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What Successful Teachers Do in Diverse Classrooms

What Successful Teachers Do in Diverse Classrooms
71 Research-Based Classroom Strategies for New and Veteran Teachers

Edited by:

April 2006 | 192 pages | Corwin

"I can't wait to share it with my faculty to allow every teacher to better accommodate our diverse learners."
-Verena Shanin, ESOL Teacher
Berea Middle School, Greenville, SC

"These strategies will provide teachers with the tools that will ensure that they comply with the No Child Left Behind Act."
-Steve Hutton, Educational Consultant, Highly Skilled Educator Program
Kentucky Department of Education

"This book is a wonderful contribution to the field."
-William Sommers, Teacher
Eden Prairie Public Schools, MN

" Sarah McNary says it best when she states that there is no one definition of culture and no single technique that works every time. That sums up the complexity of this issue for educators."
-Toby Karten, Graduate Instructor
College of New Jersey and Gratz College, PA

Improve teaching and learning in diverse classrooms with these research-based strategies!

Bridging the gap between theory and practice, this one-of-a-kind resource focuses on cultural awareness and culturally responsive teaching of students who are economically disadvantaged, sexual minorities, English language learners, and those with special needs. Grounded in the best peer-reviewed research, each classroom strategy contains:

  • A clear, concise description of the recommended strategy
  • A synthesis of the research base
  • Guidelines for application within the classroom
  • Precautions and pitfalls to avoid during implementation
  • Source citations for further research and follow-up

Use this innovative resource to create a culturally and linguistically rich classroom environment in which all learners feel safe, challenged, and ready for academic success!

Foreword by Donna Heath
About the Authors
1. Making the Multicultural Connection
Strategy 1: Be sensitive to the diversity of today’s classrooms.

Strategy 2: Move beyond “color blind” teaching and take the time to know students in specific localized cultural contexts.

Strategy 3: Reflect on how multicultural competence is defined today.

Strategy 4: Help immigrant students by understanding their personal beliefs.

Strategy 5: White Ethnic students need multicultural education too.

Strategy 6: Cultivate multicultural connections.

Strategy 7: Develop and promote a positive ethnic identity to students.

Strategy 8: Watch for factors of exclusion that influence multicultural curriculum choices.

Strategy 9: Focus on the classroom management factors that best reflect culturally responsive teaching.

Strategy 10: Include multicultural works when developing a quality English curriculum.

2. Including Students with Special Education Needs
Strategy 11: Recognize that different cultures view disabilities differently.

Strategy 12: Teach all students about disabilities to facilitate the social acceptance of students with special needs

Strategy 13: Avoid excessive drill and repetition when teaching math.

Strategy 14: Spend more time teaching a few key concepts rather than trying to cover it all.

Strategy 15: Tailor homework to ensure success for students with disabilities.

Strategy 16: Spend the time to develop and use a variety of assessment strategies.

Strategy 17: Offer positive and constructive feedback rather than criticism.

Strategy 18: Communicate student progress early in a course, but avoid using formal grades to do so.

Strategy 19: Ensure students receive appropriate instructional or assessment accommodations.

Strategy 20: Be aware of potential bias when considering the recommendations of the Student Study Team

Strategy 21: Focus on classroom process before course content to increase time on task.

Strategy 22: Consider using Universal Design for Learning Principles when designing lessons.

Strategy 23: Encourage students to set process goals when learning new technology.

Strategy 24: Create scaffolds to help students learn complex skills and procedures

Strategy 25: Focus on instructionally centered communication when working with students with learning disabilities.

Strategy 26: Encourage students with disabilities to develop positive interpretations of their academic performance.

Strategy 27: Use instructional strategies that support the specific needs of students with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

3. Cultivating Gender Sensitivity
Strategy 28: Open the dialogue with students regarding gender equity issues.

Strategy 29: Support male and female students differently during school to school transitions as gender can influence their needs.

Strategy 30: Become aware of the traits of gifted females.

Strategy 31: Work to prevent inequities between male and female students’class partcipation.

Strategy 32: Consider how students sometimes treat female teachers differently than male teachers.

Strategy 33: Address gender issues in the classroom to increase student success and confidence.

Strategy 34: Be prepared for subtle gender bias in academic situations.

4. Including Students Who are Sexual Minorities
Strategy 35: Create a classroom environment of safety and respect.

Strategy 36: Access libraries to provide a more inclusive collection for sexual minorities.

Strategy 37: Explore curriculum that includes minority sexual identity and sexuality.

Strategy 38: Weigh the issues of choosing to remain “closeted” vs. “coming out” within educational settings.

Strategy 39: Consider the effect of teachers “coming out.”

Strategy 40: Be aware of the diverse and complex path that gay males undertake in self-defining themselves as gay.

Strategy 41: Work to prevent “low-level violence” in schools.

