Series: NatGeo


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • SL:  Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
  • 6:  6th Grade
  • 2: 
    Interpret information presented in diverse media
    and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally)
    and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or
    issue under study.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • SL:  Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
  • 7:  7th Grade
  • 2: 
    Analyze the main ideas and supporting details
    presented in diverse media and formats (e.g.,
    visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the
    ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Exploring Emigration: Cultural Identity
Lesson Objective: Learn about another culture through film
Grades 6-8 / Social Studies / Film
ELA.SL.6.2 | ELA.SL.7.2

Thought starters

  1. How does this lesson help students develop empathy?
  2. What do the student reflections tell you about the impact of this lesson?
  3. How would this lesson have been different if students had read about Sudanese immigrants instead of watching the documentary?

 Wow!  I really enjoyed this lesson and they way this teacher engaged her students in conversation and promoted real life connections within the students.  Using the documentary and directing discussions really allowed for some realizations among the students.  Great video! 

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Great Video. I really like the use of video clips in her lesson and the way she encouraged her students to think.
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Amazing lesson! I really enjoyed this and the ability the teacher had to fully engage her students to think independently as well as in a multi-cultural class setting. The video that she showed was great for these students to see what I is like to be viewed as the "other" and how it opens their eyes to be more respectful and sensitive to those of different backgrounds that themselves.
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Very nice communication.
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I love this! I think it's extremely important for kids as well as adults to "be able to identify with people outside of their cultural group." Without an understanding or in depth look into other cultures, fear of the unknown is often manifested in negative ways. I feel this is something that our world truly needs. I am a huge fan of using movies and film as visuals to help facilitate discussions throughout the classroom and often find playing the devil's advocate can sometimes be difficult, yet extremely rewarding in sparking students' various opinions. I appreciate you sharing this video! and I plan to apply many of your methods such as the transition from basic to more in depth questions and focusing on allowing students to learn from each other.
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  • Video Audio
    Teaching Channel Graphic Tch sting

    National Geographic Open Music

    No hero shot; Karen handing out she ets or doing something

    Video Audio
    Teaching Channel Graphic Tch sting

    National Geographic Open Music

    No hero shot; Karen handing out she ets or doing something lovely and teacher-ly 00:00:07 – Karen Daley: I'm Karen Daley. I teach seventh grade Social Studies in Elrdige MD.

    Still music underneath this

    Continue Karen b-roll VO: Today I’m using video clips to generate discussion among my students. I’m trying to help them create media-to-self and peer-to-self-connections.

    SIGNPOST #1: Understanding Cultural Identity through Media

    SIGNPOST #2: Establish context and vocabulary

    Classroom 00:00:28 – Karen Daley: The first thing we did, we had them define culture. Jack?

    Jack: a person’s identity as contained within a group. There’s like cuisine, language.

    Karen Daley: Okay, so there are many aspects of culture. When we talk about American culture in particular what comes to mind? Omna.

    Omna: McDonalds.

    00:00:48 – Karen Daley: Okay McDonalds good. AJ?

    AJ: Like Obesity?

    Karen Daley: Interesting, obesity. What else? Devian?

    Devian: I usually think that American culture is a combination of many cultures from around the world because many immigrants have come to the United States.

    00:01:06 – Karen Daley: I’m so glad you mentioned that. It’s something that we’ve talked about, melting pot, salad bowl. What does that mean? Corey?

    Corey: It means that we’re multicultural, instead of all of the cultures just blending in, basically we have different things for different cultures all over America.

    SIGNPOST #3: Give students a context for viewing media context

    Classroom 00:01:25 – Karen Daley: What I want to do is I wanna show you guys this 3-minute clip. It’s from a documentary called “God Grew Tired Of Us”.

    Footage from GGTU 00:01:34 – Karen Daley: I chose episodes from a documentary about Sudanese immigrants coming to America for the first time.

    Classroom and Footage from GGTU 00:01:40 – Karen Daley: I want you to watch and see the challenges that these boys are facing with respect to keeping cultural identity alive.

    Karen: Most of the recommendations I get for using film in my class are recommendations that I get from colleagues.

