Friday, November 15, 2013

What I Can Do to Address the Various Cultures in My Classroom


After completing the readings, watching the videos, and participating in class discussions you should be able to describe a few steps you can take to provide a culturally responsive classroom. In the space below, explain what it means to create a culturally responsive classroom and describe two ways to differentiate your curriculum so that it is more culturally responsive.

106 comments:

  1. According to Castellano and Frazier (p. 393), culturally responsive teaching means capitalizing on students' strengths, perspectives, expertise, affect, learning styles, and skills; it is engaging students' socially with each otherand bringing all perspectives and ideas into the classroom. Culturally responsive teaching is being student-oriented and student-centered, where students become the teachers as well as the learners. Students' backgrounds become an integral part of the learning community; students are able to reflect from the personal world outward in the learning process.
    Through these chapters and videos, I have become aware of at least two areas specifically in which I can become more culturally responsive in my teaching. First, I have realized that I have not thought about the physical environment in my classroom in terms of cultural responsiveness. While I do not have much represented on my classroom walls in terms of any culture or background, I am realizing that I should put more thought related to cultural differences when I do post things on my walls.
    Second, I need to work on adapting my instruction to students' learning differences. I do try to use a variety of instructional strategies in teaching and am relatively balanced, but even in that, I do not feel like I know my students well enough in terms of their unique learning styles and learning differences. I believe I need to get to know my classroom of students better (through conversations and even surveys) so that I can adjust my teaching styles even more to their preferences and strengths.

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    1. Elizabeth ElledgeApril 24, 2014 at 9:10 AM

      I still agree with what I said in the earlier post. I still believe in making my classroom student-oriented and student-centered, and I believe in both creating an environment and using instructional strategies that meet students' learning needs. However, I think that the blog posts, readings, videos, and class time have broadened my perspective of what it means to be student-oriented and student-centered. At the beginning of this course, I thought about these things on a more academic level - in other words, how these things have affected students' learning. Now, I focus more on my students as children - who they are, where they are from, and each student's individual strengths and weaknesses.

      As far as reaching these goals, I really want to take more steps to get to know each child. I want to sit down with each child one-on-one at the beginning of the year and then more throughout to just chat about the child's background and interests. I already survey both my students and parents, but I want to use those surveys more to push students further. I also want to go back to calling each parent at the beginning of the year to give me more time to get to know about my students and parents. I also wish I had time to interview each student using the questions from our student interview assignment, but I may just take a few of the questions and ask my kids more about themselves. I know that to be an effective teacher I must be prepared to respond to students' unique needs in the emotional, social, and academic level; I feel more comfortable in that role as a teacher now because of the tools I have received from this course.

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  2. To cultivate a culturally responsive classroom, we must view diversity as a strength, and embrace inclusion, equity and access to educational resources for all students (Castellano & Frazier, p.389). Teachers should seek to know and understand students' cultural backgrounds, and allow opportunities for students to understand one another. Culturally responsive teaching is centered around the students' strengths and areas of expertise that they bring into the classroom. Culturally responsive teaching engages students at a higher level because it values each individual students' learning goals.

    The chapters on high-achieving African American students, and identifying and teaching Native American students really resonated with me because they made me think of several changes that I can immediately make in my own classroom to become a more culturally responsive teacher:

    1- All of the high achieving African American students in Chapter 5 spoke about how much their teachers' beliefs in them and high expectations really influenced their academic successes. Over half of the boys in my current class are African American students from at-risk homes and also are currently struggling academically. This section of the book inspired me to make an even more intentional effort to build a positive relationship with each one of them, in hopes that it will help them to aspire to greater academic success. I even think one of my boys has developed an "oppositional response" toward school (pg. 103) and is choosing not to learn. I really reflected on the statement on pg. 102, "Children infer teachers' beliefs about why they succeed or fail from the teachers' emotional reaction to them"...especially in the case with this particular student. I know that perhaps a change in my own attitude and understanding of this student and his cultural background may help me build a stronger relationship with him, and in turn, help him have more academic success. I will become a more culturally responsive teacher by forming closer relationships with students from different cultures than my own.

    2- I have always understood and appreciated the importance of learning styles and multiple intelligences, but reading more about Visual-Spatial Learners (VSLs) through the study of gifted Native Americans made me reflect on my own teaching practices and how I can make the content and skills that I teach more accessible to these learners. This chapter helped me understand why some of my students don't always "get me" and how I can better meet their needs. Especially in mathematics, I can do a better job of incorporating MORE visual models and spending more time on those models before moving to the "numbers".

    I am more of an auditory-sequential learner, and I now understand why some of my students want to jump to the big "aha" moment at the beginning of my lesson! How frustrating that is for me! But after reading this chapter, I see why--these learners need to see the big picture before they can understand the details. So, knowing this, I will now try to lay out the goals and end products at the beginning of my whole group instruction, so that VSLs can process the rest of the lesson with that in mind. I now have a much greater awareness of the characteristics of these learners and can become a more culturally responsive teacher by varying my instructional delivery modes to meet their needs.

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  3. According to Gary Howard in his Seven Principals of Culturally Responsive Teaching, to be culturally responsive means 1) to be competent, have the will and ability, to connect to one’s students and create authentic relationships across differences in the classroom; and to 2) implement culturally responsive teaching and leadership so that more of the students are comfortable of their differences, and, in exchange, achieve at a higher level, engage at a deeper level more of the time without giving up who they are.
    The students at my school are mostly rural and come from a low socioeconomic background. We have a diverse student body, largely black, a spackling of Hispanics, a hint of Asian, and the other half white. Many differences in family life are apparent including kids of divorced, single parent homes, kids who are the “parents” when they get home, other who are privileged, others whose parents work til midnight, etc. My classroom needs to be very sensitive to these students’ differences. One main area where I can differentiate my curriculum is through the literature they read by giving them choice finding realistic novels that they can relate to and then share with us in the classroom. I love the idea of the interview questions for our paper, and I think that having open discussions that refer to back to those very questions can really allow students to open up and become empathetic to one another, hence, create an accepting environment, a safe haven for everyone. Having students compare their novel choice to some of the interview questions would tie the idea that as a teacher “I get them” and “kids get it that I like them!” One academic idea that I really intend on doing is allowing students to select music with lyrics that represents who they are. Through the music/lyrics not only can we learn about the academic aspects of poetry, but we can learn and respect one another and our differences. These are only 2 areas I can differentiate, but I know that there is so much more I can do in teaching the language arts curriculum!

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  4. Culturally responsive classrooms and teachers help the students get out of their comfort zones and challenge them to think critically and solve problems (Castellano & Frazier, p 389). Engage the students in material that is relevant to them. If we want out students to grow and become better people we need to make sure the instruction is able to measure their effectiveness thru formal and informal measure (p 393).
    Learning styles and more student involvement are two things I'd like to do more of in my classroom. Music is such a cultural class and I'd like to get the kids experiencing more culture. African drumming, various holidays (other than the typical western ones), and more hands on projects. Working in groups is something I tend to avoid because I never really liked doing it in school. But, some students really work well with others and produce impressive work together. I'll have to plan more lessons/units that require group involvement.

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  5. Creating a culturally responsive classroom means that teachers make students feel comfortable being who they are. Teachers are personally and culturally inviting, and students are honored in their cultural ties. Teachers make their classrooms reflect the diversity of their students so that all students feel welcome. Teachers encourage students and believe in their intelligence. Teaching strategies are adjusted to bring differentiation into the classroom including music, art, and visuals. Teachers are respectful, caring and firm in their disciplinary actions. Teachers honor individuality and grouping to create student centered learning activities. Students in culturally responsive classrooms know that who they are and where they come from is important. These students are comfortable sharing their cultural experiences and backgrounds. This information from Gary Howard's "7 Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching" has made me realize that I need to make improvements to become a culturally responsive teacher.
    Castellano (p. 383) states that through revisited curriculum and instruction, teachers can "infuse meaningful experiences that address multiple perspectives that help students move beyond the surface elements of culture (i.e., food, clothing, music) to a deeper understanding of culture by emphasizing cross-cultural communication and understanding, acceptance, and the celebration of diversity." As a teacher, I need to infuse more meaningful cultural experiences into my classroom so that my students know that it is great to be different and they should be proud of who they are including race, religion, family background, etc. My students need to see the different perspectives through U.S. History and come to understand that our country is built from these differences.
    Another area I need to improve as a culturally responsive teacher is in my personal connections to students. As a high school teacher, I see over 120 students per day. I should try to make more meaningful connections to students so that I can understand where they are coming from and what makes them who they are. If I get to know my students backgrounds and cultures better, then I can include those backgrounds and cultures into my lessons. The chapter that really hit me the hardest was the chapter on African American males. That is the total opposite of who I am and I need to take the steps necessary to become familiar with the culture so I can be a better teacher. Hopefully by gaining this new knowledge from the textbook and videos, I can make the changes necessary to become a more culturally responsive teacher.

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  6. Castellano described culturally responsive teaching as “capitalizing on the strengths the students bring to the classroom [and]… engaging them intellectually by focusing on issues that are important to them.” (Castellano, p. 393) Similarly, Gary Howard in his 7 Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning outlined ways in which teachers can better meet the needs of all of their students more of the time. He offered ideas to help students connect with school through the environment and personal relationship with the teacher including feelings of acceptance, support, and structure.
    I agreed with Howard in his example of how he, at first, taught his students in the manner that he learned the best and had a hard time stepping out of that box. I similarly had the same problem because I could not understand (and still do not always) why students did not get the material the way I taught it the first time. Through observations of my cooperating teachers and getting to know my students better, I realized that their learning styles were, in most cases, different from mine and that they benefitted from different kinds of instruction. I began to build in more opportunities for my students to communicate with one another, to collaborate, and to work hands-on and I saw a tremendous difference in their attention spans and receptiveness.
    Another way I differentiated my instruction was giving students more opportunities when starting a new concept to interact with it and see where their interests lie in order to better gear my instruction. For example, one of the topics covered in fifth grade is space science. That is a very broad topic and includes many smaller sub topics that could take a lot of time to cover individually. I gave my students an overview of some basic areas under the umbrella of space science and watched where our class discussion went. That way I was able to see what they were truly interested in and gear my lessons in those directions rather than forcing them to know things they did not care about.

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  7. Culturally responsive teaching is student centered where both teaching and learning are reciprocal. According to Castellano and Frazier, a culturally responsive classroom is where teachers move students out of comfort zones into challenging them to think more critically and become problem solvers. In my classroom we call this "stretching ourselves." We should instill in our student to. It on,y be comfortable, but confident in who they are as well as helping them feel accepted.
    An area I am striving to be more culturally diverse is finding and using a variety of teaching strategies based on learning styles and differences.

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  8. In Gary Howard's video, he outlined 7 Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning and presented examples of what this looks like in classrooms. After reading the chapters this week and participating in discussions in class, I realize that I have not been as culturally responsive as I thought. Respecting cultural differences is not enough if I do not understand these differences. But even more important than that, I must continually work to make sure, as Howard says, "Kids get it, that we get them" and "Kids get that we like them." I work hard to make sure my students know I care about them, but I must make sure I take time to have conversations to get to know them. Just last week, as I was reading a paper a student wrote, I found out his family had moved in with his grandparents for the month. Because I had not taken time to talk with him, he did not share this important information with me. I now realize I must take time to have conversations with my students frequently.
    In addition, I must make sure I am working to meet their needs and accommodate their differences. I like Howard's colloquialism for this principle. He said we must try "singing harmony to our kids song, rather than forcing them to sing our song." As teachers, I feel like we struggle with this often. We work hard to design lessons to help our students meet standards. However, we must first desire to reach them. After we reach them, we can teach them. Before we worry about standards, we must worry about students. Creating an environment where they feel safe to learn and explore is key. Like Castellano and Frazier say, we must challenge them to think critically and problem solve. If they do not feel safe and respected, they will not work to reach these goals. So, in my classroom, I will work first to make sure I am accommodating students differences to help them succeed.

