Summary:How can teachers support English learners, including recent immigrants, in language acquisition while also investing all students in creating a classroom culture that encourages shared experiences, knowledge construction and the integration of resources that ELs bring? Judith Rance-Roney's answer was to create the Culture Share Club as an intentional learning community within the classroom. Rich descriptions of many effective practices with solid theoretical and research grounding makes this article a must-read for study groups, professional learning communities, or professional development.
The Culture Share group interview project assignment served several purposes. First, because new English learners could assist the group in finding images and writing the abbreviated script needed for the slides. This differentiated format used their artistic strengths and the English language resources they had. The collaborative discussion that went into the preparation of the project and their role in the class presentation gave Tu and Phan a chance to practice their spoken English. Further, this presentation allowed them to begin speaking about their Vietnamese culture and to teach others, thereby establishing their legitimacy as contributors to co-constructed knowledge. Their group was building a global view of community and developing critical-thinking competence as the members tried to describe cultural differences and similarities. This competence would serve all the members well when they faced statewide testing in the spring.