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February 20, 2024

Classroom Activities to Promote Cultural Competence

Understanding the diverse backgrounds and cultures of our students is not just a pedagogical choice; it’s a fundamental aspect of effective teaching. The ability to connect with students on a personal and cultural level enhances our capacity to engage and instruct them meaningfully.

These engaging classroom activities are designed to help you better understand your students’ backgrounds and cultures. Use them as a warm-up activity or as an extension to bring a personal connection to something you are already working on!

Activity 1: Cultural Competence Conversation Starters

Start a conversation or dialogue with your students using these question starters (CCLI, 2020).

What are birthday traditions in your family?
How does your family celebrate the new year?
When a new baby is born into your family, how does your family celebrate?
What is a food that your family serves that you really enjoy and why?
If a guest visited your home for dinner, what meal would you serve them to help them get to know your family?

Activity 2: Would You Rather…

In this activity, you give students two categories (or a third category: “neither”) and you can ask them to physically move around the room as well. Give students a choice of two options and then discuss why they made the choices they did to learn a bit about how their cultural experiences may have played a role (CCLI, 2020). These are just a few, so throw in your own!

Go out to eat OR have a family meal at home?
Go scuba diving OR go to outer space?
Travel by train OR by plane?
Work alone OR in a group?
Go on a vacation to the beach OR to the mountains?
Cook OR be cooked for?
Listen to music OR be the one on stage?

Activity 3: Circles of Myself

For this activity, ask students to start by writing their name in the center circle. Then, they create concentric circles around the inner circle with other words that describe important dimensions of their identity. Give them an example, such as one you have done for yourself or one for a literary character you are reading about in class. Allow them the opportunity to share with the class, with partners, or in small groups (Gorski, 2020).


References

Cultural Competence Learning Institute. (2020). Group Activities.
https://community.astc.org/ccli/resources-for-action/group-activities.

Gorski, P. (2020). Circles of My Multicultural Self.
http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/activities/circlesofself.html

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