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  9. A culturally responsive teacher keeps students engaged deeper more of the time than a teacher who isn’t culturally responsive. According to Gary Howard’s Seven Principals of Cultural Responsive Teaching, teachers should provide an environment that is representative of students and their cultures. Students who feel welcome are going to be open to learn. One point made in the video that really made an impression was that respect comes from the teacher first. While most students do come into the classroom with some sense of respect for teachers and adults, it makes sense that teachers should be the first to model respect with all students. Respect for the individual by the teacher reduces the need to for some students to feel they have something to prove. While I feel I do a fairly good job of creating a student- centered classroom and keeping students engaged, I have noticed that I have not had the same connection with my students since being in the gifted resource room. I need to step up and make that connection with each and every child like I made in the self-contained classroom. While my students know that I care about them, I want them to know that I “get them” so they will feel safe enough to open themselves up to become critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Students who are gifted are often asynchronous, and don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. I want to provide them the environment needed for them to be comfortable with themselves so they can build the confidence needed.

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  10. According to the text, being a culturally responsive teacher means capitalizing on the strengths of the students, engaging them in topics that interest them and allowing them opportunities to get to know one another (Castellano, p. 393). I see that a few people used this section in their answers already, but it is one that really hit home with me. When I first took the position as gifted specialist for our school, these are the exact principles that I was told that I needed to have in my classroom. Over the past few weeks there have been so many parallels between being culturally responsive and teaching in the gifted classroom, but to me it all goes back to being a good teacher no matter the setting. When I was going through undergrad we talked about multiculturalism, but more in a sense of teaching about the cultures on holidays and special occasions. To be truly culturally sensitive, you are recognizing the different cultures daily, not only because of a date on the calendar. This is something that I want to strive to work harder at in my classes. To truly see all of the different cultures in my classes. Something that I have been wanting to implement in my classes this year is "Ted-talk Tuesday". My husband got me hooked on Ted-talks and I use them a great deal in my 5th and 6th grade classes. After watching a talk one day, one of my students asked me if we could have a day for them to speak about something they knew about. I thought that it would be a wonderful idea, but until watching the video I didn't think about it being a way for them to speak about something that was personal to them; a way for the students to bring in their culture. Another way that we can create a culturally responsive classroom is by diversifying assignments. This is something else that has been brought to my attention in the gifted classroom. One thing that I am struggling with right now is that we are in a big 1:1 push and we are encouraged to give digital assignments. I find myself assigning iMovies and videos and making other digital assignments, when not only do some students not enjoy those assignments, but some students don't have access to the materials at home. I want my students to feel like my classroom is one place where they can be themselves and not have to worry about things that they can't help.

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  11. I teach in Selma and our city has a history of racial divide. As a matter of fact, the first year I taught over 25 years ago, our school system experienced what is known as ‘’the white flight.” Up until this day our racial divide in our city school system was about 50/50. On that day the majority of white students left the public school system never to return. It is now 98-99% black. However, as a teacher this setting is all I have ever known and taught. I think I do a good job of showing honor and respect to my students. I manage my classroom as Gary Howard stated in his Seven Principles of Culturally Responsive Teaching with “firm, consistent, and loving control.” My students are very comfortable talking to me about various issues and concerns they are facing especially at the middle school level. However, I feel inadequate at times because I am culturally different from them and have never experienced many of the problems they are faced with. This class has taught me that I need to take the time to really get to know all my students. I plan on using the student interview with all my students.
    Another area that I need to work on is the physical environment of my classroom. Upon entering my classroom you would never know the racial makeup of my classroom. The visuals are not reflective of my students. I have a wealth of history right at my fingertips in our city. I must do a better job of tapping into these resources so I can better understand my students and celebrate their history. As a result I think I will become a more culturally responsible teacher.

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  12. A culturally responsive classroom is one that provides opportunities for students to engage in activities and interact with materials that explore multiple cultures. It is a place that celebrates diversity, respects values and traditions and encourages students to share and celebrate the elements of their culture that make them who they are. Through our class readings I have been able to really expand my understanding of the depth and variety of "culture" and have found many new perspectives from which to look at my classroom and my students. For example, according to Davis, religion is an important aspect of African American Culture and a filter through which many students will see the world. This should be valued and respected. According to DeVries and Golon Native American gifted students might struggle with the label "gifted" because their culture is one that puts little value in the consideration of "superior abilities". This perspective should be understood and dealt with carefully and tactfully in gifted classrooms. I confess my classroom is not exceptionally diverse. I have 4 African American students and 1 Hispanic student in my program, but this material has really helped me to see them from a different perspective, particularly my Hispanic student. I was struck as I read Chapter 11 as I realized I have no clue from which Hispanic or Latino heritage my student originates. I never gave much thought to the diverse cultures that the term "Latino" incorporates. My first application of this material in my classroom is to sit and have a personal conversation with this student about his country of origin. Conversations, open, honest and sometimes even challenging conversations, that allow students to share their cultures with me and with their classmates are a great place to start to create a more culturally responsive classroom.
    Lindsey Irvin

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    1. In re-reading my response at the end of this class experience I can see how my entire concept of special populations has expanded. While I still do not have an exceptionally diverse classroom I can now see each of my student through a new lens of understanding, particularly my Hispanic and Twice Exceptional students.
      I have really struggled to understand my sweet little Hispanic student but the last module helped me shed some light on what might be happening with him. Brulles and Castellano in Ch 14 provide a list of curriculum models and factors that influence programming for ELL students and as I read I became more and more aware of language barrier issues that are probably affecting this student. It also provided some questions for me regarding cultural influences that interfere with the understanding of content. For example, in our Economics studies we looked at the Idea of opportunity cost. The students were instructed to draw a choice they made that morning for breakfast and label the opportunity cost. I noticed him staring at his paper and began asking questions and the concept of “choice” is not something that he had for breakfast or in most any category at home. I immediately thought this might be a cultural difference and I moved to discussing choices at school. He was able to complete the assignment once I moved the discussion away from home.
      My Twice Exceptional student is also a challenge, with his dual diagnosis of Autism/ ADHD but Hughes article in Chapter 7 was like turning on a light bulb in my mind. Everything from understanding his delayed identification to his language processing issues and social issues was addressed in that article and really helped me to see and understand him differently. It was so helpful to begin to consider playing to his strengths in my class and how modify my instruction to accommodate his strengths not his weaknesses. VanTassel-Baska’s comments on pg. 166 also helped me consider the movement between his highly structured Special Education Class and my creative and independent GRC room and how that must affect him.
      These are 2 very real and personal ways I have been able to apply concepts and expand my understanding of culturally responsive teaching in my classroom during this course.
      Lindsey Irvin

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  13. In order to be culturally responsive, teachers must allow students to share different ideas and values about their personal cultures. We should allow our students to participate in those difficult conversations in a respectful way. Gary Howard’s Seven Principals of Cultural Responsive Teaching referred to teachers creating a culturally inviting classroom. I, personally, need to work on this. By creating a classroom that is inviting to all cultures, not just the predominant one or one of which you are familiar, you are allowing students to feel more comfortable and safe in their school setting. This might include being sure to allow your classroom to visually represent other cultures as well as representing them in your curriculum. I also was intrigued by his reference to "Kids get that we like them". As a teacher, I need to be more aware of this. I know my students know that I LIKE them, but do they actually know that I am INTERESTED in them? I would like to challenge myself to truly get to know my students and their families on a more personal level. Teaching at a private school, this isn't difficult to do; however, finding creative ways to do so might be more challenging.

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  14. The actions of a culturally responsive teacher are to respond to the needs of students based on what we know about their interests and their background. Visual-Spatial learners for example, sometimes need to have the freedom to move during lessons as well as having something in their hands to fidget with while a lesson is being taught.Meeting these needs and accomadating students is part of respondig to their learning needs. One way that I could differentiate to accommadate these learners is to incorporate hands-on activities that will not only engage students in learning , but give them skills for the real world. Another way of accomadation to learners is to give them a variety of ways to display their work such as brochures, comic strips, power point presentations, oral presentations, etc. Katrina Kimbrell

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  15. One of the most meaningful things I have learned this semester through the readings, blogposts, and interactions with my students is that in order to be a culturally responsive teacher, we must constantly be changing our perspectives to see things through the eyes of our students and the ways that they best learn and interact with each other.

    Culturally responsive teachers continually take into account the various cultural backgrounds, learning styles, and interests of their students. For me, I have learned to be very aware of the background knowledge and resources that my students have--they are often vastly different. As a new teacher, I think I used to always assume too much about my students--now, I usually assume the opposite and see what they bring to the table. If the instructional activities in my classroom are not totally student centered, students can become disengaged or frustrated and overwhelmed.

    Changing my perspective and looking at learning activities through the student lens has allowed me to become a more culturally responsive teacher.

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  16. As the semester comes to an end, I have begun to realize that I have put into effect those goals that I had set for myself towards the beginning of the semester. I unknowingly have given my students assignments which have led me to better understand their backgrounds and cultural differences. For example, one assignment for my students has been to write a short story about their grandparents in preparation for our upcoming Grandparents' Day. Reading their stories has given me an insight to their home lives and the ways in which they are growing up in comparison to myself as well as their classmates.

    In being culturally responsive, I have learned that I need to take the things that I know and learn about my students and allow it to mold my curriculum as well as classroom management in order to promote their cultures and build off of their personal experiences. Students' cultures greatly influence their performance and behaviors in school. I believe a culturally responsive teacher is sensitive to these facts and takes them into account when he or she is conducting classroom management and instructional activities.

    I still need to improve on my cultural appearance of my classroom and make it more inviting to all cultures. While it may not be of any particular social group, I need to become more responsive by incorporating those things.

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  17. As my first semester of grad school comes to a close I realise I've only just begun to absorb this new information pertaining to gifted education. I have started to see my students (the whole school) in a new light at different times during music class: I've become more aware of those students identified as gifted and tried to incorporate more material into my lessons for them.
    Even my morning duty as crossing guard has changed a bit since I see the kids in a different way and just get to greet them and chat a bit (when traffic is low). I get to see their personalities and true feelings.
    Over the past three years I've also become better acquainted with the military lifestyle and the "travelling" life most of my students have lived (and are living). Each week, as the school passes through my classroom, I try to make music fun and bring them a relaxation from the rigours of the academic classroom.

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  18. The student interviews were a real eye opener for me. I learned so much about my students’ backgrounds; and I believe I am a better teacher because of them. I teach sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. I am going to make it a priority to have an initial interview with my incoming sixth graders every year. I want to learn as much about them as I can. I feel like I could have better meet their needs if I had done this earlier and with all students. For my seventh and eighth graders, I want to build on the relationships that I have already established with them. I am also going to incorporate more experiences from their backgrounds. Even though I have lived in Selma my entire life, there are so many historical places that I have never visited. Selma is full of history. I want to make sure I use the available resources. As a result of this class, I have found that I need to learn more about the cultures that I am teaching. All my students are racially different from myself. This year I have learned that what is important to me in my culture is not necessarily important to my students. I plan to use the information learned from this class to be more effective in my classroom.

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  19. As the semester comes to a close, I am realizing all of the changes I have made to become a more culturally responsive teacher. I have gotten to know my students more on a personal level, have given them more choice in assignments, and have given them the chance to express themselves in different ways. I am not where I want to be yet as a culturally responsive teacher, but I do think I am growing.
    There are many ways that we as teachers can address the various cultures in our classroom. First of all, teachers need to get to know their students and find out what cultures are represented within their classroom. You can then meet the needs of the various cultures represented by engaging them in various activities relating to those differing backgrounds. We need to take advantage of the educational opportunities that are available around us. If there are museums, colleges, exhibits, etc, that are available for our students to take part in, then we need to be sure to make that resource a teaching tool to expand the knowledge of our students. We have to find educational resources and strategies that teachers can use in their daily lessons to appeal to all cultures in their classrooms. Students need the opportunity to have student choice in some assignments where they can show their classmates who they are and where they come from. Teachers have to instill in their students a respect for all cultures and backgrounds.
    Overall, it takes time to get to know all of the cultures represented in a classroom. Teachers must get to know their students on an individual basis to find out what they need intellectually and emotionally. Teachers must then find educational activities that are meaningful and appropriate for all cultures and backgrounds.

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  20. A culturally responsive classroom acknowledges, respects, and utilizes the differences in student backgrounds in order to be successful. These backgrounds include student strengths, perspectives, learning styles, and more, according to Castellano and Frazier (p. 393). A teacher must be willing to make learning student-centered, and to make sure the environment is safe for students to express their cultural sensitivities and backgrounds.

