Professional Development for Culturally Relevant Teaching and Learning in Pre-K Mathematics

Students of color and poverty have vastly different resources and opportunities than their more advantaged peers. But even when adequate resources are made available, students from non-White, non–middle class homes typically receive instruction that fails to take into account the differences between White middle class homes and other communities. As a consequence, many children are confronted with school norms and expectations that don’t align with their experiences outside school.

This project will address these challenges by developing teaching and learning communities to provide students in 4-year-old kindergarten quality learning opportunities in and out of school that are mathematically substantive and culturally sensitive.

The project will design, develop, and test innovative resources and models to foster ongoing professional learning communities. These learning communities will help teachers and families to identify and build on the rich mathematical understandings of children from all ethnic, linguistic, and economic backgrounds.

The work will involve studying and incorporating children’s out-of-school experiences into instruction that is equitable and culturally relevant. It also will develop culturally effective ways to help families understand how to mathematize out-of-school activities children engage in.

Two hypotheses underlie this work: 1) Instruction will increase the mathematical proficiency of underrepresented groups and help reduce the achievement gap when it connects home and school experiences, when it is culturally relevant for all students, and when it builds on children’s emerging mathematical knowledge; and 2) High-quality, developmentally and culturally appropriate instruction is particularly important in children’s early years when they are preparing for and first entering school.

This professional development program extends earlier research on Cognitively Guided Instruction. CGI focuses on cultivating teachers’ understanding of children’s mathematical thinking by helping teachers construct models of the development of that thinking in well-defined content domains. No instructional materials or specifications for practice are provided. Rather, teachers create their own instructional materials and practices, or adapt published materials, by watching and listening to their students and working to understand what they see and hear.


Completed on August 31, 2018