Designing Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Curriculum

Curriculum Design That Supports Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

The Curriculum Associates team is committed to developing instruction, lesson content, and assessments that are culturally and linguistically responsive. We aim to center and engage diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, especially those that have been historically marginalized, stereotyped, or underrepresented.

Since 2018, Curriculum Associates has increasingly sought to support educators’ pursuit of culturally responsive teaching and to better the cultural and linguistic responsiveness (CLR) of our products. Through ongoing partnerships with key advisors, we have conducted product reviews, undergone training, and developed guidelines and practices to understand where we are and plan where we need to go. To learn more about our work to develop anti-racist content, click here.

Over the Last Two Years, Curriculum Associates:

  • Began a partnership with the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning (CCRTL) and its leader Dr. Sharroky Hollie, a national educator who provides professional development to thousands of educators in CLR for teaching and learning
  • Trained product development team members, including lesson and assessment editors, developers, and designers through sessions with Hollie
  • Hired and engaged authors and illustrators from diverse cultural backgrounds to create new content and incorporated more excerpts from published works by diverse authors
  • Hired diverse voice talent to narrate passages, questions, and word problems across subjects
  • Established an Authenticity Review Panel to ensure representations are culturally authentic and informed by diverse perspectives, including classroom educators and a range of external experts
  • Created a Sensitivity Review Panel with individuals who identify with different rings of culture to evaluate content for bias and cultural and emotional appropriateness
  • Continued engagement with the CCRTL in reviewing and revising existing content
  • Ensured cultural and linguistic responsiveness is central to the design and launch of new programs, such as the Ready Classroom Mathematics program launched in 2019

Take a Look at Our Programs in Action

CLR work involves authentically representing various cultural and linguistic backgrounds, but also ensuring that students can draw connections between the instruction they receive and their own cultural and linguistic identities. Here are a few examples of how Curriculum Associates integrates these practices into our products. 

Examples from i-Ready Personalized Instruction

Illustration of family of four in car.

As Brave As You

An excerpt from the published book As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds, a Krikus Award Finalist, Schneider Family Book Award Winner, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

See Example

Illustration of boy outside family restaurant.

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

An excerpt from the published book The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya, featuring concepts of family and work life within Cuban-American culture

See Example

Illustration of ASL interpreter at concert.

American Sign Language Representation 

An excerpt focusing on American Sign Language at concerts, showcasing how events can be made more accessible for a wider audience

See Example

Platter with four samosas.

Mathematics with Multicultural Contexts

A word problem focusing on a samosa recipe, which provides students with a sentence defining the term and a visual to help them understand the word in the context of the problem

See Example

Examples from Ready Classroom Mathematics Instruction 

Mathematics lesson focused on Juneteenth Festival.

Try–Discuss–Connect

The Try–Discuss–Connect instructional routine helps spark meaningful partner and whole class discussions that honor the unique perspectives and experiences each learner brings.

See Example

Connect to Culture section for lesson on dividing fractions.

Connect to Culture

The Teacher’s Guide’s “Connect to Culture” sections provide ideas to increase engagement and connections with the diverse background and experiences of students.

See Example

Example of Spanish family letter.

Family Letters

Family Letters in English, Spanish, and Tagalog provide background information and encourage home–school connections with an activity for families to complete with their students.

See Example

Sample Math in Action Lesson.

Math in Action

Math in Action lessons build background through a diverse range of real-world applications. 

See Example

New programs that launch over the next few years, including a Grades 3–5 Reading Comprehension program in 2021, will deeply engage in culturally and linguistically responsive work.

Examples from i-Ready Assessment

Much of the industry’s focus and work to date on embedding culturally and linguistically responsiveness into learning tools has been to support curriculum and instruction, not large-scale assessment. We are working to address this. We believe that when students see items that are more engaging, they will be better able to perform to their true ability. The assessment and research leadership team is creating a theory of action along with guidelines and criteria for what it means to address CLR in large-scale assessment. Furthermore, i-Ready Assessment editors have undergone training with Hollie, and we are presently convening a national panel of assessment experts to further explore and develop CLR guidelines for assessment. 

Want to learn more about culturally responsive math instruction? 

Check out this whitepaper by Ready Classroom Mathematics author Dr. Mark Ellis.

Your Local Curriculum Associates Contact

Shenique Mens-Smith

Your Local Curriculum Associates Contact