No single teaching approach will engage each student at once, but building a strategy to consistently deliver culturally-responsive teaching lessons will help you appeal to diverse learners with distinct backgrounds.
Rooted in differentiated instruction principles, culturally-responsive pedagogy aims to link content — from delivery to assessment — with students’ ancestral and contemporary cultures.
To augment their understanding and responsiveness, this involves:
- Empowering students to share thoughts
- Integrating diverse work and study practices
- Understanding student learning needs and styles
- Emulating culturally-significant instruction styles, such asoral storytelling
To help you plan and deliver lessons that resonate with a diverse classroom, we’ll explain what culturally responsive teaching is and how it is implemented.
We also put together 15 culturally-responsive teaching strategies and examples that will resonate with diverse students and foster an inclusive classroom environment.
These strategies are available as a downloadable list below for quick reference so you can reference them during classroom instruction.
Let’s start with some simple explanation of what culturally responsive teaching actually means.
What is culturally responsive teaching?
Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is a pedagogy that acknowledges and embraces students’ cultures, languages and experiences - and relates them to classroom learning.
Culturally responsive teachers are actively aware of the various cultural backgrounds present in their classrooms, and act as a facilitator of lessons that can resonate with each.
It is not an easy task - creating this learning environment requires not only a high level of cultural competence, but also an intentional effort to learn about students’ backgrounds and cultures.
It can be majorly beneficial to closing achievement gaps between students of different backgrounds and addressing inequities in the classroom. You can also create stronger partnerships with your students by fostering a learning environment where they are represented clearly.
Conditions for creating a culturally-responsive classroom
Reflected in the 15 strategies and examples in the next section, there are four conditions any teacher must fulfill to establish a culturally-responsive classroom, according to an authoritative academic book about the subject called Diversity and Motivation.
As you prepare and deliver any lesson, strive to:
This starts by highlighting how the topic you’re teaching may relate or apply to students. For example, many societies and cultures have fireworks festivals.
While such a festival runs, you could teach how to calculate speed using fireworks in sample questions. Establishing inclusion also involves regularly grouping students with different classmates, encouraging discussion to solve problems. In doing so, they can share unique perspectives and diverse background knowledge.
Develop positive attitudes
This further focuses on relating content to students. A popular method is allowing them to choose between activities and assessments that let them showcase their values, strengths and experiences.
For example, while providing clear learning goals and evaluation criteria, encourage students to submit their own project ideas.
You can bolster lesson content by drawing connections with real-world issues, asking students to use opinions and existing knowledge to address them.
For example, when teaching about government, you could contextualize concepts through municipal political issues. When appropriate, use student jargon to clarify these issues or improve communication in general.
Make the assessment process less intimidating by offering different ways to demonstrate skills and understanding. For example, avoid handing out quizzes that are purely multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank.
Among other question types, mix in problems that involve writing short- and long-form answers. After, give students time to assess their own progress and performance, helping themfocus on growth.
Meeting these four conditions largely relies on using specific approaches, such as the 15 explored below.
15 Culturally-responsive teaching strategies and examples
1. Learn about your students
At the start of the year or semester, demonstrating a desire to adapt your teaching style to students can help them feel valued. Because open communication should uncover their learning needs and preferences, try:
- Distributing questionnaires, asking about interests
- Handing out surveys, gathering information about learning styles
- Holding open discussions, allowing students to talk about positive experiences from past classes
Once you’ve gathered enough information, tell the class you’ll focus on adjusting your teaching approach to help them learn as best as they can. Students should quickly warm up to you.
2. Interview students
You’ll build a stronger understanding of students’ values and habits — as well as strengths and weaknesses — by individually asking them questions. While running a large-group exercise, pull each student aside for a few minutes. Ask about:
- Their favourite lessons and activities
- Which kinds of exercises help them remember lessons and improve skills
Note what each student says to identify themes and different preferences. Then, when possible, relate content to their interests and deliver lessons that appeal to shared strengths.
