Culturally Connected

“Digital content has the potential to serve as an equalizer”

-Dr. Karen Beerer

Here is a little bit of insight into me. I was born in a small town in the middle of the state of Georgia. There are plenty of small towns in Georgia, even smaller than my town. To give some perspective, we were the only family in the town with the last name “Birdsong.” Now, true, that is not a very common family name, but still, we were the only ones. Because of this interesting family name, everyone knew who we were. Of course, when you grow up in a small town, everyone typically knows everyone. I tell you this because that is part of my culture. I know what it is like to know almost everyone in town. Also, because of where I grew up, I know what space is like–you have a backyard to run and play in along with a front yard. Houses were not very close together. 

     Fast forward to today. Now I live in China. One-third of the world’s population lives in Asia. That is a lot of people! I remember laughing at hearing that the number of people living in our apartment complex in Chengdu was the size of the population of my hometown in Georgia. Here in China, we live in a high-rise apartment. We do not have a front yard or a back yard. We don’t have a yard at all. If we want to be outside on some grass, we need to go to a nearby park along with hundreds of other people. The apartment life culture is undoubtedly different than small-town living. It took some time for me to get used to all the people after living in Georgia for so long. This is just one example, though. We all come from different socioeconomic scenarios, family practices, and ways of eating or dressing. In the classroom, teachers must recognize all the different cultures and allow students the freedom to feel comfortable with their culture. More importantly, teachers should make sure these different cultures in the classroom have moments of intermingling, so students do not segregate themselves. Alongside making the classroom a culturally connected environment, I believe it is crucial for me as an ed-tech coach to add in digital content as well. ISTE standard 3b states, “Partner with educators to identify digital learning content that is culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate and aligned to content standards” (ISTE). I found one great article I would like to share that addresses both cultural relevancy and digital content entitled “Building Culturally Responsive Classrooms with Digital Content.”

 The central thesis of Dr. Karen Beerer’s article is that “digital content has the potential to serve as an equalizer” (Par. 7). Beerer gives several ways a teacher can use digital content for connecting students to multiple cultures, such as virtual reality, high-quality content, and digital activities. Allowing students to immerse themselves into another culture through virtual reality is an excellent way for students to take a multi-cultural field trip without leaving the classroom. Beerer points out the need for “high-quality digital content” because it helps keep students engaged and interested in different aspects of cultures. Gone are the days of the basic picture in a textbook. Students need sharp, high-definition images to help them understand. Additionally, content which adds some sort of interactive piece–like a game, can be highly engaging for student involvement. The hands-on aspect of the digital content helps with the diverse learning modalities of students. Beerer ended her article with a few great reminders for educators. She says, “Cultural responsiveness through ‘going digital’ is about being able to answer yes to these questions throughout all classrooms in your school:

  • Is instruction relevant to students’ lives and the world around them?
  • Is your teaching preparing students to be future ready?
  • Do the instructional resources enhance students’ learning?
  • Do the instructional resources reflect the students in any way?
  • How is what you’re teaching going to impact or change students’ lives?

Answering yes to these questions is what all students need and deserve” (Par.7).

     I chose to focus on this one article this week because it thoroughly answered the question. I appreciated Beerer’s basic but essential insight into integrating digital content to help create a culturally connected classroom and make each student feel as though their individuality is celebrated.

References

Beerer, Karen. “Building Culturally Responsive Classrooms with Digital Content.” Getting Smart, 17 Feb. 2017, www.gettingsmart.com/2017/02/culturally-responsive-classrooms-digital-content/.

“Iste Standards for Coaches.” ISTE, www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-coaches.

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