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Tool: Learning about culture from and with your students

Purpose of this tool: This tool provides sample questions that you can use to develop inventories to learn about your students’ individual interests and cultural backgrounds and practices.

How to use this tool: Adapt these questions to your students’ age and your particular classroom and school context to develop inventories to give to students in the beginning of the year/semester.

  • What do you want to learn about _____ (specific subject matter) this year/semester?
  • Why is this important to you?
  • What are you nervous about or worried about in _____________ (subject matter)? Why are you nervous/worried about this?
  • In the past, what have teachers done in __________ (subject matter) that really helped you learn?
  • In the past, what have teachers done that made it difficult for you to learn?
  • What makes you excited about coming to school?
  • What makes you nervous about coming to school?
  • Which type of format do you think you learn the most from? Please explain why.
    • working by myself
    • working in pairs
    • working in small groups
    • whole class discussions
    • lectures
  • What kinds of students do you think you work best with in small groups? Why?
  • What kinds of students do you think you may have difficulty working with in small groups? Why?
  • Do you like to participate in class discussions? Why or why not?
  • Whom do you live with?
  • What kinds of responsibilities do you have at home?
  • If you hold a job, where do you work? What are your work hours?
  • What kinds of writing do you do outside of school? (Do you write songs, raps, poetry, stories, letters, emails, etc.?)
  • What kinds of art do you enjoy?
  • Do you like to work with machines, cars, computers, etc.? Please describe.
  • What kinds of sports do you enjoy playing?
  • What kinds of books or magazines do you like to read outside of school?
  • What kinds of music do you like to listen to?
  • What do you want me to know about you? How is this important to your learning?
  • I would like to invite people from the community into the classroom to help us learn more about the different topics we will cover this year/semester. Whom would you like to speak to the class? Please describe what you think this person can help us learn.