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Ministry of Education.

Defining Diversity activities

Deepen the understanding of cultural diversity in your school and encourage culturally appropriate responses

This is a selection of activities from the Ministry of Education publication Defining Diversity: A Facilitation Manual to use with New to New Zealand (2008). The activities are designed to assist Boards of Trustees, senior management, teachers, and parents to deepen their understanding of cultural diversity and encourage the development of culturally appropriate responses. It is possible to use the activities without reference to the New to New Zealand text.

It is not intended that all activities will be worked through in order but that activities are selected that best meet the needs of the participants. Some of the activities can be adapted to use with students. The Defining Diversity activities concentrate on the key message: Know your learner. 

This can be achieved by:

  • finding out about a learner’s language and schooling background
  • finding out about a learner’s prior knowledge and experiences
  • using activities that build on prior knowledge
  • making connections with the wider community.

Self reflection activities

These activities are designed to help you understand your own culture so that you can understand the culture of others.

Activity 1 – Life path

Purpose: To explore your life journey and share this information with colleagues. 

Materials: A3 paper and pens.

Instructions: Visually depict your life from birth to today. Include as many significant moments as you can. You will be sharing this pathway with a partner. You can use any form of visual depiction, for example a heartbeat monitor, a straight line or a spiral. You have ten minutes to complete your life path. When you have completed your path, check to see that you have included most of the significant moments of your life. Now talk your partner through your path.

Discussion points:

  • Were there any surprises?
  • Do you know more about your colleague now that you have completed this exercise?
  • Have your assumptions been questioned?

Activity 2 – Feels familiar 

Purpose: To share a snapshot of your cultural experiences with colleagues. 

Materials: Activity 2 worksheet and pens. 

Defining Diversity Activity 2 worksheet (PDF, 41 KB)

Instructions: Individually fill in the sheet then share information with colleagues.

Discussion points:

  • How different/similar are your experiences?
  • How have these experiences influenced your life?

Activity 3a – Key words articulate 

Purpose: To explore seven diversity key words and generate initial unconscious responses. 

Materials: Activity 3 worksheet.

Defining Diversity Activity 3 worksheet (PDF, 35 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the activity 3 worksheet onto cards. Taking it in turns, teachers have 30 seconds each to explain each word. The skill is in explaining the word/concept clearly within the time allowed.

Discussion points:

  • What were my initial responses?
  •  How do they differ to other responses?

Activity 3b – Key words think/pair/share

Purpose: To encourage people to examine their own definitions of seven diversity key words and consider other definitions.

Materials: Activity 3 worksheet.

Defining Diversity Activity 3 worksheet (PDF, 35 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the activity 3 worksheet onto cards. Ask staff individually to think about what the key word means for them. Share their definitions with their partner and finally share with the wider group.

Discussion points:

  • How do your definitions differ from others?
  • What does this tell you about your perceptions and assumptions?

Activity 4 – My cultural panorama 

Purpose: To record ideas about the visible and less visible aspects of culture using an iceberg graphic.

Materials: Activity 4 worksheet and pens.

Defining Diversity Activity 4 worksheet (PDF, 88 KB)

Instructions: Invite participants to record their cultural panorama onto the worksheet. The visible culture, the tip of the iceberg, is what we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. The invisible culture, the iceberg below the surface, is our attitudes, values, beliefs and assumptions.

Discussion points:

  • Discuss similarities and differences.
  • How does this reflect who you are?

Activities to reflect on your school and class communities

These activities suggest ways to foster cultural diversity in schools and encourage staff to develop approaches specific to their communities.

Activity 5a – Post it notes 

Purpose: To explore ways of promoting recognition and awareness of cultural diversity in our school.

Materials: Activity 5 worksheet. 

Defining Diversity Activity 5 worksheet (PDF, 42 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy and cut out the post it notes from the activity 5 worksheet. Photocopy grid sheet 5a to A3 size.Place the post it notes onto the grid sheet 5a. Negotiate their position.

Discussion points:

  • What are you doing now to cater for cultural diversity?
  • What more can you do?
  • How can you involve your community?

Activity 5b – Post it notes 

Purpose: To distinguish between the two types of responses to diversity – surface and deep.

