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Research and Reflections from Pre-Service Teaching

Establishing a Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy that Engages Students’ Academic
Literacy Skills

Patrick Mulier
November 26th, 2014
ENG 408
Final Reflective Paper

The Dilemma
“How is humor constructed in short clip of The Lego Movie we just watched?” The clock ticked,
silence laid upon the classroom like a blanket. Twenty five blank faces stared at me as If I had just asked
the most confusing question ever conceived on planet earth. I was observing and assisting a Pre-College
writing class, with a mentor teacher named Sonja, at Michigan State University. Twenty of our students
were coming from countries abroad, predominantly China, and had only learned English as a second
language growing up. The remaining five students were fluent English speakers from the United States.
A few short moments after asking the question, Hayley, a student from Virginia, raised her hand
confidently for about the fifth time that day and answered—“the good-cop-bad-cop character is funny
because he is angry and strict sometimes and happy and nice other times. I suppose that’s why he’s a
funny character.” “That’s a great observation Hayley,” I answered, as saw a couple other American
students nod their heads in agreement. But when I looked around and noticed the furrowed brows of
the many international students—most of whom had remained silent during the discussion throughout
the discussion—it hit me that I was not connecting with, nor helping my Chinese and African students
become better readers and writers.
In fact later I realized that all of the texts I had used to teach humor that day—Zits by jerry Scott,
Spongebob Squarepants, and the Lego Movie—were each embedded in the mainstream AmericanEnglish cultural context. Most of my international students had little knowledge of these texts. That
includes the short clip of the “good-cop-bad-cop” I showed of the Lego movie, which had a cultural
reference to the British comic strip called Jeff and Butt. The good-cop-bad-cop character is famous for
his doubled minded character, which is used as psychological tactic for police interrogation: one minute
he is angry and the next he is nice with people. Because this character is humorous in the British and
American culture, it’s recurred in various English texts, including the Lego Movie. The students coming
from China and Africa, however, had little foreknowledge of this cultural reference, and thus “didn’t

get” the style of humor. This is similar to a majority texts that English Educators incorporate into their
classrooms—they have no relevance the lives of students coming from minority cultures. And research
has shown that students can disengage from literacy instruction, become passive and underachieve
when the teaching lacks personal relevance to their life or culture.
Among a handful of lessons I led and observed throughout my PCW course, including this one, I
realized a common problem: a failure to adequately sustain students’ cultures, which disengages them,
and often leads to a lack of critical learning of texts. I didn’t sustain the culture of language of my
students. And as a result, they were likely not able to comprehend, feel engaged, or practice the literacy
skills necessary for deeper learning. Like my own lesson, far too many American teachers have difficulty
correctly applying culturally responsive pedagogy in their classrooms. This is because “the work of
teachers is increasingly patrolled and prescribed” to fit a required curriculum, they “have less time to
research to and develop curriculum that students can relate to,” “non-tested curriculum disappears
under the pressure of raised test scores,” (Achinstein & Ogawa, 2006; Comber & Nixon, 2009; Flores,
2007; Gillborn & Youdell, 2000; Sleeter & Stillman, 2007). They get lost in the difficulties of meeting a
schools standardized and curricular expectations. Yet not only is it difficult to find space to implement
culturally relevant teaching, but Christine Sleeter argues that many teachers practice “faulty or simplistic
forms” of it. For instance, teachers can put so much emphasis on “celebrating” a culture, or learning
about it and validating it, that they forget to include high-level academic learning in their planning,
(Sleeter 2005). Teachers can also Essentialize students by “assuming a fixed and homogenous
conception a minority group’s culture,” and determining “a set of stable practices that can be described
and taught.” Instead of sustain students’ actual cultures, they’re just perpetuating stereotypes. This
shows us that we’re teaching “individual” human beings who are more complex and locally defined than
we think; and the pitfalls and misconceptions of culturally sustaining, academically rigorous pedagogy
need to be corrected for educators alike.