    One way to differentiate curriculum so that it is more culturally responsive is by focusing on learning styles; this is something I have used in my classroom on a regular basis. At the start of each year (or semester, depending on how the course works), I have students complete a learning styles inventory. We then analyze the results together and brainstorm ideas for activities we might do in the classroom using these learning styles. These activities are then incorporated into the lessons I plan.

    Another way to differentiate curriculum so that it is more culturally responsive is to build solid relationships with students, which requires spending time with them outside of the classroom. One way to manage this is by attending events in which students are involved. Another is to coach or volunteer for their teams and clubs. This shows them they are cared for outside of their status as students and it also provides the teacher with insights into their true personalities.

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  21. A culturally responsive classroom is one that can be a learning experience for all. It permits the students to bring their knowledge to the classroom and expose the teacher to something that he or she may not be aware of. It allows the student to feel like they are empowered and have something to offer. The knowledge that the student is able to share can then be connected to the curriculum through the guidance of the teacher.

    To make my classroom more culturally responsive, I feel that I should consider the students’ opinions about what motivates them to achieve. Castellano and Frazier stated that asking high-achieving Black students about their needs may provide educators with important information about how to design appropriate educational experiences for them (page 99). I believe that having conversations with these students will help me to acquire information about some of the things that they value. In addition, I could take a student survey of their interests to incorporate into our lessons. I feel that allowing them to be a part of the decision making on the units that are taught will encourage them to want to be more involved and more eager to share their ideas with others.

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    1. In addition to my comments about a culturally responsive classroom earlier this semester, I feel that the environment should be student-centered. The students should feel respected and comfortable about being who they are and sharing their own experiences. All students can learn from others and the teacher can direct the lessons to express appreciation for where each student has come from. Prior to my job in Gifted Ed, I was a physical education teacher for 19 years. This position gave me great insight into getting to know my students. I put forth an extra effort to try to be involved in my students’ extra-curricular activities. I had no idea the impact that it had on my students. Since my job change, I have had so many students and parents to express their appreciation for my interest in their child. I did not know how much it meant to them that I would attend their ball games, spelling bees, etc. I can now apply that knowledge to this job and make sure that I put forth a concerted effort to do the same for my gifted education students. I believe that if they know I am truly interested in them, they will be more likely to be open in the classroom.
      Two ways I could differentiate instruction is to be more aware of the students’ learning styles and incorporate these methods into the lessons. Second, I think that knowing the interests of the students and gearing lessons towards these interests would help me to meet the needs of my students.

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  22. To address various cultures my classroom, I think Gary Howard's model and his Seven Principles of Culturally Responsive Teaching should be a guiding force. According to Howard, in a culturally responsive classroom, "students are affirmed in their cultural connections; teachers are personally inviting; the classroom is physically and culturally inviting; students are reinforced for academic development; instructional changes are made to accommodate differences; the classroom is managed with a firm, consistent, loving control; and interactions stress collectivity as well as individuality." In addition to Howard’s Principles, Special Populations in Gifted Education offered some interesting thoughts as it related to specific populations. In Chapter Five, Linda Long-Mitchell sites A. Hilliard and says, "...failure to understand the culture and experiences of Black students has resulted in the design of inappropriate strategies being applied to assessment and curriculum practices." In Chapter Eleven, Jaime Castellano's says that the recruitment of gifted Hispanic students is successful when there is "a strong support system in place that honors the cultural identity of the students, as well as their learning strengths, learning styles, and potential." Additionally in Chapter 18, Castellano says when we add meaningful experiences, addressing multiple perspectives, we help students develop a deeper understanding of culture and diversity. I think all of these thoughts point to one thing: we must get to know our students. We must understand their personalities and motivations, their cultural backgrounds as well as their current family situation, their cultural history and perspective. And seeking to understand is just the beginning. Actively infusing our classrooms with elements of all cultures turns a foreign and uncomfortable learning environment into a second home where children are celebrated for being unique and welcomed for bringing diversity. Seeing the learning environment from the learner’s perspective helps to adapt lessons to learning styles as well as cultural norms that will help the student be better able to not only understand, but also apply the principles being taught.

    I do not currently have a classroom with walls, but I coach a ninth grade boys’ soccer team at one of the local high schools; I also have four children, each with very different learning styles (although all have been classified as gifted). In my coaching classroom, I tend to leave very little opportunity for the players to decide what we will do at practice. I am somewhat of a disciplinarian when it comes to coaching, and while engaging players through guided discussion is critical for their learning, relinquishing some of the freedom to let them develop parts of practice would most certainly be beneficial to them. At home with my own children, I have one child who is visual-spatial to the nth degree. This has made learning math concepts very difficult for her; so much so, in fact, that rote memorization of multiplication facts has been quite the challenge. With a little research and patience, teaching math facts to the VS learner can not only be effective, but also enjoyable. I am looking forward to trying some of the tactics mentioned in Castellano and Frazier’s book to meet the needs of my VS child, as well as researching on my own, other creative and innovative ways to meet needs of various learners in various subjects.

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    1. To address the cultures in our classrooms, we must view the world through the students’ eyes. We must walk in the shadows of their perspective, and not just strive to understand, but work to implement strategies to educate this generation of learners in culturally relevant ways. We must seek the input of parents and community members, well versed in the cultures of the classroom, in order to provide resources and mentors for students as they look to grow within the context of their own cultural heritage while integrating new concepts and ideas that will shape their journey into adulthood. We must not shy away from tough questions with even tougher answers. We must be prepared to face the adversity and complexity that precedes understanding. We must be willing participants in the educational process, as we find ourselves both the teacher and the learner, establishing as our mission the fundamental right of each child to learn in an environment that celebrates all cultures, challenges all learners, and develops all students as they seek understanding relevant to the world they call home.

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  23. To me, creating a culturally responsive classroom means that knowledge of different cultures is being used to help provide a quality education to every student no matter how diverse or different they may be. In order to accomplish this, the teacher must first get to know the students and their culture. The teacher must understand how each culture promotes their children to learn and what is important to that particular culture. The teacher must then use this knowledge to help students learn to the best of their ability. The teacher can differentiate by educating students in the style that they learn best. Not every student learns the same way that the majority of students learn. Because of this, teachers cannot instruct using one method of instruction. Instruction must be differentiated, so all students will benefit. Students also need to learn about other cultures, so that they respect and understand students with diverse cultures and backgrounds. This will help students feel comfortable in the classroom, and it will help prevent teasing from other students. It is also a great way to let students with diverse cultures know that their culture is also very important to learn about. Classrooms need to provide more instruction concerning different cultures. Students should also be allowed to study material that is important and exciting to them.

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  24. Kimberly Hazel JohnsonJanuary 29, 2015 at 4:14 PM

    Castellano and Frazier state that "culturally responsive teaching means capitalizing on the strengths that the students bring to the classroom" (p.393). Gary Howard's definition of culturally responsive teaching is that "more students across more differences achieve at a higher level, engage at a deeper level, more of the time without giving up who they are". I think these definitions point to culturally responsive teaching being student-centered. Howard's Seven Principles consistently refer back to the need for students to feel supported and affirmed by the teacher. Castellano and Frazier further drive that point home in Chapter 5 on "High Achieving Black Adolescents". The importance of communicating high expectations for student achievement is paramount.
    I believe that differentiating your classroom curriculum to be more culturally responsive can begin by modeling acceptance and understanding of all cultures. As an elementary teacher, I am aware that my students look to me as a model for appropriate behavior. I also think altering the physical environment is key. This topic was discussed in depth by Howard in his Seven Principles, specifically principle 3. It's not something that I have consciously thought about, but I am happy that the posters displayed in my classroom do reflect a many cultures. In the video posted above Dr. Bidwell mentioned allowing students to bring in their own cultures to the classroom. I believe that this is key to cultural responsive teaching. This to me transcends age as well. Students of any age should be allowed the opportunity to acknowledge and share their own culture. The learning environment should allow for individuality, but offer students a place of community as well.

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    1. My entire view of “culture” has changed as a result of my taking this class. I believe that in the beginning my perspective on what defined “culture” was narrow and unclear. I now understand that “culture” is a summation of all the parts of an individual and not just what we can see. It is important for my students to feel connected to what we are learning. The learning environment should reflect cultural diversity but the way we teach and what we teach should as well. I still feel that teachers should model acceptance, curiosity, and respect, but as several others have mentioned it is important to attempt to view classroom experiences as a student would view them. As a teacher, I should not shy away from discussions that incorporate culture. It is incredibly important for me to listen to my students and attempt to understand them and who they are.

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  25. When a teacher makes all students - from various backgrounds and cultures - feel comfortable and empowered in the classroom, I believe that a culturally responsive classroom has been established. I love what was said in the above video about making students feel like the school isn’t just a place to collect knowledge, it’s a place where we all learn together. In a culturally responsive classroom, the teacher makes sure that they are culturally inviting and makes the students proud of their background and experiences that they bring into the learning environment.


    I think that, in order to differentiate my curriculum to be more culturally responsive, I need to think about the diversity of my students when preparing lesson plans. In teaching creative writing, I feel like there’s a whole Pandora’s Box I haven’t tapped into yet. There are so many things that I can have the students write about to foster the understanding and celebration of our different backgrounds. Additionally, I plan to work on my relationship with my students. I see about 600 students each week, so it’s difficult to feel as though I have a good understanding of each student. I think that having them write about themselves, their experiences, and share their culture, I can work on building a better relationship with each of my students. I want my students to know that I care, and I want to know more about them as people.

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    1. I still need to think about the diversity of my students when preparing my lessons, indeed. However, I feel that my understanding of diversity has grown exponentially. It's not just about what's different on the outside but a summation of our lifestyles, experiences, and upbringing. Through the course of this semester, I have learned that allowing students to see themselves and their background within the lessons creates a valuable connection to their learning, and this is something of which I should strive to do more. My last statement, though, still rings true: I want my students to know that I care and want to know more about them as little people.

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  26. My opinion of creating a culturally responsive classroom is one that recognizes the cultural differences that are distinctive within a classroom. I think that it is very important to identify and discuss the differences that are prevalent in our world today. Students must know that there are other cultures that exist other than their own. But before they realize that, the adults whom they come in contact with must have a grasp on the fact that there are other cultures as well. As adults, we are the ones who will give the impression as to whether or not differences are accepted. We have to handle the differences that our students bring in to the classroom and we must be willing to accept them because if we don't, neither will our students.
    I really liked the quote that Gary Howard used in his explanation of the 7 principles. "Kids get that we get them, and kids like that we get them" is a great quote to keep in mind at the beginning of the school year. This is my second year of teaching and I always try to get to know my students through conversation, autobiographical activities, games, etc. This is also a good way for the students to learn the differences of their classmates. So many problems in our history resulted from others not accepting the differences of others, whether it was race, religion, gender, etc. I feel that it is important for students to know the problems that arose from not accepting cultural differences and the affects that it had. Accepting cultural differences may not completely eliminate the prejudice against cultural diversity, but we can at least make our classrooms a place where we are aware of the differences that are prevalent in our world.

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    1. Throughout this course, I have used various methods to expose the different cultures that are in my classroom. I have given my students more choices in their assignments that will benefit them in learning; also, I focus on the lives of my students when teaching. I will give an example from my life to show a similarity/difference in culture, and then watch as other students will introduce things about their life to the conversation. Before, I never really knew how much students enjoyed talking about things in their life until I started incorporating bits and pieces into lessons. This not only allows the student to express themselves, but also lets their classmates know of their lifestyle and home life- sometimes, students will have similarities and don't know about them until this conversation starts! I love to see students brighten up when they learn of their classmates enjoying some of the same things they do or wanting to learn more about certain traditions.
      I still have quite a bit of work to do in order to have a fully culturally responsive classroom, but that is definitely a goal I have for next year. While there is still a few weeks left in this school year, I will continue to conduct activities that focus on cultural responsiveness. Thanks to this class for helping me pull out interesting and sometimes hidden characteristics of various cultures in my classroom!

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  27. A culturally responsive classroom addresses each culture represented by its members. I think making a classroom culturally responsive addresses two parts. We must address the physical room. We, as teachers, should ensure that the classroom is inviting to all cultures that are going to make it their year-long or semester-long home. We must do this while maintaining an atmosphere conducive to learning. We must also address the actual curriculum. Creating a curriculum that is culturally responsive can be much more challenging than throwing in a Black History report for the month of February. To be truly responsive to culture, teachers must take all cultures as well as learning styles into account. A way that this can be done is maintaining an open dialogue. When students feel comfortable sharing, they can bring information about their own backgrounds and upbringings to share for the whole class. This can be invaluable as a learning experience for an entire class. Not only should students be encouraged to share their differences, but they should also see their differences represented in the curriculum. This can be done through reading various type of literature as well as through History-related lessons and activities. When a student is given a chance to respond to the curriculum in which they see themselves reflected, that student has a sense of belonging and is encouraged to perform to his or her highest potential.

