Building Confidence and Competence

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers: Rethinking the Curriculum” by Villegas and Lucas is an article that describes the practices that define teachers who are culturally responsive and how to go about preparing them for those practices.

Villegas and Lucas lay out 6 essential strands that describe how culturally responsive teachers:

  • are socioculturally conscious
  • have affirming of their diverse students
  • see themselves as responsible and capable of bringing about educational change
  • understand how learners construct knowledge and can promote learners’ knowledge construction
  • are knowledgeable about their students’ lives
  • use that knowledge to design instruction that builds on what they already know
    For me this document is very inspiring, challenging, and enlightening.

While it affirms things I’ve already believed about students and things I’ve already done as a teacher it also stretches my thinking and helps me connect to larger socioculturally currents that I have to come realize are very important for our diverse students’ learning needs. This document, and the topic in general, is pushing me to begin building networks of professional support with other teachers as well as to create my own plan of study and reading.

As the majority of our ELLs are coming from cultural backgrounds that are different than the dominant culture in this country becoming a culturally responsive teacher is essential if I am to best meet their needs. I am excited about the ways in which exploring this topic further will help me to be able to better serve ELLs from diverse cultural backgrounds and help them to be successful not only in learning English, but in all of their future endeavors.

Digital Storytelling

One of the ways that we can get ELLs to feel more empowered to produce work in English is through the use of digital storytelling. This is a digital presentation in which students rely on digital images, animations, avatars, video, and other media to create an artifact about a given topic. There is a wide range of things students could do in digital storytelling, including making slideshows with narrations of the students speaking, or animations with avatars that tell a story in the student’s voice.

This idea feels very useful to me in the ESL classroom because of how widely the idea can be applied. Rusul Alrubail describes how digital story telling empowers students who might otherwise struggle or feel intimidated about communicating in their new language. It is a great resource because it can be used for a wide range of topics and assignments, and it simultaneously addresses multiple strands of language acquisition, mainly writing and speaking (as well as listening and reading for students viewing their classmates’ work).

This assignment is very useful for ELLs who are not ready to stand up in front of their peers and tell a story or do a presentation. This format can allow them to work in a more comfortable space, and at their own pace, while still getting to eventually share with their classmates. Furthermore, it can be scaffolded and modified to meet students’ varying abilities and needs. Finally, like other aspects of portfolios that students create, this assignment can be saved online for future uses and reflection, can be shared with parents, and can spark an interest in digital and online literacy and applications.


Theoretical Foundations

Preparing for ELLs

Developing Social and Academic Skills

Literacy Development and Engagement