Students tell about city’s diverse culture through interviews

Finishing up their multicultural unit, second graders at Oak Harbor Elementary presented their Digital City of Stories projects just before the end of the school year.

The project included four videos of them interviewing members of the various cultures in Oak Harbor.

The military, Mexican, Filipino and Netherlands cultures were explored in these videos, which totaled a 39- minute run-time.

The students were directed to research the cultures and create interview questions about them in relation to Oak Harbor. When they finished that, they interviewed people in these cultures.

Those interviews were the subject of the videos.

“We really wanted to bring the community inside the classroom, make it personally applicable to them, provide them with a real-world connection,” said Anna Fick, a second-grade teacher.

Fick was responsible for organizing the cross-curriculum project and setting up the presentation Wednesday.

The assignment had all four second grade classes mixing, since each teacher chose to focus on one culture.

The students also explored further depths of this assignment in their art and music classes.

In art, the students researched aspects of the culture such as transportation, climate, housing, recreation and food, and chose symbols representing those categories to use to decorate a flag from one of the cultures.

In music, they learned traditional dances to tradition music from each country, and marches and anthems from the military.

“It’s just been a really great collaborative experience among teachers, among students, with families and communities,” Fick said.

“It just opened the doors and brought the world into the classroom.”

This project was a School of Choice project.

The program is meant to “strive to build responsible citizens by offering grade- level enrichment learning activities that promote connections to the community and enhance the learning of our students,” according to the school’s website.

Second-grade teachers applied for an Oak Harbor Education grant as a group, from which they received iPads to enrich their students’ learning. A requirement of the grant was to do a project-based learning assignment, and so they enhanced their multi-cultural unit with the iPads, which they used to record the interviews and make the videos.

“I thought it was really great that the kids were learning about the cultures that we have in Oak Harbor and the diversity,” said principal Dorothy Day, “and also getting a chance to interview members of the community and ask questions.”

The teachers are thinking of a pen-pal based project next year. Fick said one appeal of a such a project is “potentially getting kids connected to students that are their age in other cultures.”

Whether the teachers do this exact project again in the future is undetermined, but educating the students in other cultures will remain a priority.

“We will definitely keep focusing on teaching our kids the cultures,” Day said.


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