50 Literacy Strategies for Culturally Responsive Teaching, K-8

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Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt & Wen Ma

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    Foreword

    Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt and Wen Ma are to be congratulated for writing what will become a classic and invaluable classroom resource, 50 Literacy Strategies for Culturally Responsive Teaching, K–8. There is no more compelling rationale for this book than the teacher's comment quoted by the authors that “I'm an American; I don't have a culture.” Many teachers are culturally out of contact with themselves and their roots. As I noted in 2000 in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, teachers are “…the individuals of the third-, fourth-, and fifth-generations who are the lost ones whose first cultures like unsettled spirits haunt their angst-filled reveries. They are the shadow diasporas, consensually self-validated as groups, but only vaguely.” How can a teacher address cultural issues and hold the belief that some human beings do not have a culture? It is with great excitement and expectation that I read this book. Schmidt and Ma state that “…we were inspired to design a text for elementary and middle education that demonstrates how to develop cultural sensitivity and an appreciation for differences.” They also argue that much of what teachers know about culture and diversity amounts to stereotypes. I noted in 2004 that “The morning newspapers regale us with stories about illegal immigrants, immigrants who are criminals, and immigrants who become outstanding success stories, winning spelling bees or making vast fortunes.” This book will help students and teachers get past the stereotypes. Bravo!

    This book is a welcome addition to work in culture and diversity. It presents teaching and learning strategies designed to introduce students to the diversity in their own classroom communities. Strategies are designed for students who are beginners, intermediates, and advanced. The authors brilliantly connect their strategies to other areas of the curriculum.

    I believe that what is most outstanding about this book may be an unintended, but significant, outcome. Students will learn about diversity and culture, but the most important outcome, I believe, will be that the teachers themselves will learn about the diversity and cultures in their own classrooms and schools by virtue of using the strategies. I have argued that if students' cultures are not considered by teachers, the students will fail. The pattern of failure across the United States appears to support this conclusion. This book provides multiple strategies for teaching students about diversity and culture. It is my hope that these strategies will help in some small way to reduce the number of students who feel alienated because their cultures are not recognized or are subject to stereotypical perceptions by their classmates and teachers.

    Thank you to Schmidt and Ma for this gold mine of strategies. It is needed and overdue.

    LeeGundersonUniversity of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Past President of the National Reading Conference

    Preface

    Why Is This Text Needed?

    We, the authors of 50 Literacy Strategies for Culturally Responsive Teaching, K–8, saw a great need for this text in our nation's schools. (Together we have 30 years of public school classroom teaching experiences and an additional 20 years in teacher education and research.) We discovered this need as we began talking with teachers and teacher educators across our country and working with our graduate and undergraduate students. Present and future elementary and middle school teachers appeared to be aware of our nation's ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity, but they expressed concerns about the lack of appropriate strategies and resources for differentiating instruction for these students in urban, rural, and suburban classrooms. Therefore, we were inspired to develop a literacy strategies text that emphasized cultural sensitivity and an appreciation for diversity, and that promoted literacy learning at elementary and middle schools. We see the concept of culture as the factor that embraces all kinds of diversity. For example, if the culture that surrounds linguistic or economic diversity is not addressed, how can we make the English language arts relevant? At first, we were hesitant about dealing with such a huge and complex task. But because of the unmet need, we decided that we must do something. As the medical profession pledges, “First, do no harm,” we believed we must start somewhere. As a result, we state, honestly, that this text is not comprehensive; it is just an early attempt to assist teachers as they implement culturally responsive instruction.

    What Is the Purpose of This Text?

    The purpose of this text is to help present and future teachers begin to make home/school/community connections that promote our students' academic and social achievement. All strategies connect to the English Language Arts Standards proposed by the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) (Appendix A) and the standards will be noted in the introduction of each strategy. Many of these literacy strategies are not new, but are simply modified for culturally responsive instruction, thus demonstrating that making learning culturally relevant is not a great hurdle. We have also avoided too much specificity, since teachers traditionally adapt what they teach to their own students' specific strengths and challenges. Rarely do teachers implement strategies in exactly the same way each year.

