Arts Integration and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy

Supporting Bi/Multilingual High School Learners in Biology


  • Sahar Aghasafari University of Georgia
  • Kelli Bivins
  • Brendan Nordgren


Keywords: Arts Integration; STEAM; bi/multilingual learners; culturally sustaining pedagogy; biology unit; communication skills class.


There has been a dramatic increase in the number of multilingual and multicultural students in U.S. schools. Because of high-stakes testing and English-only mandates, instructional practices, and curricula in most urban school districts neglect the cultural and linguistic interests of their diverse student populations. In this interpretive study, we use exploratory case study methods to demonstrate how Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP) and Arts Integration (including drawing and graphic story) can support the learning of ten students who speak English as their second language. This article introduces research activities supporting the use of culturally sustaining pedagogy and arts in a biology unit (the role of selection population) in communication skills class, particularly as it relates to bilingual and multilingual youth.


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Author Biographies

Kelli Bivins

ELLI BIVINS, is an ESOL teacher at Cedar Shoals High School in Athens. She has proudly served the families of Athens, Georgia as teacher, advocate, and friend for more than twenty years. Bivins also has a deep passion for nature conservation, building strong communities and is a Fulbright Teacher for Global Classrooms scholar. When not serving her students, she enjoys laughing and living with her husband and two sons, in addition to volunteering at the Athens-Clarke Animal Shelter. E-mail:

Brendan Nordgren

BRENDAN NORDGREN, is an ESOL teacher at Cedar Shoals High School in Athens. She has taught in multicultural settings and unique educational programs throughout her career. The inspiration and passions she has for her students includes sustainable environmental education, school gardening and cultural justice. E-mail:

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How to Cite

Aghasafari, S., Bivins, K., & Nordgren, B. (2021). Arts Integration and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy: Supporting Bi/Multilingual High School Learners in Biology . Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, 10(1), 59–81. Retrieved from