Students partner and participate in an activity in which they tally specific actions while in conversation. Students define and discuss their understanding and experiences of cultural norms.
Students will be able to:
- Explain the idea of a cultural norm and articulate how an awareness of cultural norms fosters respect and community
- Reflect on the experience of breaking cultural norms
- Build an awareness of their own and others’ cultural norms that will translate into a larger understanding and respect for these norms and others’ perspectives
Tally sheets and stickers or tokens, pen/paper for reflection
|Introduce students to the day’s activity without giving too much away. We don’t yet want students to know that they will be working with cultural norms or that they are probably going to break the norms their partner has. This lesson is intended to “trick” students into breaking norms as that is something that we do commonly and unknowingly.
These suggestions include easily observable things that many of us do in our common communication. Some of them are cultural norms (eye contact) and some of them are less applicable (saying “like”). Narrate for your students the difference or choose your list of behaviors intentionally.
Dot Tally and Norm Sharing
|During your explanation, it would be helpful to identify a time when you as a teacher or adult unintentionally broke someone else’s cultural norm or had one of your own cultural norms broken. Sharing this story allows students to understand a tangible example as well as models vulnerability for the discussion to come.|
Suggestions for discussion questions**:
|*Be sure to avoid stereotyping and making generalizations in this exercise when discussing cultural groups.
**Depending on the level of familiarity of your students with the idea of cultural difference, diversity, and social inequality, you can also add an element of power and authority into this discussion by asking questions that address which cultural norms are valued over others in certain environments and why. For example, a student might be punished for breaking a teacher’s cultural norm but rarely would a teacher receive clear negative consequences from breaking a student’s cultural norm. Complicating the idea of cultural norms by including race, class, gender, and other lines of difference can provide for a rich discussion if appropriate for your students.
Suggested formative assessment/reflection questions listed below.
|Optional: After doing this exercise, consider this way of doing it. During the exercise, on the blank side, the students check off behaviors that they witness others doing. This focuses on the behaviors and not the specific students. When sharing out, talk about cultural norms as a group and what each norm means for each person. After the individual conversations finish, tape the cards on the wall and have students circulate, look at the number of check marks, lift the card, and read about the cultural norm that was broken as a jumping off point for the larger class discussion.|
Connections to Other Emotions
The group work fosters the emotions of connected and supported, as the discussion and activity are intended to create a safe space for students to talk about feeling disrespected (i.e., having a cultural norm broken) in a low-stakes, fictional simulation.
Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment
Students will be able to provide thoughtful responses to the following questions:
- What is a cultural norm? Briefly describe it and give at least one example.
- How do you feel when you break someone else’s cultural norm?
- How do you feel when someone else breaks one of your cultural norms?
- How can you avoid breaking others’ cultural norms?
- How can you react when someone breaks one of your cultural norms or someone tells you that you’ve broken one of theirs?