Reading c8m3 l2a2 (1)


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Reading c8m3 l2a2 (1)

  1. 1. Creating Culturally Responsive, Inclusive Classrooms Winifred Montgomery Culturally responsive class- tricts need to support teachers in their Conduct a Self-Assessment rooms specifically acknowledge quest to learn about the use of these Many teachers are faced with limited the presence of culturally strategies (see box, “Our Increasingly understanding of cultures other than diverse students and the need Diverse Classrooms”). This article pro- their own and the possibility that this for these students to find rele- vides guidelines for creating culturally vant connections among them- limitation will negatively affect their responsive, inclusive classrooms. students’ ability to become successful selves and with the subject mat- Teachers can use these guidelines with learners. Hence, teachers must critically ter and the tasks teachers ask them to perform. students from culturally and linguisti- assess their relationships with their stu- cally diverse backgrounds in all kinds of dents and their understanding of stu- classrooms, but particularly in inclusive dents’ cultures (Bromley, 1998; Patton, Let’s repeat that: Culturally respon- settings where general and special edu- 1998). The self-assessment in Figure 1, sive classrooms specifically acknowl- cators work together to promote the based on the work of Bromley, 1998), is edge the presence of culturally academic, social, and behavioral skills one tool teachers can use to examine diverse students and the need for of all students. First, teachers need to their assumptions and biases in a these students to find relevant con- take an honest look at their own atti- thoughtful and potentially productive nections among themselves and with tudes and current practice. way. the subject matter and the tasks teachers ask them to perform. In such programs teachers recognize the differ- ing learning styles of their students and Figure 1. Diversity Self-Assessment develop instructional approaches that • What is my definition of diversity? will accommodate these styles. In light • Do the children in my classroom and school come from diverse cultural of the value of culturally responsive backgrounds?TEACHING Exceptional Children, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 4-9. Copyright 2001 CEC. instructional practices, schools and dis- • What are my perceptions of students from different racial or ethnic groups? With language or dialects different from mine? With special needs? • What are the sources of these perceptions (e.g., friends, relatives, televi- sion, movies)? Many teachers are • How do I respond to my students, based on these perceptions? faced with limited • Have I experienced others’ making assumptions about me based on my membership in a specific group? How did I feel? understanding of • What steps do I need to take to learn about the students from diverse back- grounds in my school and classroom? cultures other than • How often do social relationships develop among students from different their own and the racial or ethnic backgrounds in my classroom and in the school? What is the nature of these relationships? possibility that this • In what ways do I make my instructional program responsive to the needs of the diverse groups in my classroom? limitation will • What kinds of information, skills, and resources do I need to acquire to negatively affect their effectively teach from a multicultural perspective? • In what ways do I collaborate with other educators, family members, and students’ ability to community groups to address the needs of all my students? become successful Source: Adapted from Bromley (1998). learners. 4 s THE COUNCIL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN
  2. 2. Following self-assessment, teachersneed to take time to reflect on their Our Increasingly Diverse Classroomsresponses (what they have learned For many reasons, U.S. schools are serving a growing number of students fromabout themselves) and make some crit- culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (Obiakor & Utley, 1997;ical decisions regarding ways to con- Salend, 2001). In fact, the student population in the United States is growingstructively embrace diversity and, thus, fastest in those segments with which American education has traditionallycreate learning environments that been least successful—African Americans and Hispanics.respond to the needs of their students. • Special Education Overrepresentation. A disproportionate number of stu- dents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are inappropri-Use a Range of Culturally ately referred to and placed in special education (Yates, 1998). Data from theSensitive Instructional Methods Office of Civil Rights reveal that African-American and Hispanic-Americanand Materials students, particularly males, are overrepresented in terms of their identifica-In addition to self-assessment, an tion in the disability categories of serious emotional disturbance and mentalimportant component of effective cul- retardation (Oswald, Coutinho, Best, & Singh, 1999). These data also indicateturally responsive classrooms is the use that students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds identifiedof a range of instructional methods and as needing special education services are more likely to be provided thesematerials (Bromley, 1998). Teachers services in more restrictive settings than their caucasian counterparts.need to use instructional methods that • The Negative Effects of Tracking. The