    Where Have Applications of Strategies Occurred?

    We have repeatedly observed the application of most strategies in numerous elementary and secondary urban, high-poverty classrooms, so one could say that the strategies have been tested for success. A few teachers have adapted them for high school, and a few teachers in suburban and rural settings have successfully used them in their classrooms. These teachers realize that diversity exists in all populations. (Actually, every family has its own special culture: its own way of talking, working, celebrating, playing, etc.) The teachers ranged in professional experience from novice to 25 years and were willing to try these strategies simply because they were curious about them, frustrated with present teaching/learning results, and/or desired to encourage more successful literacy development. They recognized the time-consuming aspects of some strategies, but their efforts yielded the positive results that motivated them to continue with adaptation and application. Interviews and anonymous surveys revealed comments that have been inserted at the end of several strategies. We thought that these would be informative and encouraging.

    What About Stereotypical Thinking?

    We realize that stereotypical understandings of certain groups of people can be strongly embedded in the psyche and that it is no easy task to change attitudes. But we believe that most teachers are predisposed to the negation of harmful stereotypes and want all students to achieve emotionally, socially, and academically in their classrooms. Moreover, we think we have seen that successful applications of the strategies may actually reinforce positive cultural sensitivity and might even begin to eliminate negative notions about certain groups of people.

    Who Will Find This Text Useful?

    Inservice teachers will find 50 Literacy Strategies for Culturally Responsive Teaching, K–8, particularly useful since it offers literacy strategies with transformative messages that can be used across the curriculum. According to English standard dictionaries, “a strategy is a carefully devised plan to achieve a goal or the art of developing or carrying out such a plan.” Preservice teachers will also find this text useful as they practice teaching and designing literacy lessons.

    How Much Teacher Education Is Necessary to Use These Strategies?

    This unique text may encourage teachers to use culturally responsive strategies in their classrooms on Monday morning. We know that teachers appreciate an understanding of the theoretical foundations for particular strategies, so that they will be better prepared to implement them. Often, however, there is little time to discuss theory when there are pressing classroom requirements. Actually, the application of strategies helps teachers begin to think differently about differences, seeing first hand how they can be adapted to fit the needs of particular students. The very act of planning strategy application promotes communication between home, school, and community, thus strengthening connections for relevant instruction. Additionally, translators, sign language, and basic personal contacts promote relationships for English Language Learner (ELL) student success.

    Why Emphasize Cultural Differences?

    Our focus is on cultural differences, since we believe that they have been ignored too long in favor of the dominant mainstream culture that empowers the European American and middle class population at the expense of the human dignity of the traditionally ignored peoples. It is “nice” to address similarities in classrooms. Doing so serves an important unifying purpose, but similarities are not what cause wars and serious disturbances in our world. Therefore, learning to value differences in perspectives, languages, cultures, physical appearances, and so forth, offers opportunities to expand inquiry learning, critical thinking, and problem solving (Siegler & Alibali, 2005). We have also included strategies related to differences in climate, geography, measurement, architecture, and flora and fauna. These differences demonstrate the evolution of human diversity and help us appreciate other cultures by bringing new ideas to our own.

    Some strategies do not specifically and directly address certain groups, but will certainly assist in recognizing their enriching differences in the classroom. These strategies will assist in building learning communities that not only foster an appreciation of differences, but also promote reading, writing, listening, speaking, and viewing through meaningful activities. Additionally, these strategies may allow teachers to individualize and accommodate across different categories of special learner needs, such as students with academic, social, cognitive, emotional, physical, linguistic, and ethnic differences. All can participate and learn.

    What Is the Organization of the Text?

    There are six major sections in this text. The first section is entitled Classroom Community: Getting to Know Me, Myself, and Us. It contains strategies to develop a risk-free learning community, one that offers a comfort level for sharing. Students in such classrooms are confident that their questions, answers, and contributions will be thoughtfully and respectfully responded to in ways that assist in the learning process for all. So we think these strategies may be useful at the beginning of the school year. However, any of these strategies may be repeated throughout the school year, as reminders and reinforcement for the importance of diverse learning communities, communities that support their members for understanding the curricula.

