6 Culturally Responsive Teaching Activities For Middle Schoolers

The classroom-based learning experience has changed for students in the last few decades. Traditional methods of teaching merely reflected practical and hands-on lessons. However, in today’s time, a classroom in itself demonstrates a blend of cultures, socioeconomic statuses, and varying races. This shifting approach in the methods of educating and schooling is called culturally responsive teaching. It weaves students’ cultures and varying backgrounds into fun learning activities. It brings out the acceptance of diversity[1]. As a result, the teaching methodologies must change in accordance. 

Since culturally responsive teaching is a wholesome and modern approach to bridging the gaps for disadvantaged groups, it is widely celebrated. Adding to this, here is a list of a few activities that can help in inculcating and promoting inclusiveness that comes with culturally responsive methodologies., 

Culturally responsive teaching activities

Here is a list of 5 games that you can include in your culturally responsive teaching pedagogy. 

1. Clap your hands

Clap your hands

‘Clap your hands’ is a group activity that can help children discover the similarities among each other. In this way, the vast cultural, and socioeconomic differences are put behind and students focus on the similarities they share. 

How it is played:

  • You (the teacher) can be the leader or you can assign this to a student from the group. The leader must read out several statements one by one, giving time for the students to respond to the statements by clapping their hands in affirmation. 
  • The statements can vary and start with topics such as family background and inch towards more critical topics like trending news. 
  • Each time a student relates to a topic, they can step ahead and clap their hands. Once all the students have had their chance to clap for one question, they can step back and the leader can throw the next question in the air. 

Some questions that the leader can ask:

  • I have a pet. 
  • I know someone that lives in Australia.
  • I have a relative who is into agriculture.
  • I like traveling.
  • I am a doctor. 

Takeaways from the game:

  • It teaches and encourages collaboration among students. 
  • It promotes respect for cross-cultures. 

2. Prompt speech

Prompt speech

‘Prompt Speech’ allows students to speak up about the first thing that comes to their minds when they hear a word or sentence Since students have to respond instantly, they may come up with narrations that are related to their daily lives. What one student promptly narrates may give other students perspectives and insights into the former’s lives, thus bringing across diversity and inclusiveness at the same time. 

How it is played:

  • You (the teacher) can essay the role of the leader. Make the students stand in a circle and read out a word or sentence aloud.
  • The student standing in the circle narrates a short experience relevant to the word. 
  • Once s/he is done with their turn, ask the student to speak another word or sentence aloud. The student next in the circle must narrate an experience relevant to the word or sentence. The game continues until all students finish their turns. 

Some words that the leader can use for the game:

  • Agriculture
  • My best friend
  • My favorite holiday destination
  • Kangaroos
  • My siblings

Takeaways from the game:

  • It allows students to become expressive without the fear of being judged.
  • It promotes promptness in thinking. 

3. Situation-ary

Situation-ary

‘Situation-ary’ is a situational game that allows students to come up with listicles that are relevant to a particular scenario. It allows students to get insights into the different lifestyles and livelihoods of their peers. 

How it is played:

  • You start by telling a scenario. For example, you could say something along the lines of: “make a list of 15 items that you would purchase from a local vegetable shop to prepare your breakfast. Also, list the cost of each item that you purchase.” 
  • Now, students must form groups of 4-5. Hand each group a piece of paper and ask them to list down the items. 
  • Each student will take turns and name his breakfast and then list down the items required to make the same. He/she will also mention the cost of each item. 

Some scenarios to present to the class:

  • Make a list of 20 items that you would carry to a picnic and mention the cost of each item. 
  • Make a list of 25 items that you will buy from a grocery store to cook a meal for your guests. Mention the cost of each item. 
  • Since each group member takes turns to list out the items and their costs, students get a chance to learn about the economy of different countries and also their traditions, cultures, and livelihoods. 
  • It encourages the growth of personal connections.

The takeaway from the game:

  • It provides students with the opportunity to positively negotiate and understand different ideologies. 
  • It promotes accountability.

