Teaching to a Culturally Diverse Population

Statistically, the school serves approximately 430 students, from grades one to five. While there are students representing minority groups in a large a range of ethnic identities, but 79.1% of students are white. 9.8% are Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander, 9.3% are African American, and 1.9% are Hispanic. (statistics from schoolmatters.com) In my student teaching classroom, there were 21 students. Three were African American, one was Asian American, and several spoke various languages such French, Spanish, Rusian, Hebrew, Chinese, and Greek. There is also some religious diversity in the classroom. Most students mentioned that they were Catholic, Christian, or Jewish. Seemingly, I had thought that this class did not have much "diversity". While there was not much socieconomic diversity, I realized that diversity existed very much so in the classroom. It was perhaps subtle, but it definately existed, and I tried to acknowledge this throug my teaching.

I encouraged diversity of languages by inviting students to share the alphabet of languages they knew. Students would often share the Spanish, French, Hebrew, or Fijiian Word of the Day.

According to Banks’ levels of multicultural education, I believe I was at the additive stage, brimming to the transformative stage For the fairty tale unit, I added many types of fairy tales in the curriculum from all over the world, because I felt it was very important for students to see that stories come from all over the world, and especially not just from western countries or Disney movies. We discussed the different cultural settings of each story, and sometimes students would do some research on each country. If I were to teach this unit again, I think I would create this into a more integrated unit with Social Studies to explore the connections between culture and fairy tales and universal themes that exist throughout all culture.

Furthermore, I engaged in background reading about multicultural literature in order to prepare me to attempt to sensitively integrate multicultural literature. I found Using Multiethnic Litera in the K-8 Classroom edited by Violet J. Harris to be particularly useful. It discussed the merits of “engaging meaningfully with text”, and clarified my goals. The book states the following quote for using multicultural text , which I thought would help me achieve Banks’ levels of multicultural education. I strived to look at this as a ongoing process, and in the future integrate and change the structure of this unit to align with this goal. This quote encapsulates why I believe multiethnic literature should be used in the elementary classroom.

 “Ensure students the opportunity to reflect on it in all its rich diversity, prompt them to ask questions about who we are now as a society and how we arrived at our present state, inspire them to actions that will create and maintain social justice.” (found Using Multiethnic Literture in the K-8 Classroom edited by Violet J. Harris, p. 19)

Curricular Approaches

Teaching to Learning Differences


This lesson was originally a lesson I had tried with my 4 th grade class. I ended up presenting this lesson in two other fourth grade classrooms. As I did each lesson, I began to modify the pace of the lesson and integrated more differentiation ideas. This was because I had a time limit and a diversity of learners. Originally, the analogy was inspired by the website above (example of using a website/ professional resource), and then modified with differentiation ideas, and the “recovery room” contractions chart. Go here for detailed lesson plan.


"HOW ARE YOU SMART?" LESSON (A lesson about multiple intelligences)

The How Are You Smart Lesson emphasizes the diversity of strengths of students in the classroom. After getting to the students individually , I thought this lesson emphasize the diversity of learners in our classroom and how it complements all the different types of activities we do on a daily basis. I made sure to include role play scenarios that were connected to many of our students’ strengths and to our current curriculum in all content areas. In fact, I intentionally grouped students by what I perceived as their most prominent “smart” to ensure the studetnts’ success in the role plays. I wanted students to realize that all these “smarts” or “intelligences” were constantly being used in the learning process and were relevant to many activities, both inside and outside of school. I also presented this lesson to encourage students’ strengths and acknowledge it, but also to scaffold students to reflect about their “smarts” and how they could learn to improve them. This was a stepping to reaching all the diverse learners in the classroom by raising awareness of “multiple intelligences” in the elementary classroom. In the follow up assessment, a majority of student indicate that "body smarts" was their favorite smart to use. Students provided relevant answers and applied the theory. Please see the left images for sample student responses.

Please Go Here for a Detailed Lesson Plan (Browser)

Please Go Here for Detailed Leson Plan (Document)



Curricular Approaches


We used technology on a daily basis, and the classroom had 2 desktops and 1 laptop for teacher and student use. There was also sets of movable laptop (about 30 per set) that classrooms could check out. In addition, the students engaged in "Tech Center" lessos once a week. I led several lessons incorporating technology. With the cooperating teacher's lead, we used Google Earth to look at places we had "traveled" in our Walk Across America" project. Also, I led several power point presentations about the Middle Ages, A Math Review Jeopardy Game, and A Science Review Jeopardy Game. We used the classroom set of laptops to learn how to use Excel, and create our Family Size Bar Graph. Along with the formal technology instruction, students often used computers informally to create their own powerpoint presentations on a topic of their interest, to word process a piece of their writing, or to find an answer to a question using Google.

Curricular Approaches

Interdiscliplinary Instruction

"Medieval art is so interesting. There's so much literature and history involved."             ~student working at the Art Middle Ages Learning Center

The quote above seems to capture the types of responses and thought processes I hoped to help students acquire and develop. The nature of elementary education seemed to lend itself to integrated instruction and connecting content areas. I strived to create an environment where students would be excited to make connections between subjects, in subjects, and to their personal lives. I believe that the interdiscplinary aspects of instruction is what enriches the lessons, builds extensive background knowledge, and provide a rich framework forlearning.

Some examples:

I integrated social studies and language through the Middle Ages Learning Centers, homophones in all content areas, and using our class curriculum as content for the role plays for the How Are You Smart Lesson (i.e. role play about Turkey Bowl, a football game, to show our body smarts, or a role play about knights in the Middle Ages).

Curricular Approaches

students using their "body smarts"

Elisha Ann's Student Teaching Portfolio

Curricular Approaches

Teaching to a Culturally Diverse Population      Teaching to Learning Differences

Technology      Interdiscliplinary Instruction