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Cultural Differences

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 
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GENERAL TOPIC: World Cultures                                                           

GRADE: 6th Grade


  • What different cultures items exist in the student’s lives?
  • What would it be like if any cultural items were taken away?


  • Whiteboard or chalkboard, expo markers or chalk
  • Chart paper, markers



§113.18 Social Studies 6th Grade (15)  Culture. The student understands the similarities and differences within and among cultures in various world societies. The student is expected to: (B)  identify and describe common traits that define cultures; (17)  Culture. The student understands relationships that exist among world cultures. The student is expected to: (D)  identify and define the impact of cultural diffusion on individuals and world societies.


§117.34 Theatre 6th Grade (1) Perception. The student develops concepts about self, human relationships, and the environment, using elements of drama and conventions of theatre. The student is expected to: (B) expand body awareness and spatial perceptions, using pantomime; (D) express emotions and ideas, using interpretive movements and dialogue; (2) Creative expression/performance. The student interprets characters, using the voice and body expressively, and creates dramatizations. The student is expected to: (A) demonstrate safe use of the voice and body; (B) imagine and clearly describe characters, their relationships, and their surroundings.



Socio-metrics on a Continuum

"For our first activity, we are going place our bodies on an invisible line in the room. This line will run from here to here (show and walk it). I will read a statement that you need to respond to by placing your body on the line. You are only concerned with how you respond to this statement and what is true for you. This side of the line is strongly agree and this side of the line is strongly disagree. You can stand anywhere in between as well. For example, if the statement was I love pizza I would stand here. (Model) I put myself on this part of the line because I don’t dislike pizza, but I do probably make it for dinner once a week and enjoy it. Any questions?"

"Great! The first statement is, “My family has a tradition or custom.” (Explain tradition or custom if needed.) Go ahead and place yourself on the line. Give wait time. Let’s find out why people stood where they did. Does anyone want to share why they places themselves where they did?"

"Next statement, “I believe culture is important.” Go ahead and place yourself on the line. Give wait time. This time I want you to turn to someone next to you and discuss why you placed yourself on the line. I will give you thirty seconds. Go." Give allotted time, walk around and side-coach students. "Thanks, we are first going to hear from a group down here." Repeat as needed to hear voices from across the line.

"And our last statement is, “I believe culture is something to be proud of.” Go ahead and place yourself on the line. Give wait time. I want you to turn to someone next to you and discuss why you placed yourself on the line. I will give you thirty seconds. Go." Give allotted time, walk around and side-coach students. "Thanks, we are first going to hear from a group down here." Repeat as needed to hear voices from across the line.

Transition: "Thank you for participating and sharing. We identified that here in your classroom we have many different backgrounds, experiences, and opinions. I heard many students share their own traditions and customs. Many students expressed why their cultural heritage is important to them. Let’s think about this as we move forward in our lesson today."

"We are going to explore the following questions today:

  • What different cultures items exist in the student’s lives?
  • What would it be like if any cultural items/key was taken away?"

"Today you will be working on pairs or groups where you will have to share ideas and work together to explore the content."

  1. SHARING information:

"I know you have been working on learning the cultural keys. We are going to use those in today’s lesson. If you do not remember any cultural keys, you may use your journals to help you remember."


"I would like to you take thirty seconds to think of three cultural keys." Give wait time.

"Now, please turn to the individuals seated at your table and share with them the three keys you thought of. You will have about one minute to discuss what you came up with." Give needed time. Walk around and assist groups and side-coach as needed.

"Great, thank you for working in your groups. Now we would like to share out the information you discussed. What cultural keys did you groups discuss? I would like to hear from each table. If more than one table said it we can put a check mark next to it to show that it was a common response." Make a list on the board of those cultural keys.

"Great job. We are going to use this list for our next activity."