I highlight this issue because research has shown that “providing literacy instruction that is
culturally responsive promotes high achievement among culturally and linguistically diverse students”
(Gay 2000; Hale, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 1994). Because most classrooms nowadays include diverse
learners, teach reading and writing in a multicultural way that fosters this much needed high
achievement. And to incorporate this “culturally responsive” literacy instruction into an “intellectually
rich” curriculum, according to as Christine Sleeter, there is “potential to improve student learning,”
(Sleeter 2005). As Secondary English educators, “high achievement” and “improved student learning” is
exactly the outcomes we’re looking for with our students. It is my aim in this paper to lay down both
principles and practices—coming from research and my own PCW case study—that build into a multifaceted pedagogical framework for Secondary English Language arts educators which is both culturally
sustaining and engages the academic literacy skills of students. This sort of pedagogy, I believe, is
essential for higher achievement of students coming from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Developing a Teacher-Knowledge of Cultures, Communities, Families, and Self
The first step to building such a pedagogy begins with the educator. In “The English Teacher’s
Companion,” Burke reminds us that the most determinate factor of student success is the teachers’
knowledge (Burke 1999). So if educators want to successfully sustain their students’ cultures and
stimulate their literacy skills for high learning and achievement—we first must research and understand
the people we’re working with. Abt-Perkins and Rosen (2000) reinforces this idea, when he says that
teachers must have knowledge of the cultures, communities, families, students as well ourselves. First,
before teachers’ can understand and seek to validate their students’ cultures, we must come to terms
with our own cultural perspectices, as Abt-Perkins and Rosen insist. Educators carry beliefs, values and
attitudes that inform the way we see the world, and the way we will treat our students. Addressing our

own perspective—and de-rooting prejudice we may hold—will give us more clarity and allow our
students to be better-validated for their own cultural perspectives. Moreover, a knowledge of our
students, their families and their communities is also important. We can grow in our knowledge these
domains through various practical measures: reading and being up to date with literature about the
local culture (i.e. books, news, media, ect.), engaging in inquiry with family and community members of
students (“insiders” of the culture) and being present at local events. As educators embark on this
process of building knowledge and relationships with students’ and their communities, we’ll gain a rich
repertoire of cultural knowledge that will be valuable to incorporate into the methods and content we
teach. Barton and Saifer put it this way: “Teachers get to know their students, students’ families, and
the communities they serve and use what they learn to inform what they teach,” (Saifer & Barton 2007).
This sort of interconnectivity is key in bringing students’ culture into the classroom. As teachers and
students’ identities become understood, validated and sustained in the classroom, a sort of
“cosmopolitan” perspective may result, in which students and teachers aren’t solely loyal to their local
culture, but they’ll “cultivate an openness to new people and new ideas,” (DeCosta 2011). Developing
this sort of “word-citizenship” will make the classroom a space safe for students to both share their own
cultural knowledge, as well as learn about others’.
Moreover, because we’re working with students directly, we may assume that the students
themselves are the most important members of the culture whom we need to seek to know and affirm.
The inquiry-interviews I held with Eric, a Chinese international student, for my learner case study
project, is a good example of how teachers can get to know their students.
“So what did knowledge and skills did you gain when you programmed this ‘Ninja Jump
computer game’ for your high school senior project?” I asked Eric, as I looked at him curiously across the
table outside of a coffee-shop. Eric zipped up his jacket because the wind had picked up. He replied,
“well I read a book on how to code and applied it to this video game idea I had, so I learned a lot about

programming. I also learned how much I love to work with computers, so that’s why I’m a computer
science major now.” Typing his words fluidly, I inquired “So being a computer guy, are you better at
learning about math than art and literary stuff?” “Yeah. Reading is hard for me,” Eric responded.
Wow—I thought—I’m learning so much about who he is as a learner, and all the knowledge he brings
into the classroom... Maybe, I pondered as we sat drinking coffee—to add relevance to analyzing
literature, we can critically read a popular video game? This could scaffold him toward analyzing a
literary text, I thought. These were the sort of questions that grounded me in a literacy-skill building
and culturally sustaining mindset. Gonzalez (2001) defines funds of knowledge as “the historically
accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge and skills essential for household or
individual functioning and well-being.” Bringing these knowledge and skills into the classroom and
allowing them to be seen as “assets upon which to build learning” can benefit students greatly. It’d
allow their learning to be more relevant and engaging, and thus propel them to develop literacy and
critical thinking skills in new ways. For example, because Eric loved playing and making games growing
up in China, teaching a computer game—being a fund of knowledge—can be legitimately integrated into
the classroom and allow for higher-level student learning.
“If you look to the left of the pumpkin patch, you’ll see several rows of organic apple-trees…
These are the ones that we store away to sell to our customers during the winter,” Steve observed
through the speaker-phone, as I sat with my PCW colleagues in the trailer of his tractor. This was the
day my English 408 class took a field trip to a local apple orchard. As we learned the various
knowledges, skills and practices that go into operating the orchard, we envisioned learning it alongside
our future students. For educators and students to go on a guided tour to a place that is significant to
the local culture, whether it’s an apple orchard, a library, a museum, or a governmental building, it’d be
valuable to learn about the communities within their culture. Such field trips would not only sustain the
cultures of students by being the focus of their learning, but as they inquire into the literacies involved