    The next section, Home, Community, and Nation: Making Contributions to Literacy Learning, has strategies that can be interspersed throughout the school year whenever appropriate. We feel these strategies can be used again and again, with slight modifications, as students begin to see how important it is to connect with their home, community, and nation.

    The third section, Multicultural Literature Events: Motivating Literacy Learning in Content Areas, is meant to do just that, with rich pieces of youth literature. The literature resources given as examples are presented to entice teachers to explore the many literature resources that exist to promote understanding of particular subjects in a content area. The List of Cited Youth Literature provided at the end of the book serves as an additional resource. These pieces of literature are successful motivators for culturally responsive lessons, since they represent numerous cultures. They are written and illustrated by authors and illustrators from diverse backgrounds.

    The next section is Critical Media Literacy: Exploring Values. Today's youth are exposed to the media for many hours daily. Therefore, we believe it is essential to include culturally responsive strategies that encourage youth to critically analyze visual and print messages. These strategies may help students consider and think critically about stereotypes, fads, and biased news presentations.

    The fifth section is Global Perspectives and Literacy Development: Understanding the World View. This group of strategies presents the big picture. Students are provided with opportunities to situate themselves and their cultures on the planet Earth. Activities related to the strategies help students see their own lives in relation to the lives of people from other parts of the world. The purpose of these literacy strategies is not only to help students deepen understanding of the curriculum, but also to extend their learning beyond local and national communities.

    The last section is Inquiry Learning and Literacy Learning: Beginning to Know Research. The theme for this group of strategies is “questioning is the answer.” School students learn early on that “the teacher asks questions and students give expected answers.” Unfortunately, this is the structure of numerous classrooms throughout the world. However, in a democratic society, a questioning citizenry is what keeps democracy alive (Dewey, 1916; Herber, 1978; Schon, 1987). Therefore, it is the work of the educator to stimulate questioning behaviors and an inquiring spirit. These strategies will help students begin to take risks and ask questions and learn basic research procedures.

    How Do I Use This Text?

    Each strategy in 50 Literacy Strategies for Culturally Responsive Teaching, K–8 is presented to encourage easy implementation and adaptation to suburban, urban, and rural student populations in numerous curriculum content areas. Most strategies are presented with a brief explanation, links to the ELA (English Language Arts) Standards, and then steps to follow for beginning, intermediate, and advanced learners. Some strategies combine beginning and intermediate levels and others combine intermediate and advanced levels. For most strategies, materials are suggested and examples given. Furthermore, the strategies are not so prescriptive that the experienced teacher will feel as though she or he is following a script. The authors actually hope the strategies stimulate critical analysis and creative thinking. So, we encourage teachers to modify and extend lessons with more appropriate ideas and activities. At the end of each strategy, suggestions for curriculum connections are provided to assist in a broad-view, thematic learning process. Hopefully teachers will seize these opportunities to integrate and collaborate for connections across the curriculum and grade levels.

    Please note that each strategy is connected to the IRA and NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts. Notice that teacher comments accompany many strategies as experienced “words of wisdom.” These helpful comments may alert you to specific aspects in the implementation process.

    Teachers may wish to begin at the beginning of this text, since the first two sections, Classroom Community: Getting to Know Me, Myself, and Us and Home, Community, and Nation: Contributions to Literacy Learning, focus on building strong learning communities and positive connections between home, school, and community. However, we also think that any of the strategies in different sections may be used in any order, as long as the classroom teacher integrates the strategy with a particular instructional goal or curriculum focus.

    A word of caution is necessary here. Sometimes, communication with families and communities can be challenging when teachers are attempting to develop working relationships. So, the following tenets may be helpful to remember:

    • Many teachers have discovered that sending notes home is the least effective way to contact families.
    • Many teachers have discovered that personal phone calls and meetings on neutral ground, such as those at a recreation center, park, or local coffee shop, are most useful for initiating relationships with family and community members.
    • Many teachers know that an interpreter-translator may be necessary for those new to this country who are learning our culture and the English language. Even though some people may appear to have a high level of English language proficiency, they may not understand the nuances of the culture. Therefore, interpreters-translators may be necessary for communication between home and school for those new to the English language as well as those new to the culture.

