Promoting culturally responsive literature to enhance all students’ academic and social learning

BY Beth Connors & Nancy Capen 

Harwich Elementary School

Project Description

Our goal is to increase the availability and use of culturally and linguistically diverse literature  in our classrooms.

By utilizing culturally responsive materials, we, as teachers, will be promoting students’ respect for diversity in our
community while improving literacy skills. We will include books that celebrate and foster the respect for different
languages, cultures, and that promote the appreciation of individual differences and backgrounds.

A research synthesis of the literature suggests that providing literacy instruction that is culturally responsive promotes high achievement among culturally and linguistically diverse students (Brown University, 2003; Gay, 2000; Hale, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 1994; Nichols, Rupley, & Webb-Johnson, 2000). Culturally responsive literacy instruction bridges the gap between the school and the world of the student…and is aimed at assuring academic learning…and encourages teachers to adapt their instruction to meet the learning needs of all students,” as stated by the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems.

Multicultural literature fosters positive self-esteem and prevents students from feeling isolated. It has the ability to nurture respect, empathy and acceptance among all students (Steiner et al, 2008).

It is our hope that by increasing the availability of culturally and linguistically diverse literature, not only will all of our students’ literacy skills improve, it will also deepen their appreciation and respect for themselves and others in our school and around the world.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

After we purchase books, we will measure success in the following manner:
1. As English Language Teachers, we will ask students to complete an age appropriate rating form and we will track student responses.
2.We will ask students to complete self-reflections after completing each reading of these books.  We will review student responses.
3. We will track the number of books utilized by teachers and staff.
4. We will continue inviting our bilingual parents, family members, to read multilingual books in classrooms. We will track number of participants.
5. We will distribute a teacher survey for feedback from teachers and review their input, suggestions etc.
6. We will continually collaborate with staff and teachers to recommend various readings in their classrooms and will keep tally of books recommendations that are used.
7.We will continue to read current research to enhance our ability to create culturally responsive classrooms where all children grow academically and socially.

Benefit to the students and the school

This project is designed to benefit all members of our community.  Through the use of multicultural books, we will be able to instruct students  in an age-appropriate manner about diversity and individual differences.

This project aligns with the Monomoy Regional Schools District Strategic Plan and the district’s new social and emotional learning curriculum(SEL) it has implemented in our schools. One of the our school district’s strategic initiatives is to implement a social-emotional framework (PreK-12) that is data-driven, promotes leadership, and advances a positive culture within Monomoy Schools.

This project will pay close attention to the SEL competencies of building students’ social awareness(perspective-taking, empathy, appreciating diversity, and a deeper understanding of themselves and valuing their valuing themselves. We believe we can begin to facilitate this through the use of multicultural literature.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

We will purchase books and have them available for all staff as soon as the funding is obtained to make these purchases.

This project timeline will be on-going as seeing the purchase books will allow us to begin to build  a wonderful resource for teachers, staff, and our families to use in  classrooms. We will all be able to utilize the books for years to come.

Please see attached timeline with highlighted national literacy celebrations in schools. I have also included links for your review of various resources for multicultural literature . We plan to ensure that diverse literature are included in these events.