Critical Thinking in a Culturally Responsive Classroom


Critical Thinking in a Culturally Responsive Classroom
Joseph Cirello
Degree Name
Master of Arts in Teaching (initial licensure)
Project Type
This document is an action research project that follows my growth as an educator over my time in the Western Oregon University Masters of Arts program. I wanted to see what the current best practices were for teachers and then analyze how I can best align my teaching to match those. First I researched the best practices in the field of teaching that related to culturally responsive pedagogy, discipline specific literacy, and sourcing in a social studies classroom. This gave me an understanding of how I wanted to teach once in a classroom, and what I wanted to focus on, and best practices, for improvement while there.
Once teaching in a classroom I recognized the need to focus on two questions: how can I get students to display critical thinking in their responses to questions, and how can I plan lessons to best display culturally responsive practices in the classroom? These were both aspects of teaching I prioritized in my philosophy of teaching, and wanted to make sure I could excel at once in a career. During the process of research I attempted different strategies that attempted to answer the first question with varied results. I eventually came to the conclusion that asking students questions about the factual information before asking them to respond to prompts with more in depth thinking provided better results than going straight into in depth questions. For my second question I found that I was far more inconsistent in making lessons that were appropriately culturally responsive. Although not entirely negative, I was disappointed in the consistency and depth of the culturally responsive pedagogy that I taught. Fortunately this was only one year of student teaching, and this project provided me with the ability to study and adjust my teaching for the better in the many years of my career to come.
Committee Member
Melanie Landon-Hays
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Date Available