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    1. After looking back on my previous response, I see that I have grasped the idea of being more than "colorblind." I now know that I need to make an effort to allow all students to see themselves in the content that is being presented to them. When students can relate to their instruction, they are going be be much more likely to respond in positive ways. I am now much more aware and able to integrate a more culturally-aware attitude.

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  28. First off, I love in the video when she has the realization that she could know something and be an expert where a teacher wasn’t – I feel like more teachers need to make room for their students to be experts. Especially, when you are looking to bring different cultures in – each student is coming from a different culture and they are the experts on that. I feel like a culturally responsive classroom allows that kind of freedom for the students to feel empower to teach others about what they know best. Another thing that you would see in a culturally responsive classroom would be for the teacher to bring in different works and heritages so that the students can experience things outside themselves. And we need to realize that even within cultures, like what the video was saying about aboriginals being different everywhere, there are different norms and expectations and we need to be sensitive to those differences and not reject things just because we don’t understand or they are different from our norms. ~~Anna Miller

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  29. Already I feel as if I am more culturally aware of the various differences within my students. Prior to our first class meeting, I thought of cultural differences as skin color. However, I now realize the error of my ways. As teachers, we have the means of informing and teaching our students about culturally differences through a variety of fun and exciting ways. If we as teachers, have on blinders are students are sure to be unaware of the differences among them. (Being unaware is not always a bad thing but in-order to educate and inform our students, they need to be made aware.)
    I know that after hearing and reading all of the exciting topics we will be introducing to students this summer during SEW, we will have a group of culturally aware students by the end of June. Next, year we will be able to share those programs with our students and increase their cultural awareness.

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  30. Creating a culturally responsive classroom means I must be deliberate to reflect the cultures of my students and myself through literature, posters, and games with different genders, cultures and races. I love the idea from the video of Mr. Gary Howard about using flags to welcome/introduce other cultures into the classroom. It is also important to develop positive relationships with my students, having a sincere interest in each one and keeping high expectations of all my students.

    A few ways to differentiate my curriculum so that it is more culturally responsive is by allowing students to become experts in an area by encouraging them to use their experiences, knowledge, and understanding of their culture and integrate it in their studies. Another way to provide differentiation is to help my students make connections in the curriculum and then allow the students to apply what they’ve learned using their culture filter.

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  31. Oh my gosh - the computer part of this class is killing me - just did a long long entry - lost it....
    so the short version is - I could completely retype what has been said.
    But the two things that struck me in the readings was the difference of importance for Native Americans in terms of education - and the intelligence difference between blacks and white - Now I understand the importance of Childfind.
    I agree with what has already been posted - and believe that the differcene of ethnicity truly does play a huge role in both schooling and giftedness for the under-represented in our state.

    in terms of my classroom - I believe that I could open up the doors of the students from various backgrounds to share their experiences with the class - and give them the chance to celebrate their own heritage without having to accommodate their beliefs.
    In addition I think that having guests from different countries - or even different places with in the city to come and visit. to share their experiences - to allow the students to ask questions - and then to let there be an informal time where the guest can basically be part of the class and answer questions as needed or wanted by students.
    In fact - I have an Indian woman coming to speak to my 4th grade class and then stay for the rest of the class time..{based on principal's approval} I set this up after reading the chapter about allowing students to embrace their heritage rather than feel the need to become just like their peers.

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  32. In addressing various cultures within the classroom, I think both Howard's Seven principles should be a guideline. There were several things from the video that resonated with me, but the one that made the most impact was in the discussion of principle one. Howard discusses how "kids should get it that we like them". He goes on to discuss an example of a kid with a different sexual orientation who describes different types of teachers. The kid basically says that one type acts as though he is a problem or hardship, one type tries too hard O make everything seem ok, and for the last type, it is a nonissue. The last type is the kind of teacher I want to strive to be- to see kids as they are without pushing any of my own ideals, perceptions, or notions on them. Along with this idea, when Howard is discussing principle five, he says that "instead of forcing them to always sign our song" we should instead sing "harmony to our kids' songs". How great is that?! Be the harmony to who the kids already are at the soul of their being, and let them know it!

    I was also impacted by the readings, specifically chapters three and five. I have known that most students are visual-spatial, and most teachers use an auditory-sequential approach. I had never before considered it as a link to an underachievement academically. For example, in the text there is an explanation of Native American underachievement as having creative talent, but academic weakness due to presentation of material. As a teacher, I can make more of a conscious effort to teach to different learning styles, as opposed to simply my chosen learning style. In chapter five, there is a discussion concerning the lack of questioning of students concerning their education. Although I begin the year with a learning styles checklist and an "All About Me" informational sheet, I think often times it get caught up in standards, times crunches, and testing without referring back as often as I should. There should be more conversation regarding the educational needs of students (it is their's after all), and perhaps we, as teachers, would begin to understand their motivation- or lack thereof. In addition, I would like to make strides toward really relaying information to kids in recognition of academic potential and talent. Again with time being a major hurdle, we don't spend the time needed to acknowledge and praise the efforts, talents, and success stories that we see in the classroom.

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  33. ***please excuse the typos! I'm with Rachel- this is the THIRD time I have typed a response...and it keeps disappearing when I hit publish!

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  34. In order to address the various cultures in my classroom, I think it is most important to focus on getting to know my students on a deeper level and making educational connections with them in the various topics we study in class. It is important to have a classroom environment that is welcoming and encourages diversity. The truth is, students are more diverse than just their ethnic background and what most people view as diversity. It is important that I learn these differences and make every effort possible to accept students right where they are so that they feel comfortable and accepted in my classroom. The videos and reading opened my eyes to many different ways that students can be diverse. One of the videos referred to an openly gay student in high school who was shunned by some teachers, other teachers seemed to “try” too hard, where the most effective teachers were just open and accepted him for who he was. I want to be a teacher who welcomes ALL students and makes them feel comfortable in their learning environment. I can do this by creating a culturally sensitive and responsive environment, using teaching methods to the different learning styles, encouraging students to explore their own experiences and make connections to their learning so that all students can learn from different perspectives, and choose topics that encourage a vast response across cultures.

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  35. Creating a culturally responsive classroom is vital to the effectiveness of my teaching and my students’ success. As I researched, I have discovered that I am not as culturally responsive as I hoped to be. I still have much more learning and implementing to go! One way that I can become more culturally responsive is by focusing on my students’ strengths. This is something that I strive to do, but I did not realize how much this actually increases the overall atmosphere of the classroom. Castellano and Frazier (p. 393) describe the importance of focusing on the specific learning styles, skills, strengths, and perspectives of the students. It is also important to create opportunities for the students to share their ideas and perspectives in the class. One way that I implement this is through the discussion of literature that my class reads. Each Friday, they participate in a lit circle. Each student is assigned a specific job (discussion direction, literary luminary, thoughtful thinker, and connector). I have been able to witness deep conversation from my fourth graders as a result. They are listening to each and sharing their similarities and differences of opinions as well as cultures.
    In order to differentiate the curriculum so that it is more culturally responsive, you must first know your students. In the 7 Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning, Gary Howard describes the steps that are needed in order to be culturally responsive. He emphasizes the importance of showing students that you care and that they are valued. By taking the time to simply listen to the students’ beliefs and feelings, you can effectively respond to the students’ needs. I have seen the value of taking a few minutes each day to listen to the students’ thoughts and beliefs regarding their diverse cultures. It is neat to see the students become the “expert.” This also shows the students that they are in charge of their own learning.

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    1. I truly have learned so much and have grown as a teacher this semester as I have responded to the diverse needs of my students. After interviewing two of my students, I decided that I really wanted to get to know the other students in my classroom as well. I am now looking for ways that my students may be different than me so that it can be celebrated. My eyes have been opened to how everyones' backgrounds truly shape who they are. Now that I am more aware of the cultural differences, which is not limited to just culture but also to race, background, age, disabilities, gender, and other group settings, the more that I have been able to respond to them.
      I have grown as a reflective teacher this semester as well. I believe that being a culturally responsive teacher also includes being reflective. I have collaborated with the other teachers on my grade level about several projects and ideas that we feel like we need to change to best meet the diverse needs of our students. We are not staying stagnant by using the same material from year to year, but we are seeking help from professionals to guide us to better implementation of the material.

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  36. as far as assessing cultural needs in the class, I believe it's a priority. I have taught for 14 years and somewhere about halfway, I discovered that I couldn't go on teaching like everyone was the same. I had always had the mentality of "be colorblind" "treat everyone as if they are the same" for my entire life. this is NOT the way to view things! cultural diversity should be embraced and celebrated. discovered and shared! before I had always tried to avoid culture. now reading and participating more has furthered my belief that we need to discover and uncover the culture of every child and really discuss and learn about it. we need to see how children are parts of subcultures TOGETHER and emphasize the fact that culture is not just race. it can be a number of things. I am still not sure how I can assess this in my classroom well, however I am hoping that this class will give me some good insight!

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    1. As I go back and re-read my post I have realized a few things. My idea that I need to avoid being "colorblind" still stands and it's something that never ever needs to be done. An intense look at each child in my classroom and an involved understanding of where that person comes from is necessary. This is not only a race issue! It's gender, it's socioeconomic, it's communities within settings, it's age, it's other disabilities and it can even be sexual orientation. CULTURE encompasses so many things. I would, in my own classroom simply strive to KNOW each student as thoroughly as possible and then take the necessary steps to ensure that they are comfortable, meaningfully learning, and striving to develop their talents as productively as possible!

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  37. After reading and discussing many aspects of culture, I now feel that I have the tools to dig deeper and truly understand my students. We talk about learning styles and do surveys at the beginning of the year, but what do we really do with that information. I need to really use that data to help me plan and build relationships with my students. The kids should really be able to use the information in how they work with other students and design some of their own work. It also more obvious to me that I was basically stereotyping my students and putting them in one large group because of the community. When building relationships and having general discussions with my kids, I have known that students have different backgrounds, beliefs, traditions, and ways of learning. I don't think I was really accepting and changing on my end. Upon reflection, it seems odd to me that I would not use this information to help me and help my students.

    I found the Module #2 video on the 7 Principles of Culturally Responsive Teaching to be a great resource in making actual changes in my classroom. I will go back to each principle and keep running notes on what I am doing each week. I want to be reflecting and proactive. I want to be consistent and welcoming. I want to move further in my connection with students. I want to get them and them know that I get them. I think I might start with the Friday handshake. :)

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  38. Also, after doing the readings, I made major connections with my own classroom and school district. The population of my school district is not rural, but it is a unique population of students. My eyes were opened to the different ways our district could make changes to support our population and culture of students. I am about to do a year of action research on how to improve our gifted/enrichment program and this text is the best place to start!

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  39. First of all, I believe students should be knowledgeable of diverse cultures because I believe this helps students to respect cultures different from their own. I believe that properly addressing diverse cultures in the classroom is accomplished by being knowledgeable of diverse cultures, and using this knowledge to help these students learn. Teachers should focus on the strengths of these culturally diverse students instead of their weaknesses. Teachers should use a variety of instructional strategies to address all learning styles, values, and beliefs in his or her classroom. A culturally responsive teacher should make students feel accepted, respected, and important.

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  40. A culturally responsive teacher takes into consideration the ideas and backgrounds of the diverse students in the classroom. Linguistic barriers, learning styles, socioeconomic status, and expectations are all important when planning coursework for students. I particularly enjoyed reading the section titled The Cultural Proficiency Continuum (Castillano, 386), and visualizing a person at each point in the continuum. Cultural proficiency is seeing the difference and responding positively and affirmingly. Being able to interact effectively in a variety of cultural environments seems like the challenge of a lifetime, especially in a time where everyone is offended. However, as professionals in a changing world, we are responsible for being able to reach and connect with children to help them be their best no matter what their culture or background.