overrepresentation of students fromare tailored to suit the setting, the stu- culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in special education candents, and the subject. By varying and have a negative effect on students and their school performance because itadapting these methods and materials, places them in a separate and unequal track that denies them access to theteachers can increase the chances that general education curriculum. In addition, once placed in special educationtheir students will succeed. The follow- classes, these students often encounter lowered teacher expectations, aing are effective culturally sensitive watered down curriculum, and less effective instruction that can have dele-instructional methods. terious effects on their school performance, self-esteem, behavior, educationExplicit, Strategic Instruction and career goals, and motivation to achieve (Nieto, 1996). As a result, these students often do not return to general education placements and frequentlyExplicit, strategic instruction shows stu- leave school before graduating.dents what to do, why, how, and when. • Need for Culturally Responsive Instruction. Though several factors con-An effective strategy is the think-aloud tribute to the disproportional representation of students from culturally andmethod, a procedure that takes advan- linguistically diverse backgrounds in special education (Artiles & Zamora-tage of the benefits of modeling. In a Duran, 1997), one important factor is the failure of general education teach-“think-aloud,” the teacher reads a pas- ers to use culturally responsive instructional practices that address their edu-sage and talks through the thought cational, social, and cultural needs (Smith, Finn, & Dowdy, 1993).processes for students. The objective isto show students how to ask themselvesquestions as they comprehend text. ety of activities and books. The topic ference between what students can Another important strategy is recip- can be drawn from children’s lives and accomplish independently and whatrocal questioning where teachers and interests and sometimes from the cur- they can accomplish with instructionalstudents engage in shared reading, dis- riculum. Teachers can help their stu- support. Teachers then design instruc-cussion, and questioning (Leu & Kinzer, dents successfully engage in cross-cur- tion that provides just enough scaffold-1999). The primary goal of this strategy ricular activities by demonstrating how ing for students to be able to participateis to help students learn to ask ques- to make connections across the curricu- in tasks that currently are beyond theirtions of themselves about the meaning lum through literature, by making reach. Over time, as the tasks becomethey are constructing as they read. explicit connections among books, and more under the control of the learner, by helping them recall how previousInterdisciplinary Units activities and experiences relate to cur-Interdisciplinary units include and con- rent studies.nect content area learning with lan-guage arts and culturally diverse litera- Instructional Scaffolding Teachers need to useture (Cooper, 2000; Leu & Kinzer, 1999). Instructional scaffolding involves the instructional methodsMany effective classrooms are organ-ized around an interdisciplinary, or use of teacher demonstration and the that are tailored to modeling of strategies that studentscross-curricular, theme with students need to be successful with content area suit the setting, theparticipating in meaningful reading,writing, listening, and speaking tasks as texts (Galda, Cullinan, & Strickland, students, and the 1997; Leu & Kinzer, 1999). In scaffoldedthey explore the theme through a vari- instruction, teachers determine the dif- subject. TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN s MAR/APR 2001 s 5
  3. 3. Culturally Complex Atmosphere Creating a book corner that appeals to all children can be a challenge for the teacher. The Internet has become an excellent resource for the kind of quality lit- erature that will introduce chil- dren to other cultural contexts. Teachers will find valuable links to appropriate children’s literature that will help their students appreciate and begin to under- stand the range of human experi- ences and cultural backgrounds. • The Web site Multicultural Resources provides articles, re- views, and literature selections organized around specific cul-In reciprocal questioning, teachers and students engage in shared reading, tural groups (http://falcon.jmu.discussion, and questioning. edu/~ramseyil/multipub.html). • An excellent Web resource for children’s literature thatthe teacher can introduce more difficult Open-Ended Projects addresses cultural differences istasks. Open-ended projects allow students to The Children’s Literature Web contribute at their varying levels of abil- Guide (http://www.acs.ucal-Journal Writing ity. Such projects work well with diverse gary. ca/~dkbrown/lists.html)Journal writing provides opportunities • The Reading Zone of the learners because they need not start orfor students to share their personal Internet Public Library finish at the same time. Students canunderstanding regarding a range of liter- ( explore a topic of interest drawn fromature in various cultural contexts that lapage.html) is a central site their readings of culturally rich litera-inform, clarify, explain, or educate them that is useful for teachers and ture or a content area topic they are cur-about our culturally diverse society students. rently studying. They may choose to(Montgomery, in press). For example, write