Summer workshops on Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Islam, Asian Families, and global diasporas enrich curriculum for Los Angeles County teachers.
Teachers from throughout Los Angeles County came to UCLA and to Cal State Fullerton this August for the 23rd annual accredited teacher training institutes, sponsored by the UCLA International Institute and its affiliated regional studies centers. The 2004 program was the largest in years, with three two-week programs and two one-week sessions for K-12 teachers. The total attendance was three times as large as last year, and with much wider collaboration by research centers and other units at UCLA. Four of the programs were held on the UCLA campus and one, a week-long workshop on the Middle East and Islam, was held at California State University, Fullerton, which cosponsored the event.
For the two-week sessions, the Asia Institute presented a class series on Asian families; the Latin American Center hosted a program on globalization and Latin America; while the Near Eastern, African, European-Eurasian, and Southeast Asian research centers jointly mounted a program on diaspora communities from their regions.
The one-week workshops were the culmination of year-long accredited teacher study programs, one on "The Changing Face of Europe" sponsored by Center for European and Eurasian Studies with the UCLA History-Geography Project and the California Geographic Alliance, and the session on the Middle East and Islam in Fullerton, which was a collaboration of the UCLA Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the California International Studies Project. The five UCLA area studies centers participating in these teacher training sessions are federally funded National Resource Centers (NRCs).
The Asian Families workshop, led by Clayton Dube, assistant director of the Asia Institute, explored the past, present, and future of families in Asia. The teachers heard some 17 lectures by faculty from UCLA, UC Davis, Cal State Northridge, and other California colleges. These covered such topics as youth culture and rapid urbanization; intra and international migration and its impact on families; the effect of HIV/AIDS on family life; and food and rituals; as well as excursions into history and literature ("Dream of Red Mansions: Family in Chinese Literature" or "Images of Woman in Republican China") and sessions devoted to specific Asian cultures: Indonesian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai. There were also field trips to a major Buddhist temple and to the South and Southeast Asian sections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Several sessions were devoted to using the web and film to strengthen classroom instruction on the evolving roles and influence of families in Asia. The workshop reader and website provided participants with curriculum guides, background and student readings, and other reference materials. The workshop will clearly affect what more than 2,000 Los Angeles-area students are taught about Asia. For example, one teacher, after Professor Cindy Fan's session on “Chinese Families on the Move,” wrote, “I now know how I can get my largely immigrant students excited about studying China. The choices and experiences of migration are things they can relate to. I would not have thought of this without this presentation.”
Steven Williams and Mark Elinson, outreach affiliates of the UCLA Latin American Center, led the "Latin America: Connecting to the World" workshop. The workshop pivoted on the premise that globalization is a continuum stretching back to the earliest migrations of peoples from Asia through the recent upheavals of contemporary times. Using a variety of tools -- expert speakers, graphs, charts, maps, photography, film, books, articles, the Internet, and discussion among the workshop participants -- the program provided an intellectual stimulus rarely encountered in the "ho-hum" professional development sessions that are too often the norm.
"Because the program was so well organized, informative, and stimulating, I was eagerly looking forward daily to attending the class for the two-week duration," said one participant. "I liked the balance between lecture/speakers and resources/ideas. As a social studies teacher, I found this very appropriate and relevant," added another. "The workshop did not focus solely on teaching students, but educating teachers so that we may better understand the whole. The knowledge and skills gained will surely translate into our teaching." The curriculum examined the movements of peoples, goods, ideas, and cultures in and out of Latin America through the various prisms of cultural, economic, and political development, with special emphasis on current issues related to free trade, border cultures, and the struggles for democracy and human rights in the region.
The Global Diasporas workshop, led by UCLA alumna and Middle East historian Sherry Vatter, assisted by Azeb Tadesse ( (assistant director, African Studies Center), Barbara Gaerlan (assistant director, Southeast Asian Studies Center), and Vera Wheeler (administrative director), European and Eurasian Center) focused on the diverse Middle Eastern, African, Southeast Asian, and European diaspora communities worldwide, from ancient to contemporary times. Important diaspora communities from each region were identified along with the historic conditions that produced them. Sessions explored how members have conceived of their places of origin and maintained real or imagined connections to their ancestral homelands. Special attention was paid to contrasting meanings as well as different ways that communities have expressed and kept alive ties to their homelands, such as celebrations, clothing styles, artistic and literary production, and travel. "Fantastic -- a new area! across the board -- new information and knowledge," commented one of the workshop participants. "The program was based on very strong scholarship," noted another teacher, and "we were treated like educated professionals." "My improved knowledge of different cultural norms will hopefully be expressed in better communication with my students -- better projects and a happier, safer-feeling classroom."
In addition to engaging scholars and educators, stimulating discussion, and integrating films and field trips to promote an understanding of the specific global regions and themes, each workshop featured sessions on curriculum development, library research, review readings, and web resources. Significant strides were made in facilitating communication and dialogue over the web and in creating a virtual work space where teachers were trained to use various web tools. For example, the Latin American program uses a friendly course management system called moodle (http://learn.glo.org).
