Our second unit of the year focussed on, "How We Express Ourselves" and the various ways that different cultures show who they are.
We began the unit by finding out what the students knew about culture by doing a Gallery Walk and looking at a variety of cultural items from cultures and having the students record what they thought the item was used for, and where it came from.
Then we did a Word Attack to find out the meaning of new words such as "origin" and "culture". To do this the students came up with 3 ways to find the answers; ask someone, use a dictionary or search online. A few students headed out of the class to interview some teachers or interns about what the words meant, while others used computers or dictionaries. Once everyone had collected their answers they met with the other members of their group who had also researched either origin or culture. In the groups, they shared what they had learnt and then agreed upon a definition for the word and finally presented it to the other group.
Another activity, the Picture Sort, saw the students working together to sort out pictures of cultural items into groups based on where they came from, for example sushi, ninjas and sumo are from Japan, Maple syrup, ice hockey and Totem poles are for Canada. This was a good opportunity for students to share what they thought about the different pictures and to share the reasons behind their choices.
We also had the chance to observe a couple cultural celebrations during this unit such as Halloween, St. Martin's and a couple Christmas traditions such as singing carols at the Osaka Christmas Market, making decorations for our own DSK Christmas Market, and celebrating with Santa!
The unit required the students to do a lot of research, not only about other cultures, but about their own culture and origin as well. For homework they worked with parents to create their Family Trees and then enjoyed sharing their findings with the rest of the class. As some students ancestors were from different countries, we used a map to locate those countries and used some string to show how far some families have moved.
Our art projects that weren't connected to Christmas Market crafts were also related to different cultures. We made some pictures in the style of Panamanian Molas, designed our own Coat of Arms and made our own T-shirts using an Indonesian Batik technique using glue as a resist and then paint or clothes dyes to colour the shirts.
We also had a couple special presentations by Mr. Justin Rich about South African culture, and by Frau Daniella Rost about Germany. Students enjoyed sharing some of their own culture with their classmates when they brought in cultural items for their show and tell. They also enjoyed a special show and tell during PE when Scarlett's dad, Mr. Ellis joined the lesson to share some New Zealand culture with us through rugby and the Maori's Haka. In the true NZ spirit, the students chose to perform the Haka on the last day before the holidays to wish Scarlett and her family a safe trip back to New Zealand and we look forward to their return towards the end of May or June.
We ended the unit with a Cultural Mini-Museum that you can find out more about in the next post!