reports or prepare oral presenta-character study journals permit students tions and create artwork to illustrateto make their own personal connections ductive members in their classroom. some of the major concepts embeddedwith a specific character as they read Some strategies to accomplish a positive in their topic. Goforth (1998) suggests athe story. Students develop their own classroom atmosphere include: project in which interested studentsinsight into the characters and the • Current and relevant bulletin boards make artifacts such as dolls or “storyevents in the story, and they are given that display positive and purposeful cloths” representing an ethnic or cultur-the independence to write what they activities and events involving cultur- al group. They may also want to writewant about the character. The teacher ally diverse people. Include, for stories or poems about their artifacts.provides time for students to share their example, newspaper articles (localjournal writings in small cooperative Establish a Classroom and national) reporting newsworthylearning groups, with their teachers, Atmosphere That Respects events or accomplishments thatwith their tutor(s), or with a reading Individuals and Their Cultures involve people of color, photographsbuddy. Teachers can enhance students’ self- of community leaders from culturally esteem when they construct learning diverse backgrounds, student-made environments that reflect the cultural posters depicting culturally relevant membership in the class. This strategy historical events, and original (stu- Explicit, strategic goes beyond wall decoration to atmos- dent-written) stories and poems with instruction shows phere: Teachers must attend to all stu- dents and try to involve them equally in culturally diverse themes. • A book corner with a variety and students what to do, all class activities. This recognition range of culturally diverse literature, why, how, and when. gives students a positive feeling about their worth as individuals and as pro- fiction and nonfiction (see box, “Culturally Complex Atmosphere”).6 s THE COUNCIL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN
  4. 4. The books that are chosen must also efforts to solve problems and complete deal fairly with disabilities and spe- tasks. The following are suggested Keypals cial needs. The characters should be activities for interactive engagement in The Internet expands the appeal integrated naturally into the story and the learning process: of pen pal activities in the class- not depicted as anomalies or peculi- • Cooperative learning groups. room. A great site for Keypal con- arities in society (Russell, 1994). Cooperative groups bring students tacts is:• Cross-cultural literature discussion together within a variety of support- groups in which students discuss ive and collaborative learning activi- network/iecc quality fiction and nonfiction litera- ties. The use of this kind of learning At this site, intercultural E-Mail ture that authentically depicts mem- group allows all children to see the Classroom Connections, teachers bers of diverse cultural groups. benefits of bringing together people will find a good source for devel- Discussion groups help all students with diverse backgrounds for prob- oping keypals from different feel pride in themselves and in their lem-solving tasks. They use listening, countries. There are several mail- culture when they see their back- speaking, reading, and writing ing lists for teachers looking for grounds valued in classroom reading together to achieve common goals partner classrooms. Teachers can and study activities. In small groups, and in the process become account- subscribe directly from this Web students can read a single work of lit- able since their performance affects page. erature on their own, follow the expe- group outcomes. They become active riences of a particular character and language users and learn to respect his or her problems, form opinions each other’s opinions (Bromley, online equivalent of pen pals. It is an about a specific issue put forward in 1998). For example, the I-Search e-mail activity that may be particular- the text, or respond to a significant Strategy (Leu & Kinzer, 1999) is an ly beneficial to second-language event that occurred during the char- interdisciplinary, student-centered learners because the students are able acter’s life (Montgomery, 2000). For inquiry process that emphasizes par- to communicate in their native lan- example, the content and characteri- ticipation and sharing of research guage with children from similar cul- zations in culturally diverse books findings in small cooperative learning tural and linguistic backgrounds. such as Amazing Grace (Hoffman, groups, as well as in whole-group set- Moreover, important friendships can 1991), Local News (Soto, 1993), tings. To implement this strategy, develop among all students as they Smoky Night (Bunting, 1994), The children choose a motivating theme; find out about life in another part of Story of Ruby Bridges (Coles, 1995) with the teacher’s assistance, they the world, share useful Web sites, and and Black Cowboys, Wild Horses formulate their own research plans; even help one another with home- (Lester & Pinkney, 1998) can stimu- next, they follow and revise their work (Leu & Kinzer, 1999). late greater interest in reading and in plans as they gather information, and reading to learn. then they prepare papers, posters, or Employ Ongoing and Culturally• Language arts and social studies pro- presentations using computer soft- Aware Assessments grams