Integrating Studies of Culture into Literacy

As part of the literacy programme for Middle School Children, Hub 6, comprised of four Year 3 and 4 classes, has been teaching guided reading using School Journals with articles and stories on different cultures.

There have been a range of cultures and lifestyles available to learn from- Samoan, Iranian, Afghani, to name a few. While the stories have been about different people coming to New Zealand or living overseas, the learning intention has been to question as you read.

The questioning objective helps children to organise basic information about the culture, place or activity written about:


It also gives children a chance to dig a little deeper using Should, Could or Would questions. The focus has been on asking questions before reading to predict; asking questions during reading to clarify; asking questions after reading to summarise.

The next step in integrating te reo into this would be to use the maori question vocabulary.

Learning about other cultures comes under the umbrella of the Treaty of Waitangi because it is acknowledged that by recognising maori culture, the children then have the opportunity to examine their own cultures and then examine the cultures of other people.

So what impact has this had on understanding culture and accepting difference? One group of children have been learning to write letters to the editor after seeing Australian politicians in the news saying people had the right to be bigots. Reading groups have been learning to tackle non-English words and use context such as photographs and surrounding text to help understand this vocabulary. Prior to this, many of the children glossed over the words and did not attempt them.

One child, after reading their article, commented:

Hey! This book has brown people like me! I wish all the books were like this!!

Integrating cultural study into a deep guided reading session has revealed more to children than a superficial glimpse of another country. They have been learning to question what they see, find out what they don’t know and check their understanding, not just in reading but in the way they approach information about other cultures.