Strategies for Empowering Students

  • To make students aware of the fact that people are people, regardless of how they look or what the color of their skin may be
  • To promote students' appreciation of their individuality, ethnicity, and their racial and cultural heritage
  • To foster the idea of racial understanding and harmony

  • Develop awareness of cultural differences
  • Integrate language arts skills
  • Use of knowledge and inference skills
  • Enhance reading interests

  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Character Development

Select and read a story about a culture that is different than that of the students. Engage them in a dialogue about this particular culture. Have the students discuss ways in which the characters are very much like them and ways in which they are different.

Then, assign the students to locate books in the library about any race or culture that is not their own. Prearrangement should be made with the school librarian about setting such books aside for your class. The students are free to chose which ethnic group they want to read about.

As the students read, they are to focus on such elements as the traits, wants, needs, and values the characters have in common with them and their families. For example, students will discover that regardless of the culture or race of people they read about, most parents generally care for and love their children, want them to be happy and do well in life, and are willing to make sacrifices to ensure the well-being of the children and family.

As the students read, direct them to keep notes focusing on these issues. When everyone has completed their books, the students will have a book discussion. They will use their notes to share what they have learned about another ethnic or cultural group.

  • How was a new or enhanced cultural awareness exhibited by the students?

  • Were students able to conclude that people are as much alike as they are different?

  • How was this knowledge demonstrated?

  • Did students exhibit a new interest in reading?

  • How was this exhibited?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.