Culturally Responsive Teaching

Even if Black History Month is over, you should read this article for tips on how to keep a classroom culturally responsive. “Culturally responsive” is a term best explained by Zaretta Hammond, author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. While doing research for her book, Hammond interviewed multiple teachers and asked them what they thought the term meant. Each one said that it was teaching in a way to keep uninterested students of color interested by tying the lesson to specific aspects of their culture such as hip-hop, Africa, China, and Mexico. However, Hammond defines “culturally responsive” to mean something slightly different.

“Cultural responsiveness is more of a process than a strategy. It begins when a teacher recognizes the cultural capital and tools students of color bring to the classroom. She is then able to respond to students’ use of these cultural learning tools positively by noticing, naming, and affirming when students use them in the service of learning. The most common cultural tools for processing information utilize the brain’s memory systems — music, repetition, metaphor, recitation, physical manipulation of content, and ritual. The teacher is ‘responsive’ when she is able to mirror these ways of learning in her instruction, using similar strategies to scaffold learning,” said Hammond when she was asked to define the term by Elena Aguilar, Transformational Leadership Coach from California and writer for Edutopia.

For more of Hammond’s interview and the concept of being “culturally responsive”, check out Aguilar’s blog post “Making Connections: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain”.

Remember, culture should be celebrated everyday!!!

Writer’s Block: The Card Game by Dianna Baldwin


In the midst of a creative slump? Then check out Writer’s Block: The Card Game! Created by Dianna Baldwin, associate director of the WRAC department, the game is intended for “the creative writer in all of us,” and aims to help you break free from the grasps of writer’s block with the game’s goal of creating a complete piece of flash fiction by the end of the game!

However, it’s more than just a fun game. It’s a means of beating the dreaded creative rut the game takes its name from: writer’s block. Baldwin says as a writer she is often subject to writer’s block, and this was the major inspiration for the game.

“As a writer, I suffer from writer’s block all the time. And so I got thinking about Apples to Apples, and you know how your mind just goes? And then I came up with Writer’s Block.”

Besides helping to alleviate the symptoms of writer’s block, Baldwin hopes that her game will also show those who may not be involved with writing directly that it can be fun and can be rewarding in other creative pursuits.

I hope people take away that writing can be fun and that by allowing yourself to have fun with writing it can unblock you in other ways,” Baldwin said.

For more information on Writer’s Block: The Card Game and to play it yourself, check out its website. Have fun and happy writing!

BTW… It’s free!

The Man Behind the Mic: PW Alum Quin Hoffman

Quin Hoffman pic

Quin Hoffman is a junior double majoring in Professional Writing and English. He is also Head News Director at MSU’s Impact 89FM radio station. Originally joining the radio team during the Fall Semester of 2013 with a focus on writing music reviews, Quin fell in love with the news aspect of radio. When asked what he enjoys most about Impact he replied, “When I first joined the news team I had a lot of ideas, but I was afraid to say them and get judged. I like the idea that we don’t shoot ideas down, but we hone them more.” It was this collaborative attitude that eventually earned Quin a spot at the helm of Impact’s news program, Exposure.

A news program in the same vein as This American Life, Exposure is student run. Topics covered by the program range from news, both local and global, to pieces on campus clubs and sports. Recently, Quin did a show about “uncommon” majors at MSU and interviewed Prof. Danielle DeVoss about the PW program.

In order to decide on a proper focus for a piece or article, Quin and his news team get together for an hour every week and brainstorm ideas. Quin explains that the only real screening Exposure has is whether a topic is pertinent to college students.

In order to ensure that broadcasted content meets Impact’s standards, Quin relies heavily on knowledge he’s gained from PW. “Professional Writing is a major that shapes writing skills, which are essential for the work world,” he says. Quin notes that these skills help him in scenarios ranging from working effectively in a group to running a proper interview. “PW helped me get this job in the sense that it bolstered my interview and résumé-building skills.”

Although not married to a specific career path, a possible occupation for Quin could be a position in informational media. It doesn’t matter if it’s working for a large-scale employer like NPR or writing articles for organizations like Pitchfork. Quin’s only true wish is to do what he wants in a comfortable workplace environment.

10 Awesome Quotes on Creativity To Get You Back On Track


1. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ―Sylvia Plath

2. “Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art: to bring all our energies to each encounter, to remain flexible enough to notice and admit when what we expected to happen did not happen. We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed.” Maya Angelou

3. “I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking” ―Albert Einstein

4. “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ― Scott Adams

5. “You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” ―Steve Jobs

6. “Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature – all are lottery tickets for creativity. Scratch away at them and you’ll find out how big a prize you’ve won.” ―Twyla Tharp

7. “A picture might be worth a thousand words but a good sentence is worth a thousand windows” Mati Klarwein

8. “In order to write the book you want to write, in the end you have to become the person you need to become to write that book.” Junot Díaz

9. “If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.” Austin Kleon

10. “To live a creative life we must first lose the fear of being wrong.” Joseph Chilton Pearce