Celebrating Diversity in Iowa Schools

Activity Overview: 

Students in a sociology classroom research, organize, and facilitate a diversity conference using video conferencing. By sharing cultures, attitudes, and ideas in celebration of Iowa's diverse population students understand experiences beyond the walls of the classroom.


  • Students will learn the value of cultural diversity, and its effects on themselves and other students.   

  • Students will use a multi-media approach to conducting a multi-school diversity conference.

Students need to show understanding, tolerance, and compassion for others and their beliefs.  Sociology, in general, deals with the interaction of groups.  Because we live in a small, rural district, our students are not exposed to the degree of diversity that exists in Iowa.  The purpose of this project is to give students experiences beyond the school walls, to celebrate diversity in Iowa, and to learn how to organize and facilitate large group meetings.  For a final project in Sociology, the students will research, organize, and facilitate an ICN Diversity Conference.  Students from across the state will be able to share cultures, attitudes, and ideas in celebration of Iowa’s diverse population.

(Note:  This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video clips used.)  


Curriculum Standards from http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/content/cont.html

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators from http://cnets.iste.org/profiles.htm

Students will research, identify, and locate ethnic groups represented in Iowa. This data will be presented in the form of a research paper.

Social Studies: High School, I, e

9-12: 2 , 7, 8

Students will begin building a data base of students and teachers willing to participate in an ICNdiversity conference. This data base will then be shared with participants.

Social Studies: High School, I, e

9-12: 5, 10

Students will arrange date, time, and location of ICN sites available via the World Wide Web.

Social Studies: High School,  I, e

 9-12: 1, 5, 6, 9

Students will develop a presentation for use in facilitating the conference. Participating schools will be asked to prepare a short video illustrating the diversity within their schools.

Social Studies: High School, I, e

 9-12: 3, 7, 8

Students will facilitate presentations and discussion for the conference.

Social Studies: High School, I, e

 9-12: 10

Claris 5.0- word processing, spreadsheet, data base.
Available: http://www.apple.com/appleworks
Eudora Light 3.1.1. Available: http://www.eudora.com
Netscape Navigator. Available: http://www.netscape.com
Internet Explorer. Available: http://microsoft.com
Netscape Communicator- Composer, Web painter.
Available: http://www.netscape.com
Research  CD’s 
StrataVideo Shop. Available: http://www.strata.com
Sound App. Available: http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~franke/SoundApp/
mPower. Available: http://www.mpower.net/
Other editing programs as needed

Macintosh G3. Available: http://www.apple.com
AVerKey5 Plus. Available: http://www.aver.com
8mm Digital Video Camera
Digital Still Camera
ICN System

Access to Technology: 
Multi-computer lab, both Macs and IBM’s, 
full use of the Iowa Communications Network (could be done with video conference access).

With the size of my group, I did not have a rubric this first time through.  We are learning together and the diversity conference becomes a make it or break it scenario.  In the future, however, I will need to assess on group performance and presentation techniques.  Generic rubrics for both areas can be found in McRel.

Sara Pralle CAL Community School Latimer, Iowa

This was a semester long activity.  The content for the activity falls about midway through the semester during a unit on Social Inequality.  There needs to be a lot of communication and organization time built in.  It could probably be shortened if class time is used.  My students did the majority of it on their own time while I covered other content in class.

This was a first try for this activity.  I didn’t use a rubric because of that and because the students showed enough enthusiasm that I didn’t need a “grade” to motivate them. Also, the size of this year’s group was so small that it was easy to informally assess.  I will need to adapt appropriate rubrics for future classes and will choose ones addressing group work and presentation techniques.

Technology Resources: 
The software choices were primarily left up to student preference.  I did dictate the use of mPower because of it’s audio and video capabilities.  We have unlimited access to almost any technology we need.  The Iowa Communications Network  played an important role in the development of the project.  It is an excellent way to link students across Iowa! 

School Background Information:
Our school population is from the following towns: Latimer-500, Coulter-300, Alexander-100, and Dows-500 students. The majority of our parents are employed in Agriculture/ Ag Business. The enrollment of Dows District is 177 students; the CAL District enrollment is 300 students. Two percent of our students have limited English fluency.The ethnicity of our students is as following: CAL District: White-91.8%, Hispanic-8.0%,Other-.16%. Dows District: White-88%, Hispanic-10%, and Other-2%.

Teaching Strategy: 
I had a group of five seniors in the last quarter of their high school career.  They didn't want to do anything and were very hard to motivate.  By placing them in this situation, they took a great deal of ownership and pride in the project and were self-driven.  The group had varying amounts of technology knowledge from beginner to advanced beyond me.  They worked together, combined their strengths, and were successful.

Components of the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that have been highlighted in the video:  http://www.intime.uni.edu/modelimage.html
(Note:  This is a unit plan that may cover several days to severalweeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

Principles of Learning:
Direct Experience
Creating built-in opportunities for active engagement when designing a learning environment, meant to decisively shape individual understandings. From the students providing the technology expertise to their sharing of that expertise with peers and other schools, this activity was designed for them to take ownership and direct their own learning.

Student Characteristics: 
I happened to have a very mature group this time.  They have the self-confidence needed to facilitate a multi-school conference.  They are also very technology minded and were not afraid to “play” with the software until they became the experts.  A couple of them would be hard to motivate in a typical classroom setting and this environment and ownership allowed them to fly.

How the Activity Has Evolved Over Time: 
This activity is still in the process of evolving.  Each new group of students will add their own twist to the project.

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology http://cnets.iste.org/students)