provide opportunities for stu- ware, or they prepare oral reports. In culturally responsive classrooms, dents to share written and oral • Guided and informal group discus- teachers employ ongoing and systemat- reports pertaining to their heritage sions. Informal discussions provide ic assessment of student abilities, inter- and cultural traditions. Teachers can opportunities for able students and ests, attitudes, and social skills. This introduce thematic units that offer less able students to collaborate in information provides a basis for instruc- excellent opportunities for children to constructing meaning from text and tional decision making and offers explore a range (in terms of readabil- enable them to learn from each other ity) of different forms of literature by sharing their reflections, opinions, that look intensively into a single cul- interpretations, and questions. The tural or ethnic experience (Leu & teacher models discussion techniques Teachers can design Kinzer, 1999). If learners are to be and guides the students through early instruction that successful in understanding cultural discussion sessions. As students traditions, trade books must be avail- develop their discussion skills and provides just enough able in the classroom and in the begin to feel comfortable talking scaffolding, or school library to support these strate- about story content and their opin- gies. ions, they will begin to try out ideas support, for studentsFoster an Interactive Classroom without worrying about being wrong to be able to or sounding as if they do not under-Learning Environment stand the story. participate in tasksStudents must have opportunities to • The Internet. On the Web, children that currently areinteract with each other—to engage in can experience exciting culturalshared inquiry and discovery—in their exchanges. Keypals (see box) is the beyond their reach. TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN s MAR/APR 2001 s 7
  5. 5. Many effective students have done over time, how well they are doing, and what areas Send newsletters to all classrooms are need to be improved. families providing an organized around an • Teacher-made tests that are closely tied to the instructional program. overview of culturally interdisciplinary, or Special attention is given to the cog- responsive curriculum cross-curricular nitive styles of all the students and their evolving academic skills. For goals, classroom theme. example, teachers can design a test to activities, and selected assess students’ knowledge or per- formance within a particular content student-written stories area lesson. and poems.insights into what to teach and how to • Student self-assessment. Students canteach. In addition, there is an emphasis respond to questions about theiron student involvement in the assess- learning during periodic teacher/stu- dent conferences. Portfolios can be • Communicate regularly with families.ment process. When students are per- used during these conferences. For For example, send newsletters to allmitted to participate in their assess- example, students can be shown their families providing an overview of cul-ment, they are able to reflect on their work, discuss it with their teachers, turally responsive curriculum goals,own progress and offer insights that and then assess their own progress. classroom activities, and selected stu-adults may not have. Examples of cul- • Teacher self-evaluation. Self-evalua- dent-written stories and poems.turally sensitive assessment include the tion is an integral part of teaching • Invite families to participate in class-following: effectiveness. The kinds of questions room cultural celebrations and to• Daily observation of students’ social teachers ask themselves about their assist in planning such events. and learning behaviors in all class- choices of teaching behaviors and Encourage culturally diverse families room situations. Observations can be strategies, the effectiveness and cul- to visit the classroom to learn what recorded on checklists, in notebooks, tural relevance of their lessons, and occurs in the learning environment on file cards, or in any way that per- their reactions and responses to the and to see how well their children are mits the teacher to summarize obser- cultural diversity in their classrooms doing—academically and socially. vations in a consistent and meaning- can greatly contribute to continuing • Initiate a parent volunteer tutorial ful way. For example, the class roster growth in teaching and learning. program. can be used as a convenient recording • Use culturally diverse community form for observations. The teacher Collaborate with Other resources. Invite to your classroom lists the names of the students in the Professionals and Families culturally diverse civic leaders, busi- class and then heads subsequent Collaboration and communication with ness leaders, artists and writers, columns across the top of the roster culturally diverse families and with members of the police and fire to identify the project, activity, or other professionals are essential ele- department, college professors, and behavior that is observed. ments of culturally responsive class- academically successful high school• Portfolio assessment. Student and rooms. Families are a critical component students. teacher select samples of work that of a strong instructional program and • Attend culturally diverse community reveal the diverse needs and abilities should be regularly informed about stu- or neighborhood events. of the student. Teachers, students, dents’ progress and encouraged