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  41. Kiyomi Moore SPE 584 Spring 2016January 22, 2016 at 11:31 AM

    Research on culturally responsive teaching has found that students both are more engaged in learning and learn more effectively when the knowledge and skills taught are presented within a context of their experience and cultural frames of references. Acknowledging the importance of student voice in the classroom means acknowledging students' active role in the learning process. Culturally responsive classrooms and teachers help the students get out of their comfort zones and challenge them to think critically and solve problems (Castellano & Frazier, p 389).
    • The students I serve come for very different socioeconomic background. Although, the majorities are African American, I have to identify with the students demographics more. My classroom needs to be very sensitive to the students’ differences. I can differentiate my curriculum by incorporating more literature. I want to find books that my students can relate to and look at as a reflection of themselves. I want to expose them to more African American authors and picture book as a way of bridging the achievement gap.
    • The second area I would like to focus on is really getting to know my student’s especially the African American males. I’ve found that my young men have a harder time expressing feelings, likes, and creativity. I want my students to understand that all labels are removed when entering the classroom. I want to gain my students trust and reassure them that learning is our only objective with a rich classroom culture that will keep them engaged and motivated while learning. My goal is to meet my students where they are verses believe that they are higher than where they really are.

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  42. According to the chapter by Castellano, culturally responsive teaching does not mean lowering the standards or expectations because a student is from a different culture or social class. It means capitalizing on the areas in which a student is already successful and using those as a springboard to access the rest of the curricula. A strategy would include focusing on issues that are important to them, so that the content can make a connection in the brain with prior knowledge and experience. Another strategy is to make sure that opportunities are presented for students to get to know one another. We must accommodate the different learning styles by allowing the students to demonstrate their intelligence and ability through performance based tasks that are chosen by them. Giving students a global perspective and helping them become aware of issues that affect the world population, and especially issues that are relevant to themselves, will help them prepare for future. It will add depth and meaning to their learning, and in turn give them that personal connection that is needed for success.

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  43. Cultural sensitivity is a set of skills that enables you to get to know people who are different from you. Cultural sensitivity allows you to understand and learn about people whose cultural background is not the same as yours. Being culturally sensitive means valuing and respecting diversity and being sensitive to cultural differences. I have a fairly diverse group of students. Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, and Southwest Asian. But the diversity goes deeper than that. I have Jewish students, Muslim students, students with two dads, students with one mom, and students with grandparents as guardians. I have students that struggle and students without one care in the world. I am usually aware of the social and home situation of my students. I want to know how my students’ lives are, and I want school to be a safe, enjoyable, and stimulating vacation from home—if it needs to be.
    My students complete a learning style inventory at the beginning and middle of the school year. This information influences my teaching. I teach World Geography. No matter where my students come from, I teach about that area. At the beginning of the year, l my students complete a questionnaire, included in this questionnaire are questions like where are you from? Where were you born? Have you ever lived anywhere besides Mobile? Etc. I take these answers and use the information to help me get to know my students. During the year, I allow my students to have a choice in topic when we complete projects. For example, when we competed Greece, students were asked to complete a report on a Greek God of their choice. Students are also asked to create their own political party following their own platform. I feel that my students are able to express themselves and their cultural backgrounds through different projects in the classroom.

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  44. There are many ways to increase cultural competence and chapter 18 by Jaime A. Castellano outlines the steps. First, you must become aware of differences and accepting of differences. Second, you must become self aware of your stereotypes and your own cultural background. Third, you must strive to learn how the dynamics of being different. Fourth, you must integrate a cultural knowledge and allow students the same chance. Lastly, you must adapt diversity as a way of thinking and teaching.
    There are practical ways of doing the five steps above. One way that is especially meaningful to me is diversifying the modes of learning you use in your classroom. Teachers naturally teach in the manner they best learn because it is their strongest mode of teaching. We must look beyond ourselves as teachers and look to the needs of the classrooms. Various ethnic groups learn in different manners. Some are visual-spacial learners, some are kinesthetic, and some are auditory learners. We as teachers must take this into account and provide accommodations in the form of multiple options for demonstrating competency or learning information.
    The study cited by Linda A. Long-Mitchell in chapter five found that there were several things that influenced how (particularly African American) minority students achieved in school. The study found that creating culturally responsive classrooms means: Teachers emotional response to students matter. And teacher’s emotional response is framed by their beliefs about that student. Teachers’ willingness to listen to students and their opinions no matter their background or race. Teachers must also have high expectations for students (which may mean confronting presumed notions about a certain culture) no matter their race or background. Teachers must have genuine concern for each student and their academic performance. The last and in my opinion the most important: teachers must look outside what academia traditionally defines as griftedness in order to identify and appreciate students who are talented and from diverse backgrounds.

    Lydia Hinshaw

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    1. It is interesting to go back and read my own thoughts on a topic months later. I still agree with everything I wrote previously but the depth of what it means to be culturally responsive was lacking. I have now had months of practice and self reflection where I have found many hidden stereotypes that I held unknowingly. I am no expert at culturally responsive teaching but I know I am better than when I wrote my first post. I have had the perfect class to practice with this year. I have five languages in my classroom which means I have many different view points and opinions to be expressed!
      There are many different facets to being responsive and each time I think I've mastered that aspect of being responsive I find another aspect I need to work on.
      This semester has challenged me to provide a warm and safe classroom for all students.

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  45. Culture is an interesting thing in that oftentimes we can rattle off some characteristics that apply to other cultures, but sometimes its difficult to see aspects of one’s own culture. We’re all observers with different minds that have been, consciously or not, largely driven by the various cultures of our surroundings. I remember as a young person thinking it was very strange that some cultures found some things hilarious and others see them as kind of silly or not very funny at all. I once heard a minister say that when Jesus said, “one should get the plank out of one’s own eye, before pointing out the speck in someone else’s eye,” it was much more funny to other cultures than it was in mine. Most of the times I had ever heard that quotation, I thought it was a bit more biting and pointed and reprimanding, but this was more of the interpretation that my culture brought to the readings of Christ. I grew up in a very rural area, but my mom took me to the library and I developed a strong reading habit. In 10th grade, I read Vonnegut and learned about Eugene Victor Debs and socialism. I then read that he got his degree from the University of Chicago in Anthropology. Saul Bellow also got a degree from there and by Bellow I was introduced to the Western Canon and Ralph Ellison. Reading Invisible Man is a game changer when it comes to self analysis and realizing what it was like to feel culturally displaced. The more I read of the Western Canon, the more I learned that, despite its place in the history of Western Civilization and the obvious works of genius that it contains, the Western Canon has been much too exclusive and when I realized that, I knew there would be more reading required and that it would take more than my lifetime to figure it out, so i kept reading and started reading more authors from outside my rural, southern, WASP cultures.
    Since reading was such a big influence on my development, one thing I like to do to promote cultural expansion and tolerance is to carry a couple of dozen books with me to class, explain why I like them, and offer to let my kids take any book they might want. For example, I might carry a copy of Langston Hughes poetry, The Empire of the Summer Moon (about the strength and decline of the Commanche nation), Homer’s Iliad (I had an eighth grader just finish it), etc. I also realized looking over many of the books I’ve read and noticed that females weren’t represented as I think they should be. Although, many kids have a knee jerk disinclination to read, I believe that reading things from outside one's culture is a necessary component to being self aware and tolerant of the trials and joys of other human beings that will, no doubt, have lives starkly different from any one might have imagined.
    Another thing I try to do in my class is allow a certain democratic spirit to determine the way we do some assignments. Whenever I give an assignment, my kids, i think, feel pretty confident that if they would like to offer a spin on what we are doing and if I think it is a useful adaptation, I let them become part of the pedagogical planning. For example, many of my students love Minecraft and so I downloaded the pocket edition to the set of iPads I have and they can link up in creative mode and collaborate on planning a city, bridges, or whatever. The sky is the limit with a lot of this. I offered suggestions of what their civilization and culture might look like, but much of the details allow them to assert themselves creatively and I hope that this allows them a certain level of freedom to reflect their culture in their work.

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  46. In order to create a culturally responsive classroom teachers must make sure they have an inviting classroom. Not only do teachers need to make sure that all children feel welcome and safe in their classroom, but they also need to make sure their students feel that their race/ethnicity/religion is respected and appreciated. In addition, learning and studying about different cultures/traditions/religious beliefs should become a part of the curriculum. For example, we have a unit called “Around the World in 80 Days” that could easily be altered to make sure every student’s ethnic background/country is being researched. A second way to make sure the curriculum is culturally responsive is by giving the students an interest inventory at the beginning of the year. This would help teachers not only get to know their students on a deeper level but it would also help the teachers gear their curriculum throughout the school year.

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  47. I think that a culturally responsive classroom can only exist when the teacher actively seeks out ways to incorporate the different cultures that exist within one group of students. I teach in a school where there is quite a bit of diversity. For me-as an English teacher-I can try to incorporate different types of texts from different cultures so that the students can "see themselves" in what we are studying. This is something that was mentioned in the video above that really resonated with me. I also think that I could consistently keep my expectations high. This is something that many students need in order to reach their peak.

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  48. Culturally responsive teaching includes integrating and infusing student cultural beliefs, customs, and thoughts into the curriculum. When teaching this way, it means respecting and capitalizing on the knowledge and backgrounds of students. In doing so, it would include making the classroom a risk free place to share and learn. When students feel comfortable they can share more and are more receptive to learning. So many students are unknowingly sheltered or have had little opportunity to experience or recognize diverse cultures. Cultural differences can be more than just what we often think of as people from a different race or geographical area. In addition to these, it is also religious views, home lives, generations, etc. Some ways teachers could not only bridge those gaps, but also delve deeper into various cultures to expose students to new perspectives, could be through highlighting various cultural stand outs in every subject area as you learn about them. For instance, when learning about poetry students could learn about works from culturally diverse poets. Students can read thematic literature from a diverse spectrum of authors. When studying science they can highlight the accomplishments of scientists of all cultures. In history, they can research different civilizations, countries, religions, or time periods. Our school has done Around the World days where students travel from classroom to classroom. While rotating they are experiencing food, crafts, and facts, dress, and customs of various countries. Teachers can also meet students where they are culturally by tailoring their instruction to the younger technological generations by using technology in instruction and student assignments.

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  49. Being a culturally responsive teacher means not just being aware of the students’ cultures, but responding to the cultures. A culturally responsive teacher uses his/her students’ cultures to teach the other students in the class. Culture is not just about race, political preferences, religion, etc. It goes much deeper to the core of how each child is raised and the beliefs that each child is taught to hold as important. We as culturally responsive teachers must be aware of all the aspects of a child’s culture and respond to those aspects to best help the child and promote education. Culturally responsive teachers embrace each child's differences and are able to incorporate that child's differences into their learning. Culturally responsive teachers teach the whole student and empower their students through diverse learning experiences in every subject and through a variety of learning styles. Finally, a culturally responsive teacher teaches all students to be accepting and respectful of different cultures and creates a safe, positive learning environment. It is important that teachers use their prior knowledge and strategies for teaching culturally diverse students in order to create a multidimensional culturally responsive classroom.

    One way to differentiate the curriculum to be culturally responsive is to incorporate a variety of learning styles into my teaching. This includes visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. I can also use the advantage of technology to make learning more engaging for culturally diverse students. Another way to differentiate the curriculum is to let students have more input in what they learn. As a teacher, it is imperative that we teach the standards, however, as a culturally responsive teacher, we can be more creative with how we teach those standards. We can incorporate music, traditions, food, language, and more into the lessons to make them more meaningful. This will make culturally diverse students feel more respected and proud of their culture.

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  50. To be a culturally sensitive teacher and to have an effective culturally responsive classroom the teacher has to be willing to allow to the students to be both learners and teachers. Students need to have a say in the way instruction is presented and given an opportunity to use their backgrounds and prior knowledge to contribute to the curriculum in their own unique way. The teacher and all students should benefit from all individuals bringing in their own culture for us to learn about and from.

    I currently teach mostly at risk, low performing, African American students. I have to admit that Chapter 5 is one that I will probably need to re-read and do some major self reflection on. Two areas I know I can work on out of the gate are: keeping high expectations for all students and watching the way my actions influence the learners around me.