Materials: Activity 5 worksheet. 

Defining Diversity Activity 5 worksheet (PDF, 42 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy and cut out the post it notes from the activity 5 worksheet. Photocopy grid sheet 5b to A3 size. Place the post it notes onto the grid sheet 5b. Negotiate their position.

Discussion points:

  • What are you doing now in response to cultural diversity?
  • Is this surface or deep?
  • What can you do to move beyond a surface response to a deeper, long term response?

Activity 6 – Survey

Purpose: To evaluate our own perceptions and assumptions of our students and to get to know them better.

Materials: Activity 6 worksheet.

Defining Diversity Activity 6 worksheet (PDF, 37 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the survey sheet. One copy for teacher and one for the class. The teacher completes the survey using their own knowledge of the class. The second sheet circulates the class and each student adds their details. The teacher then compares their information with the information provided by the students.

Discussion points:

  • What were my assumptions?
  • How well did I know my students?
  • What implications does this knowledge have for my teaching?
  • What can I do with this information?

Activity 7 – Plus, Minus Interesting (PMI) sheet

Purpose: To brainstorm what is working well in the school in promoting cultural diversity (plus), what we need to change (minus) and what other directions we might take (interesting).

Materials: Activity 7 worksheet.

Defining Diversity Activity 7 worksheet (PDF, 13 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the activity 7 worksheet and distribute to groups. Participants record comments onto the PMI sheet. Discuss in groups.

Discussion points:

  • What do you do well?
  • What do you need to change?

Activity 8 – Cultural diversity in our school

Purpose: To gather information on catering for a culturally diverse school community, to consider new approaches and who/how they will be carried out.

Materials: Activity 8 worksheet.

Defining Diversity Activity 8 worksheet (PDF, 110 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the activity 8 worksheet and distribute to groups. Participants record comments onto the table. Discuss in groups.

Discussion points:

  • Who will carry out these responsibilities?
  • How will they be carried out?

Activities to reflect on culture

These activities encourage discussions about culture and multicultural education.

Activity 10 – Flash cards 

Purpose: To initiate discussions about culture.

Materials: Activity 10 worksheet.

Defining Diversity Activity 10 worksheet (PDF, 25 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the activity 10 worksheet. Discuss each of the statements in small groups.

Discussion points:

  • What does culture mean to you?
  • What cultures are in your school?
  • How does your school cater for different values and beliefs?
  • How do you cater for different cultures in your classroom?
  • What do you understand by New Zealand culture?

Activity 15 – Greetings

Purpose: To become familiar with common greetings.

Materials: Activity 15 worksheet.

Defining Diversity Activity 15 worksheet (PDF, 43 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the activity 15 worksheet. Participants match up the countries with the greetings. These can then be displayed as a poster.

Discussion points:

  • How many of the greetings did you know?
  • How many are representative of the students in your class/school?

Activity 18 – Venn diagram

Purpose: To compare life/school in others countries to life/school in New Zealand.

Materials: Activity 18 Venn diagram.

Defining Diversity Activity 18 Venn diagram (PDF, 69 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the activity 18 worksheet. Invite participants to research information about their chosen country and record the details on the two Venn diagrams.

Discussion points:

  • What are the differences/similarities?
  • What implication does this have for your class/school?

Activity 19 – New Zealand culture page 

Purpose: To reflect on New Zealand culture.

Materials: Activity 19 worksheet.

Defining Diversity Activity 19 worksheet (PDF, 46 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the activity 19 worksheet. Complete the table. Discuss/compare your own notes with a partner and small group.

Discussion points:

  • What are the differences/similarities?
  • Discuss your definition of New Zealand culture.

Activity 20 – Classroom grid

Purpose: To identify goals in achieving effective multicultural classrooms and to create an action plan for these goals.

Materials: Activity 20 guidelines sheet.

Defining Diversity Activity 20 worksheet (PDF, 33 KB)

Instructions: Photocopy the activity 20 guidelines sheet. Complete the table. Discuss/compare your own notes with a partner and/or group.

Discussion points:

  • Why is it important for us to implement these goals?
  • Who is responsible for the implementation of these goals?
  • When do we action these goals?

Published on: 15 May 2019




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