4. Cross-Journalling 

Cross-Journalling 

‘Cross-journalling’ is a writing-based activity conducted in pairs. It allows students to widen their perspectives and understand that the solution to a single problem statement can have multiple solutions. 

How it is played:

  • Divide the students into pairs. Allot a sheet of paper to each student.
  • Assign the class a common topic or problem statement and ask them to come up with an answer for the same. 
  • You could set boundary conditions such as the following:
    • The answer must be a minimum of 250 words. 
    • The time limit is 20 minutes. 
  • Once the time limit is over, ask students to exchange their sheets of paper with their partners and ask them to read the answer aloud in front of the entire class. 

Topics that can be assigned to the students

  • My dreams and aspirations. 
  • Things I can do to prevent the wastage of food. 
  • My favorite pet animal and why I like it. 
  • The festival I enjoy celebrating the most. 

The takeaway from the game:

  • It helps students practice effective reading and writing strategies. 
  • It helps students improve their comprehensive abilities. 

5. Cultural town show 

Cultural town show

‘Cultural town show’ is a fun game that represents cultural diversity among students. It offers an opportunity for all the students to learn about diversity in cultures, traditions, and cuisines.

How it is conducted:

  • Decide on a particular day of the month as ‘cultural town show’ day. You can inform students as early as possible because the preparation for the same is going to take time.
  • Ask the students to dress up in ethnic attire relevant to a festival that they celebrate in their hometowns. They will also take turns and speak about the festival and its significance. 
  • To add to the fun element, you can also ask students to bring one famous dish special in their hometown, for the entire class.  

The takeaway from the game:

  • It gives students insights into various festivals celebrated across the globe and learn about cultural diversity.
  • It can help promote unity in diversity.

Alternatively

Alternatively, you can make a note of all the festivals that fall in that academic year and you can ask students who celebrate that particular festival to dress up as per it and also bring a famous dish that is cooked to celebrate that festival. The students can also address the rest of the class about the importance of the festival and also throw some historic facts about the same. 

6. Prepped Extempore

Prepped Extempore

‘Prepped Extempore’ allows students to learn and teach at the same time. While they educate themselves while doing the R&D, they educate others when speaking about the same. 

How it is conducted:

  • Make a list of all the different festivals celebrated by your students. Write them down on chits. 
  • Call each student to pick up one chit. For simplicity, you could divide the children into groups and ask them to pick up one chit per group.
  • Based on what is written on the chit picked up, students need to prepare either a speech or a presentation that outlines the importance of the festival, how it is celebrated, what food is eaten, and other relevant details. If they perform this in groups, make sure that each student speaks.

Quick tips and strategies to keep in mind while following CRT

It is important to ensure that students are well aware of cultural inclusiveness and practice it at all times of the year. Besides games, here are some more strategies that you can deploy to ensure that you inculcate culturally responsive teaching in your classroom.

  • Celebrate every festival that is relevant to your class. As discussed above, you can ask your students to come dressed in ethnic attire and bring food that is specially cooked for the festival. 
  • One day in each quarter can be designated as ‘cook your food’ day where you can divide students into groups and ask them to prepare any famous dish belonging to their hometown. To ensure safety and precaution, you can deploy the ‘no fire cooking’ rule. 
  • Play a movie or a play or a series that supports and portrays cultural inclusiveness. You can have ‘movie day’ once in two months or more often depending on feasibility. 

Conclusion

Classrooms and institutions have students who come from varied backgrounds and have different nationalities, mindsets, beliefs, and cultures. Hence, it is inevitable for some students to feel invisible. Thanks to culturally responsive teaching pedagogy, teaching methodologies are now focussing on celebrating students irrespective of their backgrounds and making them feel included. Our list of articles focuses on promoting inclusiveness and making every student heard. 

Reference

[1] Villegas, A. M., & Lucas, T. (2002). Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers: Rethinking the Curriculum. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(1), 20–32. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487102053001003

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