Include diverse perspectives in your lessons
The Classroom

Learn from the Fellows: Include diverse perspectives in your lessons

JJ Janikis
Aug 11, 2023

Picture this: You’ve developed a lesson you’re excited about and can’t wait to share with your class. You introduce the topic, explain the activities, and dive into the first discussion. 

Instead of raised hands and a lot of enthusiasm, you get *crickets.*

As teachers and coaches, we’ve all been there. Even the best-planned lessons can go south without the right level of participation. But what’s that magic ingredient that gets learners talking and sharing in class? Creating an inclusive environment to explore diverse viewpoints is a great start.

What does it mean to create an environment that welcomes diverse perspectives? Think about these questions:

  • Does your content include “mirrors” to view cultures from personal perspectives? 

  • Does it have “windows” to let learners understand different worlds?

  • Do you choose texts by authors from diverse cultural groups?

  • Are you representing authentic cultures without relying on stereotypes?

  • Do you model thoughtful and respectful conversations that explore diverse perspectives?

If you answered yes to these questions, you’re already creating an inclusive classroom atmosphere. If you’re still working to shape this type of environment, we have some experts who can help. 

Two of our Newsela Fellows, Amie Reed and Aishia King, have unlocked the secrets to diverse classroom discussions.

As Fellows, Amie and Aishia committed to a yearlong quest to drive more teacher and student engagement with Newsela in their districts. During that time, they completed capstone projects to show how their training positively impacted classroom instruction and student outcomes. You can use them, too, to plan lessons.

Amie is a K-8 literacy coach for O’Fallon District 90 in O’Fallon, Illinois. Her project, Strategies to Promote Discussion and Engagement with Text, helped social studies, science, and health teachers design engaging lessons with Newsela content. 

“I wanted to make it easier for teachers to engage students beyond assigning the article and the quiz,” Amie said. 

Better engagement creates opportunities to explore more diverse perspectives in the classroom. Amie helped teachers reach this goal by providing a bank of discussion resources for teachers in each content area. 

Aishia is the high school literacy instructional leader for Mobile County Schools in Mobile, Alabama. She’s spent the majority of her career in education as a high school English teacher. Her project, Making Connections To Increase Comprehension and Critical Thinking Skills, supported teachers in their efforts to help students build background knowledge and explore diverse perspectives through classroom engagement.

“This project impacted schools in my district by helping teachers realize that Newsela has a wide breadth of articles that cover various topics such as… societal issues from countries around the world,” Aishia said.

When students learn how societal issues differ both in their hometowns and around the world, they have more chances to understand how and why people live their lives in unique ways. Aishia helped teachers spark these moments of understanding for their students with instructional guides, modeled lessons, and professional development sessions.

Watch Aishia and Amie talk about using Newsela to explore diverse perspectives at our Teach with Newsela webinar on August 23. Highlights of this event include:

  • Resources to use Newsela to include diverse perspectives in your weekly lessons.

  • Pro tips on the best ways to infuse new perspectives in your classroom.

  • Peer examples of how exploring diverse perspectives makes for more lively class discussions.

After the webinar, download more resources to start planning your own lessons!

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