in these communities and do class assignments on these “cultural places,” students could engage in the
literacy practices they need for academic success. For example, after visiting the orchard, students
could write a reflection about what they learned, or what literacies are involved with apple farming.
A Reshaping of the Curriculum According to Students’ Backgrounds and Interests
Excited and eager to start the morning order of business, I announced, “Okay folks, as we’ve
noticed that many of you are still new to participating in classroom-dialogue. I’ve also sensed that you
have a lot of questions about the lives of students from different countries. So today, to make our own
cultures more present in the classroom, we’re do a cultural panel!” Students bustled about to arrange
the chairs into a circular formation. I chose five students, coming from different locations around the
world and United States, to take part in the panel in front of class. “You may now ask any the questions
for the students of different backgrounds than your own,” I said. I was shocked at how the panel turned
out. It turned out to be the most engaging, relevant and cross-culturally insightful conversation we’d
had all year. Driven by curiosity, and becoming increasingly outspoken, students talked about
everything from religion to gender roles in each of the cultures represented in the classroom. We
learned about the funds of knowledge coming from different parts of the U.S, various provinces of
China, and Rawanda.
Moreover, this cultural panel lesson was an instance when my mentor teacher and I structured
the curriculum around the interests and backgrounds my students. About two weeks into the course,
we saw that students had little knowledge of each other’s’ home cultures, and there is “a great divide
between our international and domestic students” because they don’t understand each other. Some
students said they wanted to know more about other cultures. So, in order to bridge the divide and
build a more unified community of diverse learners—we decided to incorporate the cultural panel into
the curriculum to meet these needs and interests. Throughout it, students’ own cultures were the topic

of study. And in the process they were able to practice the literacy skills—formulating questions,
critically thinking, active listening, and oral presentation—which are vital to their learning and academic
success. This idea is central in Corwin’s research; she maintains that we can “close the achievement gap
by closing the culture gap.” Thus, I’d encourage educators to not just include a multi-cultural lesson
here and there, but to shape and entire curriculum around the student’s funds of knowledge. This can
be done as Sonja and I did it, by improvising lessons to fit unit objectives as the semester progresses, in
addition to preparing a course (before the semester starts) with students’ funds of knowledge in mind.
Multicultural Library
One way for ELA educators to shape their curriculum around students’ cultures in a way that
engages their literacy skills, is to include texts from various cultures and ethnicities. Tandria Callins says
that “Integrating diverse cultural literature across the reading and writing curriculum helps students
discover the intricacies of language as well as the histories and cultures of various ethnic groups.” Such
a diverse knowledge of literature would expand their knowledge of the English language, with its many
dialects and cultured forms. “This view of literature” Collins says, “is one of the new patterns of
instruction that can facilitate school literacy development of culturally and linguistically diverse
students,” (Au, 1993; Norton, 2001). Encouraging students to become avid readers of a multi-cultural
library, to comprehend diverse texts, would have a plethora of benefits to their literate growth.
Students would expand their understanding of the cultures beyond their own, and they’d better gain a
mastery of the English language in all of its complexity. In my PCW class, Sonja did this successfully by
shaping class-activities around several multi-cultural essays within a book called “Reading and Writing
Literacies.” One essay, for instance, was called the “The Myth of the Latin Woman” by Judith Cofer. She
addressed the stereotypes she’s had had to endure for having a Latina identity in Britian, (Cofer 2001).
Texts such as these which Sonja had selected encouraged her students to have a critical conscious as

