Every parent wants their child to feel a sense of belonging and, more importantly, every child wants to feel respected. Therefore, one trend in education is to personalize learning. Teachers think about each individual student- what their ability level is, what their strengths are, what their interests are, what their values are, what their home lives are, what their ethnicity is… They need to know this and other personal and cultural information in order to connect the curriculum, serving as mirrors, to the students, so they can see themselves in the content. Then what they are learning becomes relevant and meaningful, making students feel a sense of belonging and respect.
Once a person feels validated, they are then better able to see other points of view; curriculum needs to serve as windows for students to look through and see beyond their comfort zones.
The Annual Copyright License for Curriculum & Instruction from CCC includes the rights to newspapers in nearly every state, which immediately localizes the curriculum. The license contains social-emotional learning titles for all grade levels; one of the publishers, Free Spirit, only publishes SEL titles. Additionally, the license includes diverse content from BIPOC voices. That includes Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. With the many voices within the content, students will certainly find one they can identify with and even more they can learn from.
Not only does the content need to include mirrors and windows but it also needs to include sliding glass doors to support another trend in education, project-based learning. Here, students are asked to apply what they have learned to group projects within the classroom or the school, as well as going out into their communities to make a difference. The CCC license supports PBL with materials like books found in Nomad Press that have multiple student activities in each text. Also, many of the participating publishers support STEM initiatives by including hands-on science labs.
A third major trend is promoting equity in the curriculum. In a traditional classroom, all students are expected to read the same text at the same pace. Although that may be equal it is not equitable, for that text most likely does not reflect and respect the differences among the students. To build equity, the teacher might divide the class into different groups, each with a different text on the same topic at varying lengths or ability levels, so that during a class discussion, all students have something to contribute. Many publishers in the CCC license, like ABDO and Rosen, clearly denote reading grade levels. In another scenario, the teacher might divide up the class and hand out texts from different perspectives on the same topic. The class discussion that would follow would include differing points of view. Some publishers’ series are actually titled Perspectives and Points of View. In a third scenario, maybe everyone is given the same text written in different languages, so students could read in their first language. Some of our publishers offer the same book written in both English and Spanish.
The ultimate goal is to have equity turn into inclusion.
An inclusive classroom aims to give the students a positive sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Inclusion supports learning as well as the well-being of all students. In an inclusive classroom, students are given more voice and choice. So, if you think about the examples in an equitable environment, the modification would be to allow students to choose a text at a given reading level. Maybe a student wants to be challenged or maybe one of the highest-level readers is not feeling well and would rather read a shorter text. Another modification would be to allow students to choose the perspective they want to view a topic. Or allow them to choose which language they want to read a text. Maybe there is a student learning Spanish who would really like to challenge themselves by reading an authentic text in another language.
One of the most important steps to take toward a more equitable and inclusive classroom is to give teachers direct access to diverse quality content. The Annual Copyright License for Curriculum & Development allows for that. The license has more than 60 participating publishers and includes over a million works, with more than half of the book publishers focusing on supporting BIPOC and other marginalized voices. For example, Just Us Books only publishes books by black authors, while Yali Books publishes works by people from South Asia.
Diverse quality content that reflects its audience engages students. And when students are engaged their learning expands, reading fluency increases, retention improves, and outcomes surpass expectations.