EPI Teacher Jolanta Bielawaska. Image of Krakow, Poland in background.

Teacher from Poland Gets Students Excited to Learn About Home Country

Posted on July 13, 2023 by Samantha Harris
Cross-Cultural Activity

Teaching children about the world beyond their classroom, community, and country fosters an appreciation for the differences that make our world unique. International teachers have the chance to deliver impactful cultural experiences that draw from their own backgrounds.

At Gallberry Farm Elementary School in Hope Mills, North Carolina, teacher Jolanta Bielawska designed a dynamic cultural activity tailored to her students’ ages and mental development.

When she shared her home country of Poland with her first-grade students, she saw how captivated they became as they learned about her culture. Her multifaceted lesson can serve as a model for any teacher looking to engage young minds.

Making a Plan

While mapping out her lesson, Bielawska considered what would be most effective for her students. Bearing their age in mind made her think of activities that “were going to be useful and interesting,” she said. “I chose to introduce main cities, historic buildings, the geography of Poland, traditional Polish foods, and some Polish phrases.“

She planned short activities that would hold her young students’ attention, structuring the lesson to gradually transition from teacher-led instruction to group work. The activities would culminate in an individual assignment.

Finally, Bielawska prepped her materials. She created a multimedia presentation that she planned to project on her interactive whiteboard. For the group and individual work, she prepared a worksheet with Polish vocabulary and a Polish facts cube. (More on that later!)

Teaching About Poland

Bielawska’s lesson kicked off with a question: Where is Poland? Students searched for the country on a large globe at the front of their classroom.

Once they had located the nation, Bielawska dove into her presentation. It included pictures and videos showcasing Polish geography, history, and culture, from language to food.

Bielawska could tell her students were fully absorbed throughout the presentation.

“Students were looking very carefully,” she noted.

Afterward, they moved into group activities. Each group received a worksheet with five questions about the country. For a tactile twist, they were given a Polish facts cube displaying answers to the questions. This short, engaging activity encouraged students to work together to find answers.

Artwork from Jolanta's students

Bielawska concluded the experience with a fun coloring activity that doubled as a language lesson. Each student colored a picture of a rainbow on a worksheet that included Polish color words.

Artwork from one of Jolanta's students

Looking Back

Even after the lesson finished, students were eager to learn more!

“My students asked me if I could show them more videos and songs about Poland,” Bielawska shared.

While the lesson was a clear success, there is always room for improvement. Bielawska found that children enjoyed working as a team, so she plans to incorporate more group work in the future. This could involve assigning teams to create an illustrative, informative poster about Poland, which could then be shared with the whole class and displayed in the classroom.

Growing Young Minds

When children learn about different cultures, their worldview expands along with their tolerance and understanding. International teachers have the power to deliver compelling cultural experiences to students.

Bielawska invested time and effort to craft an absorbing lesson that met students where they were while broadening their horizons. The result was a meaningful experience that left her students excited to learn more!


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