minorities within a society containing systems of oppression. This is a key component of being a literate
individual within society, according to many researchers such as Freire (Freire 2000).
Moreover, it was also effective for my mentor teacher to constantly have her students bring into
class the texts that interested them, and/or were from their home-cultures. At various points
throughout the course, students brought in their favorite jokes, famous cultural-anecdotes as well a
research articles that related to their major. Boggs reinforces this, finding “culturally relevant examples”
in a classroom “to have positive effects on academic achievement for ethnically diverse students”
(Boggs, Watson-Gegeo and Mcmillen 1985). Because students are more engaged with culturally
relevant and diverse texts, they’re more likely to care about their learning, and literate and academic
growth will result. My mentor’s decision to include a multicultural library reminds us of the importance
of shaping a curriculum around texts that represent students own interests and cultures, as well ones
they’ve never encountered to would broaden their worldview.
High-Level Literacy Instruction
For a pedagogy that sustains students’ cultures and builds their literacy skills, it’s perhaps most
important for the literacy-instruction itself to encourage high level cognition of the multi-cultural texts
within the curriculum. The classroom lessons and activities can’t simply “celebrate” or “essentialize” a
culture, as has already Sleet informed us, but students’ cultures must be integrated in such a way that
cultivates academic growth. In the English Language Arts field, I believe that academic growth occurs
primarily through engaging in intellectually rigorous, as well as engaging, literacy practices; building
students’ mastery of the heard, spoken, read and written English language. In this section we’ll discuss
both research and my own PCW experiences that demonstrate they key elements of literacy instruction
that provokes high level thinking for a diverse classroom of students.

Justin raised his hand, after a moment’s hesitation he said, “Our summary for the discussion for
this article is that… there are common principles in all handbooks on advice for international students
that can be lived out for success. And our three key words are integrity, responsibility, and active
participation.” “Thanks for sharing, Justin!” I retorted as I typed wrote his ideas on the chalkboard for
the class to see. “Can you tell me why you chose those?” I added curiously. “Sure, because…” Justin
went on with his rationale. And as he did many students watched while others had their noses and pens
in the text, searching and scribbling for more meaning.
As I reflected on this experience, I grasped the lesson’s efficacy to engage students in high level
literacy skills, as well as sustain their cultures. In her article, Culturally Responsive Literacy Instruction,
Gay reminds us that “It’s important to require both explicit skill instruction and engaging literacy
activities such as reading children’s literature and writing for real-life purposes.” In my lesson with
Justin, I effectively instructed the “specific [literacy] skill” of summarizing a section of a scholarly article,
as well as selecting and justifying three-key-words in the text. I taught these skills by first modeling
them (out loud) with the abstract in front of the class. I then had students practice the same strategies
collaboratively in small groups and share their findings with the whole class. Moreover, this lesson was
an “engaging literacy activity” because it was relevant to students own lives. Students found that
“Academic Advice for International Students” is directly applicable and helpful for all twenty of the first
year students coming from different countries. After all, they are the intended audience and
beneficiaries of the findings. The article could have also spoken into the cultural situation of domestic
students, because they are international students in their own way, having departed from their familyhomes and moved into university settings. Thus this text sustained students’ academic cultures, and it
related to their “real life purposes” of needing to succeed in the difficult environment of a university.
One day Sonja decided for students to bring to class a cultural artifact that was “translocal”—
meaning it had traveled with them from their home culture to Michigan State University. I looked

around and saw a variety of things—chopsticks, a skateboard, a hat, instruments, bracelets—that
students had brought in as they settled into their seats; what a rich and global variety of objects—a
great way to sustain multiple-cultures in the classroom, I thought. Sonja then had each student share
with the class the significance the artifact had on their life. Doing this allowed their funds of knowledge
to be central to curricular instruction. After that she had students do something that made this activity
truly “literacy skill” building: students were to reflect on a memory associated with their artifact and use
descriptive imagery in free-writing about memory. She had students brainstorm thoughts feelings,
ideas, sensations and images that associated with that memory, write it down, and then later turn that
into an essay. This activity engaged students in multiple high-level literacy skills: brainstorming, making
connections, and writing purposefully and expressively. And I also appreciated its ability to “culturally
scaffold,” students, which Gay thinks is necessary for Culturally Responsive Literacy Instruction. This
means “using students’ own cultures and experiences to expand their intellectual horizons and
academic achievement,” (Gay 2000). The translocal artifact assignment is an example of pedagogy that
uses student cultures to scaffold toward high level literacy instruction and achievement. As educators
we need to continue to think of such innovative activities to incorporate into our curriculums.
Any teacher that wants their students to feel valued and engage in critical literacy skills in the
classroom would do well to integrate constructivism into their classroom. This means that the teacher
isn’t the “beholder of knowledge” depositing or transmitting his/her knowledge into the students as if
they’re piggy banks, but is allowing students to be active participants in the making of meaning from
texts, society and each other’s’ background knowledge, (Smagorinsky 2007). Various researchers, such
as Tandria Collins, assert that such a constructivist classroom is an essential part of culturally responsive
literacy instruction. It’s under the premise that students’ reading and writing abilities will be challenged
the most when the students themselves becoming empowered to construct meaning. Among the
various ways meaning may be constructed by a classroom, we can learn a something from the way my

