that every member understands the terms being used in the same way the other members do. Many of us have trouble with some of the terms surrounding sexual orientation, gender, etc.
Next step: Divide the class into small groups (2-4) and give each group an envelope filled with terms/definitions; see if people can match the terms to the definitions. After the small groups have completed this task, bring the class together to go over the answers. The extended definitions of the terms should be on overhead transparencies. Go over them all to make sure people have the information.
Possible choices for video/DVD:
- Video (segment of) Teen Files: The Truth about Hate.
- Video: Frontline's Assault on Gay America. There is a website devoted to this, too. Included in the module is a survey on homophobia found there, but students would have to do it online to get the results.
- DVD: I ordered these DVDs myself. They are very inexpensive. They are put out by PFLAG and More Light Presbyterians. They say that these DVDs provide " ...an easy, non-threatening way to get your church or social group talking about LGBT inclusion! "Project Hearts & Minds" is a series of 30-minute video interviews, filmed in a TV talk-show format, with LGBT people and allies who speak about their families, their activism, and their lives. The shows are discussion-starters that you can use...to open a conversation about LGBT inclusion and equality in America. Each volume of 4 interviews ships with a printed facilitator's guide (also available online: volume one and volume two) which includes discussion questions suitable for a church adult education class or other formal group setting."
Each interview is 27 minutes long
Michael Adee, National Field Organizer for More Light Presbyterians, describes his upbringing in a small Louisiana town, the effect his coming-out had on family and friends, and his experiences as an openly gay elder in the Presbyterian Church.
Wendy Daw and Belinda Ryan, a bi-national lesbian couple (Wendy is a U.S. citizen, Belinda a British citizen) discuss their experiences coming out in two different cultures, how their lives have grown together, and the heavy burden placed by U.S. immigration law on same-sex couples with different citizenships living in the U.S.
Jim DeLaHunt, Policy Director for the same-sex marriage advocacy group Marriage Equality California, discusses the differences between civil marriage and religious marriage, the rights and responsibilities that result under U.S. civil marriage law, and some of the recent international and U.S. legal developments that are shaping marriage policy in America. (Interview taped Oct. 2003).
Marina Gatto, 15-year-old gay rights activist and daughter of two lesbian mothers, speaks about the societal prejudice and harassment she's experienced because she has two moms, her experience in two schools which had very different levels of acceptance of same-sex parents, and some of the work that she's done to seek equality for gay and lesbian people.
Volume 2: shows 5-8
Each interview is 27 minutes
Kara Speltz, grandmother, lifelong Catholic, and Roman Catholic Denominational Team leader for the LGBT activist group Soulforce. Kara speaks about her experience as a lesbian woman within the Catholic church, and her activist work and arrests for nonviolent civil disobedience with Soulforce.
Sydney Anderson, a female-to-male transsexual, talks about his life before, during, and after his transition, and about the sources of help he found along the way.
Carla Blair is the proprietor of Carla's, a beauty salon in San Jose, California which caters primarily to transgender women. Carla discusses what it's like to run a boutique for women who weren't raised culturally as women, the range of interesting people she interacts with at the salon, and the community of caring and compassion that she and her guests have built together.
San Jose City Council Member Ken Yeager discusses his service as Santa Clara County, California's only openly gay elected official, his book Trailblazers, and the development of the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC).
4. Readings I have used:
"Appearances" by Carmen Vazquez (This is about violence against people who were targeted because they "appeared" to be GLBT but who were not...)
The article has questions and writing assignments from which you can assess student learning. In addition, you could quiz them on the terms/definitions from the GLSEN activity.