    The key idea to remember is that the environment for sharing and collaboration must be risk-free, a place to begin positive and carefully attentive communication.

    To begin using the strategies, teachers may prefer experimentation, so they might study strategies, find one that seems appropriate to the curriculum, and try it. The following directions may help.

    • Read the first paragraph that describes the strategy.
    • Then study the steps for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learning. These three levels are arbitrary at best. Beginners might be defined as kindergarten through second-grade interest and/or academic abilities. Intermediate might be defined as third- through fifth-grade interest and/or academic abilities, and advanced may be described as sixth-through eighth-grade interest and/or academic abilities. Additionally, some strategies are labeled beginner/intermediate and/or intermediate/advanced. These were designed in this manner to indicate that the steps may be appropriate for both levels.
    • Decide what level would be most appropriate for specific students in your class.
    • Decide what can be accomplished by the whole class, what can be accomplished by small groups, and what can be accomplished by pairs or individual students.
    • For English Language Learners who were good students in their native lands, pairing with an equal-ability student will maintain interest levels. If the student has had little formal education, the interest level is key. In both cases, drawing upon the positive memories of students' native lands and cultures is the first consideration. Students must be assisted in their comfort and interest levels to motivate them (Cummins, 1986; Igoa, 1995; Schmidt, 1998a, 2002).
    • Family and community surveys, notes, or other written communication may need to be translated. Oral communication may also require trans lators. However, personal efforts to communicate with sign language can be effective when there is a sincere person-to-person effort put forth by the teacher.
    • Study the curriculum connections to see how activities for the strategy can be integrated into particular content areas.
    • Follow the steps, but always be open to modifying and adjusting to your students' interests and challenges.
    • Finally, don't give up after one strategy doesn't seem to work. Try another …and don't worry about perfection. The strategies were created to produce a “healthy hum” (Schmidt, 2001, p. 141) in classrooms where reading, writing, listening, speaking, and viewing are used as powerful learning tools.
    Why Is This Text So Important?

    This section is included as a brief theoretical framework and rationale for this text. The list of citations is referenced in the back of this text, so that educators may study more in-depth research.

    The U.S. Department of Education predicts that by the year 2010, minority populations will become the majority populations in our schools (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). Presently, this diversity has had a significant impact on urban education, but in the future, will have an even greater impact on rural and suburban education. Therefore, it is time for successful teacher inservice and preservice programs to connect home, school, and community with culturally relevant or culturally responsive teaching (Au, 1993; Cochran-Smith, 1995; Florio-Ruane, 1994; Moll, 1992; Noordhoff & Kleinfield, 1993; Osborne, 1996; Schmidt, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005; Tatum, 1992, 1997; Tatum, 2000; Willis & Meacham, 1997; Zeichner, 1993).

    Research and practice demonstrate that strong home, school, and community connections not only help students make sense of the school curriculum, but also promote literacy development (Au, 1993; Boykin, 1978, 1984; Edwards, 2004, 1996; Faltis, 1993; Goldenberg, 1987; Heath, 1983; Leftwich, 2002; McCaleb, 1994; Moll, 1992; Reyhner & Gracia, 1989; Schmidt, 2000, 2004, 2005; Xu, 2000b). However, in recent years home, school, and community connections have become a significant challenge.

