Explanation of the Project

When Two Cultures Meet was a project revolving around Alberta Grade 5 Social Studies Topic B. This project not only looked at the early exploration and settlement of Canada, but also delved into the deeper issues of the reasons and consequences of one culture coming across another. Whether for exploration or settlement, a group or culture decides to venture into new locations for varied reasons. Understanding these motivating factors may provide insight into the hopes of a group/culture when it arrives on the shore of a new country and encounters the already established culture.

The main topics of our project were:

1. When cultures meet, change is inevitable and transcends time.
2. Change can involve conflict, competition and cooperation.
3. History teaches us about the past, present and future.
4. Canada is a unique country.

Using Canadian history (European exploration) as an example, students engaged in discussion, research and representation.

Once the concrete example of European exploration had been addressed, students from three Grade 5 classes were involved in choosing a period in Canadian immigration history where a significant influx of another culture had occurred. These periods were labeled:

Early Settlers (1760’s – 1800’s)
The Great Migration (1815 –1860)
The Second Great Wave (1870 – 1900)
Banga & Bust (1901 – 1939)
The Third Wave (1945 – 1956)
Modern Era (1960 – 2000)

The students were open to choose whatever particular culture interested them from the time period. Using the guiding concepts and questions mentioned above, the students applied the same research, critical thought and representation towards their chosen emigrating culture. The students from the three classes who choose similar time periods were mixed together. From these representations, students summarized their findings and used them as content for the website designed to address the essential issues in this project as well as to celebrate the effort and depth of the students’ learning.

Near the latter part of their research, where the question “How will you choose to meet a new culture in the future?” was addressed, students were involved in a telecollaborative project with a First Nations school in the American state of New Mexico. This school is the largest Navajo boarding school in the state, but also includes other Nations such as the Lakota and the Hopi. This telecollaborative project revolved around the issue of symbols, their deeper meanings, and how misconceptions may arise when a new culture is introduced to them. As symbols reflect the stories and beliefs of a culture, students introduced to the symbols of an unfamiliar culture will be in a unique position of “meeting” a new culture. How they interpret these symbols (or misinterpret) may provide some insight into the dangers of assumption and cultural bias. This is particularly important because these assumptions and biases usually are the foundation of how one culture decides to treat another.

From their collective experiences throughout the project large groups from each of the three Grade 5 classes collaboratively synthesized and answer the questions, "What have you learned when two cultures meet?" and “How will you choose to meet a new culture?”

Parameters of the Project

This project involved the collaboration of three Grade Five classrooms in Canada (90 students) and approximately 45 students ranging from Grades 7-12 at Ft. Wingate High School in New Mexico.

Duration of the Project

Initial planning for the project began in November/December 2001 and is expected to be completed by the end of May 2002.

Expected Outcomes

Grade 5 Social Studies Topic B

The students will demonstrate an understanding of how exploration and settlement causes groups to have influence on each other, resulting in changes in the way people live.

1. Contact between people in Canada’s early history prior to and during exploration and settlement brought changes to their lives.
2. Contact between people in Canada’s early history frequently resulted in competition, cooperation and conflict.

Grade 5 Social Studies Topic C

The students will demonstrate an understanding that the links established through interaction with other countries will influence the way Canadians live.

1. Interaction between Canada and other countries influences our way of life.
2. There are advantages and disadvantages to interaction with other countries.

Grade 5 Language Arts General Outcomes

1. Explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences.
2. Comprehend and respond personally and critically to oral, print and other media texts.
3. Manage ideas and information.
4. Enhance the clarity and artistry of communication.
5. Respect, support and collaborate with others.

ICT General Outcomes

Communicating, Inquiring, Decision Making and Problem Solving

1. Students will access, use and communicate information from a variety of technologies.
2. Students will seek alternative viewpoints, using information technologies.
3. Students will critically assess information accessed through the use of a variety of technologies.
4. Students will use organizational processes and tools to manage inquiry.
5. Students will use technology to aid collaboration during inquiry.
6. Students will use technology to investigate and or solve problems.
7. Students will use electronic research techniques to construct personal knowledge and meaning.

Foundational Operations, Knowledge and Concepts

1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the nature of technology.
2. Students will demonstrate a moral and ethical approach to the use of technology.
3. Students will become discerning consumers of mass media and electronic information.
4. Students will practice the concepts of ergonomics and safety when using technology.
5. Students will demonstrate a basic understanding of the operational skills required in a variety of technologies.

Processes for Productivity

1. Students will compose, revise and edit text.
2. Students will organize and manipulate data.
3. Students will communicate through multimedia.
4. Students will integrate various applications.
5. Students will navigate and create hyperlinked resources.
6. Students will use communication technology to interact with others.