Literacy 4-6

Systems Change
Literacy 4-6 > Strategies > Incorporate Students' Cultural Practices

Incorporate Students' Cultural Practices


Learning about students' cultures and connecting them to instructional practices helps all students feel like valued members of the community, which improves Motivation. When teachers integrate the cultural knowledge students bring to the classroom, they help students draw on their Background Knowledge to better understand and relate to the material. This strategy is one that supports the practice of culturally responsive teaching and is meant to be used with other strategies that also allow representation of all learners in the curriculum.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this elementary teacher uses morning meeting to better understand students' emotions and learn more about individual students' interests and backgrounds. By creating a safe space for students to share their emotions and experiences, they are building a supportive and inclusive classroom community.

  • To incorporate students' cultural practices, a teacher must learn about their students' backgrounds and interests, such as language, sports, and music. Regardless of what a teacher already knows about students, asking them more about themselves will build trust and a sense of caring. The teacher can then integrate student-centered stories and language into classroom instruction. Supplying a wealth of multicultural literature and encouraging students to bring and share artifacts of their culture are two additional ways for students can see themselves reflected in the classroom environment.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Watch how Toontastic incorporates diverse characters into their animation and storytelling app. Allowing learners to see themselves reflected in the stories they create is a step towards engaging and integrating their cultural practices.

  • Designing products that allow learners to see their cultures represented not only engages learners but also makes the learning more accessible and relevant. Student choice can also be incorporated with multiple settings and character backgrounds for students to choose from, allowing for many students to connect with the work.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy

    Social and Emotional Learning
    Stereotype Threat
    Student Background
    Social Supports