The school should be a culturally sensitive place, rich in diversity and inclusion. Various cultures intertwine to become part of each individual student. The active appreciation of diversity is what builds classroom culture. Cultural differences bring ideas that ignite the classroom with a productive and intensive learning experience. Having a classroom culture that accepts and appreciates individual students bodes well for learning and other areas of development.
Create this inclusive learning environment for your high school students by checking out some of my favorite ideas for engaging cultural activities below!
1. Celebrate holidays around the world
To celebrate the holidays around the world, you can do many things. Ask students to share their families' Christmas traditions. In addition, you can memorize and share information about a variety of cultures that students in the class can relate to. Information about a variety of cultures can be shared through online scavenger hunts and other classroom activities.
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2. Hold morning meetings
High school morning meetings build a positive culture in the classroom. Include students' local culture as a valuable part of the classroom by making morning meetings a time to explore different culturally relevant issues. The morning meeting builds community in the classroom and camaraderie in the classroom.
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3. Organize a cultural costume parade
Create a costume parade so that students have a chance to dress up in traditional cultural attire. This activity will be interesting and fun for students. Students can investigate by choosing a culture of interest or by choosing a culture of origin in their own family history. Students can share what they like about their chosen cultural fashion to build cultural appreciation.
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4. Promote cultural exchange
Encourage students to speak up during class discussions and activities to share their family traditions and cultural practices with which they make connections. Sharing helps give you a sense of belonging. Be sure to guide them with clear rules to respect and respond with love and interest to what all students share. You can use the culture lesson here to open up students' thinking about what we often do and don't see about people's cultures.
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5. Create a culture or society in your classroom
Start the year off with a fun project where you build your own society and classroom culture by creating a class name, mantra, flag, rules, etc. Students can contribute and design based on their interests and cultures. You can adapt the social studies project found here, or follow along with it, as long as you scale parts of the project to suit students' prior knowledge.
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6. Celebrate an International Day
Students can share clothing, food, beliefs and trinkets with an international fair. You can involve larger families and wider community stakeholders. The event can have many community development activities as well as cultural games.
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7. Make a cultural show and tell
Organize days when students can bring items from family traditions and cultures to share with their classmates. This could be clothing, tools, jewelry, etc., as long as parents are comfortable with students taking responsibility for these important items when it's their turn to share.
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8. Research family history
Many students may not know the depth of their native culture. Having a long-term project that allows students to explore and research their family history will develop personal appreciation and cultural awareness. You might provide students with ideas for questions to explore or a series of discussion questions to communicate, but you want the project to be based on student inquiry.
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9. Make sure you have culturally diverse teaching materials and resources
It is important to ensure that the books used in the classroom represent a variety of cultures. You want to be proactive about having culturally inclusive classroom materials and resources. Make sure the examples used in the class assignments represent the variety of cultures your class expresses.
10. Organize a cultural dinner
Everyone loves to eat and share food. Students can create and bring cultural foods to school in a feast style to eat and share together. In many cultures, food brings everyone together, so it will serve the dual purpose of reinforcing a positive culture in the classroom as well.
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11. Create an open environment for discussion
Make sure the classroom is a safe space where students can freely express their ideas, concerns and questions about their cultures. This will create an inclusive classroom for high school students. Model an open discussion of cultural ideas for students to showcase the classroom as a comfortable space for sharing.
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12. Invite multicultural speakers
The best people to share about different cultures with are those who are deeply rooted in the traditional culture itself. Having speakers from multiple cultures communicates the classroom as a place of respect and tolerance. Invite older relatives of high school students or other community stakeholders to reach out and share aspects of your culture with students.
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13. Get international pen pals
Pen pals have long been connections that unite cultures around the world. High school students were able to experience other cultures through personal stories about life in the school classroom along with other personal stories. Pen pals with other schools can be established for students of similar ages, digitally or through the old letter writing process. Here are some safe options for starting a pen pal project.
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14. Organize a cultural dance party
Teenagers will always be ready to party, so pack cultural music and your dancing shoes! Allow students to share cultural musical instruments, songs and dances from their own traditions or from others they have researched. In terms of community building activities, music seems to be crucial for most cultures.
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15. Differentiate products, processes and content
Understanding that culture is not just one's religious background, race, or orientation, but also who we are as individuals with our own strengths, weaknesses, family, and experiences takes cultural appreciation to the next level in the classroom. The application of comprehensive differentiated practices in the classroom conveys a clear message of value and respect to all students.
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16. Provide the standard of social justice
Design opportunities to develop cultural appreciation for high school students by actively considering social justice issues in the classroom. This allows students to understand that they are in a caring and mindful environment. You can learn more about planning these discussions and teaching social justice in the classroom here. Additionally, you can consider these standards as a guide to ensuring a multicultural classroom.
17. Reach out to the community
There is no better way to understand the variety of cultures within a community than to be of service to that community. Service projects build awareness and understanding. Encourage high school students to reach out to the community through service projects. Service projects are an activity for grades of all ages; however, you can head here for community service ideas for high school students.
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18. Create virtual international field trips
Use Google Earth to virtually visit important cultural sites. Allow students to share what they know about cultural sites that add great value to their culture as everyone explores them technologically.
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19. Create family history documentaries
Teens love movies and technology, so give them the opportunity to explore their interests while building their knowledge of family culture by creating their own family history documentaries. Students will gain a lot from this self-exploration and the conversations you will facilitate within their family structures.
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20. Create cultural selfies
Artistic expression can be a very attractive outlet. Students can use various artistic media to create a portrait of themselves that represents aspects of their culture. Choices of colors, designs and materials would be related to the cultural aspects that the student is trying to express through the artwork. Another idea is for students to choose a culture of interest and describe themselves through the lens of that culture. Here's an idea that might help you develop cultural self-portraits. In addition to selfies, a student cultural art fair would also be an engaging and interactive idea for cultural awareness.
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