    There are various reasons for this situation. First, as our school population has become increasingly diverse, both culturally and ethnically, our teaching population has consistently originated from European American, suburban experiences. Typically, educators describe themselves as white and middle class and often add, during discussions about diversity, “I'm an American; I don't have a culture.” (Paley, 1989; McIntosh, 1990; Florio-Ruane, 1994; Snyder, Hoffman, & Geddes, 1997; Schmidt, 1999a). Second, most teachers have not had sustained relationships with people from different ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. As a result, much of their knowledge about diversity has been influenced by media stereotypes (Finkbeiner & Koplin, 2002; Pattnaik, 1997; Tatum, 1997). Third, school curriculum, methods, and materials usually reflect only European American or white culture and ignore the backgrounds and experiences of students and families from lower socioeconomic levels and differing ethnic and cultural backgrounds (Boykin, 1978, 1984; Moll, 1992; Foster, 1994; Ladson-Billings, 1994, 1995; Delpit, 1995; Purcell-Gates, L'Allier, & Smith, 1995; Nieto, 1999; Howard, 2001; Sleeter 2001; Walker-Dalhouse & Dalhouse, 2001). Fourth, many teacher education programs do not adequately prepare educators for “culturally relevant pedagogy” (Ladson-Billings, 1995) a term that directly relates to making strong home, school, and community connections (Wallace, 2000; Sleeter, 2001; Lalik & Hinchman, 2001). Fifth, when cultural differences are ignored in classrooms, student fears and alienation increase (Cummins, 1986; Igoa, 1995; Schmidt, 1998a, 2002; Greene & Abt-Perkins, 2003). Consequently, this disconnect has become a national problem whose influence has been linked to poor literacy development and extremely high dropout rates among students from urban and rural poverty areas (Au, 1993; Banks, 1994; Cummins, 1986; Edwards, 2004; Edwards, Pleasants, & Franklin, 1999; Goldenberg, 1987; Heath, 1983; Nieto, 1999; Payne, DeVol, & Smith, 2005; Schmidt, 1998a, 1999b; Trueba, Jacobs, & Kurtin, 1990).

    It is obvious that there is a significant body of research concerning culturally responsive teaching. Unfortunately, there has been little evidence of its implementation in our nation's schools. So, it seems appropriate to suggest that this text, offering culturally responsive literacy strategies, is not only needed, but also, as some would say, “urgently necessary.”

    Acknowledgments

    This book of strategies is the result of urban, rural, and suburban teachers who believed they could make a difference in the academic and social lives of their students. They volunteered for our inservice programs and enrolled in teacher education classes with us. They took the challenges we offered and applied them to the challenges in their own classrooms. They broke new ground in modern education by deferring, in some instances, to traditional educational practices of long ago …meeting with families outside of school. They visited in homes, parks, recreation centers, churches, mosques, and many other locales. Additionally, these elementary and middle school teachers demonstrated a genuine respect by using family and community resources in classrooms and schools. The teachers encouraged family and community members to contribute their “funds of knowledge” to schools, thus making the curriculum relevant to children's ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity.

    We must thank these teachers for their bravery in attempting many ideas, and their creativity in adapting them in new ways.

    Finally, we thank our editor, Jean Ward, for her vision and her belief in social justice.

    Corwin Press gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • Lori Czop Assaf
    • Assistant Professor
    • Texas State University–San Marcos
    • San Marcos, TX
    • Sandra Golden
    • Education Recruitment Specialist
    • Notre Dame College
    • South Euclid, OH
    • Barbara Kapinus
    • Senior Policy Analyst and Program Consultant
    • National Education Association
    • Washington, DC
    • Elizabeth Noll
    • Associate Dean for Graduate Programs,
    • Faculty Development & Associate Professor of Language, Literacy, & Sociocultural Studies
    • College of Education University of New Mexico
    • Albuquerque, New Mexico
    • Brenda A. Shearer
    • Professor of Reading Education
    • University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh
    • Oshkosh, WI
    • Doris Walker-Dalhouse
    • Professor of Reading
    • Minnesota State University Moorhead
    • Moorhead, MN

    About the Authors

    After more than 20 years of teaching in public schools, Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt completed her doctoral studies in Reading and Language Arts at Syracuse University. Her dissertation, Cultural Conflict and Struggle: Literacy Learning in a Kindergarten Program, was recognized by the International Reading Association and was published by Peter Lang. As a Professor of Literacy at Le Moyne College, she teaches courses in the elementary and secondary programs and has developed a model known as the ABC's of Cultural Understanding and Communication. This model is implemented around the world and helps elementary and secondary teachers communicate and connect with families and communities, and design culturally responsive literacy lessons. Recently Dr. Ruggiano Schmidt was the recipient of the International Reading Association's Elva Knight Research Award. This work has promoted the study of links between literacy learning and culturally responsive teaching in urban and rural elementary and secondary schools.