Alphabet Relay Race
"The class will be split into two groups in order to do an alphabet relay race. An alphabet race is where a team must add a word, phrase, or saying to their chart paper that relates to the given topic. Each team must go in order from A to Z. And you can help your teammates if they can’t think of a word for the letter. But remember, you might want to whisper so the other team doesn’t hear your word and steal it. Before I assign teams are there any questions?" Give wait time and answer any questions.
"The topic of your alphabet poster is specific examples of cultural keys. You can think about words that relate to the types of cultural keys we have listed on the board. You will be able to use the list on the board as a reference. For example, say I have the letter F and I can’t think of a word. I can look at the categories on the board. I see the category of language. I think of a language that begins with the letter F- French." Model another think-aloud if needed.
"I am going to explain the directions first. We will not get up out of our seats until I say go. Directions: I am going to divide the class into two groups. In your group you will form a line. Each group will get one marker. Once you are done writing your word on the poster you hand the marker to the next person who will be at the front of the line. You then go to the end of the line. While you are waiting in line you can think of a word for your next turn and you might have to help a teammate come up with a word." Split class up into groups by the table they are sitting at. Distribute one marker per group. Line the groups up behind the “line” and begin. Side-coach as needed. Remind students that this is a race, but that we are also looking for examples of cultural keys. 
"Great work everyone. Let’s gather around and discuss what we see on these posters." Use DAR (Describe-Analyze-Relate) to discuss the posters.
D: Let’s first just describe what we notice.
A: Do you see any connections between the two posters? What else is popping out at you? Do you notice any differences between what the teams came up with?
R: Let’s move through the categories on the board and name out what we see. What words that you came up with on the posters relate to your own life and culture. Circle these on the poster in preparation for the next activity.
Transition: "Great job and thank you for participating in discussion. As you noticed we circled the specific cultural items that you find in your own lives. We are going to use these items in our next activity."
Role Play
"I would like you to think about what it would be like if some of these cultural items were taken away. We are going to work in the last section of our lesson today with identifying a cultural key that exists in your life and how it would change if that cultural key were taken away."
"For example, let’s look at one item we circled from our poster. Let’s discuss how our lives would be altered if this item didn’t exist or if it was changed. Allow discussion. What I am hearing are positive and negative issues that arise if this cultural key/item was taken away or eliminated."
Example: Dollar Bills  

  1. Would people work? What else does that affect? (Food, manufacturing, general housing needs like electric, plumbing, and water…)
  2. People would have to barter instead of exchanging items for money.
  3. Resources would be available to all possibly.

"Let’s role play a situation where this cultural item does not exist and the people need to figure out a solution to the problem." Create a role-play scenario out of the given cultural items circled and discussed. Model the role play and then discuss what made the role play successful. Highlight the fact that role-play uses dialogue.
Example about Dollar Bills:

  1. Barter goods and services with doctors to receive care. What would the doctor do when he already has the items the person is trying to give him in exchange for his services?

"You will work in pairs in order to solve the problem. You will dialogue as the character and figure out a solution to the problem. Please be prepared to share your role play with the class, so use this time to rehearse and think about what your role play will look like. You will have three minutes to work on your scene." Walk around and assist students as needed.
"Great work. We are going to share out some of the scenes in order to see how the world is different if this cultural item did not exist. Let’s pay attention and listen closely because I may ask you some questions when the students are done sharing." Have a group share. "Thanks for sharing. How did this doctor and patient solve the problem?" Discuss as a class. "Do we have another group willing to share?"
Transition: "As we noticed through our discussion and work, many of these cultural keys affect other things in our daily lives."
Interactive Journals
"We are going to now write in our interactive journals. In your journals I would like to write about what it would be like if any cultural items were taken away from your own life. Remember a cultural item is specific to your culture and is an example of a cultural key." Review what quality interactive journal prompt looks like. Side-coach and assist students as needed to write in their interactive journals.

  • What different cultural items exist in your lives?
  • What are some cultural items that are specific to your culture?
  • How did drama help us explore cultural items today?
  • What activity did you enjoy most today, why?
  • If I were to talk to your principal about why your school should do DBI, what would you like me to tell him or her?