5. Supporting Students Who are Economically Disadvantaged
Strategy 42: Teach group skills to help low-income students establish a positive and encouraging support network to increase their likelihood of attending and completing higher education.

Strategy 43: Use cooperative test review and study guides to improve student achievement.

Strategy 44: Encourage all students to enroll in rigorous courses and build in the needed supports to facilitate their success.

Strategy 45: Utilize a variety of print materials to inspire student reading and writing.

Strategy 46: Explore the effects of pacing on student learning when working with low-income students.

Strategy 47: Teach self-regulation and attention sustaining skills to help students improve their performance.

Strategy 48: Explore team teaching to address the needs of economically disadvantaged students.

Strategy 49: Mentor economically disadvantaged students to improve their aspirations.

Strategy 50: Make academic success the first priority for economically disadvantaged students.

Strategy 51: Use a variety of assessments to identify gifted students from underrepresented groups, particularly economically disadvantaged students.

Strategy 52: Support equal access of extracurricular activities to promote student connectedness.

Strategy 53: Use popular films featuring urban classrooms as starting points for reflection and critical analysis.

Strategy 54: Be aware of the factors that contribute to the failure of highly competent students.

6. Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners
Strategy 55: Be wary of low expectations for language minority students.

Strategy 56: Reflect on the complex issues surrounding school literature selection for bilingual and bicultural students.

Strategy 57: Carefully consider the use of cooperative groups with second language students.

Strategy 58: Explore the definition of literacy and the complexity of the term when applied to bilingual and bicultural students

Strategy 59: Actively address the diverse needs of English learners.

Strategy 60: Prepare for a cultural and linguistic mismatch between teachers and their students.

Strategy 61: Select spell checker programs that meet the needs of the specific student population.

Strategy 62: Consider portfolios to create an overview of student performance and growth.

7. Working with Parents
Strategy 63: Develop strategies to help parents help their children succeed academically.

Strategy 64: Include parents from marginalized groups by making them feel welcomed.

Strategy 65: Involve minority and culturally diverse parents as resources in the classroom.

Strategy 66: Consider the positive and negative effects that homework has on students and their families.

8. Establishing and Sustaining Your Professional Identity
Strategy 67: Actively seek opportunities to expand personal experiences in multicultural settings.

Strategy 68: Internalize that cultural experience and perspective is different for each individual.

Strategy 69: Recognize the signs and symptoms of “diversity-related burn-out.”

Strategy 70: Successful teachers should become knowledgeable about adolescent culture.

Strategy 71: Do not underestimate the preparation necessary for placement in urban multicultural settings.


"The topics will be helpful to teachers especially in these times of high stakes accountability. These strategies will provide teachers with the tools that will ensure that they comply with the No Child Left Behind law."

Steve Hutton
Educational Consultant, Kentucky Department of Education’s Highly Skilled Educator Program, KY

"It has been a while since a useful book in the field of teaching diverse learners has come along and I can’t wait to share it with my faculty to allow every teacher to better accommodate our diverse learners...I love the clear organization and outline, as well as the reader friendly chapters with sources listed at the end of every chapter. The book provides teacher-friendly strategies that make it easy to accommodate the needs of diverse learners in every classroom. Finally, a book that shows every teacher ways to accommodate students with diverse learning needs! Thank you!"

Verena Shanin
ESOL Teacher, Berea Middle School, Greenville, SC

"...the book address some very important topics that are at times difficult to even talk about let alone address in print."

Thomas S.C. Farrell
Associate Professor, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada

"I have to admit this is one of the best three books I have ever reviewed for Corwin...coming from an urban environment, the authors have done a great job. This book is a wonderful contribution to the field."

William Sommers
Teacher, Eden Prairie Public Schools, Eden Prairie, MN

"Right away, the importance of this book is established, since educators need to increase their MC knowledge due to changing demographics and rising expectations. Sarah McNary says it best when she states how there is no one definition of culture and no single technique that works every time. That sums up the complexity of this issue for educators"

Toby Karten
Graduate Instructor, College of New Jersey and Gratz College, PA

This text is an easy read. It brings together a lot of solid strategies and ideas to implement within this one text. Students do not have to go to several different sources to find the variety of techniques included within this one source. My students liked the text and find it very useful. Well worth the cost to include this book in the professional learning tool box.

Mrs Elizabeth Speed
Teacher Education Dept, University of Texas - El Paso
March 11, 2013

It gives second year education students practical ideas to help them underestand how to meet needs of all students. Student friendly text.

Professor Valley Rogers
Technical Studies Division, Bainbridge College
September 22, 2010
Key features
  • Research-based teaching strategies in a concise, convenient, and appealing format.
  • Synthesizes the best and most current data and research into classroom applications
  • Looks beyond Eurocentric bias to include research from multicultural (and frequently marginalized) perspectives
  • Grounded in research, not policy or advocacy.
  • Covers economically disadvantaged learners, English language learners, sexual minorities, learners with special needs, and more

For instructors

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