Identifying Culturally Sustaining Values and Key Concepts of a Lesson or Unit

Prior to developing a lesson or unit, identify the values and concepts that move student learning and are culturally affirming
12 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

The purpose of this strategy is to support educators in developing intentionality as they include culturally sustaining values in lesson design. It is important to consider identity, systems, hegemony (i.e., the economic, political, social, or cultural authority or influence of one group over another), and humanization (i.e. recognize the humanity) when developing curriculum. 

Implementation Steps

  1. Read the ethnic studies course overview (located in the resource section below). It provides a purpose and a context for creating values and concepts.

  2. Examine each of the key concepts outlined in the overview.

  3. Select a lesson or unit that you will teach.

  4. Respond to the following questions as you examine the lesson or unit:

    • Identity: How will you cultivate educational spaces in which all students and families gain a sense of belonging?
    • System: Who benefits from the structures in your classroom? Who does not benefit from the structures in your classroom? What are the policies and procedures in your classroom? How are your values reflected in your syllabus and school to home communication?
    • Hegemony: How will you acquire feedback from students and families to co-create culturally sustaining and affirming practices in your classroom?
    • Humanization: How is power balanced in your classroom? How do you use the content and encourage students to use the content as a tool to disrupt issues of power and privilege that reinforce inequities? How does your lesson distribution include student cultural capital and knowledge?
    • Causality: How is the knowledge transferable beyond the classroom?
    • Transformation: How does the lesson enable students to perceive themselves as learners, doers, and contributors to the educational space and community?
  5. Identify a value and key concept from the course overview that aligns with the lesson or unit that you will teach. 

  6. Share with colleagues the value and key concept associated with the lesson.

  7. Share with students the value and key concepts associated with the lesson.

Questions to Consider

  • During planning, reflect on how the lesson or unit is inclusive, relevant, responsive, and sustaining for all students and families.
  • During planning, ask yourself: why are you teaching this lesson?
  • During instruction, ask yourself: why are you teaching this lesson in this way?

Teacher Tips

  • Educate yourself about your own identity and culture by acknowledging yourself:
    • Racially
    • Culturally/Ethnically
    • Social Class
  • Analyze your cultural biases and norms.
  • Participate in professional learning communities centered on culturally responsive pedagogy. 
  • Post a printed copy of the values and concepts near your objectives and invite students to identify connections.

Consulted Resources

In developing this strategy, the resources linked below were consulted.

  • Growing critically conscious teachers : a social justice curriculum for educators of Latino/a youth Edited by Angela Valenzuela. (Chapter 3) Teaching for Critical Consciousness: Topics, Themes, Frameworks, and Instructional Activities (pages 39-66)