to par- and family members reflect on what Final Thoughts ticipate in class and school activities whenever possible. It is also important Of primary importance in any culturally to establish strong collaborative rela- responsive classroom is the teacher’s belief that children from culturallyThrough the Internet, tionships with colleagues to develop instructional programs that broaden the diverse backgrounds want to learn. second-language learning opportunities of all students. Second, instructional strategies and spe- cific teaching behaviors can encourage learners may The following are specific collaborative activities that teachers and families all students to engage in learning activ-communicate in their might use: ities that will lead to improved academ- ic achievement. Third, the development native language with • Consult and share ideas regularly with other teachers with whom students of instructional programs that preventchildren from similar work. Meet with teachers to discuss failure and increase opportunities for success should be the goal of everycultural and linguistic students’ academic and social progress, as well as specific learning teacher. The strategies delineated in this backgrounds. needs. article can become important ways of8 s THE COUNCIL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN
  6. 6. Montgomery, W. (2000). Literature discus- Learn More About It sion in the elementary school classroom: Developing cultural understanding. The following resources can help Multicultural Education, 8(1), 33-36. teachers evaluate the results of Montgomery, W. (in press). Journal writing: self-assessment. Connecting reading and writing in main- Books stream educational settings. Reading and Au, K. (1993). Literacy instruction in Writing Quarterly. multicultural settings. New York: Nieto, S. (1996). Affirming diversity (2nd Harcourt Brace. ed.). New York: Longman. Garcia, E. (1994). Understanding and Obiakor, F. E., & Utley, C. A. (1997). meeting the challenge of student Rethinking preservice preparation for cultural diversity. Boston: teachers in the learning disabilities field: Houghton Mifflin. Workable multicultural strategies. Learning Disabilities Research and Journal Articles Practice, 12(2), 100-106. Montgomery, W. (2000). Literature Oswald, D. P., Coutinho, M. J., Best, A. M., discussion in the elementary school & Singh, N. N. (1999). Ethnic representa- classroom. Multicultural Education, tion in special education: The influence of 8(1), 33-36. school-related economic and demographic Nieto, S. (1994). Lessons from stu- variables. The Journal of Special dents on creating a chance to Education, 32, 194-206. dream. Harvard Educational Patton, J. M. (1998). The disproportionate Review, 64, 392-426. representation of African Americans in Web Sites special education. The Journal of Special Cultural Diversity in the Classroom Education, 32(1), 25-31. ( Russell, D. (1994). Literature for children tt/v2i2/cultural.html) (2nd ed.). New York: Longman. ERIC Digests on Cultural Diversity Salend, S. (2001). Creating inclusive class- ( rooms: Effective and reflective practices (4th ericcass/diverse/digests/tableoc. ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill/Prentice Hall. htm) Smith, T. E. C., Finn, D. M., & Dowdy, C. A. (1993). Teaching students with mild disabili- ties. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.* Soto, G. (1993). Local news. Orlando, FL:helping all children find purpose, pride, Harcourt Brace.and success in their daily efforts to Yates, J. R. (1998, April). The state of practicelearn. in the education of CLD students. Presentation at the annual meeting of theReferences Council for Exceptional Children,Artiles, A. J., & Zamora-Duran, G. (1997). Minneapolis, MN. Reducing disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse stu- dents in special and gifted education. Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional *To order the book marked by an asterisk (*), Children. please call 24 hrs/365 days: 1-800-BOOKS-Bromley, K. D. (1998). Language art: NOW (266-5766) or (732) 728-1040; or visit Exploring connections. Needham Heights, them on the Web at http://www.BooksNow. MA: Allyn & Bacon. com/TeachingExceptional.htm. Use VISA,Bunting, E. (1994). Smoky night. New York: M/C, AMEX, or Discover or send check or Harcourt Brace. money order + $4.95 S&H ($2.50 each add’lColes, R. (1995). The story of Ruby Bridges. item) to: Clicksmart, 400 Morris Avenue, New York: Scholastic. Long Branch, NJ 07740; (732) 728-1040 orCooper, J. D. (2000). Literacy: Helping chil- FAX (732) 728-7080. dren construct meaning. Boston: Winifred Montgomery, Associate Professor, Houghton Mifflin. Department of Elementary Education, StateGalda, L., Cullinan, B., & Strickland, D. S. University of New York at New Paltz. (1997). Language, literacy, and the child (2nd ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace. Address correspondence to the author atGoforth, F. S. (1998). Literature and the Department of Elementary Education, State learner. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. University of New York, 75 S. Manheim Blvd.,Hoffman, M. (1991) Amazing grace. New New Paltz, NY 12561-2443 (e-mail: York: Scholastic., J., & Pinkney, J. (1998). Black cow- boys, wild horses. New York: Dial Books TEACHING Exceptional Children, Vol. 33,Leu, D. J., & Kinzer, C. K. (1999). Effective lit- No. 4, pp. 4-9. eracy instruction, K-8 (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill. Copyright 2001 CEC. TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN s MAR/APR 2001 s 9