Below are a number of materials and artifacts that I have incorporated to create a classroom centered around culturally relevant pedagogy. Feel free to peruse, consider and steal any and all materials you might like.

This is a small selection of culturally relevant texts we introduced in class last year. These include narratives addressing issues of identity, discrimination, and police brutality. The characters and events in these texts are both relatable and complex, forcing students to consider perspectives that challenge their assumptions. I hope to add to this text list and continue to engage students with thought-provoking, diverse text types.

Academic Language Lesson

This lesson was designed to help students identify the differences between academic and non-academic language, and begin to practice translating between the two languages. The lesson incorporated videos of various familiar figures demonstrating the use of academic language in particular circumstances (in other words: code switching), including LeBron James and Key and Peele. The lesson was effective because it framed academic language as a form of translation rather than a “correct” mode of communication. This lesson is one that I hope to continue using as students learn when and how to incorporate their academic language skills.

Close Reading & Discussion of The House of the Scorpion

This lesson incorporated a diverse array of texts, including Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion, a dystopian novel about a young latino boy that must navigate treacherous waters when he discovers that he is a clone in an anti-clone world. Students developed close reading skills through practice with this text, and were also hooked with further justifications of the importance of close reading that included a prior text from the course, the song Mo Bamba, and examples from a soccer match. Finally, students reviewed a prior lesson on questioning the text with the trailer for a Spanish-language animated film called Psiconautas: Los Niños Olvidados. The lesson concluded with a discussion of the students’ questions and inferences made while reading the primary text. Not all elements of this lesson hooked students as well as I had hoped, but the diversity of text types and cultures represented and discussed in this lesson is a format that I hope to replicate moving forward.

Suicide in Romeo and Juliet

This lesson addressed Shakespeare’s portrayal of suicide within Romeo and Juliet, making connections to the recent Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. This topic is especially prevalant in today’s climate given the steady increase in suicide deaths amongst the American public, as well as the topic’s possible connections to bullying and social media. Students responded really well and immediately engaged with this lesson, and it is an issue that I believe to be incredibly important for students to feel comfortable addressing and analyzing from a critical standpoint.

Formal Class Debate about XXXTentacion

In this lesson, we held a class debate regarding the appropriate response and treatment of XXXTentacion’s death. Students immediately responded and engaged in the lesson because almost everyone had strong feelings towards X, which made the lesson even more interesting when students were assigned a side of the debate to support. This question has likely already lost its relevancy, but this lesson was a prime example of how the right text content and lesson material can dramatically change students’ interest levels in a task. Maintaining a good knowledge of current events will be critical to bringing ever-relevant content to the classroom.