For the selection of the class I would observe, I imposed two criteria: a) the class should have a cultural mix of Latino, Asian and African language minority students and b) the academic achievement of these students is profound.
Communication between teachers and students and among fellow students was recognizably more than what might be expected in a regular classroom. Individualized activities such as worksheets and large group discussions were very minimal. The teacher employed a "learning center" approach where students are formed into groups not more than eight. Group projects are then given and the teacher travels about the room to assist the groups in their activity and to clarify the student's role in the assignment. This strategy provided a very informal family-like social setting where the teachers serve as the guiding head and each group member a reliable brother/sister to other members of the group.
These observations made me appreciate Orkwis (2003) when he wrote that the teacher must adapt a teaching method that would include all students and answer to their differences, limitations and abilities. Culturally distinct students usually struggle when they are on their own and when taught in large groups. With the learning center approach, the teacher can assist them more effectively and the students have their group mates fill their limitations.
The method employed by the teacher for a controversial Science topic was highly interesting. Instead of the usual discussion to class and the worksheet exercises, the teacher initiated a student-to-student interaction. The students were made to ask other students hard questions and it was observed that done this way, other students were more readily to answer and challenge other answers. The teacher's only role was to make sure that the discussion does not go off the topic and that the students arrive at the right answers. I have observed that this was very effective in terms of increasing student participation and involvement with the subject at hand.
Cummins (1991) wrote that effective education of culturally and linguistically diverse students could be enhanced by encouraging student-student talk in a collaborative learning context. As I have observed such measure was indeed very effective not only in increasing student involvement but also in interaction among students. They were more likely to seek assistance from fellow students and were more successful in obtaining it. In other words, this method was eliminating the feeling of alienation usually felt by culturally distinct individual.
Aside from the two previous observations, it was also observed that teachers were very open to cultural discussions. The teachers would even prod students to form a connection with the topic and their culture. Questions like what equivalent term do they have for a certain word or what they practice in their culture were being asked. The students undergo transition from writing in their native language to the English language without much pressure from the teacher. With regards to their literacy development, one can note that it was very high. This may be due to the increased appreciation of topics by