3. Integrate relevant word problems
Many students will take a greater interest in math if you use word problems to contextualize equations. Working with 41 7th grade students throughout an academic year, a study published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education used such contextual learning strategies to increase test scores by more than 44%. Create culturally-relevant word problems by:
- Including student names to make subject matter relatable
- Linking to student interests, such as by measuring the shot distance of a famous soccer player
- Referencing diverse cultures, such as by determining the diameter of a specific ethnic food platter
Using these word problem tips will not only help you establish a culturally-responsive classroom, but engage students more than by using abstract questions.
4. Present new concepts by using student vocabulary
Delivering relatable content goes beyond math class. In any subject, you can grab and keep student attention by using their vocabulary to build understanding before moving to academic diction. Let’s say many of your students are sports fans with family from soccer-crazed nations. Use a soccer example to demonstrate metaphors in language arts class:
Andrea Pirlo is an eagle on the pitch, armed with vision sharp enough to detect the smallest openings and recognize opportunities his opposition can’t.
This kind of culturally-responsive language should open the door to presenting challenging skills and concepts, engaging students while doing so.
5. Bring in guest speakers
Guest speakers can bring context and passion to history, geography and social studies lessons, capturing student interest.
A war veteran could deliver a vivid narrative of his or her experiences. A mountaineer could give a striking recount of scaling Lhotse. Both could answer questions many teachers would struggle with, while engaging students much more effectively than a slideshow.
Plus, according to a study by the Economics of Education Review, students are often encouraged to work harder when they share a background with an educator. So, diverse guest speakers may inherently engage and motivate students who share a culture with them.
6. Deliver different forms of content through learning stations
Whether due to culture, socialization, preference or learning needs, students respond differently to different types of content. You can provide a range of material to each student by setting up learning stations. Each station should use a unique method of teaching a skill or concept related to your lesson.
For example, students can rotate between stations that involve:
- Playing a game
- Creating artwork
- Watching a video
- Reading an article
- Completing puzzles
- Listening to you teach
After going through each station, you can help students further process the material by holding a class discussion or assigning questions to answer.
7. Gamify lessons
Want another way to consistently diversify content and its delivery, appealing to different learning styles? Gamify some lesson elements. Easy-to-implement practices include:
- Offering rewards, such as badges, for completing specific tasks or achieving certain scores
- Setting a clearlearning goalfor the lesson, charting progress throughout the class to motivate students
- Creating an "instruction manual" for a project, which contains the rubric and best practices for earning a high grade
Plus, gamifying your lessons is a way of making connections with contemporary gaming culture — helping students within this culture process and demonstrate understanding of content.
8. Call on each student
Call-and-response — the practice of asking students frequent questions while giving lessons — usually keeps them engaged, but also enables them to share thoughts and opinions. Involve everyone by:
- Encouraging the sharing of personal perspectives, when a question allows for it
- Calling on students without their hands up, acclimatizing them to speaking amongst peers
- Asking a question after each new point or thought, having a student teach back the concept you just spoke about
By lesson’s end, this call-and-response approach should allow each student to speak at least once.
9. Use media that positively depict a range of cultures
Children process content more effectively when their cultures and languages have places in the curriculum, according to an oft-cited academic book about teaching in multiracial schools.
Using media, such as books and movies, that positively depict a range of cultures and are relevant to your syllabus can partially address this need. Finding options through databases such as IMDB or American Literature isn’t a tough task.
As a bonus, using different media should boost engagement levels.
10. Offer different types of free study time
Free study time typically appeals to students who prefer solo learning, but many cultures prioritize learning in group settings. You can meet both preferences by dividing your class into clearly-sectioned team and individual activities, such as the following:
- Provide audiobooks, which play material relevant to your lessons
- Create a station for group games that teach curriculum-aligned skills
- Keep a dedicated quiet space for students to take notes and complete work
- Allow some students to work in groups while taking notes and completing work, away from the dedicated quiet space
Presented with these options, free study time should appeal to a wider range of learners.
11. Encourage students to propose ideas for projects
By asking students to submit ideas for their own projects, the benefits of choice extend beyond free study time. Specifically, they should build confidence by showcasing their strengths and existing background knowledge.
So, encourage them to pitch ideas for taking a project from concept to completion. A student must show how the product will meet academic standards in his or her pitch. If the idea falls short, give the student ideas to refine it. If the student can’t refine the idea, he or she can choose a project from a list of options you provide.
