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Artifact #9: Cultural Awareness, Responsive Teaching and Learning Experience

This artifact was created with the intention of being culturally aware and responsive

when it comes to teaching and being mindful and inclusive of all students. In ECI 535: Cultural

Competencies as an Emancipatory Pedagogy, I had the opportunity to create a lesson and

assignment for grade two students based on a based called “The Fishing Day” in which two

characters that are quite different build a friendship despite differences and societal disapproval.

Through this assignment, students learned that differences make us unique individuals and that

differences should be embraced. Although this assignment was meant to be a lesson taught to my

students, the Medaille format was not used for it as it was not learned during semester one. I

believe that this is a great lesson to teach my students and I would use it by utilizing the Medaille

lesson format to help with further planning. It was through this assignment in particular during

first semester that I learned about the various issues our students can face when it comes to

religion, socioeconomic states, race, gender, and much more even though I see it every day. This

assignment allowed me to make more connections of what I am seeing in the school and

classroom environment and everything I am learning or have learnt.

Connections to Standards


Standard #2: Learning Differences

The teacher uses understanding of individual differences and diverse cultures and

communities to ensure inclusive learning environments that enable each learner to meet high

2(d): the teacher brings multiple perspectives to the discussion of content, including

attention to learners’ personal, family, and community experiences and cultural norms.

NYS Code of Ethics for Educators

Principle 1: Educators nurture the intellectual, physical, emotional, social, and civic

potential of each student.

Educators promote growth in all students through the integration of intellectual, physical,

emotional, social and civic learning. They respect the inherent dignity and worth of each

individual. Educators help students to value their own identity, learn more about their cultural

heritage, and practice social and civic responsibilities. They help students to reflect on their own

learning and connect it to their life experience. They engage students in activities that encourage

diverse approaches and solutions to issues, while providing a range of ways for students to

demonstrate their abilities and learning. They foster the development of students who can

analyze, synthesize, evaluate and communicate information effectively.

The Ontario Ethical Teacher Standards

Care: The ethical standard of Care includes compassion, acceptance, interest and insight

for developing students' potential. Members express their commitment to students' well-being

and learning through positive influence, professional judgment and empathy in practice.

P-12 NYS Common Core Learning Standards for ELA, Math and Social Studies

A. Standards:

Category: Reading for Literature K-5

Grade: Grade 2
Standard: .RL.2.2: Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures,

and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

RL.1.9: Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.

Ontario Ministry of Education Expectation

A. Standards:

Category: Reading

Grade: Grade 2

Standard: Demonstrating Understanding 1.4: demonstrate understanding of a text by

retelling the story or restating information from the text, with the inclusion of a few

interesting details

Extending Understanding 1.6: extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in

them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world

around them

ILA Standards

Standard #2: Curriculum and Instruction

Candidates use instructional approaches, materials, and an integrated, comprehensive,

balanced curriculum to support student learning in reading and writing.

Standard #4: Diversity

Candidates create and engage their students in literacy practices that develop awareness,

understanding, respect, and a valuing of differences in out society.

TEAC/CAEP Claims 1-3

Claim 1: Medaille College graduates know the subject matter in their certification


Claim 2: Medaille College graduates meet the needs of diverse learners through effective

pedagogy and best teaching practices.

Claim 3: Medaille College graduates are caring educators.

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

3. Promoting meaningful and inclusive participation of individuals with exceptionalities

in their schools and communities.

