Ohio State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 5354-5364
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.0271
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Providing to the needs of a growing population of diverse students is both a great opportunity and challenging for educators. Appreciating each others' differences as well as their similarities Early childhood teachers must be equipped with an array of teaching skills and dispositions to meet the needs of children from multicultural backgrounds (Purnell, et. al, 2007; Banks, 2006; Cochran-Smith, 2004).Often, children whose funds of knowledge (Moll, et. al, 2001) differ from the school’s culture are less likely to have their academic and social needs met, cultural experience and background validated and cultural qualities respected or affirmed. This is very alarming because early childhood classrooms are the place for children to build social skills and affinity for learning (Gordon, 2009; Janssen, Braaksma, Rijlaarsdam, 2005).

This research described an attempt from two researchers in promoting a culturally relevant classroom by integrating literacy and visual arts in early childhood classroom activities. Researchers and preschoolers collaborated for eight weeks in a project of constructing multicultural picture books ultimately aiming to employ visual art as a medium of expression and communication for children with limited vocabulary and emergent language learners.

The questions below guided this teacher inquiry study:
1. How do the activities promote, or constrain children's cultural sensitivities and awareness?
2. What are the changes needed in the implementation of the activities?
3. How do children respond to the activities?

The eight week project on the other hand entailed five weekly readings of five multicultural picture books, followed by five art activities, utilizing the first three weeks to familiarize the children with the project. The first step in the process involved reading multicultural picture books to the children, followed by having a conversation with the children about topics featured in the book. The children’s conversations continued as informal one on one conversation with researchers while the children engaged an art project. Next, the artwork and their narrative were compiled into a draft picture book, which was read to the children for any necessary amendments or additions. Then, a title was co-constructed finalizing the book. The children’s actions, conversations, responses and narrations during the book reading sessions and art activities were audio and video recorded. These recordings were transcribed and relevant remarks were added in the book draft, making their voice visible. This project resulted with four successfully co-constructed multicultural picture books.
Practitioner inquiry method, culturally relevant pedagogy, literacy, visual arts, emergent language learner, project based learning.