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    Replies
    1. Since writing this response in February I have really been working on building my relationships with my students. In Castellano's book Chapter 5 it says that research indicates that positive relationships between teachers and students may foster academic achievements in Black students. (p. 103) I have been trying to meet with each of my students one on one each afternoon at least once a week per student for individual attention. During this time I do not have any agenda except to ask them how things are going and is there anything they would like to talk about. I have some extreme behaviors in my classroom this year and it has really opened the door in building relationships with my students. I usually get 2-3 students a day for no more than 5 minutes each. I feel like this has done more to build up the whole child than trying to cram another 5 minutes of intervention with the same child. I have noticed that in most of the students it has gone far to gain their trust and when it is time to work academically they are more open to try and work harder for me.

      Delete
  51. On page 384, Castellano states that “Cultural competency is a state of mind and being that moves beyond conventional wisdom, assumptions on the mind, and traditional constructs of multicultural education.” I totally agree that it begins within ourselves and what we know or don’t know to help guide us. My students have to sit with different students each weeks as to get out of their comfort “friend” zone and talk to others. Students in my classroom have to discuss reasoning of why they chose answers to problems and culture plays an important role in decision making. We discuss these differences along with viewpoints. The students also have to look at things from different perspectives including city, state, and worldly issues that are affecting them indirectly.

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    1. I have learned that you need to definitely be aware that your own attitudes are influenced by your own culture. If your students’ cultures are different from yours, you should strive to be sensitive to the differences in attitudes that you may have.

      It is crucial to the success of your students that you make it clear to them that all students in your class are expected to succeed. Cultural differences are to be celebrated and not used as an excuse for lowered expectations. It is only respectful to have high expectations for every student.

      Today and in the future I will definitely expose students to a wide variety of cultures. This exposure will enable them to be more tolerant of each other’s differences. Lessons and activities should incorporate multicultural information and approaches whenever possible. As their teacher and advocate, take it upon yourself to learn as much as you can about the different cultures in your classroom. Read as much as you can. Once you are aware of some of the subtle differences among your students, you will find it easy to be a more effective teacher. This has really taught me to learn more about the students and their culture to incorporate into discussions, especially. I have found so many biases in my classroom that I now can discuss with the students and help better educate them.

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  52. Cultural diversity has become the status quo in our classrooms in the 21st Century. Students from varied backgrounds come together, and they learn as a team. The learning gains that are made are integrally dependent on the culture created in your classroom. It is important that each student feels safe, comfortable, and represented. In order to set the stage for a culturally responsive classroom where every student can learn and achieve, steps must be taken to create this culture.

    The first step is to learn about each student's culture; their culture at home; their culture in their society; and their culture at school. The first two cultures may relate well with each other, but the school culture can be very different. For example, a student who comes from another country may speak another language at home and follow strict customs and guidelines set up by their culture. However, at school, their friends may not even know they can speak a different language. Students have a tendency to want to blend in and be "like everyone else". When they discover that their classmates also have a different culture at home, this makes them feel more comfortable expressing their differences. Learning about each other's differences helps to set up a comfortable classroom culture.

    Once you know which cultures are represented in your classroom and how their home lives are led, it is important to be sure that everyone's culture is also represented in your curriculum. Finding out about your students' culture will also help you to discover how they like to learn best and what is most important to them. Now you can begin to design your curriculum to include everyone. Including many cultures is not difficult, but it can be time consuming. Some ways to include different cultures are to include literature, songs, games, poetry, artwork, and history from other cultures. It is important to introduce different cultures at the beginning of the school year to set up your classroom culture the right way.

    Throughout the year, other activities can be included to make students feel represented. Parents and grandparents can be invited into the classroom to talk about their cultures. You could have a multicultural fair either within the classroom or throughout the school to bring in the cultures represented. This could be a marketplace including foods, games, songs, dances, and costumes/clothing from each culture. Students could be invited to speak or teach others about activities that are customary in their country. According to the video, Why and What: Culturally Responsive Programming, this gives students a sense of confidence and also gives them an opportunity to feel like the expert. It empowers the students and makes their differences seem like a normal part of the day.

    Finally, it is important to address the different learning styles of each student. Every lesson should have visuals and hands-on experiences to accompany it. Visuals are important for those students who are visual-spatial learners, but they are also important for your students for whom English is their second language. Hands-on experiences are good for all students, but they are especially good for your visual-spatial and kinesthetic learners.

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  53. I want to strive to be a culturally responsive teacher in order to keep my students engaged in our units of study. According to Jamie A. Castellano there are five steps to help teachers. The first is to become aware of our differences and to accept these differences. Second, we need to be self-aware of our own stereotypes and cultural backgrounds. Third, we need to strive to learn about the dynamics of being different. Fourth, you must integrate cultural knowledge for yourself and your students. Fifth, we need to adapt diversity as a way of thinking and allow it to reflect in our teaching.
    Teachers need to use a variety of teaching methods to address all learning styles, cultures and beliefs in their classroom. I hope that my students feel welcome, respected, accepted and valued as an individual.

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  54. If I am a truly student-centered teacher, I feel that I will naturally be a culturally sensitive and responsive teacher. As culturally responsive teachers, we not only educate ourselves on our students' cultures and backgrounds, but we also design learning experiences which incorporate those cultures and backgrounds. In other words, we use what our students know to help them learn even more. It's difficult to successfully teach someone if you don't know much about them. It's difficult to learn something new if you don't have anything to "hook" it to in your schema. In my classroom, I encourage students to incorporate tidbits about themselves into their learning. This seems to make the leaning more meaningful and also seems to make them more prideful about what they are doing. My student population is mostly white and low socioeconomic. I find that delving into careers associated with our learning topics often leads to learning about different cultures as well.

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  55. Different elements for supporting cultural differences in the classroom are: The first is accepting different learners irregardless of their culture. Knowing their learning strengths and preferred modalities set the stage of acceptance. Getting to know the students and their families is another way of showing acceptance. By advocating an environment in which students accept differences, social issues and conflict are decreased. An advocacy environment has to be taught by using a language of acceptance, it doesn't just happen.
    Several of my students are Hispanic. We have had Spanish classes before the school day begins. This empowered the Hispanic students to be leaders with the other students. My Native American students have shared crafts and art as part of their learning projects. This promoted an awareness of the Cherokee culture. My students are engaged in projects which allow hands on experiences as well as demonstrations showcasing learned applications. The projects promote self-initiated learning opportunities as well as collaboration. Those strategies contribute to addressing different cultures in the classroom.
    One challenge I faced the past semester was overcoming barriers to a student being accepted, not just in the gifted program, but in his 4th grade classroom as well. He came from a home with two moms. He was continually challenging the views of other students, not only views about traditional homes/families, but views about religion, politics, and any socially diverse topic. We had finally reached a point where he was understanding all of the students could have different views irregardless of being "right" or "wrong". Now, he is no longer at my school. From my experience with this student, I learned how diversity can change the dynamics of a learning environment when conflict is triggered and needs resolution.

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  56. Culturally responsive teaching is essential in classrooms today. I believe to successfully teach in a culturally responsive way, we all have to understand our mindset and the way we react and praise our students. This idea stems from a unit we have at our school titled Train Your Brain/Fixed and Growth Mindsets.

    A lot of people do not understand the different between fixed and growth mindsets. Also, we do not know how to appropriately praise students. All of these factors inhibit our effectiveness with culturally responsive teaching because each individual perceives the classroom expectations, ideas, concepts, and behaviors differently due to knowledge and understanding of many different backgrounds.

    In my opinion, it is crucial to teach the concepts of mindsets at the beginning of the year because this one specific topic has so many ties to the rest of the curriculum, classroom culture, and cultural responsiveness of each individual in the room.

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  57. I think in order to create a culturally responsive classroom you must acknowledge the cultural bias you have already. Then build a report with your students. I am currently scrambling to get one of my students help because I knew her parents and older brother who is gifted, I assumed she would do just fine in the school year because of all the support she has.She is a few levels behind in reading and I was shocked that she still has not caught on fully. I noticed I had a bias towards her and knowing the value her family/culture has on education. I forgot that yes, cultures influence the students but it's just as important to know the student. I have included new books including ranges of holidays and races. I also encourage students to share their personal experiences. I have some students who share about church and God. I take a neutral stance and most of the time just paraphrase what they have shared. I thank each student for their input.

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  58. Kiyomi Moore SPE 584 Spring 2016March 9, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    In the classroom, culturally responsive teaching requires teachers to hold high expectations for all students, maintain and tend to the integrity of students’ cultures and identities, and cultivate academic excellence and success. When we create a culturally responsive classroom, these principles are evident in structure, experience, practice and performance.
    Promote activities that will increase your students’ self-esteem. Students who are self-confident are not as likely to taunt others to feel good about themselves. Be positive in your feedback so that students know what the criterion for success is in their classroom.
    Explore the resources in your students’ community that can help you reach all of your students. Ask community leaders to make presentations, go on local field trips, or have guest lecturers on various topics of interest to students.

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  59. This was my original comment:
    According to the chapter by Castellano, culturally responsive teaching does not mean lowering the standards or expectations because a student is from a different culture or social class. It means capitalizing on the areas in which a student is already successful and using those as a springboard to access the rest of the curricula. A strategy would include focusing on issues that are important to them, so that the content can make a connection in the brain with prior knowledge and experience. Another strategy is to make sure that opportunities are presented for students to get to know one another. We must accommodate the different learning styles by allowing the students to demonstrate their intelligence and ability through performance based tasks that are chosen by them. Giving students a global perspective and helping them become aware of issues that affect the world population, and especially issues that are relevant to themselves, will help them prepare for future. It will add depth and meaning to their learning, and in turn give them that personal connection that is needed for success.

    What I would add or change about this post is on a more personal level. In order to be culturally responsive, you must get to know your students. You need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and learn about their cultures and how these backgrounds affect how they learn. Each culture has different traditions and beliefs that directly impact a student's behavior and performance in the classroom. If a teacher will take the time to get to know about these differences and learn how to "speak their language" so to speak, all students will feel valued. The main point of being a culturally responsive teacher is to make sure ALL students feel comfortable and welcomed in the classroom, all the while being motivated to do his/her very best.

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  60. Something additional I would add to my first post is that I have learned that to differentiate my teaching for each gifted student I have to create lessons where the student can see themselves in the lessons. Also, they need to see mentors from their own culture that they can look up to and see success in. Students need to be motivated to learn through seeing examples and possibilities they can follow. Additionally, knowing each student and their own home life culture (besides just their ethnic culture) can make a huge difference in how lessons can be tailored to them. Bibliotherapy for students who are going through tough family situations has been something new I have tried for many of my students this semester. I have found they and their families have been very open to it and have found it helpful. I continue to look for individual ways to support my students through their various and unique cultural differences.

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  61. A culturally diverse classroom means including and exploring ones self and others. In my class I plan on having moments where students share something that makes their family special. I believe incorporating items like books and posters that show diversity is a small step to promoting cultures from around the world. I think students need that exposure and validation. My students love to share about their trips to their grandparents and visits to church. Although religion is a touchy subject in school I allow them to share their stories and remain unbias by simply acknowledging their input and thanking them for sharing. I sometimes ask who can find similarities to each others stories. I would like to do a project next year (if I am still in 1st) about where I live to match the standards and extend it to an where my families from project.

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  62. M-7

    I realize as this spring semester is coming to a close, I’ve made significant progress to become a more culturally responsive teacher. I now give my students more choice in assignments, and opportunities to express themselves in class. The most important lesson learned is to take the time to get to know each student. There are several things a teacher can do to address the differing cultures in the classroom. First, we need to take advantage of educational opportunities near the school, museums, exhibits, colleges, etc. We should find strive to find educational lessons and resources that will appeal to all cultures. Second, teachers should allow the students choice of class assignments and instill respect for all cultures and backgrounds. Also and most importantly, teachers need to know their students. When teachers truly know their students they can engage them in activities relating to their diverse backgrounds.

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  63. In order to best meet students' learning needs, they must feel comfortable and understood. Each one of us comes from a different background with different experiences. We need to understand that these just aren't 'children.' as in a singular group. Each child needs to be understood. We must learn each child individually to understand what they really need, not just what we think they need. We also need to help all of our students understand that we are all different. If we set the example by embracing differences, then our children will learn that it's okay to be different and will be more comfortable in learning. Our lessons need to address the variety of needs for our students, and showcase students' individual talents and uniqueness.

