"Differentiating Instruction through Culturally Responsive Teaching: Alphabet Soup and the Voices of Special Educators"

Article excerpt

"It is unlikely that there is another nation in the world that has more diversity in ethnicity, cultural heritage, and ability within its public schools than the United States. People of many faiths, races, cultures, heritages, and abilities make up our neighborhoods and the classrooms in our public schools. Today's public schools must do more than "value" diversity; schools must use the general curriculum and instruction to support the differences in students, including those with educational disabilities." (1)

In this volume of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History's Black History Bulletin, authors have written about culturally responsive teaching, teaching students who have disabilities and who are culturally and linguistically diverse and about teaching history and/or the social studies. You may now, as you read this, be taking the liberty of imagining how all of those components are blended together. Well, you could say that they are combined as ingredients in a gourmet recipe to make an alphabet soup. Specifically, the authors wrote articles for the ASALH BHB about CRT and its impact on CLD students who have disabilities (e.g., LD, ADHD, ED/BD, etc.) and are taking courses in U.S. History and S.S., including lesson plans that are grounded in NCSS standards. In plain English, acronyms revealed, authors wrote articles for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History's (ASALH) Black History Bulletin (BHB) about Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) and its impact on students who are culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) and students who have disabilities [such as Learning Disabilities (LD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Emotional Disorder/ Behavioral Disorder (ED/BD), etc.] and are taking courses in United States History and Social Studies, including lesson plans that are grounded in the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) standards. In short, the authors have presented information about taking the needs of diverse learners into account when teaching about historical events, people, and places.

In this Foreword, the gourmet soup recipe analogy has been used to make an often overlooked point--the aforementioned ingredients (components) can be easily and successfully combined to foster academic student success through effective teaching strategies. However, this recipe, though not difficult to comprehend, can be somewhat difficult to achieve in an actual classroom setting without an understanding of cultural competence and its importance in the scheme of teaching students who are diverse.

Cultural competence is defined as "a set of attitudes, behaviors, and policies that integrates knowledge about groups of people into practices and standards to enhance the quality of services to all cultural groups being served. …