The Grade 4 class is currently investigating the transdisciplinary theme, "Who We Are" by looking at the following central idea: Rituals, traditions and artifacts provide a window into the beliefs and values of cultures.
The exploration of culture through literature is an overarching concept of Windows to the World classes, and for the last few weeks, we have been reading the novel, Rickshaw Girl, by Mitali Perkins.
Perkins draws on her family roots to tell the contemporary story of a young Bangladeshi girl who wants to challenge the traditional role of women in her village so that she can contribute to the finances of her struggling family. Naima’s parents cannot afford to pay school fees for her anymore, but she wins the village prize for painting the best traditional alpana patterns. She wishes she could help her father drive his rickshaw, and one day, disguised as a boy, she tries to drive it, loses control, and crashes into some bushes. How will they afford to fix the damage? Will they have to sell mother's gold bangle bracelets that have been passed down through generations?
As we read the first few chapters, students took notes under the following two categories:
What we know:
What we wonder:
As we thought more about the reading, we looked at the following images and links to deepen our understanding of story and the culture of Naima's family.
Rickshaw: This is a vehicle that people hire for transportation. In Bangladesh, a person pedals a cycle attached to a seat carrying passengers (p. 83).
Alpana: Girls and women paint these geometrical or floral patterns on the floor during celebrations and holidays. They use crushed rice powder to outline the design, and decorate with colored chalk, vermilion, flower petals, wheat, or lentil powder. Some designs are passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years (p. 80).