    This is different that my original view of being 'colorblind.' Students need to be seen for who they are, not all treated the same. Earlier in my education, I learned that "fair" was not "equal." The analogy that stuck in my mind was if one student needs glasses in my class, I wouldn't make everyone "equal" by making everyone wear glasses. I would give each student what they needed to succeed. This course took that analogy to a level much deeper than learning tools and styles. We must be such good teachers, that we have to learn what makes each student who they are and why before we can help them learn.

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  64. Posting on bottom of the blog just in case it gets missed on original comment:
    Tina DillenFebruary 7, 2016 at 8:32 PM
    To be a culturally sensitive teacher and to have an effective culturally responsive classroom the teacher has to be willing to allow to the students to be both learners and teachers. Students need to have a say in the way instruction is presented and given an opportunity to use their backgrounds and prior knowledge to contribute to the curriculum in their own unique way. The teacher and all students should benefit from all individuals bringing in their own culture for us to learn about and from.

    I currently teach mostly at risk, low performing, African American students. I have to admit that Chapter 5 is one that I will probably need to re-read and do some major self reflection on. Two areas I know I can work on out of the gate are: keeping high expectations for all students and watching the way my actions influence the learners around me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    Tina DillenApril 16, 2016 at 2:32 PM
    Since writing this response in February I have really been working on building my relationships with my students. In Castellano's book Chapter 5 it says that research indicates that positive relationships between teachers and students may foster academic achievements in Black students. (p. 103) I have been trying to meet with each of my students one on one each afternoon at least once a week per student for individual attention. During this time I do not have any agenda except to ask them how things are going and is there anything they would like to talk about. I have some extreme behaviors in my classroom this year and it has really opened the door in building relationships with my students. I usually get 2-3 students a day for no more than 5 minutes each. I feel like this has done more to build up the whole child than trying to cram another 5 minutes of intervention with the same child. I have noticed that in most of the students it has gone far to gain their trust and when it is time to work academically they are more open to try and work harder for me.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Throughout this semester my understanding of a culturally responsive classroom environment has expanded. Creating this type of classroom environment is somewhat easier than I first thought. The main reason I believe it is somewhat easier is because to truly create a culturally responsive classroom environment begins when the teacher wants, expects, and asks the students to explain, define, and celebrate their culture in the classroom. This allows for immediate culture awareness, responsiveness, and celebration of each other in the classroom.

    Teachers can differentiate the lessons by allowing student input, students' explanation of personal experiences, and small groups.

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  66. I think one of the chapters that ring the truest after this semester is Chapter 2 of Bright, Talented, and Black, especially the Underachievement in Gifted Children. Teaching middle school is hard. Teaching gifted middle school students is especially hard. Some of these students truly exhibit overexcitabilities and some of these students are going through so many changes that it just looks like they are overexcitable. Students at this age are going through phases with their peers where caring about school is “not cool” and following instructions makes you a “teacher’s pet.” When students show that they excel in a certain area, and this gift is shown to others they are suddenly embarrassed by it and withdraw from it. The strategies given in this chapter help maintain student motivation. I try to encourage full participation by allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge in ways that they want to and choose.
    I try to control my classroom just like Gary Howard mentioned in his Seven Principles of Culturally Responsive Teaching, with a “firm, consistent, and loving control.” I believe my students know that I care about them and want them to learn something and enjoy themselves in the process. My students also know that if I say it, I mean it. I try to be very consistent, if I tell them a consequence will occur—I stick to it. If I tell them a reward will occur—I stick to that too. I think that is what my students enjoy about my class, they know what to expect. I try to ensure that my students are safe in my class. They are free to ask questions or express ideas without fear of judgement from others. I do not allow any form of bullying in my classroom.
    I allow students choices in my class. If they don’t do an assignment, they know the consequences. If they prefer to talk instead of doing classwork- they know the consequences. If I make an assignment and my students would rather complete a different (but related) project a different way. I allow them to organize it and then allow the rest of the class that option too. I want my students to be able to show what they learned in a way that they want to (within reason, obviously).

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  67. I have learned:
    A classroom should be invitational to students, embracing their identity, as well as welcoming to parents and families. Connecting to backgrounds, cultures, and differences as well as accepting differences empowers learners. Conflict, stress, and disrespect are decreased with an invitational classroom.

    Differences are not just color of the skin or geographical locations, but also include how learners process information differently. Therefore instruction should focus on learner needs and connect to established knowledge. Recognizing RELD characteristics and creating a framework to scaffold knowledge acquisition is important. Learning preferences, including Multiple Intelligences, set the platform for differentiated instruction and assessment.
    When children, and families, feel validated, they become members of a unified community with common goals.

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  68. Original Post: I think that a culturally responsive classroom can only exist when the teacher actively seeks out ways to incorporate the different cultures that exist within one group of students. I teach in a school where there is quite a bit of diversity. For me-as an English teacher-I can try to incorporate different types of texts from different cultures so that the students can "see themselves" in what we are studying. This is something that was mentioned in the video above that really resonated with me. I also think that I could consistently keep my expectations high. This is something that many students need in order to reach their peak.

    New Response: I feel that to create a culturally responsive classroom, a teacher has to be sensitive other cultures and has to be willing to actively incorporate teaching strategies that will be able to show this sensitivity. There are many things that I can do as a teacher to do this. First, I can incorporate texts that are relatable to the many diverse cultures that are in my classroom. Second, I can incorporate projects that allow students to research their own culture.

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  69. In order to create a culturally responsive classroom, I have learned to really listen to my students and their individual needs. In order for a student to truly learn, all of their other needs must be met. A culturally responsive classroom is a safe, positive place where all students are accepted and their differences are appreciated. In order to differentiate the curriculum in my classroom so that it is more culturally responsive, I can allow my students to read literature that allows them to connect with their culture. Another way to differentiate the curriculum is to have students conduct research about their culture and present it to the class. Also, connecting students with mentors of similar cultural backgrounds would allow students to have emotional support and a positive role-model.

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  70. The most important thing I need to do to have a culturally responsive classroom is to know my students. I need to talk to them one on one. I need to get to know their families. While I can do some research and study to learn about traditions within their culture, I can't know exactly what that student's worldview is until I make an effort to get to know him/her. Then, my job is to find avenues for them to incorporate their unique differences into the classroom. I love the idea of doing this by giving the students choices. For example, a unit on biographies could bring so much culture into the classroom if I allow the students to choose who they would like to read and write about. Or, to practice speaking and listening skills, they could choose someone important to themselves to interview about a topic near and dear to their hearts. They would accomplish the objectives, but in a way that is comfortable and helps us learn about them. Another way to make the classroom warm and welcoming is to invite friends and family of the students to come and share with the class at every available opportunity. If other people like them are welcome to be a part of the classroom environment, then hopefully they will feel welcomed themselves. These types of methods ensure that I do not misinterpret my students' cultures, or perpetuate stereotypes by doing activities that I think or assume relate to my students' backgrounds.

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  71. In order to have a culturally responsive classroom, it is important to have a good understanding of each child and their culture. That does mean the color of their skin, but their home life, traditions, and beliefs. All of these things can affect how a student learns so it is imperative that we really get to know our students in order to really reach them. We talk about differentiating lessons to meet student's needs all the time, but what about differentiating lessons for student's cultural background. We should hope as educators we do this naturally when we get to know our students. But I strive to do it with purpose. A culturally responsive teacher is curious and we need our students to be curious also. We need to break down the stereotypes and not perpetuate them.

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  72. Being a culturally responsive teacher is one of the most important aspects of being a 21st century teacher. A culturally responsive classroom includes each and every student. It means being warm and welcoming. It means including your student's cultures in your curriculum, from what they read to what they do. It means getting to know them, not just as students in your classroom but also as people and family members. It means finding out about their likes and dislikes; talking to them about their differences; helping them understand each other. It means differentiating lessons so that all learning styles are covered and all socio-economic backgrounds are covered.

    It's difficult and time consuming to be a culturally responsive teacher, but it's extremely important to look at each student as their own person.

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  73. Differentiation of content, process, and product are key to keeping gifted children engaged, really all children engaged. As the interviewee mentioned, when she picked the content, the book, she gained a deep satisfaction and enjoyment for the process. She also mentioned something that I have been stumbling on in my classroom too. She picked an obscure book that was unfamiliar to anyone, and got to teach the teacher.
    Although I have a varied background, I frequently feel like Jane-of-all-trades, but Master-of-none. As a kindergarten teacher I was the sole knowledge giver to my students. As a gifted teacher, I’ve had to face the reality that I will never be able to be a master of all my students’ interests or the new things that I want to expose them to. So I have decided to be the master-facilitator of individual learning. Through this MA program I am learning to recruit experts in my community. I have found that parents, grandparents, and entrepreneurs love to get involved. They usually enjoy giving tours of their businesses or coming in with materials to share. In doing this they are explaining career options and education requirements. By going to local businesses and utilities in the community children can see diversity in the workplace where they live.
    Combining these two concepts, becoming more of a facilitator than teacher and using differentiation strategies will give my students more opportunities to become autonomous learners. Giving assignments where they can pick the content like the interviewee did will help them to make them more cultural connections. It will help them to realize that they have something important to offer; themselves!

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  74. Through the readings and videos, I have been made more aware of the benefits a culturally responsive classroom may offer students. The two schools where I teach are mainly white, but there is a high Hispanic population. One way to make my classroom more culturally responsive is to adapt their culture into the curriculum. Charts and posters can be displayed in their language which also reflects pictures that can be found in their country. Also, choice of book or topic to be explored could be of their culture. When presented to the class, the specific skill is still built upon, but through using the value of their culture. Another way to make my classroom more culturally responsive is TO involve parents in our schools. At one school, one of our custodians is Hispanic. She helped organize some of the Hispanic parents to prepare a meal for the faculty and staff on Cinco de Mayo Day. The ladies brought in authentic Mexican food and drinks and wore festive traditional outfits. They talked to us about their culture. This helped us develop a greater understanding. It also gave them a sense of belonging and feeling a sense of value in the school community. This can also be brought on a smaller scale to be incorporated into the classroom. Students can also participate with the parents to provide knowledge of their culture to our classroom. There is value in creating a culturally responsive classroom. All students feel valued and feel they can contribute to the class. They are all given opportunities to learn and succeed.

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  75. I have been teaching for seven years and this is my first year at the school I am teaching at now. The school I am at now it a magnet school that specializes in math, science, and technology. With my school being a magnet school I have students from all over Mobile County that attend. This means I have students from all different backgrounds and cultures. With that being said, I LOVE MY SCHOOL and my DIVERSE students. I believe being at such a school has opened my eyes to culturally responsiveness. I enjoy communicating with my students and having them share their difference religious holidays and celebrations. Being able to discuss these culturally differences with my kids has opened my students up for more acceptance and they have a sense of belonging. Not only do my students feel welcome I strive to make my parents feel welcome as well. Having my students translate when it comes to parent conferences and tours of the school has also made my parents feel more comfortable and relaxed. It is very important to make all students and parents feel welcomed and important, so they will strive to do their best and have an equal opportunity for a wonderful education. Jessica Baker

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  76. GOAL: Create relationships across differences
    ACTION: Using a welcoming, engaging tone-of-voice. Regularly address each student to establish personal connections. Look for each student’s strength and reinforce your belief in that strength. Actively talent scout and advocate. Honestly reflect on ones own attitudes, preconceived notions, and values.

    GOAL: Achieve at a higher, deeper level, across differences.
    ACTION: Offer inclusive content. Engage with students as they are, without the expectation of assimilation. Shift what we do to meet the kids where they are academically and socially. “Sing harmony” to what they’re already singing. Focus on student-centered learning (kids do the majority of the work). Abolish deficit thinking and instead, model the understanding that giftedness/all types of intelligence can emerge from anyone, regardless of ethnicity, background, or SES. Keep expectations high across the board.

    GOAL: Students feel honored in their cultural interactions and comfortable that you know “who they are”
    ACTION: Offer content inclusion. Offer a sense that, “I get it”. Share relevant stories from personal experience. Strive to balance addressing differences while making them a non-issue. Be real. Become genuinely comfortable- this means exposing oneself to situations outside the classroom that put the teacher in the minority and/or exposes them to other cultures. Recognize the diversity that exists within each culture (varying tribal customs/languages of Native American populations; 22 Hispanic cultures in the world).

    GOAL: Establishing classroom as a safe space.
    ACTION: Choose a tone/demeanor/learning environment that is welcoming and inviting. Choose media and references that reflect the diversity of the population. Let students know that it is good to discuss culture and set the tone of respectfulness in doing so. Ask questions about how students experience school.

