Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

From Awareness to Action: Nurturing Equity

Mariah Warren, Danny Mattox, Amber Stokes, Janis Slater, Brittany Bowens, Evalyne Tracy, Lydia Baker, Sherry Franklin, Sheridan Kautzmann | Published: January 10th, 2024 by K20 Center


In this professional development, participants will reflect on equity in their school. They will work in groups to create images that represent equity, read through an equity research brief for theory and practice, and discuss educational case studies and how they can work to provide equity in different situations. The session wraps up with participants reflecting on how they can nurture equity in their schools and on their teams.

Essential Questions

  • How can equity be promoted for all stakeholders?

Learning Goals

  • Identify the research-based elements of equity.

  • Apply concepts from research to case studies and conversations.

  • Generate goals to foster equity in your professional community.

Materials List

  • Presentation Slides (attached)

  • Case Studies (attached, cut apart)

  • Magnetic Statement Table Tents (attached, one per session)

  • Equity in Practice Research Brief (attached, one per participant)

  • Planning for Equity handout (attached, one per participant and one per group per activity)

  • Equity Research Brief handout (attached, one per participant)

  • Chart Paper

  • Markers (one set per group)

  • Blue, Yellow, and Pink highlighters (one set per participant)

  • Sticky notes


Use the attached Presentation Slides to introduce the session.

Display slide 3 and introduce the participants to the Magnetic Statements instructional strategy. Inform them that you will present them with eight statements about equity. Participants should read each statement and choose one that they are most attracted to or that they agree with the most.

Display slide 4 and read the statements to the participants. As you read them, point out where they are in the room. Have the participants move to the table with the statement they have chosen. Once all participants have chosen a statement, provide them time to discuss, as a group, why they chose the statement and what stands out most to them. Ask for volunteers from each group to share what they discussed about their statement. Emphasize that all statements are correct and important to implementing equity in schools.

Display slide 6 and share the essential question with participants: How can equity be promoted for all stakeholders?

Move to slide 7 and share learning objectives with participants.


Have participants stay in their statement groups. Introduce the GramIt instructional strategy. Display slide 8 and ask groups to use this strategy to create an image that represents their group’s idea of equity. Each group should add a caption and hashtag to their image to help explain their understanding of equity. Provide each group with a piece of large chart paper and markers. Give the groups 15–20 minutes to complete their images.

Once each group has completed their image, display slide 9 and pass out a stack of sticky notes to each group. Depending on your preference, either have participants hang their posters around the room or have them leave their posters face-up on their tables. Using the Gallery Walk strategy, have participants walk around the room to view the images of other groups. Participants should leave comments on other groups’ images with their sticky notes. You may wish to have participants continue the Gallery Walk until they have seen a small selection of other groups’ images (at least three others) or until they have seen all the images in the gallery.

Give participants time to view and comment on other images. Let them know they will be revisiting their images later in the session, but for now, they can set them aside.


Display slide 10 and pass out a copy of the attached Equity Research Brief to each participant along with a set of blue, yellow, and pink highlighters. Inform participants that they will be reading the research brief and using the Categorical Highlighting instructional strategy. As they read the research brief, they should highlight the following:

  • Blue: Something they are doing well at their site.

  • Yellow: Something they have seen at their site, but it’s not happening consistently.

  • Pink: Something they wish were happening at their site, but it’s not currently in practice.

Give participants 8–10 minutes to read through the brief individually.

After participants have finished reading the research brief, display slide 11. Have participants share with their table group a few key highlights for each color. Encourage them to focus on what they highlighted in yellow and pink. After groups have discussed, display slide 12 and have one spokesperson from each group share one key takeaway from their discussion.


Display slide 13 and ask participants to regroup into groups of 5–7. You can have them regroup by teams, schools, or mixed groups. Pass out a copy of the attached Planning for Equity handout to each participant.

Display slide 14. Pass out one of the six Case Studies half-sheets to each group. The case studies in this handout focus on equity for students, teachers, and events.

