EBS-Teach with Culture in Mind

Teach with Culture in Mind (TCM)

Connecting to children's culture and teaching in ways that taps into culture can scaffold student learning efforts. This isn't new. Bilingual/ESL teachers have been doing this for awhile (more here). These connections help students access rigorous curriculum and develop higher-level academic skills.

"When the brain encounters information, especially during the act of reading and learning, it's searching for and making connections to what is personally meaningful and relevant.

What is relevant and meaningful to an individual is based on his or her cultural frame of reference." This is their schema.
(Source: Zaretta Hammond)

Learn more about Culturally Responsive Teaching.

Shield Against Bewilderment (Frank Smith)

"Schema represent the pieces of inert information we've taken in, interpreted, and categorized. It is a set of conceptual scripts that guide our comprehension of the world. By coding knowledge and culture into stories, songs, chats, proverbs, and poetry, you can engage students in a communal learning experience aligned to their cultures" (Adapted from Zaretta Hammond).

Games, discussing topics of interest, storytelling, and projects present opportunities for students to acquire language that is at their level and that they can grow on.

This coincides with Zaretta Hammond's points about how to transform any lesson and make it friendlier to diverse students.

Tip #2: Make It Social

Games are a great way to make it social, but online tools support "make it social" in a different way.

Tools You Can Try

Tip #3: Storify It

Make stories easy to create and share. Focus on video/audio interactions. Get your inspiration from some of these.


Digital Tools

  • Flipgrid.com

  • Vocaroo.com

  • Voxer.com

One fun way to get students engaged in Classroom Discussions is have them design fantasy maps for imaginary lands. This is a fun activity your students can get started on, and continue to build with an anthology of stories in video, audio, or text+audio formats. Learn more about teaching critical thinking and map analysis resources, including map-making with Google Slides and Google Jamboard.

Gaming Connection: MineTest

Want to learn more? Look for the upcoming blog entry at TCEA TechNotes blog and the online, self-paced course (not yet available). Get a sneak peek at the blog entry.

Want to launch virtual gaming to support critical thinking at your school? Virtual Reality offers a way to encourage creativity in children.

A few of the ways it does that are highlighted in this AR Post article:

  • Removes geographical boundaries. It’s important that children have open-ended spaces to build and explore. Virtual reality worlds make that possible.

  • Empowers students. Allows children to become heroes of a story they create with others. The immersive environment of virtual reality worlds engages children, hones their storytelling skills.

  • Supports visualization. Visualization makes it easier to understand complex concepts. If you can build it, you can better understand it.

  • Stimulates critical thinking. Games that allow for creative production foster players’ abilities for creative expression.

You can now deploy a block based crafting environment known as MineTest. More ideas.

Four Steps to Solving a Problem

George Pólya (December 13, 1887 – September 7, 1985) was a Hungarian mathematician.

He was a professor of mathematics from 1914 to 1940 at ETH Zürich and from 1940 to 1953 at Stanford University. He made fundamental contributions to combinatorics, number theory, numerical analysis and probability theory.

He is also noted for his work in heuristics and mathematics education. He spent considerable effort to identify systematic methods of problem-solving to further discovery and invention in mathematics for students, teachers, and researchers.

  1. Understand the Problem

Read the problem over carefully and ask yourself:

  • Do I know the meaning of all the words?

  • What is being asked for?

  • What is given in the problem?

  • Is the given information sufficient (for the solution to be unique)?

  • Is there some inconsistent or superfluous information which is given?

  • By way of checking your understanding, try restating the problem in a different way.

2. Design a Plan for Solving the Problem

Decide how you are going to work on the problem. Try one or more of these strategies:

  1. Draw a picture or diagram. Making a picture which relates the information given to what is asked for can often lead to a solution.

  2. Make a list. This is a strategy which is especially useful in problems where you need to count the members of a set.

  3. Solve smaller versions of the problem and look for a pattern. Can you make problem smaller? Doing so may help you see a pattern to solve the bigger problem.

  4. Decompose the problem. Break problem into a series of smaller problems (or steps).

  5. Use variables and write an equation.

3. Carry Out the Plan

  • Spend a reasonable amount of time trying to solve the problem using your plan.

  • If you are not successful, go back to step 2.

  • If you run out of strategies, go back to step 1.

  • If you still don't have any luck, talk the problem over with a classmate.

4. Look Back

After you have a proposed solution, check your solution out.

  • Is it reasonable?

  • Is it unique?

  • Can you see an easier way to solve the problem?

  • Can you generalize the problem?