Cultural Awareness, Responsive Teaching and Learning Experience

Jasdeep Kainth

Medaille College

ECI 535

Dr. Virginia Batchelor

October 21, 2017

As future educators, it is crucial that we are culturally aware of our teachings and of our

students. Our classrooms must be inclusive to various races, ethnicities, genders, sexual

orientations, religions, socioeconomic statuses and among so many other factors. We must create

an environment that is safe and non-judgemental for our students to learn in and thrive because

ultimately their success is our success as educators. We will encounter students with various

needs and abilities and it is our job to accommodate to those students. As educators, it is also our

responsibility to create lessons that meet the standards of the countries we teach within. Even

though we have specific standards to follow based on the grade levels, it is our obligation to

make sure our lessons correspond to the academic levels and abilities of our students. We must

create fun, unique and knowledgeable lessons and activities that allow students to gain the best

possible knowledge in subject areas. The learning activity described in this paper meets both the

New York State Common Core Language Learning Standards in Reading as well as the Ontario

Curriculum Language Expectations in Reading for students in grade two with learning objectives

listed below.

Students will be able to demonstrate learning through reading according to the New York

State Common Core English Language Learning Reading standards along with the Ontario

Curriculum Language Reading for Meaning expectations for grade two students. Students will

understand differences associated with diversity including race, colour, class and gender with the

learning activity.

This learning activity will be based on the reading of “Fishing Day” by Andrea Davis

Pinkney. This story is based on a young African American girl named Reenie and her journey in

developing a friendship with a young Caucasian boy named Peter during a time where it was

socially unacceptable. This story will raise awareness in regards to race, class, and gender and
allow students to reflect on their own life experiences taking in to account all that may impact

them on a daily basis. This learning activity will be presented as follows:

1. The class will gather at the carpet where the teacher will read aloud the story “Fishing

Day”. The teacher will briefly describe the context of the story and ask students to

carefully listen to the story and the messages that may arise.

2. Once the story is completed, take a few minutes to review the story with students and ask

if there are any parts of the story that students need clarified. Ask students about the story

in terms of who, what, where, when, why, and how as well as the characters involved in

the story.

3. This activity will be broken down into two parts:

a. As a class, create a Venn diagram on the similarities and differences between

Reenie and Peter on topics such as race, gender, and class. Ask the following

questions as well as any questions that may be prompted by students.

i. What makes Reenie and Peter different?

ii. What did Reenie and Peter have in common?

iii. What is the main message from the story?

b. Discuss the book and the messages that were presented in the story. On post-it

notes, allow students to self-reflect on a time when they helped a friend in need.

Provide the students with sentence starters to help them begin. Ask the following


i. What did you do to help your friend(s) and why?

ii. How did it make you feel to help your friend(s)?

iii. How did it make your friend(s) feel?

How can they relate their own personal experience to that of Reenie and Peter and

their friendship? All of these responses should be completed on post-it notes and

placed on a chart. Have the students discuss what they wrote.

This activity was designed in order to raise awareness of the various issues that individuals

can face when it comes to diversity. When reviewing the scenario and taking into account how

diverse my students are in regards to race, religion, gender, class, and abilities, I felt this story,

along with the learning activities were appropriate for the class setting. This story allows

students to reflect on the story at their own understanding level as reflecting is unique to the

individual student. The learning activities were designed to be culturally responsive to the

students in my class and their abilities.

During the first activity, which the class completed together, utilized Venn diagrams to break

down the information within the story. This format allowed my more visual students to get a

better understanding of the story. A Venn diagram was used to sort the similarities and

differences between the characters in regards to factors such as race, color, gender, and social

class. The second activity was designed in order to allow the students to reflect on the story and

their own personal experiences. For this particular activity, I will write a few sentence starters to

assist my students in starting their responses, especially for my lower functioning students. This

technique may help the students stay on track with the activity. Some of these sentence starters

are “I helped my friend when…”, “When I helped my friend, it made me feel…”, and “In the

story, Reenie and Peter’s friendship was…” The main objective of these activities was to

enhance awareness of factors that influence students and promote a feeling of openness and

inclusivity within the classroom and school settings.

