Implementing Culturally Responsive Literacy Instruction

October 22, 2018Yefei Jin

There is more pressure today on literacy instruction to be adaptive to students from increasingly diverse culturally-linguistic backgrounds. Nearpod is committed to putting new models of learning into practice by providing digital lessons that empower students, teachers, and the community. From virtual reality to engaging formative assessments, our solution broadens the opportunities to promote and integrate literacy with SEL.

Adapt #literacy instruction for students from diverse culturally-linguistic backgrounds. Learn how Nearpod is putting new models of learning into practice.Click To Tweet


School leaders across the country are looking for ways to implement social-emotional learning into daily instruction. The variation of implementation is attributable to system capacity to embed SEL frameworks into content teaching so that core SEL skills become integral to academic success. Situating SEL within the broader definition of Culturally Responsive Teaching can offer insight.

Take literacy instruction as an example. These 3 high-leverage practices in literacy instruction offer opportunities to

  1. Elevate accessibility and interest
  2. Build positive peer-peer relationships
  3. Use home experience as motivation levers during school time.

Linking Multimodal Literacies to Access

The choice of text and form is relevant. As we broaden literacy definition from phonological knowledge to meaning-making, more attention must be situated with a focus on how readers construct meaning from different sources and engage in their interaction. Unfortunately, today’s standards do not address the changing nature of texts: digital sources, multiple literacies, and modalities. Yet students encounter these daily in and outside of school. Using a single classroom text source can potentially downplay effects of intertextuality -central to critical literacy- and devalue new media forms such as graphic, visual, and interactive elements that can facilitate meaning-making and access to content.

Q: What is your theory of change around preparing students for 21st-century learning?

✓ Nearpod offers authentic rich texts through Virtual Reality, Videos, Primary Sources, and more!

Mediating social norms in literacy learning

Today, nonfiction texts are becoming increasingly more situational and qualified, less universal and one-sided. This means students will benefit from co-constructing meaning, listening to each other’s opinions, validating diverse interpretations, and collectively building a nuanced understanding of the text. To operationalize this, a mindset shift is required. Instead of seeing literacy instruction exclusively as an individual activity which risks marginalization, we can conceptualize it as a social experience of readers and writers collaborating with each other. Building instructional coherence around this mindset can foster healthy peer-peer relationships and reinforce positive strengths-based learner identities.

Instead of seeing literacy instruction exclusively as an individual activity which risks marginalization, we can conceptualize it as a social experience of readers and writers collaborating with each other.Click To Tweet

Q: What are your look-for in healthy peer-peer relationships inside the classroom?

✓ Nearpod promotes student talk and collaborative discovery.

Using Experience of Home Communities as Motivation

In many communities, school-based literacy differs from literacy practiced at home. However, those home experiences represent authentic “funds of knowledge” and contain motivations that can be transformed into levers for positive identity building. Collaborating with families and communities in which home literacy practices are validated during school time is one strategic approach. One idea is creating writing projects -allow L1 in non-English speaking situations- that enable the family to share perspectives. Then, display home-based samples with school-based samples to motivate meaning-making and increased academic language development.

Q: What structures are in place to validate literacies at school and in the home?

✓ Nearpod lessons can be accessed anywhere, anytime and sample work is easy to show.


Please contact me at [email protected], if you are interested in exploring Nearpod lessons.

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