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Making Space for Culture in a Student Responsive Classroom

Alaska Regional Team Leader and high school mathematics teacher, Samantha Wuttig and I were discussing high quality mathematics classrooms. Within our conversation we discussed how great math tasks can easily become contrived when we try to make them something that they are not.

Together we began to rethink how we looked at our instructional practices and wondered, “Is there a way to open up space for stronger student connections based upon what students value that would allow them to bring in their culture?”

For example, Samantha had noticed that one of the many cultures represented in her school, value, discuss, practice and incorporate observation as an important part of daily life. She pondered, what if I incorporate the strategy of “I notice, I wonder” will that make space for this important cultural practice of observation for these students in my classroom?

I had discussed the importance of units when working with a group of second graders. That, by asking the students to think about a unit that would make sense mathematically, the students naturally suggested units that also brought a cultural perspective to the problem. This opened-up wonderful conversations and understandings about their culture and their perspectives.

What strategies do you use to make space for culture within your student responsive classroom?

Please comment as we want to hear from you on what you do as mathematics leaders to open a space for culture in student responsive classrooms.