Not only will you be pleasantly surprised by some pitches, but you may generate ideas for future culturally-responsive exercises and assessments.
12. Experiment with peer teaching
There’ll almost always be some student vocabulary and communal practices you never pick up on. But you can fill these gaps through peer teaching. Relatively-simple exercises include:
- Jigsaw activities
- Reading buddy sessions
- Usingeducational softwarein pairs
Students who read and discuss story passages with peers recall more content and score higher on assessments, according an Ohio University pilot study. And, according to a science education study, students who work in pairs and groups typically perform better on tests that involve reasoning and critical thinking.
Such results are largely achieved due to students discussing and rationalizing concepts in their own words, many of which belong to contemporary cultural lexicon and are not academic.
13. Establish cooperative base groups
Cooperative base groups — which come from collaborative learning pedagogy — allow students to regularly learn and process content together.
Your role consists of creating groups of three or four, scheduling meeting times and detailing agendas for them. Filling knowledge gaps and encouraging communication is also involved. Students’ roles focus on supporting each other while striving to meet learning goals over the year.
While working in base groups, students can:
- Review lessons
- Take on guided research
- Address each other’s questions
- Complete in-class assessments
The connection to culturally-responsive teaching is the same as peer learning: cooperative base groups encourage students to make sense of concepts you’ve taught by using their own words and thoughts.
14. Run problem-based learning scenarios
The flexibility of problem-based learning lends itself to culturally-responsive teaching. This is because, when presenting a relatable real-world problem for your students to solve, two cultural connections will typically occur.
- First, there will likely be a cultural link in the question, whether it’s explicit or students make it themselves.
- Second, because they can apply different approaches toward problem-solving, they may use unique cultural perspectives.
But if you want to create a scenario with explicit cultural ties, consider:
- Encouraging students to take historical, sociological and anthropological viewpoints
- Framing the problem using ethnic events — for instance, solving logistical challenges of running a heritage festival — in the area
Regardless, the student-centred nature of problem-based learning will allow your class to use culturally-relevant examples and information when appropriate.
15. Involve parents by using take-home letters
Involving parents in their child’s learning is a core part of almost any culturally-responsive teaching approach -- they act as the main educators in many societies and can provide cultural context. When starting a new unit or trying out an education tool for the first time, consider sending a letter home to parents.
For reference, here’s the letter Prodigy provides to its teachers. This opens the door to parent participation. While not all parents will be subject matter experts, most should be able to provide guidance.
Downloadable list of culturally-responsive teaching strategies and examples
Click here to download and print a simplified list of the 15 culturally-responsive teaching strategies and examples to keep at your desk.
Interested in other teaching strategies to deploy in your classroom?
Culturally-responsive teaching strategies overlap in important ways with many other pedagogical approaches. Consider researching other teaching and instructional strategies to help bolster your approach, or combine different elements of each strategy!
- Active learning strategiesempower, engage, and stimulate your students as theyput them at the center of the learning process.
- Experientiallearningactivities, in contrast to traditional learning activities,aimto develop knowledge and skills through direct, firsthand experience.
- Project-based learninginvolves an open-ended approach that sees students workalone or collectively to work on engaging, intricate curriculum-related questions or challenges..
- Inquiry-based learningis broken down into four categories,all of whichemphasize student questions, ideas and analyses.
- Adaptivelearningfocuses on changing — or "adapting" — content for each student on an individual basis, especially with the help of technology.
- Social emotional learning activities help students build social skills, establish healthy relationships and manage their emotions.
Final thoughts about culturally-relevant pedagogy
Delivering culturally-responsive lessons can not only help you engage students, but allow them to make personal connections with content.
Student populations across your school district are comprised of different races, backgrounds, cultural identities and socioeconomic statuses - it’s important that teaching practices reflect and embrace these differences.
Greater student investment should lead to other benefits, such as more rigor and motivation. A happier, focused classroom is the ideal outcome.
Already have an Prodigy account? Log in now!
Prodigy is a digital game-based learning platform that delivers a range of culturally-relevant math content through engaging word and scenario-based problems. Standards-aligned, it’s used by millions of teachers and students across the world.