mentor teacher approached it. In order to help students understand the definition of culture, as well as
bring their own funds of knowledge into the classroom to make it more relevant, she wrote the word
“culture” on the white board and said to the class, “okay class, so what are the things that come to mind
when you think about the word ‘culture’?” It seemed magical that almost every student had something
to say, because it relied so heavily on their prior knowledge and experiences. “Music!” Sydney replied.
“That’s great, Sydney, what sort of music mostly defines your home culture?” Sonja added, looking to
go deeper. “In Detroit we listen to a lot of rap. My friends and I are into Tupac Shakur.” With that
Sonja pulled up a youtube video of one of Tupacs songs, and we listened to it. Then she pulled up a folksong from Chinese culture and had the class analyze the differences between the two music genres.
Students’ insights seemed to be just as valuable as her own. She had students construct meaning, as
she did with music, on a variety of topics revolving around “culture,” and by the end of the class the
entire board was filled with meaningful words and examples. This lesson not only allowed students’
own cultures to be present in the class, but they were able to build meaning together, taking possession
of their own and engaging in literacy skills such as drawing prior knowledge, defining and comparing
ideas, listening and voicing their arguments.
To conclude this section, the last element that I’d highly encourage secondary ELA educators to
integrate into their pedagogy is a critical consciousness on how different cultural/ethnic groups are
portrayed in society and texts. “Societal Curriculum,” according to Gay, includes the portraits,
perspectives and experiences which show how ethnic groups are presented by mass media and popular
culture. She goes on to say that students should learn to conduct “thorough and critical analysis” to
“shed light on the distorted perspectives of minority groups and promote a more accurate and educated
view of culture” (Gay 2000). Developing this sort of critical mind of minority portrayals in the societal
curriculum, and seeking to clarify how minority groups actually are instead of blindly accepting distorted
stereotypes is at the heart of culturally sustaining pedagogy. By doing this, we can move students

toward being “discerning consumers and resisters” of the societal curriculum, instead of passive and
gullible consumers. This is the sort of identity we took on during the cultural panel. At numerous points
throughout the conversation, we realized how our conceived stereotypes sometimes differed and other
times lined up with the actual experiences of students. So, as educators model and scaffold this practice
of critical consciousness of multicultural texts, students will build literacy skills such as critical thinking,
close reading and textual analysis—essential skills to carry them forward into academic success and
educated citizenry.
High Expectations
“I want you guys to actively seek ways to connect your descriptive memory to the broader culture in
which you live,” Sonja said for the third time, as students were preparing to write their translocal artifact
memory. “Think hard about it guys, I want to see your best effort,” she added. Simply by the way she asked
her students for “best effort,” or when she’d meet with her students who had too many absences to voice her
concern for them, or by rejoicing over the excellence over a students’ paper—Sonja modeled high
expectations for high success. Gay puts it this way “Teachers have to care so much about ethnically diverse
students and their achievement that they accept nothing less high-level success from them and work diligently
to accomplish it.” Researchers have made it clear that students will learn much more when the bar is raised
by teachers. And for students to experience high-level literacy-skill building most optimally when engaged
culturally sustaining texts and dialogue, us teachers need to create an atmosphere where only the best work
of students is expected.
Integrating Multiple Languages into Literacy Instruction
Class was going great! Students at every table were sharing with each other the “cultural
anecdotes” from their home culture that they had brought to class. And as I sat with three other
Chinese girls, I enjoyed hearing a story called the “four beauties,” about 4 Chinese girls who received

