Practice Brief 54

How to build an equitable learning community in your science classroom

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  • -BACKGROUND

Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers can use these activities to improve equitable opportunities for students.
  • District Staff & PD Providers can use these activities and resources, with their embedded reflection questions, in professional learning contexts and with their Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to model equitable classroom practices.
  • School Leaders can encourage the use of these strategies by educators as well as look for this type of activity during classroom walkthroughs.

What Is The Issue?

Equitable classroom communities foster trusting and caring relationships. They make cultural norms explicit in order to reduce the risk of social injuries associated with learning together. Teachers are responsible for disrupting problematic practices and developing science classroom communities that welcome all students into safe, extended science learning opportunities. However, this is tricky work. This tool describes a range of classroom activities designed to cultivate communities that open up opportunities for all students to learn.

Authors:

DEB MORRISON & PHILIP BELL | MAY 2018


Reflection Questions

  • What strategies can you use to determine if your classroom community is equitable?
  • What equity project are you planning to engage in? Develop a plan to increase your professional learning in this area.

Things to Consider

Science learning is a cultural practice—based on community norms, beliefs, and values. All students and teachers come into science learning settings with cultural differences from their prior experiences. Individuals who have existing cultural practices closest to those reflected in the learning space are more likely to feel confident and ready to learn than individuals whose practices are more different from classroom norms.

Community building prepares all students for the deep sensemaking discourse experiences required by the vision of new science standards. In this approach, classrooms collectively explore and make sense of phenomena—which requires that all students feel comfortable contributing and that differences in how they contribute are respected.

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take

Community Formation Activities:

Sustaining Equitable Communities:



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This site is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Research + Practice Collaboratory (Award #1238253). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.

Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Others may adapt with attribution. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.