Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: A Mini-Unit for Teacher Candidates

Like many teacher educators, I have become increasingly concerned about the lack of diversity in the teacher education curriculum at my institution and so many others like it. To address this concern, I decided to not only begin my six-credit-hour methods course with a mini-unit on culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995; 2009), but also  align the components and characteristics of culturally relevant pedagogy with the topics addressed throughout the remainder of the methods course.

Below, I offer an overview of my mini-unit on culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), which consists of two 1.5-hour lessons, and provide access to materials and resources that I used to design and implement it. By sharing these ideas, materials, and resources, I hope to encourage teacher educators to find ways to incorporate diversity into their courses and, consequently, better prepare teacher candidates to work effectively with students from diverse backgrounds.

Details concerning the advantages, disadvantages, and outcomes of my approach will be addressed in an article that will appear in Multicultural Perspectives, the official journal of the National Association for Multicultural Education. Click the link to learn more about the organization’s mission, goals, and publications.

CRP Mini-Unit: Summary of Lessons 1 & 2


CRP Mini-Unit: Lesson 1


  • Teacher candidates identify and discuss commonly cited explanations for the achievement gap, as well as other explanations that come to mind.
  • Instructor connects the explanations shared by teacher candidates to the topic of the lesson and then communicates the lesson’s objectives.


  • Instructor shares information pertaining to teacher and student demographics, differential outcomes (e.g., graduation rates, discipline referrals), and beliefs about people of color by generation (e.g., Baby Boomers, Millennials).
  • Teacher candidates are asked to make a prediction about the meaning of cultural discontinuity and to provide examples of discontinuity based on that meaning.
  • Instructor defines and exemplifies micro- and macro-level discontinuities, and illustrates each example with a story (e.g., curricular decisions–instructor describes results from studies of ELA reading lists, including those used in Louisiana).


  • Teacher candidates break into small groups and answer critical thinking questions designed to facilitate the analysis of  discontinuities and the identification of implications for educators.
  • Teacher candidates participate in a whole-class discussion in which they share their ideas and answer follow-up questions posed by their peers and/or instructor.


  • Teacher candidates complete an exit ticket reflecting on what they have learned, issues that were raised by the lesson, and any questions they may have.
  • Teacher candidates affix their exit tickets on the What Stuck with You? board, so  the instructor can offer comments, answers, etc. prior to the next class meeting.


  • Teacher candidates read two articles pertaining to culturally relevant teaching.
  • Teacher candidates complete a learning log in which they reflect on what they learned from the articles and any questions they may have about the topic.

CRP Mini-Unit: Lesson 2


  • Drawing on the articles read for homework, teacher candidates identify and discuss myths and truths regarding culturally relevant teaching.
  • Instructor connects these myths and truths to the topic of the lesson, and then communicates the lesson’s objectives.


  • Instructor introduces Ladson-Billings’s (1995; 2009) study of exemplary teachers.
  • Instructor defines CRP and outlines its three major components.
  • Teacher candidates analyze the definition to make meaning of the components.
  • Instructor describes the three characteristics of culturally relevant teachers.
  • Teacher candidates summarize the components and characteristics of CRP to make meaning of what they have learned and to prepare for a collaborative activity.

Case Studies

  • Teacher candidates break into small groups, each of which receives a case study from Ladson-Billings’s (2009) book.
  • Teacher candidates read and annotate the case study, focusing on the components and characteristics of CRP.
  • Teacher candidates discuss their findings and prepare to present them to the class.

Presentation & Discussion

  • Teacher candidates summarize their cases for the class, and explain how they represented the components and characteristics of CRP.
  • Teacher candidates answer follow-up questions posed by the instructor.


  • Teacher candidates draft a content area activity which exemplifies the three main components of CRP.
  • Teacher candidates describe their activities for the class and explain how they reflect each of the three main components.
  • Instructor reads and comments on teacher candidates’ drafts before the next class.

CRP Mini-Unit: Related Materials & Resources

Cultural Relevant Pedagogy (Power Point)

  • Lesson 1 (12 slides)
  • Lesson 2 (13 slides)

Recommended Resources (MS Word)

  • Books and Articles
  • Links and Organizations




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