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Lesson Plan

Assessing Cultural Relevance: Exploring Personal Connections to a Text

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Assessing Cultural Relevance: Exploring Personal Connections to a Text

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Six 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



From Theory to Practice



As a class, students evaluate a nonfiction or realistic fiction text for its cultural relevance to themselves personally and as a group. They first write about a story that they identify with and share their responses as a group. As a class, they then analyze the cultural relevance of a selected text using an online tool. After completing this full-class activity, students search for additional, relevant texts; each choose one; and write reviews of the texts that they choose. Selected texts can be any nonfiction or realistic fiction piece—books, documentaries, television programs, and films and students are encouraged to choose texts that are personally relevant to themselves and their peers. This lesson is an especially powerful choice for English language learners.

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Reading texts that are culturally relevant is vitally important to all students, but especially so for language learners. When students see themselves in a text, they connect with the text in significant ways that lead to deeper comprehension. Yvonne Freeman and David Freeman explain that such language learners "easily construct meaning from a text that contains familiar elements because their background knowledge helps them make predictions and inferences about the story" (7). This lesson plan draws on the explanation of cultural relevance outlined by Freeman and Freeman, including using an evaluative rubric based on that in their work, to encourage students to look for texts that engage them more deeply because of cultural connections to the students' lives.

Further Reading

Freeman, Yvonne, and David Freeman. "Connecting Students to Culturally Relevant Texts." Talking Points 15.2 (April/May 2004): 7-11.

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