As educators, we must be familiar with the various requirements of the curriculum that we

teach to our students. This learning activity was based on the New York State P-12 Common

Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy as well as the Ontario

Language Curriculum with specific focus on reading. Both of these standards have many

commonalities. The NYS standards used within the learning activity are from the Reading

Standards for Literature and the Ontario Standards are from the specific expectations in the

Reading for Meaning section of the curriculums.

The learning activity presented above meets the NYS ELA standards for grade two reading

for literature because it involves the retelling of stories that are diverse in nature to determine the

messages within the story. It also involves comparing and contrasting between the characters

along with making connections between the text, self, and world around them (NYS ELA

Standards). The learning activity also satisfies the Ontario curriculum as it utilizes variety of

texts (Ontario Curriculum: Reading for Meaning 1.1) from diverse cultures and does

comparisons as well as demonstrating understanding which involves the retelling of a story and

restating important information, ideas, and messages within the text presented (Ontario

Curriculum: Reading for Meaning 1.4). The Ontario reading curriculum for grade two reading

also involves extending understanding which allows students to make connections between text

to their own knowledge base and experiences (Ontario Curriculum: Reading for Meaning 1.6).

The “Fishing Day” story provides a diverse perspective that my students can relate to,

especially my African American students and Caucasian students as the main characters are as

well. This story discusses the differences between people in terms of race, class and gender. The

activity was designed with these differences in mind along with disability, different learning

styles, and even interpersonal relationships. I have a very diverse and multicultural class which is
wonderful. I also have students with diverse abilities and from various backgrounds and


The story raises cultural awareness for students on a relatable level. Although African

American students can relate to the story based on the characters, my Arabic and Native

American students can also relate. Any racial group can put themselves into the shoes of the

characters and self-reflect. In the story, Peter was not able to interact with Reenie as per his

father as it was socially unacceptable to do so. When it was determined that Peter and his father

needed to fish so they could eat but weren’t catching any, Reenie and her mother showed them

how to catch the fish. This shows a difference in class within the story as it appears that Reenie

and her mother seem better off than Peter and his father. This ultimately helped the racial

barriers dissolve and kindness and acceptance to shine through. This aspect of the story can help

my students to appreciate the nutrition program they receive within the school environment. This

story was beneficial in describing how the friendship between Reenie and Peter developed. I

have two students, Yasser and Jamil who struggle with fitting in socially and this story allowed a

way to show how friendships can take time to develop but can be built.

This learning activity was also useful as it provided a visual aspect to the lesson based on

the story. The Venn diagram allowed for a visual representation to organize the information from

the story. For my student with the auditory processing, Jazmin, this method allows for her to

learn what the other students are learning. This part of the activity took into account my various

learners that need visuals to comprehend the material being taught or discussed.

Culturally responsive teaching is an important concept to consider when developing

lessons for our diverse students. The culturally responsive teaching strategies that I employed
throughout the learning activity are reshaping the curriculum, teacher as facilitator, and active

teaching methods. I was able to create an activity that involved aspects of each of these strategies

in order to engage and guide my students, which in turn helped my students carry the remainder

of the lesson based on their own personal experiences and reflections relating to the story that

was read. By having a learning activity such as this, it builds community which allows students

to review and reflect their commonalities which is also a major principle of the Dignity for all

Students Act. This activity allowed students to make connections from the story itself and

themselves and was also student-centered as it promoted personal reflections and was guided by

the discussions had by students.

Ultimately, I created this activity to show my students that diversity is a beautiful thing

that needs to be embraced regardless of race, class, gender, and abilities. I want my students to

understand aspects of empathy and to not let certain factors stand in their way. The learning

activity was meant more for self-reflection and comprehension based on a well written story that

was relatable to the classroom dynamic I was given. This activity does reflect the diversity of

learners that I was presented with. Although, I have designed this activity to meet specific

learners and their abilities, it is an activity that can be altered to meet various other needs and

abilities. That is the beauty of teaching. Teachers are given a curriculum and can design and

implement activities to the likings of their students and teach students in ways that they are able

to connect.