beauty from nature in different ways. As soon as it was done, my table members erupted into a lively
conversation about the text—it’s meaning and how they’d reformulate it into a children’s story.
Through all their chitter chatter, I realized one problem on my end… I couldn’t understand a word they
were saying—they were all speaking in Chinese!
This experience in my PCW class reveals us a common dilemma English educator’s face in their
classrooms—ESL students have a tendency to read and write their in native languages more than English.
When we look to solve this question we must consider two important pedagogical criteria (which are central
to this paper): (1) are students cultures being affirmed and sustained in the classroom, and (2) are student
students engaging in high level thinking that builds their English literacy skills and academic success? In order
to meet the first, I propose that we need to make sure that we’re not rejecting the inclusion of students’
native cultures in the classroom. Suresh Canagarajah shows us that doing so can make students feel “struck,
lost or silent” in the classroom, because their native language isn’t part of the dominant linguistic culture. But
instead, she advocates—alongside Sonja and myself—“the importance of pedagogical spaces of multilingual
literate activity,” (Canagarajah 1999). Doing so would value students’ native-languages as assets in the
classroom, a resource upon which students can build a mastery of language, both in their native tongue and in
English. Tatum reinforces a similar idea: “Bilingual Education, in which students are receiving education in
content areas in their native language, as well as receiving structured instruction in English in English, is more
effective than ESL instruction alone, because the students can build on their previous literacy,” (Tatum 2001).
It’s important to allow students’ native language into the classroom because it’s more effective for their
learning and academic success, than if English was taught alone. Anyone in a foreign language class would
agree with this statement.
As I sat there with the three other Chinese girls speaking words I couldn’t comprehend, I was tempted
to say “I think we should only speak English here,” because I felt uncomfortable, but decided not too because

it seemed too rude of a thing to say. Instead I just asked some questions and English, and they began to
respond in English and the conversation changed course, but I didn’t reject their native language. Later, as I
reflected upon this experience, I thought about the many ways my mentor teacher has both sustained her
students’ native languages as well as helped them become more proficient English users. For one, she often
spoke one-on-one with her Chinese students in Chinese. I think this showed the students that she cares—they
don’t have to change who they are in her classroom. Second, I thought about the lesson when she had
students compare English and Chinese-written idioms and proverbs in small groups, to see the similarities and
differences between the meaning and language of both texts. It didn’t put one language above another, but
offered a wealth of insight on how different languages can offer different structure and meanings to the same
idea. Third, I thought about the children’s story translation assignment, how students were able to bring in an
anecdote from their original culture, share it and translate it into English. This uniquely sustained students’
cultures and languages in the classroom, as well as encouraged deeper English literacy, because they had to
think about the many systematic ways their language changes when translated into English. For example,
we’d often talk about Chinese not having “articles” such as “the,” or “a” while English does. This sort of
translation activity can be very effective for building English literacy skills.
And lastly, it was highly effective for Sonja to intermix domestic and international students into the
small groups in class, for doing peer reviews of their anecdotes. Doing this was successful from two angles:
Chinese students were given a “fluent English mind” to see how their English translations needed to improve
their grammar and writing, and the English-speaking students could learn unique insights about the Chinese
linguistic system, to broaden their perspective and strengthen their own understanding of English. And any
lesson including peer review of essay-drafts has a high potential for building the literacy skills of students,
because they are critically analyzing the merits of a text, they become more metacognitive of the writing
process, and they improve as their own writing mistakes are corrected. Through all of this, students’ home

languages were sustained, and they were scaffold toward to acquiring higher literacy-skills in the English
language, a goal for ELA educators alike.
As Secondary English Language Arts classrooms are becoming places of increasing student-cultural
diversity, recent research has shown us that we can no longer tolerate monoculturalism in the U.S. classroom.
To prevent disengagement, underachievement, and raceless persona from mainstream American culture,
educators continue to push upon the frontier of culturally sustaining pedagogy. Yet other pressures fall upon
educators from the Common Core State Standards, standardized testing, and the daunting need to prepare
minority students for colleges and careers. These needs may be met accordingly by ELA teachers’ pedagogical
decisions of engaging students in rigorously-intellectual literacy practices: obtaining a mastery of the English
language and a critical and creative mindset to succeed academically and the world beyond. Thus, building
such a pedagogical framework which incorporates literacy instruction and cultural relevance is a current
demand of all ELA teachers. Whether we are gaining a knowledge of the cultural perspectives of ourselves,
our students, their families and communities, or we’re shaping a curriculum around a multiethnic library and
the students’ own interests, or we’re integrating the languages and learning styles of students into our lesson
plans, or we’re setting high expectations—there are various guidelines in constructing such a pedagogy. I’d
encourage Secondary English Educators to not only consider applying the principles and practices I’ve
accumulated, through research and my PCW case study, but to continue to seek new ideas for building such a
high-learning environment for diverse students.

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