Our Cultural Similarities and Differences unit began with a look at our own culture here in Vermont. Students were asked to choose a partner to work with and a country to research. For the next month-and-a-half, students read everything they could about their country. Mrs. Rider and the resources from the library were a lot of help. In fact, students were able to utilize several resources from the library’s website without leaving the classroom.
Kids were asked to answer this simple question: “What makes your country unique?” After choosing cultural aspects from a long list that included everything from Art to Taboos, the kids were off and running. They were also asked to think about how the geography of their country affected it’s culture. Most kids were able to see a clear connection. For example, countries located on or near the equator typically wear lightweight clothing and play summer Olympic-type sports. Learning was not contained to just one classroom. Mrs. Crosby, the 5-8th grade Art teacher, was able to extend this project within her curriculum. She asked kids to research an artist from their country of study. Students then made a final piece that was included in the Culture Fair.
The Culture Fair! We had Kindergartners and 5th, 7th, and 8th grade students along with parents in attendance. Students were able to present poster boards, games, and research papers along with many other extras.
A sixth grader summed up the experience this way:
“With our posterboard finished, we set out to buy cheese and carbonated water made in France for the food section of the culture fair. It was a big hit. Everyone loved the combination of carbonated water and cheese. Now that the minor part of the culture fair was finished, we were ready for the big one. We were a little nervous at first, but then we became more confident over time. It didn’t feel like I was forcing myself to tell people about my country. Instead, the words kind of rolled off my tongue. We got so many visitors and yet, I still didn’t feel stressed. Everybody loved our game and our country. By the middle of the culture fair, our poster board was swarming with people. Every time I look back on it I feel proud of myself for doing such a good job handling all of those people. When the culture fair ended my mouth felt dry as a desert from all of the speaking that I did, and I couldn’t wait to see my grade the next day. – Sixth Grader, J.H.
Target 4. Engaged Community Partners: FWSU staff and students engage in authentic learning opportunities with local, regional, state, and global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.
Indicator of Success: Collaborative projects and partnerships are part of the fabric of the broader community.
Action Step: Plan and manage instruction to address problems relevant to students and their community; design and present solutions to authentic audiences.