R.E.A.D.Y. Kits: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice
Photo by Donald Tetto
by: Aurora Low, Danver Ann Chandler & Joshua Keltner
Advisor: La Vonne Neal
The purpose of this research was to design a culturally responsive interdisciplinary unit for 8th grade students to help them receive a more diverse education, which should improve their academic outcome. Currently there is a paucity of culturally responsive and interdisciplinary curriculum material available for teachers to utilize in their classrooms. Although educational theories concerning thematic units and multicultural education have been researched and proven successful, the wide practice of these theories is yet to be seen (Geneva Gay, 1995). Therefore, academic achievement of students who are culturally diverse is still low, which is reflected in the results of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test (National Assessment of State’s Progress, 2000).
The recognition of necessity was the impetus for the production of the R.E.A.D.Y. (Resource for Educators, easily Accessible for Developing Young minds) Kits and drives this research. Commonly, teachers are forced to search out materials in a variety of stores and internet shops to make creative and culturally responsive lessons. The R.E.A.D.Y. Kits provided educators with PowerPoint presentations, notes, lesson plans, posters, books, and videos in a precompiled format, bringing together the three forms of curriculum (formal, i.e. textbooks and worksheets; symbolic, i.e. posters and bulletin boards; and societal, i.e. videos and music). The research went even further to validate the usefulness of these kits by using them in classrooms and observing the results.
Quantitative and qualitative results indicated that the kits were a big success. Student’s behavior improved noticeably in classrooms where teachers used the culturally responsive lesson plans and materials. Many students in fact commented on how easy it was for them to recall information they had learned throughout the unit, even though they could not necessarily specify a reason. Both teachers who used the kits also remarked about the R.E.A.D.Y kit’s dramatic positive affect on the students and stated that this experience provided new motivation for them to explore new methods for teaching in a culturally responsive manner.
It is our hope that this research will show other teachers how they can get R.E.A.D.Y to meet their students’ needs by designing their own R.E.A.D.Y. kits and thus, close the gap between theory and practice.