"In the past, explained Steven Williams, "a web tool as sophisticated as learn.glo.org would require us to dedicate two or more of our sessions just to acclimate teachers to the technology. The learn.glo.org technology is so intuitive that we were able to do almost all of our training via email." The results were outstanding: in addition to helping organize the knowledge flow from one seminar to the next and engaging teachers in ongoing online conversations related to topics raised during on-campus seminars, teachers posted over 300 web resources related to seminar topics. To see the course, go to http://learn.glo.org. Click the link in the left menu (Course categories) called College / Universities; click the UCLA Summer Program link; Login as a guest. Feel free to browse. Teachers who would like to use the learn.glo.org technologies should write to Steve Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Participants in the Asian Families workshop extended their collaboration via the Asia Institute web discussion forum (http://portal.international.ucla.edu/asiainstituteforums - all teachers are eligible to register to use the forum). Through the workshop and Asia in My Classroom forums they continue to exchange reviews of films and teaching tools as well as discuss the lesson plans they are developing to utilize the ideas, materials, and methods introduced during the workshop.
In addition to the two-week summer workshops, the International Institute’s Europe and Eurasia and the Near Eastern Centers also cosponsored week-long teacher seminars in August, titled respectively "The Changing Face of Europe" and "The Middle East and Islam: A Journey from the Past to the Present." These sessions were the final installments of year-long programs designed to support teachers in preparing students to meet the California state curriculum standards.
"The Changing face of Europe" addressed major issues and approaches to thinking about contemporary Europe. Traditional concepts of "Europe" are undergoing radical change, yet the history of this transformation -- apparent not only in political and economic terms but also geographically -- is not given much attention in middle and high school classrooms. The European Union's experience is in some respects comparable to that of other large states, like the United States, but in other ways the peaceful unification of Europe in an expanding European Union is truly unique in world history.
This was the second year in which the UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies (CEES) collaborated with the UCLA School of Education's History-Geography Project to offer teacher training seminars. These were funded by the European Commission to the United States and the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to the August workshop the Changing Face of Europe seminar had held evening meetings during the Winter and Spring quarters, focusing on "The History of the European Union" (Ivan Berend, UCLA); "Language and Literature in the New Europe" (Michael Heim, UCLA); "Economic Policies" (Luisa Lambertini, UCLA), and lastly "The Drafting of the European Constitution" (Carla Thorson, UCLA). In the week-long culmination, college and university faculty presented talks, and curriculum specialists assisted teachers with their lesson plans. Topics discussed included "Islam and Integration in the EU" (Harlan Koff, Pitzer); "Integration Issues of the Newly Admitted EU Members" (Ivan Berend), and "The New Right-Wing Populism in European Politics" (Christian Soe, California State University, Long Beach). This program clearly addressed teachers’ needs, as one commented:. "Great plan! I can’t wait to use this information [in class]."
Judging from teacher responses and evaluations, collaboration with the California International Studies Project in organizing the program on the Middle East and Islam was equally fruitful. Headed by Connie DeCapite, California State University, Fullerton, and assisted by the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES), the seminar entitled "Islam and the Middle East: A Journey from the Past to the Present" engaged 33 Orange County teachers in a six-day workshop. CNES' affiliate Fariba Taghavi served as the lead scholar, with Munir Shaikh (UCLA Islamic Studies) and UCLA alumnus Mahmood Ibrahim (Cal Poly Pomona) contributing their expertise to the mix of presentations, discussions, and curricular activities. The series complemented the California History-Social Science Standards and enabled participants to teach with authenticity and accuracy about the rich and diverse cultural, geographical, political, religious, economic, and historical dimensions of the Middle East.
Last year CNES collaborated with the California International Studies Project at Loyola Marymount University in offering teachers a year-long professional development program on the Middle East. Throughout the upcoming school year CNES will collaborate further with the Fullerton International Resources for Students and Teachers project that Connie DeCapite heads at CSU Fullerton. The program will offer classroom follow-up and material support, including access to the large Middle East K-12 collection housed at the UCLA International Institute. “The synergy generated by the fusion of state and federal programs, as we have witnessed in Los Angeles and Southern California, is key to future success and impact, and meeting national needs and interests” commented Jonathan Friedlander, director of the International Institute's outreach programs.
The International Institute summer programs are endorsed by Los Angeles County Office of Education and accredited by the Los Angeles Unified School District and UCLA Extension. Participants receive salary points or academic units upon successfully completing the course requirements, including development of lesson plans and instructional materials. Exemplary units are subsequently posted on the national OutreachWorld website developed and hosted by the International Institute (http://www.outreachworld.org/).
Teacher training is an "absolute priority" for the U.S. Department of Education-funded National Resource Centers. It is important also for the numerous state-funded subject-matter programs based at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and for the California International Studies Project, which has several sites in Southern California. In summer 2004 a spirit of collaboration produced outstanding workshops that built on a quarter-century of professional development programs and the network of more than 1,000 teachers who have participated over the years in the UCLA summer workshops.
Published: Thursday, September 23, 2004
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