Math PK-2

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Math PK-2 > Strategies > Incorporate Learners' Cultural Practices

Incorporate Learners' Cultural Practices


Learning about students' cultures and connecting them to instructional practices helps foster a Sense of Belonging and mitigate Stereotype threat. When educators integrate the cultural knowledge learners bring to the learning environment into mathematical problems and projects, they help learners 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 Your Learning Environment

Watch how this teacher uses a square to discuss related math concepts in her cultural context. By relating Geometric Reasoning and Measurement to her and her students' culture, she creates a meaningful narrative that connects math to their lives.

Apply It In Your Learning Environment

  • To incorporate students' cultural practices, a teacher must learn about students' backgrounds, particularly how math is used in cultural traditions and practices. It is important not to make assumptions about people and their environment/culture.
  • Developing a critical awareness of one's own cultural lens can help to mitigate implicit bias and consider multiple ways of honoring learners' culture and practices.
  • Make connections to content through their shared experiences or stories during discussions. Use these opportunities to learn about learners' families and Home Learning Environment with a critical awareness of your own cultural lens.
  • Engage parents as part of the learning process and environment.
  • Integrate cultural uses of math, for example, basing word problems on how math is used in a culture and using cultural objects for Counting practice.
  • Incorporating culturally oriented techniques such as call and response, music, or storytelling can support cognitive routines that aid in both Attention and Long-term Memory.
  • Honoring students native language by using words or terms in their first language when possible can support their understanding of concepts and shows value in their culture and heritage.
  • Using storytelling with a focus on number stories to help students to distinguish between small and large quantities and the need to differentiate provides connections to learners' Background Knowledge. For example, "Was there a recipe at home that went wrong, because there were too many eggs or too much oil?"
  • Use open-space protocols like World Cafe and Question Formulation Technique that dig into the learners' real lives and wisdom.
  • Young learners who are pre-literate can use images, drawings and narrative to share their perspectives and experiences.

Apply it to Product Development

Use It in the Classroom

  • Designing products that allow learners to see their cultures represented not only engages learners but also makes the learning more accessible and relevant.
  • Design It into Your Product

  • Learner choice can also be incorporated with multiple settings and character backgrounds for learners to choose from, allowing them to connect with the work.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy