NTPRS 13- Culture in the Classroom (End to Beginning)


Keep in mind that no one is perfect. There are days my hook fails. There are days my whole lesson fails. There are kids who I struggle to connect with. There are all of the same issues in my classroom as in yours. I am just a teacher in the field who happens to be passionate about planning around cultural themes.

Some questions I received yesterday and their answers:

How do you plan for elementary? I really don’t know! šŸ™‚ I am in a high school and have never had students below 8th grade but the idea of UbD is still the same. Choose high and lofty goals for your students. Don’t take the vocabulary and make lists… this is breaking the language down into its component parts. Teach them whole language! Think about Kristy Placido’s botas picudas unit that I taught…. I wanted to talk about clothing and so I used this unit that was interwoven with clothing and culture. I knew that at the end I didn’t want to be describing each other’s clothes, I wanted them to relate fashion and music so that is how I guided all of my unit instruction. How could you do something similar with elementary kids? “Do the seasons affect the clothing choices people make? Do your parents influence your clothing choices?” Since I don’t work with them, it is very hard to say what the perfect question for you would be but hopefully this gets your brain churning!

“I wanted to know more about the nuts and bolts”: I encourage you to look into the Understanding by Design book and workbook by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. I try to be very sensitive to their copyrighted material when I present about backward planning so I can only guide you toward their original books! There are great forms, diagrams, charts, graphs, worksheets, etc. available all over the internet! I recommend the book to everyone because it really makes sense to me to plan instruction this way!

“What vocabulary do you decide is the most important to pre-teach?” I think that this varies by class. I am planning backward from a movie or a novel that I want to read at the end of the unit. The vocabulary my class has already acquired is different than the vocabulary your class has acquired so what I need to pre-teach will be different! I would start by reading through the novel myself and just thinking (with the graphic of the enduring understanding/skills/useful to know in mind) about what I really think they have to know to be able to successfully read the book and what can go in the “chuck it bucket” as something they can hear me translate and then continue reading! There should be some structures that jump out at you as necessary both to reading and to becoming fluent speakers… these are what you will choose to PQA, storytell, and have class discussions with as you move through the unit!

I am attaching the slideshow as promised. I hope that you found the presentation useful and that you will be able to create some cultural units for your classes. Please be willing to share with others. Without the great ideas of many friends, my classroom wouldn’t be the same!

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