Students in Today's Classrooms
The diversity of students in today's classrooms underscores the importance of developing curriculum, teaching strategies, and policies to help all students succeed in school. Effective literacy instruction builds upon the cultural and linguistic backgrounds, ways of making meaning, and prior knowledge that all children bring to the classroom. Such instruction also acknowledges the important role of culture in language and literacy learning. Understanding and respecting the array of different cultures and languages represented in the classroom can helps educators adopt strategies for teaching literacy that will encourage and support student achievement. The teacher's expectations, often communicated in verbal and nonverbal ways, influence children's behavior and performance. In effect, children mirror the teacher's expectations. When those expectations are negative, the response of students also is negative. It can happen in a variety of ways. Kids can become angry and become troublemakers; kids may simply withdraw. For instruction to be successful, educators must spend time developing their understanding of literacy instruction as well as their awareness of their students' cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. Teachers can develop this understanding and awareness by acquiring specific knowledge bases relating to teaching in diverse classrooms. When teachers make an effort to understand and value the cultures of all students, they are better able to develop meaningful and flexible teaching strategies that can help students achieve academic success. Literacy instruction that explicitly builds upon the cultural knowledge, ways of making meaning, and prior knowledge that all children bring with them to the classroom will encourage children to feel that their culture is important and valued in schools. Teachers working with students in culturally and linguistically diverse classroom must realize that there is not one best way to...
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