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The Differences Among Us

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Keywords: Comparative Essay, Cultural Awareness, Diversity, Culture
Subject(s): Social Studies, Geography, Technology, English/Language Arts
Grades 5 through 8
School: West Side Middle School, Amite, LA
Planned By: April Kinchen
Original Author: April Kinchen, Amite
Anticipatory Set:
1. Teacher will share slideshows, pictures, and personal items about her family and cultural background.
2. Students will discuss what they know about culture. Students will generate their own definition for culture from initial discussion.
3. Teacher will display the class defintion for future reference.

Teacher Input:
1. Teacher will introduce and read the dictionary defintion for "culture" and compare it to student generated definition.
2. Teacher will present a slideshow with artifacts on the various cultures, stressing on specific cultures among the community.
3. Teacher will introduce and explain "diversity". Teacher will lead student discussion on the importance of understanding diversity and cultural within the classroom, as well as in society.

1. Students will be divided into teams of four/five students.
2. Each member of the team will fill out a chart on the ways in which their family: a) celebrates holidays - 2, b) traditional foods and eating patterns, c) how chores are assigned in the family, d) observance of religious customs, e) traditional family trips or vacations, f) cures for colds, flu, g) demographic history, h) nationality history, i) makeup of immediate family
3. Students will round robin around the team sharing one topic at a time about their family, while the other team members take notes and ask questions. This will continue until all topics have been discussed.

Independent Practice:
1. Students will write a comparative essay explaining the similarities, and differences among the team members.

1. Students will revisit their definition for culture and discuss what changes should be made to the definition.
2. Students will generate a new definition for "culture".
3. Teacher will display their new definition in the classroom.

1. Students will interview a student outside of their classroom, not of their culture or race, and ask them the same topics as found in the chart from the in-class activity. Students will compile a scrapbook (teacher-generated criteria based on individual needs of the students), using photos, artifacts, sample writings, etc. Students will write a comparative essay explaining the similarities and differences between their own culture and the culture of the student being interviewed. Final drafts should be typed on a word processing program and printed. Students will share scrapbooks with peers and become more aware of the cultures in their community.
2. In computer lab, students will create a slideshow for their individual culture and share with peers.
3. Students will each receive a lunch bag. Students will decorate their bags to express "who" they really are and put only one personal item in their bag to share with their peers.

Teacher should create his/her own criteria for each aspect of the activities based on the individual needs of their students and limitations within the classroom.

This is a great "getting to know you" activity for the beginning of the year. This is also a great team builder to develop a positive classroom atmosphere among the students.
Students create family trees to share with peers.
Materials: Slideshow, Keyboarding, Word Processor, Digital SLR
Other Items: 30 White Paper Bags, $0.20 each, total of $6.00