Mr. Moua explains to second graders how this flat basket is used to sift rice grains from the outer hulls.
Posted by Jean Van Houten
When Joel and I received our Fund for Teachers Grant in March to travel in Thailand for two weeks, I shared my excitement with my second graders at Longfellow Elementary. My goal was to give the students background knowledge on Hmong history and culture.
Mr. Raney introduces the idea to second graders that Mr. Moua's story is captured in the Hmong story cloth.
Mr. Raney introduced students to information about our trip and Mr. Moua’s refugee story. We gave each student an index card to write a question for Mr. Moua. They were encouraged to listen to Mr. Raney's introduction and think about possible questions under relevant topics to ask Mr. Moua: Laos, Thailand, family, farming and food, village life in the mountains, refugee camps, moving to Eau Claire, etc.
This student's question for Mr. Moua: "How does it feel to be going back to Thailand?"
At the end of the lesson, Mr. Raney told the students that he would follow them throughout the course of the day and make a video that would be shared with the children in Thailand. The video included their lesson on Hmong culture, singing and dancing in music class, playing the parachute game and soccer in Phy. Ed., and receiving Friday Kids' Meals.
The students at Chai Thong seemed to enjoy the presentation and film of Longfellow Elementary students. The younger students filled the auditorium for the first presentation, and when they returned to class, the older students, grades 4-6, sat in neat lines for the second presentation.
As Chai Thong students watched the film, Mr. Moua narrated in Thai to provide relevant background information.
With the upcoming school year, I will be looping with my second graders to third grade. We have built on their basic understanding of Hmong Culture. I have brought back artifacts from Thailand to enhance their learning and develop their understanding. We're in the process of embedding Hmong history and culture into our social studies curriculum with the school-wide goal to have aligned units on Hmong history and culture from kindergarten to grade five.
Last year my second grade students were “pirates” and our classroom was a “pirate ship.” They learned a lot about pirates through literature and expanded their vocabulary. This year as I loop to third grade with my students they will be “villagers” and our classroom will be a “Hmong village” in the jungle of Thailand. I brought back artifacts that will be used to make our classroom resemble the villages we visited. At the end of last school year, the students were given a choice and asked to vote on the theme for the following year. The majority of the students voted for the Hmong village in the jungle.
Mrs. Printz (left) and Mrs. Van Houten work through the many end-of-the-year details as they pack up the pirate ship at the end of the 2011/2012 school year.
Our students are all so eager to learn more about Hmong culture and history as third graders. We have amazing photos and video clips that will be used to enhance their learning. The “villagers” will have pen pals in the elementary school we visited in Chai Thong. We look forward to a year of learning through our correspondence with them. We will share photos of our “villagers” on the blog as we transform our “pirate ship” into a “Hmong village.”
We visited Chai Thong on a Wednesday when all of the students wear their scout uniforms. Scouting activities and lessons are built in to the school day. In November the whole school has a campout and they set up tents on the soccer field.