Curriculum and Instruction—Culturally Responsive Teaching

Differences in culture or language can lead to misperceptions and communication gaps among students and between students and teachers. As a result, lack of preparation in teachers can limit their ability to provide culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse (CLED) gifted students effective instruction that will benefit their academic success. Schools serving CLED gifted students must adopt culturally responsive teaching approaches in addition to the gifted curriculum within the school. According to Gay (2002), “Culturally responsive teaching connects students’ cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles to academic knowledge and intellectual tools in ways that legitimize what students already know.”

CLED students may not have had experiences and exposure to stimulating cognitive activities that help build the language structure necessary for later academic success. Classroom studies and educator interviews indicate that students make greater improvement in reading comprehension when teachers combine instructional engagement approaches with students’ cultural and linguistic knowledge. The curriculum and classroom environment should “honor and reflect the lives of the students” (Kaplan 2019).

Other characteristics of culturally responsive teaching include the following:

  • Engaging in conversation with parents through in-person, email, and newsletters to understand parents' needs and desires for the education of their children, inform them of school happenings, and to understand cultural backgrounds.
  • Having consistent communication of high student expectations.
  • Learning with cultural context so students have lessons and activities presented in ways that are familiar to them. Teachers should also acknowledge that cultural differences exist and are embraced in the classroom so all students are able to maximize learning.
  • Ensuring student-centered instruction to enable students to direct their own learning. Opportunities are provided for students to work on culturally and socially relevant assignments/projects.
  • Offering culturally relevant instruction that includes diverse ways of knowing, understanding, and doing that encourages multiple viewpoints. Educational environments should embrace and encourage students to share cultural knowledge, beliefs, and actions.
  • Providing integrated, meaningful, and student-centered curriculum that relates to issues and topics of the students’ various backgrounds and cultures.
  • Assuring teacher familiarity with his/her students’ backgrounds and who can use that information to better help students develop knowledge and skills, and facilitate the transfer of that knowledge in meaningful ways. Encourage students to share cultural information such as traditions and artifacts. Invite members of the community to speak to the class or deliver a lesson.

Carol Ann Tomlinson developed The Equalizer to assist teachers in differentiation content, process, and/or product for students. By sliding a lever on any number of continuums, anything can be differentiated based on students' readiness, interest or learning profile. In their book Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom (2nd edition), Sousa and Tomlinson recreate a table illustrating cultural tendencies and beliefs that may influence a student’s learning. Just like the Equalizer, any one of these levers may slide in one direction or the other to modify instruction or activities based on a student’s cultural background. 

Dr. Donna Ford has created a gifted cultural education model based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and James Banks’ levels of integrating multicultural content; contributions, additive; transformation, and social action.   

Gifted cultural education model

Dr. Donna Ford has created a gifted cultural education model based on Bloom’s Taxonomy and James Banks’ levels of integrating multicultural content; contributions, additive; transformation, and social action. Dr. Ford’s matrix contains multiple pathways in which educators can develop curriculum that will affect students culturally and cognitively. The rows contain components of James Banks' Levels of Integration whereas the columns contain Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Gifted cultural education model  - View Resource
Curriculum & Instruction

Levels of Integration

James Banks' article on the levels of integrating multicultural content; contributions, additive; transformation, and social action.

Levels of Integration  - Visit Site

Instructional Scaffolding

Culturally responsive instructional scaffolding involves teacher assistance with difficult tasks or use of cultural and linguistic backgrounds in order to promote high-level learning. These strategies should also be employed for culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse (CLED) gifted students as part of gifted services. Scaffolding skills involve the following:

  • Using different types of open-ended questions
  • Providing sufficient wait time
  • Including references to students’ primary languages or cultures during classroom instruction
  • Engaging in problem solving activities that allow student to be culturally responsive
  • Supplementing the textbook with additional resources to better reflect students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds
  • Developing a curriculum that provides students with culturally responsive learning opportunities based on student-centered instruction, student choice, and student interest

Visualization Techniques

Over the years, research on children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds has shown that these students enter school with a weak literacy foundation, especially in vocabulary, reading, and oral language.  Students with high nonverbal intelligence can harness their ability to improve their verbal intelligence by using visualization and verbalization techniques. Click on any of the resources below to read more about this technique.

Curriculum & Instruction,
English Learners

Visual Imagery

Through guided visualization, students learn how to create mental pictures as they read.

Visual Imagery  - Visit Site

Additional Curriculum and Instruction Resources

Curriculum & Instruction

Teaching Culturally Diverse Gifted Students

Authors Ford and Milner provide an overview of multicultural gifted education, effective teaching strategies, and best practices to support a diverse population of students.

Teaching Culturally Diverse Gifted Students  - Visit Site
Curriculum & Instruction

Prufrock Press Webinars

Prufrock Press offers free webinars that brings experts in the field of gifted education to educators.

Prufrock Press Webinars  - Visit Site
Curriculum & Instruction

Supporting English Learners in Texas

TEA web portal providing educators with resources that will positively impact efforts to ensure equity and the academic success of English Learners.

Supporting English Learners in Texas  - Visit Site
Curriculum & Instruction,

Texas Performance Standards Project

TPSP is comprised of performance standards, curricula, and assessments for enhancing G/T programs from kindergarten through high school.

Texas Performance Standards Project  - Visit Site