    Presently, Dr. Ruggiano Schmidt lives with her husband, Tom, beside a small lake and golf course in East Syracuse, New York.

    Wen Ma completed his doctoral study in English Education at the University at Buffalo in 2004, and is now an Assistant Professor of Literacy at Le Moyne College, where he teaches Principles and Methods of Literacy Learning, Multicultural Literacy for Urban Education, and Adapting Literacy Learning for Students with Special Needs in both elementary and secondary programs. Originally from China, Dr. Ma taught for more than 10 years at both public school and university levels in a Chinese educational context. Currently he lives with his wife and daughter in Fayetteville, New York.

    Being a cultural product of Chinese and North American education, Dr. Ma believes his cross-cultural experience and scholarship have provided him with a deep love and respect for teaching and conducting research related to culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

    In addition to examining the theory, research, and practice about diverse learners' literacy development in a variety of sociocultural contexts, he is interested in exploring the use of discussion as an instructional tool, and in the Confucian perspective on learning, which he thinks may contribute to a more inclusive social constructivist view of learning.

    Corwin Press

    The Corwin Press logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin Press is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK–12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin Press continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”

  • Conclusion

    Now that you have tried these strategies, you may realize what other teachers, who worked on inservice programs with us, concluded “Indeed …there are seven characteristics for culturally responsive instruction and they can be described.”

    Seven Characteristics for Culturally Responsive Instruction (Schmidt, 2003)

    When implementing successful culturally responsive instruction, teachers became aware of these specific characteristics. As they created lesson plans and observed videos of their classrooms, it became apparent that these SevenCharacteristics were elements that provided a structure for assessing their own lesson plans. So, as you adapt the strategies in this book and create new ones, you may want to use the Seven Characteristics as your guide for success.

    Additionally, when teachers in our inservice programs were asked to define culturally responsive teaching, they provided the list displayed below.

    Defining Culturally Responsive Instruction

    One teacher said it best when explaining culturally responsive instruction: “Everybody benefits when there is culturally responsive teaching …children, families, teachers, and community.” With this strong message, we conclude this book and wish you and your students, and their families and communities, the very best in education.

    As you implement these 50 literacy strategies, think about how other teachers define culturally responsive instruction as expressed in the following box of statements.

    Epilogue

    As we complete this text, we feel we have to respond to questions confronting most authors: So what? And what now?

    First of all, and once again, this small collection of strategies aims at helping classroom teachers to enrich and diversify their literacy curricula across K–8 grades by offering some practical literacy learning strategies. Where applicable, we have offered suggestions for teaching across the curriculum. We have also connected specific content and ELA Standards with strategies. However, we want to emphasize again that the strategies are not intended to replace textbooks or standard curricula, thus they should not be directly linked to assessment in the content areas. (Although better command of content knowledge may result due to the connections made with students and their families and communities.) Actually, we believe these strategies may help teachers with additional ideas and activities to use, thus adding to more fun, engaging, and hands-on learning experiences for the students. We see these strategies as motivators and connectors to the standard curricula.

    Moreover, we believe in teaching for diversity—cultural, ethnic/racial, linguistic, environmental, geographical, disciplinary, and conceptual, to name but a few. While teaching in the increasingly multicultural and complex world, it is all the more important to develop students' (and teachers') awareness of all forms of differences and similarities; of possibilities and hypotheses; of personal strengths and weaknesses; and of school, family, community, and society connections. We think such an open and multilateral view contributes to educating the learner not just with discrete skills and knowledge, but as a whole person with cognitive, social, and affective development. Needless to say, teaching about diversity does not magically rid the society of all problems and issues, but it is a necessary step to start facing and then addressing some of those concerns for a more accepting and just world. Teaching for these goals cannot be accomplished just by learning language skills or acquiring knowledge, nor does it end just by reading a few books. Yet the journey has to begin somewhere. We feel that the strategies included in this book may be a good place for some of our youngsters to begin.

