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  Case: Cannot Cooperate
Aisha is known as a responsible and smart student. I have known her for the last two years, but this year is the first time she is taking one of my classes. She is in my 10th grade US History class. Recently, I started using small group projects in my class. I simply want my students to learn to cooperate, exchange ideas, and produce the project together. Although Aisha is willing to take part in these small group projects, she does not want to be in groups with male students because of her religious beliefs. When she told me about this, I told her that she was in the United States and that she had to work with whoever she is in a group with. In the first group project, Aisha was in a group with three males and one female students. She simply did not participate in any of the group activities. I wonder if should reconsider my original position on this issue and accommodate Aisha by having her work only with girls. Would I be doing her a disservice? What should I do?
Solution: (Rates are posted for this solution!)
This is a tricky situation. I would want her to learn crucial social skills, but I would not want to disrespect her religious views. I would discuss this more sensitively with her, and I would not tell her she just had to participate. I would use this opportunity to learn more about her religious beliefs. Is she forgoing male interaction in general, or just ones her family doesn't know? I would contact her parents to discuss this more. I believe it's important to create a classroom environment that is respectful and safe that would make Aisha feel comfortable. Next I would create differentiated activities that would allow her to work independently while allowing the opportunity to work with others of her choosing. A learning menu would work for this. Also, I would use this opportunity to teach the class about cultural diversity. Perhaps finding an appropriate time when Aisha could share about her religion and culture. I would have to make sure this activity wouldn't single her out negatively. Creating culturally aware and unbiased lessons would benefit Aisha and the other students as well.