How Diversity Impacts Reading Instruction

Instructor: Katherine Garner

Katie teaches middle school English/Language Arts and has a master's degree in Secondary English Education

This lesson provides an overview of ways in which physical, cultural, and developmental diversity can impact reading instruction, which can present both challenges and opportunities in supporting student growth.

Diversity in the Reading/English Classroom

If you are a teacher of a class that has more than one student, you are likely to experience some type of and some degree of diversity among your students. Diversity can refer to racial demographics, but also to any amount of variance among your students, whether they are physical, cultural, or developmental.

Diversity among students can present challenges for reading instruction, simply because you are one teacher with your own perspective and you must challenge yourself to reach students coming from very different places. Taking on this challenge though can also make your reading instruction much richer, stronger, and reach more students. Let's take a look at some techniques.

Physical Diversity

Physical diversity refers to the visible differences that are present among students in your classroom. This can include gender, age, size, and other factors. It is important to create a classroom where physical differences among students are treated as valuable rather than shameful and it is equally important that reader teachers choose texts that represent the physical diversity of their students as well.

Students may ''check out'', or not connect with texts in which they do not see themselves or people like themselves in them. Conversely, struggling readers may be more engaged and likely to read texts where they do recognize aspects of their physical existence. Either way, reading books that represent the physically diverse makeup of your classroom, and even diversity that is not present in your classroom, is a positive way to celebrate and learn about difference through reading instruction.

Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity refers to the various backgrounds your students are coming from and the variety of assets or obstacles they might be bringing when it comes to reading. Culture can include race, religion, economic status, gender, and family values, and all of these things combine in different ways that can help or hinder a student's reading progress.

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