Culturally Relevant Inspiration

Miguel Alvarado

EDU692: Creativity, Culture and Global Contexts in Education Decision Making

Dr. Maureen Lienau, Ph.D.

May 1, 2016

Partnership for 21st Century Learning

There many school and programs throughout the United States that are listed on the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21) Exemplar Program. P21 is a coalition that brings together the business community, educational leaders, and policymakers to position 21st century readiness at the center of US K-12 education for the importance of 21st century skills for all students. (P21, n.d.)

For the past decade it has built a coalition of non-profit, foundation, and corporate members working on relevancy for todays and tomorrow's world and continuing education. Keeping in the forefront the framework for 21st Century Learning. The schools that are listed all-share the same goals; achievements and contributions of their students and communities for education. Three of these school have been selected to showcase several models or programs representing innovation, culturally relevant practices and creativity. (P21, n.d.)

MaST Community Charter School

Mathematics, Science and Technology (MaST)

  • Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Charter School - Title I

  • Population over 1315 students, Serves Grades PreK –12

  • Apple Distinguished School for 2014-2016

  • Total Minority Enrollment 27%

  • American Indian/Alaskan Native Enrollment 0.1%

  • Asian 10%

  • Black 7%

  • Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 0%

  • Hispanic Enrollment 7%

  • White 73%

  • Two or More Races Enrollment 2%

(Notebook, 2016)

Website: MaST Community Charter School.

Why MaST Community Charter School is Innovative

MaST Community Charter School Distinguished School, and an Apple Distinguished Program. The school’s dedicated faculty create incredibly innovative pathways for students to become independent thinkers and innovative learners, using a STREAM Curriculum.

MaST CEO, John Swoyer, explains that the vision of the school is to think about learning differently, involving out of the box approaches and hands-on learning. We see MaST students as the future leaders, so, of course, we want to prepare them to be able to be productive members of society and encourage them to achieve any goals that they set. (MastCCS, 2015)

MaST 21st Century Skills

At MaST students participate in designing the many specialty learning spaces at MaST, like the 9,000 sq. foot innovation media center completed in 2011, which houses:

  • HD video studio,

  • STREAM playground

  • Virtual fitness center. In addition to a regular gym

  • Futuristic fitness room using Wii systems

  • Fitness boards

  • Interactive teachers lead instruction

  • Workout space for teachers and students

  • Technology apps to track positive behaviour trends, motivate students, and communicate with parents

  • Students implement QR codes on all club info flyers to streamline and improve communication between students in extracurricular activities. (MastCCS, 2015).

MaST Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

At MaST, technology impacts what happens in the classroom: It’s not a traditional model teachers are engaged with students and teachers become facilitators, allowing students to drive their own educational experience. Content from the classroom comes alive with a technology tool.

Lessons are built around projects and outcomes, providing a great deal of interaction and collaboration opportunities for students. A new Makerspace provides 3 classrooms for 3D design, modeling, and scanning, as well as motion capture, for projects like prosthetics design and other futuristic concepts. (MastCCS, 2015).

MaST Creativity

MaST uses some of its Title I funding for community events that are very well attended and supported by parents, allowing students to feel supported by the entire community. High school students serve as mentors to younger classmates in elementary for STEM or STREAM related activities, as well as teaching elementary students how to use devices and technology.

  • MaST partners with Community College of Philadelphia and Manor College

  • Provides dual-enrollment classes and college credits

  • Some students are even able to earn an associate’s degree before they leave high school

  • The Franklin Institute, a 191 year old institution dedicated to scientific research and education hosts a public "Star Night" at MaST

  • The school has a full K-12 robotics program, with LEGO at the K-8 level, integrated into different subjects

(MastCCS, 2015).

New Century International Elementary School

  • Location Fayetteville, NC
  • Public School Title I
  • Population over 700 students / 66% diversity
  • Serves Grades PreK - 5
  • Class ratio average 18:1

  • Global Education Focused
  • A VIF Partner School

  • Asian, Native American or other ethnicity 7%
  • Black 40%
  • Hispanic 20%
  • White 33%

(NC School Report Cards, 2015)

Website: Cumberland County Schools

Why New Century International Elementary School is Unique

New Century International Elementary is an internationally themed K-5 elementary school in Fayetteville, N.C. Just down the road from the country’s most populated Army Base, Fort Bragg. All classrooms focus on global education as a component of college and career readiness. Grade levels focus on one of six major continents in the world and international exchange teachers from those continents serve as members of grade-level teams.

Content from regions of focus is woven into grade-level curriculum and reflected in instruction, bulletin board as well as hallway displays and student work. Global education at New Century includes language learning. All students in grades K-5 have the opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese, a language in high demand at nearby Fort Bragg.

In addition, New Century offers a full K-5 Mandarin immersion model in which 80 percent of instruction is delivered in Mandarin and 20 percent is dedicated to English language arts through resource classes and literacy development through second grade. (NCIES, 2015).

New Century 21st Century Skills

In addition to global content, instructional technologies are also infused throughout the school. At New Century, global learning, technology and community engagement come together with a strong standards-based instructional program to prepare elementary students for college, careers and 21st century readiness from day one.

  • Learn Mandarin Chinese
  • Regions of focus & world views is woven into grade-level curriculum
  • Smartboards, Web cameras, computer stations and Wi-Fi for every classroom
  • Mobile computer labs that provide thirty laptop computers for student use around the school

Teachers spend 90 minutes each week engaged in team planning to ensure student learning includes a focus on 21st century skills. (NCIES, 2015).