Go over the goal areas for the Planning for Equity handout with participants, pointing out each of the four goal areas: resources, interventions, high expectations, and cultural recognition. Ask participants to come up with an example goal for each area.

Have each group read through their case study and fill out the Planning for Equity handout.

Allow enough time for groups to finish reading individually and discuss possible interventions for their case studies, considering each goal area in the Equity in Practice Research Brief. Once all groups are done, have a spokesperson from each group share one equity-related challenge they identified and a solution they discussed.


Display slide 15 and have participants revisit their GramIt images from the Explore phase. Ask participants to take what they have learned so far in the session and discuss connections between their images and changes they might make to their own image. Have the groups make those changes add sticky notes to explain possible tweaks. Once all groups have had time to reflect on their images, have each group share one change they made or would make.

Have participants get back into the groups from their site, subject, or team. Display slide 16 and pass out one copy of the attached Equity in Practice Research Brief to each participant. Additionally, pass out a new copy of the Planning for Equity handout to each participant.

Ask participants to apply what they have learned to their own site or team. They should first read through the practice portion of the research brief and then review their Categorical Highlighting notes from earlier. Next, have participants fill out their own Planning for Equity handouts for their team or school. Give participants enough time to read the research brief, discuss, and fill out the handout.

If groups are comfortable doing so, have them share out one thing they would like to try at their site. Encourage the groups to take their Planning for Equity handouts back to their site and implement what they have learned and discussed in this workshop.

Research Rationale

Many have defined equity involving equal opportunities (Luke et al., 2013) for all students (Majzub, 2013). Equity doesn’t just involve providing individual support for all students, but for all students to achieve equal levels of success (Leithwood, 2021). The K20 Center’s IDEALS defines equity as “a fair and just principle which strives to ensure that the community needs of all social identities are recognized, respected, and met and that holds high expectations for all, adjusting for differentiation and personalization based on individual needs.” This requires setting high expectations, providing positive leadership in schools, student-centered and accessible learning, culturally responsive teaching with differentiated instruction, and working with all stakeholders (Ainscow, 2020; Fletcher et al., 2019, Leithwood, 2021; Marcos et al., 2021; Nadelson et al., 2019; Onyishi & Sefotho, 2021). For this to be achieved schools must implement schoolwide systematic strategies for their ever changing populations that focus on meaningful learning and student achievement (Shields & Hesbol (2020). This begins with authentic dialogue leading to a shared vision and values by the teachers and administrators (Teemant et al., 2021).


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  • Fletcher Jr., E. C., Hernandez-Gantes, V. M., & Smith, C. (2019). This is my neighborhood: An exploration of culturally relevant agency to support high school Latinx students in an urban career academy. The Qualitative Report, 24(12), 3,239–3,268.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Categorical highlighting. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). GramIt. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Magnetic statements. Strategies. 

  • Leithwood, K. (2021). A review of evidence about equitable school leadership. Education Sciences, 11(8), 377.

  • Luke, A., Woods, A., & Weir, K. (2013). Curriculum, Syllabus Design and Equity. Routledge.

  • Marcos, T., Wise, D., Loose, W., Belenardo, S., & Padover, W. (2021). How California school principals and teachers engage academic optimism to maximize equity in student learning within low socio-economic status (SES) schools. Educational Leadership and Administration: Teaching and Program Development, 33, 1–17.

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  • Onyishi, C., & Sefotho, M. M. (2021). Differentiating instruction for learners’ mathematics self-efficacy in inclusive classrooms: Can learners with dyscalculia also benefit? South African Journal of Education, 41(4), 1–14.

  • Shields, C. M., & Hesbol, K. A. (2020). Transformative leadership approaches to inclusion, equity, and social justice. Journal of School Leadership, 30(1), 3–22.

  • Teemant, A., Borgioli Yoder, G., Sherman, B. J., & Santamaría Graff, C. (2021). An equity framework for family, community, and school partnerships. Theory Into Practice, 60(1), 28–38.