In today’s ever-changing world, understanding both similarities and differences amongst cultures and learning to look for a means of compatibility is more important than ever. The size of the Earth may be the same but technology has made our world very small indeed.

In Middle School, social studies focuses on cultures from around the world and understanding what makes them unique. Before students can understand cultures from around the world, they must first explore cultures within their learning community. In Ms. Smith’s 6th grade classroom at Reynolds Middle School, they call their classroom their learning community.

At the direction of Ms. Smith, the students looked at a picture of an apartment building where they were asked to speculate on what cultures could be found in that building. Not surprisingly, students responded with “I don’t know - we can’t see the inside.” That’s when this assignment really became interactive.

Students were asked to pretend that they could cut down one of the exterior walls and have a peek inside the apartment units. When looking inside a family’s home, students would be given clues as to what each family’s culture was like.

In order to explore cultures that may be in the apartment complex, the class created their own family’s culture by showcasing it in a shoebox. With no other direction than that, students were given the freedom to use their creativity to determine the depth in which they needed to go to adequately communicate their family culture.

The class consisted of students from all walks of life, from all over the world, all found within that learning community. Ms. Smith focused on celebrating those similarities and differences and teaching students to respect each other’s cultures before delving deep into the curriculum.

Once completed, students were able to have a gallery walk and present their cultures to their learning community. They were then able to ask questions to each other and learn similar traditions they share. The class created this video to highlight and celebrate their learning experience.