New Century Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

At New Century Elementary, there is a wide culturally relevant in their studies and weekly teacher planning sessions either in vertical, grade-level or Professional Learning Community (PLC) Teams.

New Century center of attention on diversity its backgrounds and are effective facilitators of learning in the classroom that culturally relevant pedagogy helps to create a space in which students could preserve their cultural integrity while succeeding academically.

In addition, they collaborate with pre-service teachers in assisting global focus on world regions and cultures, awareness of international and global issues, skills to work effectively in cross-cultural environments while integrated learning in the classroom. (NCIES, 2015).

New Century Creativity

New Century believes active citizenship is a component of 21st century readiness and through this concept creativity is established. New Century uses a variety of school clubs and community partnerships to promote.

Critical-thinking - Problem-solving skills - Self-direction - Leadership - Adaptability and Productivity

  • BETA Club, AIG Team, Discovery Team, Science Club and the Battle of the Books Team

  • Local community through service projects

  • The students, teachers and parents work closely with the military community

  • Bringing local Leadership and community groups to offer character education.

(NCIES, 2015).

Springfield Renaissance School an Expeditionary Learning School

  • Location Springfield, MA
  • Magnet School Program Title I

  • Population over 700 students
  • Serves Grades 6–12
  • Class ratio average 15:1
  • Expeditionary Learning school

  • Asian 1.5%
  • Black 25%
  • Hispanic 45%
  • Native American or other ethnicity .1%
  • Multi-Race, Non-Hispanic 0.8
  • White 26%

(SRS, 2016)

Website: The Springfield Renaissance School.

Why Springfield Renaissance School is Unique

Renaissance is an Expeditionary Learning school that has outperformed the district average with a 100% college acceptance rate. Educators hold students to high expectations through frameworks that emphasizes:

  • Collaboration - Self-Assessment - Communication - Problem solving abilities.

In 2013, Springfield Renaissance School celebrated its fourth consecutive year of full college acceptance for all graduating seniors. The graduating students entered the school as sixth graders when the school was founded in 2006 with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

(SRS, 2016)

Springfield Renaissance 21st Century Skills

Renaissance’s Math department for leading the school’s participation in the worldwide Hour of Code 2015, Renaissance was one of more than 194,00 groups in more than 180 countries who took part in the Hour of Code challenge that saw all students at Renaissance learning how to write code through hands on, engaging and inspirational computer science experiences. This is just one of many exciting STEM activities taking place on a daily basis at Renaissance.

Renaissance is one of a number of selected schools from around the world that will be given the opportunity to participate in this unique experience. Expeditions is a virtual reality platform built for the classroom that leads students on guided tours of places schools buses can't go. They are comprised of virtual reality panoramas and are led by a guide or teacher. Using a tablet, teachers can guide up to 50 students wearing virtual reality viewers. Teachers can guide their class and point out highlights while referring to editable notes.

(SRS, 2016)

Springfield Renaissance Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

The school has adopted the Crew, which is in the EL world is what other schools might call Advisory Groups. The name, Crew, comes from the EL phrase "We are Crew, Not Passengers," meaning that students work proactively to meet their academic, extra-curricular and social/emotional goals.

Crews at Renaissance consist of 1 teacher and a small group of students, usually 12 to 15 students, who stay together through grades 6 to 8 then move into their high school Crew for grades 9 through 12.

Crew meets every day, which enables students and their Crew leader to develop strong relationships based on trust and mutual respect.

Crew is the place where students work on their college-boundness, where service projects are developed and executed.

Student Led Family Conferences Students are able to communicate and analyze situations while simultaneously improving their reading, oral, and writing skills all while teachers are facilitating the Crews.

  • Three times a year all students prepare for and conduct a Student Led Family Conference

  • Twice per year (in December and June) we stop all classes and hold one-week mini-courses

          • Each teacher teaches a course of his/her own choosing

          • Teachers do auto mechanics, basketball, chess, video production, yearbook, photography,

          • Video game programming, and many other subjects, topics and activities. (SRS, 2016)

Renaissance Creativity Expeditionary Learning Network

The school is focused on Student-Driven and Real-World Curricula

opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning.

  • Students create passage portfolios at critical points in their education
  • Students are expected to assess and demonstrate their progress through student-led family
  • Deliver a senior talk outlining their growth as a student in which a small group of students work collaboratively and with a teacher leader towards overarching personal and academic goals.
  • Interviews leaders of various religious communities
  • Participates in social economic activists about the labor practices involved in creating cheap chocolate bars and other business in the area.
  • Collaborates with students with students at the University of Massachusetts and put together an art exhibit at Springfield showcasing what we thought nuclear weapons did to the world and other projects
  • Work closely with community groups and leaders. (SRS, 2016)


Every one of the three school here are exceeding in teaching 21st century skills. As they are focusing in different aspects of education all with one common detonator, embedded technology. Through the use of innovation, good practices in cultural relevant and creativity. The way ahead is for successful student/citizens while providing a solid educational foundation and dedication to global awareness. Lastly, for 21st Century Students to be productive members of society by encouraging them to achieve any goals that they set.


MaST Community Charter School. (2015). Retrieved from

New Century International Elementary School (Video Case Study). (2015). Retrieved from

North Carolina School Report Cards. (2015). Retrieved from

Partnership for 21st Century Learning. (n.d). Our Vision and Mission. Retrieved from

Philadelphia Public School Notebook. (2016). Retrieved from

Springfield Renaissance School. (2014). Retrieved from

The Springfield Renaissance School an Expeditionary Learning School. (2016). Demographics. Retrieved from