Adolescence has long been defined by the search for answers to the question, “Who am I?”
Because identity is synonymous with culture, it is also a time of cultural exploration in which teenagers may choose to embrace or reject inherited cultures (such as religion) or adopted cultures (such as musical genres). The era of globalization both enriches and complicates the relationships within and between cultures, as it grants us opportunities to experiment with and mix cultures in unprecedented ways.
Students thirst for guidance and discourse as they navigate the fraught territory of cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation, and classrooms can become valuable places in this process. Educators Danielle Lillge and Diana Dominguez advocate the importance of “opening our classrooms to . . . wonderfully rich, complicated, and uncertain spaces,” and embracing “analysis of how a complex web of social issues and identity markers necessarily shape students’ lives.”
In these lessons, students will read and study the essay “Your Cultural Attire” and use it as an entry point for social critique and the exploration of past and present realities of belonging, culture, identity, and power.
Use reading strategies to build vocabulary and enhance comprehension and critical thinking.
Use textual evidence to analyze cultural experiences and narrative literary techniques and structure.
Explore issues of belonging, culture, identity, and power, while demonstrating their ELA and history/social studies skills through reader response, narrative writing, and/or discussion.
How do we express ourselves through our cultures and, particularly, how do we use our attire to show our belonging to certain groups?
Why is it important to share and understand the cultural and identity stories of ourselves and others, and how might these stories shape the ways we live and relate to one another?
What are the obstacles and opportunities that people experience based on their cultural identities and attire, and how can we best address these obstacles to create more equal opportunities for all?
How do we determine the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation?
What gives our lives meaning that has nothing to do with our outer appearances and attire, and what do we have in common with others simply as human beings?
For more information on DOK, see DOK Slide Wheel
Computers/devices with which students may produce and publish their writing (optional)
Review all resources and decide which components you will include and how many lessons to allot for this curriculum. (Note: Almost every component can be used as a stand-alone piece or combined with other components.)
Read and take notes on the “Your Cultural Attire” essay.
Review and prepare your chosen handouts.
Preview and prepare the Culture, Identity, and Appropriation introduction mini-lecture and PowerPoint. Print out the notes for each slide and review them before lecturing. You may choose to include only some of the notes and slides in your lecture.
Decide what formatting, length specifications, and writing process steps you will require for the narrative writing assessment.
Preview and prepare optional extensions.
Model and instruct students to use the AVID® Marking the Text strategy as they read the article.
Before reading, number the paragraphs. (A paragraph begins at any break in the text, even if it is not indented.)
While reading, circle key vocabulary, dates, names, places, events, and important numbers/statistics.
After reading, go back and re-read sections, underlining strong images, descriptions, dialogue, and author’s reflections.
While reading, pause at various places and model the think-aloud strategy to demonstrate comprehension/summarization of the text.
Model and instruct students to use the Learn-Read-Discuss strategy.
Present brief lecture and PowerPoint on Culture, Identity, and Appropriation while students take Cornell or other structured notes.
Students read essay (using teacher’s designated strategies).
Students engage in small- or large-group discussion, synthesizing information from the lecture and essay.
TAG Option: You may choose to give advanced readers the SOAPS Text Analysis handout for tracking the author’s argument and purpose during their reading. Students’ observations using this strategy can be incorporated into later lesson steps, such as discussion and writing responses.
Tell students you will be presenting some background information to help them better understand the essay they will read (Listen-Read-Discuss strategy). Ask them to prepare materials to take notes in whatever style you choose (Cornell, outlining, charting, etc.).
Pre-teach any note-taking strategies as necessary.
Pause and give students time to answer the warm-up questions at the beginning of the presentation. You may choose to have them conduct a think-pair-share before moving into the lecture.
Present the brief lecture and PowerPoint on Culture, Identity, and Appropriation to pre-teach some key concepts. Tell students that text on the slides has been deliberately kept to a minimum to encourage them to employ their best listening skills. Guide them to write down the key headings on each slide and listen for supporting details for each heading during the lecture.
Students will likely have much to say about the examples of cultural appreciation/appropriation. You may ask them to privately record their own reactions before initiating discussion.
Remind students that their task is not to judge whether they like each example or not; rather, they should use the definition of cultural appropriation from the lecture to determine their positions. Students may find themselves confronted by a common contradiction: a cultural expression they like is also one they consider a form of cultural appropriation. You may require students to use specific language from the cultural appropriation definition in their responses, especially if responses seem to be based solely on personal tastes.
You may also remind them that there is no right answer for each example, and that each student might have a different reaction depending on their culture and experiences. A classroom of heterogeneous cultural representation may present widely divergent views; it is crucial to uphold an atmosphere of respectful dialogue by establishing ground rules such as prohibiting direct criticism of another student, practicing active listening, and maintaining curiosity toward alternate viewpoints.
Pause and give students time to answer the post-lecture reflection questions. You may choose to have them conduct a think-pair-share or closing discussion before moving on to further lesson steps.
Vocabulary (optional differentiation):
Frontload vocabulary and concepts from the essay prior to reading. Provide definitions or ask students to look up and record definitions. As an alternative, delay adding definitions until after reading, and ask students to use context to determine preliminary definitions as they read.
Ask students to identify and circle vocabulary words in the essay as they read.
After reading, review and clarify vocabulary words and ask students to write down the sentence from the essay that uses each word.
Present the dialectical journal and model how students should look for quotations and take notes as they read. After introducing the reading strategies you will use, read the essay with students or ask them to read silently. If reading aloud, pause to review, synthesize information, and model note-taking at various points during the reading process.
Give students time to review the text and add more quotations and responses to their dialectical journals. Consider using a think-pair-share or mini-discussion as an informal assessment of reading and responses.
Narrative writing assessment:
Help students break down the narrative writing prompts and discuss the specific requirements you have set for this assessment, along with the timeline and steps of the writing process students might complete: pre-writing, drafting, editing, revising, publishing. Give students time to brainstorm and share their ideas during the pre-writing stage, and use think-pair-shares, exit slips, and/or other methods as informal assessment.
You may choose to encourage or require students to incorporate an artistic element or object with their narratives. Students may enjoy sharing cultural objects or creating art inspired by their experiences.
“Your Cultural Attire” post-discussion (optional extension):
Ask students to prepare all of their notes and previous work on the “Your Cultural Attire” essay. Share the discussion rubric and give students additional instructions on discussion expectations and format. Set up instructional time to include discussion preparation, the discussion itself, and debriefing after the discussion. You may want to have students turn in their notes for a writing portion of the overall discussion grade.
ELL and SPED Supports: Scaffolded assignment options, vocabulary, reading strategies
TAG Extensions: Leadership opportunities during discussion and/or Socratic Seminar, SOAPS Text Analysis handout to use during and after reading, optional extensions and related reading/resources
Racist Sandwich podcast (Note: Some content contains mature themes and language that may be objectionable to certain listeners.)