The TeachHOUSTON Toolkit Strives to Reflect Diverse Origins

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The UH learnHOUSTON program has created a toolkit to help STEM teachers in Houston develop programs that will support students’ diverse backgrounds. | Courtesy of Mariam Manual

UH teachHOUSTON The program has created and currently offers a toolkit that enables science, technology, engineering, and math teachers to design curricula and teach in a way that reflects and supports students from diverse backgrounds.

The Culturally Appropriate Education STEM High School Toolbox provides self-assessments, program ideas, training modules and more to help teachers celebrate cultural and linguistic diversity through the lived experiences of students.

Other resources include implicit association testing which measure unconscious biases and communication strategies beyond differences. Worksheets allow teachers to reflect on normalities in their own homes which may not be the same for different groups of people, such as care practices or attitudes towards physical exercise.

CRE integrates students’ past experiences, perspectives and cultural knowledge to make the learning experience more relevant to them, according to the Toolkit website.

In practice, this might look like students applying measurement-related topics to explore societal messages regarding body image or use data analysis to challenge the district’s decision to close a local school, as explained by teachProfessor at HOUSTON and co-creator of the Mariam Manual kit.

Another example is that Houston science students may benefit from the development of prototype water filtration in response to local flooding. Teachers can point out how important this is to the local community in the aftermath of natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, which students can relate to.

“(The Toolkit) is intended to be an easy-to-use guide to CRE for educators interested in augmenting their teaching practices with research-driven, student-centered approaches designed to improve engagement in learning. STEM learning, ”Manual said.

With CRE, teachers can build relationships with students and explore their ‘knowledge base’, or lived experiences, academic and personal backgrounds, worldviews, and prior knowledge and skills used to navigate everyday situations, according to the manual.

They can then find creative ways to make the concepts relevant to students who identify with groups that have historically been disenfranchised and excluded from example textbooks. The kit is designed as a launching pad for this through the use of the research studies and examples it provides.

The toolkit was created in the spring and summer of 2021 through a collaboration between 100Kin10, the National Initiative in Mathematics and Science, manual of teachHOUSTON and Alissandre Robbins, Spring Branch STEM teacher and former LEAD Houston STEM Master student at UH program.

During the summer of 2021, 60 teachers participating in professional development sessions were invited to use the toolkit. Their feedback via a poll will be used as the toolkit creators add more examples, videos and opportunities. There is even a form on the website for users to upload their own resources.

“We hope that through this toolkit, teachers will be able to find a resource that is a one-stop-shop for learn about culturally appropriate teaching, or even expand on what they already knew about the teaching approach, ”Manual said.

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Keywords: culturally appropriate education, STEM, teaching Houston



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