Literacy 7-12

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Literacy 7-12 > 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, increasing Sense of Belonging, which improves Motivation and can mitigate Stereotype Threat. 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 high school teacher uses courageous conversations to discuss difficult topics around race and equity, giving students the opportunity to connect their learning to their own lives and build their Critical Literacy skills. By creating a safe space for students to share their emotions and experiences, they are building a supportive and inclusive classroom community that helps students develop their own identities and beliefs.

  • To incorporate students' cultural practices, teachers must learn about their students' backgrounds and interests, and asking them more about themselves will build trust and a deeper relationship. Teachers can use this knowledge to carefully select texts and materials that integrate aspects of students' culture, background, and interests that allow students to connect their learning in meaningful ways. 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.

    Learn how Mission US incorporates diverse historical and fictional characters into their history game. By allowing learners to take on different roles and having them see themselves reflected in the stories, they navigate historical events and engage with the content in a more immersive manner.

  • Designing products that allow learners to see their cultures represented not only engages learners but also makes the learning more accessible and relevant. Choice can also be incorporated by letting learners customize their characters or change the setting, allowing for many students to connect with the work.
  • Resources

    Below are additional examples, research, and professional development. These resources are possible representations of this strategy, not endorsements.

    Factors Supported by this Strategy