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Everything American

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Keywords: Social Studies, culture, American, citizenship, technology, PowerPoint, digital photography
Subject(s): Social Studies, Art, Technology, Social Skills, Music, Photography
Grade 8
School: Northwestern Lehigh Middle Sch, New Tripoli, PA
Planned By: Kathy L. Fiedler
Original Author: Kathy L. Fiedler, New Tripoli

Essential Question: What does it mean to be American?

1. Using this prompt, have students write for two minutes: An American is...

2. Have students share their responses. Lead a brief discussion in response to their writing, incorporating the definition of culture as "the way of life for an entire society." It includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief. List these aspects as they come up in the discussion.

3. Ask students to work in groups of 2 or 3 to work together to brainstorm examples of typically American clothing, food, traditions and celebrations, sports, performance art, visual art, religion, etc. Assign each group a category. More abstract ideas such as attitudes, beliefs, language, and mannerisms could be given to students who seem to grasp the concept of culture better than others (as noted by teacher in discussion step #2)

4. Give each group a digital camera and ask them to create a PowerPoint photo display, accompanied by limited text, that would help illustrate examples of cultural items on their list. (Have them take turns taking the cameras home in order to include photographs of everyday American life.)

5. Each group will submit a minimum of ten quality photographs (and a maximum of thirty) that will capture the richness of American culture.

5. Put all projects together in one PowerPoint file. Assign students to work individually to use the photos to create an "Everything American" slide show, accompanied by words and music, that demonstrates what they have learned about American culture.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
English: Write poetry expressing patriotic feeling.
Culmination: Show exemplary slide shows to the entire class. Optional: serve classic American refreshments!
Links: American Popular Culture
Materials: Point and Shoot, Slideshow, Social Studies, Camera Bags, xD Memory Cards, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries