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Nine Ways to Implement Culturally Responsive Teaching During Distance Learning


By Larry Ferlazzo on October 6, 2020 9:27

(This is the final post in a two-part series. You can see Part One here.)

The new “question-of-the-week” is:

What are specific online strategies you have used to apply culturally responsive teaching in an online or hybrid environment?

Part One‘s contributors were Shelly M. Jones, Ph.D., Gina Laura Gullo, Isabel Becerra, and Candace Hines.

Today, Vivian Yun, Adeyemi Stembridge, Ph.D.,  Andrew Dryden, and Valentina Gonzalez offer their responses.

“It is imperative to consider students’ identities as learners”

Vivian Yun is an educator in Northern Virginia and a Ph.D. student at George Mason University specializing in multilingual/multicultural education and education leadership:

As a culturally responsive educator, it is imperative to consider students’ identities as learners. With an asset-based mindset, I focus on building strong relationships and holding high expectations. I tell my students that “practice makes permanent” through taking risks and making mistakes. In an online environment, we are learning together as a family. I provide scaffolds to help my students meet high expectations. I consider the sensory, graphic, interactive, linguistic, and behavior and wellness supports as I deliver high-quality core instruction. Referencing Zaretta Hammond’s (2015) Ready for Rigor Framework, I will share how I apply this framework to specific online teaching strategies.

  1. Awareness: First, I ask, what do I need to know about my students when teaching in an online environment? How can I seek to understand and apply what I know and put it into action? I provide opportunities for my students to show me their prior knowledge. I activate their prior knowledge by using digital tools such as Pear Deck and Google Forms to gain a deeper understanding of their background knowledge. I design breakout groups to allow my students to be successful. I create groups of four or five and provide support by creating opportunities for my students to negotiate meaning with one another in intellectually stimulating ways. I incorporate their interests by building on their strengths and helping them apply their learning to new content. As I support each breakout group, I encourage them and provide any supports needed to help them be successful on the tasks.
  2. Information Processing: How can I guide my students to be critical and creative thinkers in an online environment? I provide my students choices on how they want to demonstrate their learning. What are the multiple entry points available for my students when accessing this content? My students create goals at the beginning of the school year focused on language learning and Portrait of a Graduate attributes. Providing timely feedback and monitoring their goals is a frequent and revisited process. Sentence starters are provided to help my students have academic conversations with their peers.
  3. Relationships and Partnerships: One way I build relationships is to honor each student’s name. I intentionally learn how to correctly pronounce their names and have students share the story of their names through identity webs. Greeting each of my students with a warm welcome when they enter my online classroom and saying goodbye at the end of every class period is a daily routine. If a student arrives late, I privately message the student, say hello, and say how happy I am to see them. I focus on the positives and encourage my students to learn in a caring and welcoming environment. I do social-emotional check-ins each class period to learn more about their interests both in school and out of school. I walk my talk by following through on my actions and addressing their needs. Birthdays are also celebrated as a class. I sing Happy Birthday and encourage students to wish each other a happy birthday in a virtual environment!
  4. Community of Learners: Our online classroom is a family. We are learning together and growing with one another. I model each task to ensure students understand the expectation. At the beginning of the year, we brainstormed what learning a language looks, feels, and sounds like. I compiled the responses and established collective ownership and commitment by creating class- period norms that were devised by students. Lowering the affective filter so all students can thrive in our classroom is critically important. I consider my students’ social and emotional well-being by providing time for students to have brain breaks. When students return from the break, we create community by greeting each classmate using our microphone or chat.

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