This two-part challenge invites students to "research" their family's cultural or national background so they may share it with other students. In preparation for this activity, send a note home to parents/guardians or other caregivers asking for their support in providing information about current and previous generations. You may want to introduce this activity by inviting a family member of one of the students to bring a family artifact to share with the class and tell a story that reveals something of their origins. Students then have the opportunity to ask questions of their guest. Assist students in asking "helpful questions" about the family's origins and find out about the cultural and linguistic groups to which they belong. See Asking Powerful Questions (Modelling the Tools) for detailed suggestions on how to teach and assess the tools for thoughtful consideration of this activity. From this experience, the class formulates several questions to ask of their guest.
Students can use the same questions to ask of their own family about their family's origins and share this information with their classmates. If your students are not yet writing or are just emerging writers, record the questions in a note to parents with an explanation of the activity. Encourage students to bring an artifact to help them remember and tell their story. Ensure that children have a family member's permission to bring in any objects of personal or cultural significance. Reinforce with students the criteria for a good story about their artifact (e.g., it will tell others what it is, what their family uses it for, what group it represents, and how it came to their home). Do not pressure students who are reluctant to share stories or artifacts, and allow any students who so desire to share their object solely with you or with a class friend. You may want to adapt the chart and strategies for Recording Our Research (Support Material) to structure and assess this part of the activity. Encourage students when telling their story to rely only on the artifact and their memory. It might be helpful to record students' names on a large map next to the city, region or country of their family's origin. Make a list of the different linguistic, cultural and regional groups represented in the class.