For example, many societies and cultures have fireworks festivals. While such a festival runs, you could teach how to calculate speed using fireworks in sample questions. Establishing inclusion also involves regularly grouping students with different classmates, encouraging discussion to solve problems.
Matthew Lynch (2011) culturally responsive instruction is, “a student-centered approach to teaching in which the students' unique cultural strengths are identified and nurtured to promote student achievement and a sense of well-being about the student's cultural place in the world.” There are several components to a ...
- using students' cultural experiences in daily instruction.
- embracing native language and students' families as assets.
- creating a classroom environment that represents and respects all students.
- communicating clear high expectations for everyone.
Cultural responsiveness is the ability to learn from and relate respectfully with people of one's own culture as well as those from other cultures. Culturally responsive schools offer a learning environment where every student's cultures, languages, and life experiences are acknowledged, validated, and celebrated.
Culturally responsive teaching helps bridge those gaps by engaging students from underrepresented cultures (which can be informed by everything from race and ethnicity to religion and ability) in the learning process in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them.
Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) attempts to bridge the gap between teacher and student by helping the teacher understand the cultural nuances that may cause a relationship to break down—which ultimately causes student achievement to break down as well.
- Get to Know Your Students. ...
- Maintain Consistent Communication. ...
- Acknowledge and Respect Every Student. ...
- Practice Cultural Sensitivity. ...
- Incorporate Diversity in the Lesson Plan. ...
- Give Students Freedom and Flexibility.
Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is a research-based approach to teaching. It connects students' cultures, languages, and life experiences with what they learn in school. These connections help students access rigorous curriculum and develop higher-level academic skills. Our brains are wired to make connections.
What activities can you include to make your students understand and accept cultural differences in the classroom? ›
- Cultural Dress Show and Tell. ...
- Host a Multicultural Day. ...
- Have a World Music Dance Party. ...
- Create a Classroom Collage. ...
- Make Global Friends.
Areas considered part of creating a culturally responsive learning environments are (1) understanding the cultural lifestyles of their students, such as which ethnic groups give priority to communal living and problem solving; (2) knowing differences in the modes of interaction between children and adults in different ...
- Activate students' prior knowledge. ...
- Make learning contextual. ...
- Consider your classroom setup. ...
- Form relationships. ...
- Discuss social and political issues. ...
- Tap into students' cultural capital. ...
- Incorporate popular culture.
How do you adapt and use culturally appropriate teaching strategies to address the needs of learners from indigenous groups? ›
- Build trust. "You need to get to know the kids really well before you can [teach]," says Will. ...
- Acknowledgement of Country. ...
- Embrace diversity. ...
- Liaise with Elders. ...
- Invite community members. ...
- Explore family trees. ...
- Let students teach. ...
- Use local resources.
- Begin with objectives. Before selecting appropriate teaching strategies, determine the learning objectives for the course. ...
- Align your teaching strategies to the objectives. ...
- Align your assessment strategy to the objectives. ...
- Make modifications to the teaching strategies and assessments as you get to know your students and.
- Promote growth mindset over fixed mindset. ...
- Develop meaningful and respectful relationships with your students. ...
- Grow a community of learners in your classroom. ...
- Establish high expectations and establish clear goals. ...
- Be inspirational.
What strategies can be implemented to create assessment that measures performance outcomes and meet the needs of diverse learners? ›
- Make an IEP cheat sheet. ...
- Encourage active learning. ...
- Embrace small group and learning stations. ...
- Group by learning style, not ability. ...
- Promote project-based learning. ...
- Incorporate ed-tech and adaptive learning tools. ...
- Provide alternative testing options.
What practices or strategies are done or should be done to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the learners? ›
- Offer students options to choose from in assignments or lesson plans.
- Provide multiple texts and types of learning materials.
- Utilize a variety of personalized learning methods and student assessments.
- Customize teaching to suit multiple forms of intelligence.
The Culturally Responsive-Sustaining (CR-S) Framework outlines four principles and embedded strategies to help educators create student-centered learning environments that: affirm racial, linguistic and cultural identities; prepare students for rigorous and independent learning; develop students' abilities to connect ...
Culturally responsive pedagogy recognizes and appreciates diversity by seeking ways to encourage student engagement by creating a warm, positive, inclusive classroom where everyone feels they belong.
