Culturally Relevant Instruction
A strategic focus on culturally relevant instruction is a key element defining the equity focus in this literacy framework. Students who have been historically underserved in school often come from cultures and backgrounds that are different from the mainstream norms of school. For this reason, it is imperative that teachers engage an asset mindset, pedagogy, and set of beliefs about students whose backgrounds vary from their own. This allows teachers to learn from their students as they discover the rich wealth of resources they bring to the learning environment. Taking time to learn about who students are, what is important to them, and learning about their families leads to caring and trusting relationships. By knowing their students’, it is possible for teachers to provide learning opportunities that are rigorous, meaningful, and relevant and holds students to high expectations for academic excellence. All while, validating and affirming students’ cultural knowledge and using this knowledge as a bridge between home and school learning. This allows students to maintain their cultural identity while also learning how to use and access the codes of power of mainstream society. Focusing on culturally relevant instruction leads to student choice, voice, and agency, whereby students view themselves as active agents and constructors of their own learning.
The table below demonstrates the 4R’s framework that is the foundation of how culturally relevant instruction is implemented in Portland Public Schools. Below the table are expanded descriptors. It is the hope that those reading this equity-based literacy framework will take time to think about the critical elements of culturally relevant instruction and think about how they show up in the remainder of the framework and eventually their instructional practice, coaching, or support of educational achievement for all students, specifically those historically underserved.
Inclusion: Creating a community of learners who feel respected and connected to one another.
(Human relationships: among students for instance, during turn and talk, it would be evident whether all students are connected -- are comfortable in conversations with their classmates; with the teacher: whether the student feels belonging and acceptance and safety. )
Attitude: Meaningful choices and personal relevance to the content.
(Understanding who your students are and ensuring that the content or your delivery of content connects to them and their experience. This includes the types of books in the classroom the students get to choose from and the topics about which they write).
Meaning: Engage students in challenging learning. Holding high expectations for all students by designing tasks that communicate that they are capable and their culture and language are assets to build upon.
(Access to rigorous materials and content, providing scaffolding, working in a student's zone of proximal development, and considering interest/engagement. Determine students safety nets and access points for engaging in rigorous academic learning.)
Competence: Value and authenticity to real world experiences.
(Being real to who you are, giving kids credit for who they are and what they know. Also, leveling with kids when you make mistakes in judgment or with instruction.)
Modeled Reading Shared Reading Interactive Reading Guided Reading
Partnerships and Clubs Reading Independent Reading
Modeled Writing Shared Writing Interactive Writing Independent Writing
There is a synchrony between reading, writing, and spelling development and instruction.
Phonemic Awareness + Phonics + Vocabulary + Spelling