    GOAL: Cooperation
    ACTION: Role model respect. Remain friendly without sacrificing firmness and consistency. Keep discipline instructive, not punitive. Mix up the teaching style by using mixed-ability and culturally diverse grouping strategies that encourage interaction and engagement. Use Cross’s 5 elements of cultural competence (1989).

    GOAL: Differentiating curriculum to be more culturally responsive
    ACTION: 1. Use current references and examples that reflect the lives of the culturally diverse student population. 2. Address historical inaccuracies that have been common in past and present curriculum and present students with opportunities for critical thinking in terms of why certain groups might interpret and convey history in biased ways. Retell the story through the use of multiple perspectives. 3. Identify and eliminate test biases.

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  77. Gary Howard’s Seven Principles and Castellano and Frazier’s Five Elements (loc. 7,133) have an overlapping foundation towards being culturally competent. They both boil down to acceptance and adaption. You have to accept others differences no matter their background, gender, or sexuality. In order to do this, you must consciously work toward respecting others even if you don’t agree with their lifestyle. When students feel accepted then they will be more comfortable and willing to learn. You need to adapt yourself to diversity by exposing and educating yourself across cultures. You also should adapt your classroom to reflect your student body. Two ways I can differentiate my curriculum so that its more culturally responsive is to have a diverse selection of literature that reflects the genders, background, immigration status, sexual orientation, etc. of my students. I should also reflect this diversity in the displays in my classroom and around the school. As Gary Howard says, “Singing harmony to our kids song, rather than forcing them to always sing our song.” We need to adapt to them/for them.

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  78. A culturally responsive classroom is representative of the entire class population. It should serve as a visual representation and appreciation of each culture represented in the class. Children should recognize differences as well as similarities between cultures. This will aid in children accepting differences and hopefully eliminate stereotypical thinking. Students should be allowed to work in heterogeneous grouping. This type of participation will help students to see other's viewpoints and individuality. This will lead to the development of cooperation and social skills, and will boost their self esteem because they will recognize themselves as being accepted for their individuality. The teacher plays a vital role in setting the tone of the class. She should be willing to learn about diverse backgrounds and incorporate that knowledge into daily lessons and activities. We are all different. The best way to learn about these differences and similarities is from interacting with each other.

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  79. I think the teacher in the video gave a great model for creating a culturally responsive classroom. She told us exactly how she set the tone for her classroom to be culturally diverse on the first day. Sharing with the students about your own culture, the school's culture can help set the tone for a culturally responsive classroom.
    One way to differentiate instruction is to let the students make their culture a part of their learning, just like in the video, to where to students feel that they are the experts.
    Another way to differentiate would be to include different lessons that will bring in all of the different learning styles. Chapter 3 of the Catellano and Frazier book we are reading gives us great insight into different learning styles and how to teach to specifically visual-spacial learners (p. 47-72). Some of the strategies, I think, might help some of my students. Not all students will find benefits through the same strategies. This goes back to knowing your students' cultures and learning styles.

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  80. Although I have been teaching for ten years, the last two years of teaching gifted and talented classes have opened my eyes to my most diverse group of students. I have been able to teach students from various countries and various socioeconomic backgrounds. To be culturally responsive within my classroom I have had to differentiate my lessons to accommodate various views of holidays and other subjects that can be controversial when taught across cultures. I have also gained a greater appreciation and respect for the Hispanic culture within my classroom by becoming better acquainted with some of their cultural practices. I have a student this year that brought her family's photo album to class that had pictures of her sister's Quinceanera. She shared it with the class and explained what it represented in her culture.
    The information from Gary Howard's "7 Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching" is a great resource for becoming a culturally responsive teacher. As a teacher, allowing this student to share and inform her classmates about her sister's Quinceanera allowed her to affirm her cultural connection and bring knowledge of her culture to her classmates and me. It also allowed her to gain a greater respect for her culture within her class. One area of the seven principles that I feel I need to work on is in making my classroom culturally inviting. I really have not thought about making sure posters and other wall mounts reflect various cultures within their display. This is one area that should be very easy to change. To be culturally responsive also includes being informed about your students and their cultures. By offering student centered learning and allowing the students to open up and be interactive, we are able to learn more about them and their lifestyles. This affirms them as a student while also affirming their cultural connections.

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  81. I think creating a culturally responsive classroom boils down to 2 things Dr. Kristina Bidwell mentioned in the video - not only allowing my students to "see" themselves in the curriculum but to "make space" for students to bring in their own culture. My personal teaching philosophy centers on respect and the relationship with every individual child, and the ability of each student to make their own meaning of what we are learning. This making of their own meaning is essential - I expect all students to make connections with material we are covering in class in their own way. Castellano and Frazier (2011) discuss addressing material from different multiple intelligence and learning styles which allow students to better make connections. For instance in bringing fantasy, mnemonics, music and calligraphy to bear for making material relevant to Native Americans, showing caring and maintaining high expectations for black adolescents in particular.

    These multiple intelligences and own connections to classroom material allows that "space" for students to bring in their own culture - I feel it is essential to always bring it back to what we know. I have had a lot of exposure to different cultures in my life, and I like to bring that to my students, for example in the China unit that I am doing now. However, if I don't make space for them to make personal connections to what they know, just "exposing" them to another culture is irrelevant - it will go in one ear and out the other.

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  82. In order to address the various cultures within a classroom a teacher must be a life long learner. Continuing to stretch your abilities and study other cultures in order to have an idea of the cultural influences of your students. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I feel it is very important to get to know your students, their likes and dislikes, what their home life is like. Celebrate other cultures through print and through hands on activities such as crafts. Allow your students to share their culture and model positive views of other cultures by showing enthusiasm and appreciation of different cultures.

    I work in a school where the classrooms are combined by two grade levels. I feel that most teachers have a difficult time teaching multiple intelligences and in differentiation of instruction. I see the teachers in our school do this everyday by teaching multiple grade levels. I feel that differentiation of instruction works hand in hand in addressing multiple cultures. Know your students interests and their strengths and weaknesses and construct lessons accordingly. While I was working on my degree at Athens State we were constantly reminded to create an emotionally sage environment for our students by allowing and praising self expression. I plan to implement this into my classroom in order to reach all diversities.

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  83. Being a culturally responsive teacher means learning and adapting. Learn all you can about all your students and make them all feel successful and comfortable in all areas. Set a tone of acceptance for all beliefs, ideas, and views.
    After watching the video and reading the chapters, I feel pretty good about what goes on in my classroom. I try to start every morning with “good morning”. I feel this sets the tone and makes everyone feel welcome. I take the time to talk to my students and give them time to express themselves to me and each other. I set a tone that makes them feel comfortable with their differences. No idea is wrong or dumb. I model acceptance of all answers. I try to make them all feel special and appreciated. I truly love teaching and being with my students. I do feel that I can do a better job when it comes to a culturally rich environment. I do not have any pictures of children on my walls. My theme is frogs and that is what I have hanging around my room. I need to find and display some culturally diverse pictures. I love telling my students that they do a good job. I want them all to feel successful. Even when they struggle, I try to help them feel successful and able to overcome their struggle. I give one on one time and small group instruction to ensure they are able to do so. I try to adapt my teaching so that it reaches all learning styles. I teach using many different styles. My students see, hear, and move to the same content. Being at a Magnet school and through collaboration my students are taught through art, drama, music, and dance.

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  84. To adequately address the various cultures in my classroom, I can design my daily instructions to connect the course content with student background. Then, I can encourage students to learn from one another by sharing experiences and perspectives. As a culturally responsive teacher, I can include and read aloud books in my culturally relevant curriculum that features multicultural characters. I can also “Include books in the class library written in languages other than English” (Diaz-Rico & Weed, 2006). Culturally responsive educators have the responsibility of preparing all students to become productive citizens of the real—multicultural—world.

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  85. Thank you Sandra! KSW

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  86. Be a culturally responsive teacher and provide materials that all children can identify with or see themselves in. I can do things in and outside of my classroom to cause all my students to feel valued and welcome. Some of these things might be to celebrate the diversity of the children and community that I serve. I can include field trips and guest speakers such as community leaders that my students can aspire to. I can include materials that expose children to the diversity and culture of the people around them, because open communication and deeper understanding of each other leads to acceptance and empathy.
    As I wrote about in the interview paper, the career and technology school we are currently housed in was a segregated school during the fifties and sixties. I wanted my students to realize that segregation and the civil rights movement did not just happen in Selma or Birmingham it happened here (where we live) too. To this end I invited a community leader and local entrepreneur who graduated with the schools last graduating class to come and speak to my students. My principal procured the original blueprints and I was thrilled by how interested my students were in everything that was presented to them. I never would have considered this project had I not been challenged to act by this class. Another benefit has been that my students that are culturally different from me have made deeper connections with me and their peers; this has been evident by the way treat me, being more open to sharing their ideas and by taking leadership roles with their classmates.

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  87. Creating a culturally responsive classroom means integrating different cultures into your classroom materials and instruction. One thing that we discussed in class, that I had really thought about, was having books in your classroom that are diverse. To have more culturally diverse curriculum means adjusting it to your students' learning styles. Also, integrating studies about different cultures.

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  88. A culturally responsive teacher recognizes, affirms, and responds to the differences and needs of all students. His or her classroom is student and culturally centered which will eliminate barriers to learning and achievement. The teacher should serve as a bridge to seamlessly blend the students' curriculum between home, school, and the community. The teacher should serve as a model and teach tolerance, respect, and awareness of different cultural backgrounds.

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  89. A culturally responsive classroom is reflective of all cultures represented. Each culture is valued and the curriculum reflects the students' learning styles. Materials, books, wall words, posters written in languages used by students are all ways a teacher may choose to help students. Knowing the students, ways they learn, being accepting of the students' cultures, and incorporating this knowledge into the curriculum so that all students can be in the best environment to learn and succeed exhibits a culturally responsive classroom. Another way I could have a culturally responsive classroom goes beyond the classroom to involve parents to the school and community as well.

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  90. To be culturally responsive, I need to represent various cultures within my classroom through use of posters, books, lessons, and discussion. I also need to be aware of students backgrounds, cultures, and learning styles. By doing this I can better serve my students through lesson choice and differentiation of lessons.

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  91. Culturally responsive/sensitive teachers learn and respond appropriately to their students’ cultural, ethnic, social, emotional, and cognitive needs. These teachers hold high expectations for all students, maintain and tend to the integrity of all students’ culture and identities, and cultivate academic excellence and success for all students. Furthermore, they strive to help parents become effective partners in the education of their children. To create a culturally responsive classroom means for the culturally responsive/sensitive teacher to create a classroom culture that is welcoming for all learners, to create lessons that connect the content to students’ culture and daily lives, and to use instructional materials that relate to a variety of cultures.

    One way to differentiate my curriculum so that it is more culturally responsive is to use more positive images and representations of cultural diversity in my classroom. These images may prove to be a perfect starting point for essential class discussions, individual/group activities, and class reflections on ethnicity and culture. Another way to differentiate my curriculum is to invite experts—students, parents, guardians, colleagues, community members, and others from diverse cultural backgrounds into my classroom. These experts will be invited to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise on my students’ ethnic or cultural topic of interest. These two methods of curriculum differentiation will provide culturally relevant and extensive educational experiences for all students in my classroom.

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  92. I need to make sure all the cultures are represented in my classroom. Taking this course has opened my eyes to all the diversity and different backgrounds my students come from. It is important to involve the community, parents, students, faculty, etc. Once you learn about who your students are and where they come from you have more to offer as an educator.

    -Jessica Baker

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  93. Being a culturally responsive teacher means creating a warm, accepting atmosphere where all students are appreciated, accepted and valued. It means knowing my students and their backgrounds. It means reflecting and acknowledging their cultures in the content, books, displays and curricula in the classroom. It also means providing a "window" to the wider world - Exposing my students to new ideas and experiences outside their sphere of knowledge is part of my job as an educator in a diverse society. Above all, it means meeting the needs of my students, taking them to the next level, and having high expectations for all of my students.

    I can do this by building a culturally diverse library, researching cultural tie-ins on content - for example in a bridges unit, incorporating bridges from Latin America, Asia, the Phillipines and Estonia would reflect areas where my students are from. As above all, by knowing and developing a connection with each of my students.

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