Math PK-2

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Math PK-2 > 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. When teachers integrate the cultural knowledge students bring to the classroom into math problems and projects, 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 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.

  • To incorporate students' cultural practices, a teacher must learn about students' backgrounds, particularly how math is used in cultural traditions and practices. Regardless of what a teacher already knows about students, asking them more about themselves will build trust and a sense of caring, fostering positive Emotion. The teacher can then 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 cultural nuances, such as how familiar symbols may be used differently, also helps students engage more deeply, supporting both Attention and Long-term Memory.
  • 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 Toca Life: School incorporates diverse characters into their game. Allowing learners to see themselves reflected in the game 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

    Numeracy and Mathematics
    Social and Emotional Learning
    Stereotype Threat
    Student Background
    Social Supports