Cultural activities . : means any such activities as film shows, musical shows, theatrical productions, contests, social functions, indoor games and picnics.
- Activate students' prior knowledge. ...
- Make learning contextual. ...
- Consider your classroom setup. ...
- Form relationships. ...
- Discuss social and political issues. ...
- Tap into students' cultural capital. ...
- Incorporate popular culture.
A culturally inclusive environment requires mutual respect, effective relationships, clear communication, explicit understandings about expectations and critical self-reflection. In an inclusive environment, people of all cultural orientations can: freely express who they are, their own opinions and points of view.
A curriculum that respects learners' cultures and prior experiences. It acknowledges and values the legitimacy of different cultures, not just the dominant culture of a society, and encourages intercultural understanding.
It is important to remember that language instruction for ELLs should not be restricted to language arts or English as a second language classes. Rather, language instruction should be integrated into all of their content-areas classes. Teachers need to plan language objectives (e.g., learning content-specific vocabulary such as caucus and census) in addition to content-area objectives.
It is important to remember that language instruction for ELLs should not be restricted to language arts or English as a second language classes.. Teachers need to be cognizant of their students’ language levels and plan the language objectives accordingly.. Within sheltered instruction, teachers offer comprehensible input —teaching at a level that is just beyond the students’ current level of language competence—while also providing the scaffolded supports necessary to understand the information.. For example, when a teacher is teaching a vocabulary lesson to his English language learners, he may use diagrams or other visual supports to help his students learn the new terms.. MyPlate shows that healthy foods are categorized into five different groups.. We should eat foods from all of the five groups every day.. The bigger the section, the more of that food group we should eat.. That means you should eat more vegetables than protein in a day.. Mi Plato shows that healthy foods are categorized into five different groups Five different groups.. We should eat foods from all of the five food groups every day.. What other instructional supports could the teacher have used during her lesson?. In addition to sheltered instruction, teachers should provide instruction in a culturally responsive way.. When teachers believe in their students, students believe in themselves.. By practicing culturally responsive instruction, teachers make academic information relevant to their students.
Trauma-informed teaching incorporates the understanding of trauma and its impacts on a student’s brain, body, emotions, and behavior. Learn strategies, pedagogy, and self-care in relation to the trauma-informed approach.
To create a trauma-sensitive school, where every classroom is safe, healthy, engaging, and challenging for each student, educators must incorporate a trauma-informed approach .. Utilizing this trauma-informed positive behavior support can create an entirely different school environment, especially for students affected by trauma.. These types of practices help to create a safe and supportive learning environment for all students.. The different types of trauma How trauma affects a child’s development Ways trauma can manifest in student’s actions in the classroom How to and how not to respond to undesirable behaviors Developing a trauma-sensitive classroom Developing a trauma-informed lens and teaching pedagogy School-wide techniques and programs that can be implemented to be responsive to both student and staff stress and trauma. Spending time learning as much as possible about trauma and how to best support traumatized children in the classroom can have positive and lasting results on both students and the educator.
A step-by-step guide to undertaking Teaching as Inquiry.
It involves a continuous cycle of investigating student learning, identifying and focusing on one or two specific areas to improve, thinking critically about the link between teacher action and student learning, coming up with a ‘hunch’ or a theory about what teacher action could best support that identified change in student outcomes, learning more from research and colleagues, then trying out a new or modified practice and checking its effect, leading to framing a new inquiry.. Teaching as Inquiry is an approach to teaching in which teachers continuously inquire into the impact of their teaching actions on student learning, and make informed changes to improve their teaching practice so as to enhance student learning.. scanning focusing developing a hunch professional learning taking action checking. What do your students already know?. What do they need to learn and do?. Can your students tell you where they are going with their learning?. What do your students need to learn next?. PROFESSIONAL LEARNING Key question : How can I learn more about what to actions to take?. Taking action involves learning more deeply about new ways of teaching by exploring different teaching strategies in action, informed by a thorough understanding of why they might be effective in your teaching context.. This phase involves you checking the effectiveness of the actions you took in the taking action phase, by assessing the impact on students and their learning.. What did you learn about your students?. Should you ask the students?