Magazine article Curriculum Review

Ricardo Cooke, English and Cultural Diversity Teacher, Bonita Vista High, Sweetwater Union High School District. (We Hear from Readers)

Magazine article Curriculum Review

Ricardo Cooke, English and Cultural Diversity Teacher, Bonita Vista High, Sweetwater Union High School District. (We Hear from Readers)

Article excerpt

Each year, the prosperity level among U.S. Latinos climbs. High school and college graduation rates increase. Still, there are obstacles the Latino community must overcome to reach the full social and economic empowerment and equality it so richly deserves. That is eliminating the academic achievement gap.

Looking at the California standardized test scores, it is clear that there is educational inequity, reflected by an achievement gap among Latino students. But there's more to intelligence than test scores. Like many schools across the United States, Sweetwater Union High School offers diversity classes and clubs to help students appreciate the cultural richness around us. It is also exploring different ways students learn and developing strategies that reach different types of learners.

Closing the achievement gap is a three-way effort. Students, parents and teachers must all be committed to this goal. Following are some ways I have found to be effective in engaging my Latino students, and helping them fulfill their academic potential.

Teach to multiple learning channels. I am involved with Learning Forum, a San Diego-based education group which runs the SuperCamp program, aimed at maximizing students' performance. Learning Forum believes that there are many types of learners, including visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Visual learners like to see the lesson written on the blackboard or in a book that includes pictures and diagrams. Auditory students respond well to lectures. Kinesthetic learners need interaction, creativity and demonstration. Devise your lesson plan to incorporate all three.

Create a learning environment that is inclusive. Look at the environment in which you teach. Are students included in the design and curriculum? Do the posters reflect the diversity of your students? What about the books you read? Do the authors represent the culture in which you live? …

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