PLE 1: Module 6

PLE 1: Understanding Diversity in the Classroom/Schools


 Before participants engage in an understanding and exploration of equity audits, it is important for them to explore ideas on diversity in classrooms and schools.

Essential Questions:

  1. What are diverse students’ experiences in schools?
  2. What are issues surrounding diversity in schools?


1. Participants will break into groups of 3 to 5 and engage in literature circles. The purpose of a literature circle is to create a forum for discussion of issues and diverse perspectives related to diverse students’ experiences and levels of success in schools. Literature circles:

  • Encourage learners to exercise agency and to assume responsibility and accountability for their own learning;
  • Foster a community of learners;
  • Promote engaged reading and a venue for becoming critically “aware;”
  • Make the learning process personally relevant to students; and
  • Create a shift in power relations and traditional hierarchical teacher/student relationships.

In addition, the use of this technique in the classroom is consistent with a feminist approach to teaching and learning that recognizes power in the teaching role, recognizes the diversity of all students, ensures equity for all, and includes students in engaged pedagogy (bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress). Each group will select one book from the required reading and read it (students will read individually, but discuss as a group). Groups will hold informal, in-depth discussions during designated class periods and outside of class on their own. Readers should take turns playing various roles that provide scaffolding for the discussion (groups will assign roles):

  • Absence Readers: What is not there in the reading, but either implied or ignored by the author?
  • Border-Crosser: Are there “strange” aspects of the reading that relate to historical or social contexts different than your own?
  • Current Events Anchor: What is going on in the world today that’s closely related to the topic of the reading?
  • Dialogue Director: What is controversial about this reading?
  • Impressionist: What in the reading is particularly striking – tone, word choice?
  • Professional Application Expert: How does this reading apply to educational administration and providing services for diverse populations?
  • Synthesizer: What are the key points of the reading?

Each student should take notes while reading and during and after the literature circle noting issues discussed, perceived feelings and emotions, and comments on the various role perspectives.

*This particular use of a literature circle has been borrowed and adapted from D. L. Anderson’s Study Circle concept presented in the University of Virginia Women’s Center Community Activism and Feminist Politics: A Global Perspective course.*

2. Each literature circle group will lead book talks (approximately 30 minutes) that include learning activities for the class that engage those who have not read their particular book in the ideas presented by the author(s). Groups will design a way to present the book and any activities that is creative, unique and informative (activities are encouraged).

Required Reading: (Students will select one)

Anyon, J. (1997). Ghetto schooling: A political economy of urban educational reform. NY: Teachers College Press.

Delpit, L. (1995). Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom. New York: The New Press.

Delpit, L., & Dowdy, J. K. (eds.). (2002). The skin that we speak: Thoughts on language and culture in the classroom. New York: The New Press.

hooks, b. (2000). Where we stand: Class matters. NY: Taylor & Francis.

Kozol, J. (2005). The shame of the nation: The restoration of apartheid schooling in America. NY: Crown.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2001). Crossing over to canaan: The journey of new teachers in diverse classrooms. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc.

Lipman, P. (1998). Race, class, and power in school restructuring. New York: SUNY.

Villa, R. A., & Thousand, J. S. Thousand (Eds.). (2005). Creating an inclusive school (2nd ed.).  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.