    In addition, even though we have used many of the strategies, or observed our colleagues using them, in actual classrooms or workshops at different points in our careers, the strategies are not written as summaries of empirical research. They are more of a reflection of our own (and our colleagues') classroom teaching experiences and exploration. We also want to point out that, although the strategies are clearly related to and supported by the theoretical framework that we presented at the beginning of the book regarding multicultural literacy, responsive pedagogy, and home/school connection for teaching and learning literacy and other content areas, we wrote the strategies in a simplified, step-by-step manner to make it easier for our teacher colleagues to operationalize any of them in their classrooms. Variations of some of the strategies may have been used in different classrooms, or recreated using other examples by ingenious teachers. In this sense, the strategies may appear simple, or not brand new. We still feel that putting them together in this book helps many more teachers to start the thinking and exploring process, as we did. This is particularly helpful to young teachers who have not yet accumulated many classroom-based strategies and are willing to try new ideas.

    So, what's next? Of course the strategies included in this book are few, but they are useful for culturally responsive literacy instruction. They should not be viewed as fixed scripts. Classroom teachers are knowledgeable and resourceful, and they know their classrooms and students. While we learned from our own experiences that these strategies worked and would thus provide useful ideas for other teachers to implement in their literacy and cross-curriculum programs, it is up to each teacher who uses this book to view these strategies as works-in-progress—they may want to retest, modify, adapt, and/or recreate any of the strategies in order to better suit their instructional needs across different learners and learning contexts.

    Resource A: Standards for the English Language Arts

    In 1996, the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English published Standards for the English Language Arts. The document is the result of a project that involved thousands of educators, researchers, parents, policymakers, and others across the United States. Its purpose is to provide guidance in ensuring that all students are proficient language users so they may succeed in school, participate in society, find rewarding work, appreciate and contribute to our culture, and pursue their own goals and interests throughout their lives (http://www.reading.org/resources/issues/reports/learning_standards.html).

    The Standards
    • Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
    • Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
    • Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
    • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
    • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
    • Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
    • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
    • Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
    • Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
    • Students whose first language is not English make use of their first language to develop competence in the English language arts and to develop understanding of content across the curriculum.
    • Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
    • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

    Resource B: List of Cited Youth Literature

    Aliki, (1990). Manners. New York: Greenwillow.
    Anderson, W. (1998). Pioneer girl: The story of Laura Ingalls Wilder. New York: HarperCollins.
    Angelou, M. (1996). Kofi and his magic. New York: Clarkson Potter.
    Anno, M. (1977). Anno's journey. Tokyo: Fukuinkan.
    Anno, M. (1983). Anno's mysterious multiplying jar. New York: Philomel.
    Anno, M. (2003) Anno's Spain. New York: Philomel.
    Atkins, J. (1999). Mary Anning and the sea dragon. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
    Babbitt, N. (1975). Tuck Everlasting (34th printing). New York: Sunburst Books/Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
    Baker, K. (1997). The magic fan. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace.
    Baker, O. (1985). Where the buffaloes begin. New York: Penguin Putnam.
    Barbour, K. (1987). Little Nino's pizzeria. New York: Voyager.
    Barracca, D. & S. (1990). The adventures of taxi dog. New York: Dial.
    Belafonte, H., & Burgess, L. (2001). Island in the sun. New York: Penguin.
    Bruchac, J. (1991). Native American stories. New York: Fulcrum.
    Bryan, A. (2003). All night, all day: A student's first book of African-American spirituals. New York: Simon & Schuster.
    Bunting, E. (1994). How many days to America?New York: Clarion.
    Bunting, E. (1989). Terrible things: Allegory of the holocaust. New York: Jewish Publication Society of America.
    Bunting, E. (1999). Smoky nights. New York: Voyager.
    Burns, M. (1994). The greedy triangle. New York: Scholastic.
    Burns, M. (1997). Spaghetti and meatballs for all!New York: Scholastic.
    Cameron, A. (1993). The most beautiful place in the world. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
    Chang, M. (1997). Story of the Chinese zodiac. Taipei, Taiwan: Yuan-Liou.
    Chao, L. (1987). Stories from Mencius. Beijing, Republic of China: The Overseas Chinese Library.
    Cherry, L. (1992). A river ran wild. New York: Harcourt Brace.
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