    Footage from GGTU 00:01:58 – One of the Lost Boys: It will surprise many people.
    Oh, look at these people are eating even using their hands.
    But this looks traditional.
    This will make us to look more Dinka.
    Make us look for African.
    Because as you know, a person without culture is like a human being without land.

    Classroom 00:02:17 – Karen Daley (VO): It has to be something that is compelling, something that I know is going to affect them on a deep level in order to hold their, their attention.

    Men talking in the GGTU 00:02:26 – There is something called apartment. I’ve never heard, met and I’ve never seen it.

    // Shower? How does it look like? Shower?

    Kids watching GGTU 00:02:35 – Karen Daley (VO): I’ve really enjoyed watching the kids watch the segments from the documentary.

    Lost boys: Thank you.
    Excuse me, it looks like beans.

    Karen Daley (VO): I saw a lot of concentration there and I saw a lot of, oh gee, wow I can't believe that they went without this

    00:03:05 – One of the Lost Boys: How do you feel, you know? That’s difficult. You cannot even ask them because these are different people.

    How are we going to be acquainted with this life here?

    Footage of GGTU 00:03:19 – Narration:
    Merchants in Daniel and (Panther)’s neighborhood have filed complaints with the local police in Pittsburgh. They feel intimidated by the boys entering their stores in large numbers. So a meeting was called to advise the boys not to travel in groups.

    Interview _ Karen Daley 00:03:36 – Karen Daley: I want them to see these common threads and be able to identify with people outside of their own cultural group.

    SIGNPOST #4: Review media to establish comprehension

    Classroom 00:04:46 – Karen Daley: what does he say in the beginning about a man without a culture? Julie.

    Julie: He said a man without a culture is like a human without land.

    Karen: Yeah. What do you think he meant by that?

    A student: A human without land, it just won’t work. Human needs land to survive and he’s saying a man needs culture to survive.

    Karen: Absolutely. And what evidence did you see that these boys are moving away from the Sudanese, the Dinka, culture?

    Interview_Karen Daley 00:04:14 – Karen Daley: I will try to get them to make the connection by starting out with a very, very basic and then moving up.

    SIGNPOST #5: Discussion strategy: make media-to-self connections

    Classroom 00:04:22 – Karen Daley: Did you see anything in this particular clip that looked familiar to you?

    A student: Well, like. Do you know how the Sudanese boys they can go up to anybody in their house and like knock on the door and go in. That’s kind of like in India, like everybody knows each other, so that was like one of the things with my mom when we came here she was like, she was feeling kind of lonely because everybody lived in the different cities and stuff.

    Karen: Very interesting. Julie was there something that kind of resonated with you here?

    Julie: I went to France four years ago and I was, where I’m from it’s like a little village and like everyone knows each other so everyone is like friendly and here it’s different because even though you’re like in your neighborhood and people know each other you don’t know the whole city.

    Karen: So you’re saying there’s a lot of similarities between French villages and an Indian city.

    00:05:13 - Karen: The connections, when they're able to make connections like that it is so exciting for me. So I think our job as teachers to try and allow the kids to learn from each other.

    SIGNPOST #6: Analyze media to improve critical thinking skills

    Classroom 00:05:22 – Karen: What I want you guys to do in your groups, I just want you to think about some of the things we’ve talking about. Everyone is gonna get one of theses sheets and I want you to answer 1 through 9 but talk about it in your groups.// You are gonna write down your own answers.

    // I try and present a problem and then I'll say, well what if. And I'll immediately have them try and switch their brain over to thinking about it from the opposite point of view.

    //Do you think the community did the right thing telling the cops to tell them they couldn’t come, travel together?

    Students: No

    00:05:53 Devian: I think the neighbors should have been able to tell that they were new to this place, so they should have actually maybe been more hospitable and try to help them.

    Karen: Okay, Well, what do you think they weren’t?

    Karen (VO) : I think playing Devil's advocate and forcing them to look at something, even if it's from an uncomfortable point of view, is one of the most effective strategies that I have.

    SIGNPOST #7: Synthesize information to increase knowledge and self-awareness

    Classroom 00:06:16 – Karen Daley: What has been your biggest takeaway? How has this really affected you? Has it made think about your own culture? AJ.

    AJ: Well people all over the world are different for how they are in their cultures and everybody needs to learn to respect the different people that surround you.

    Karen: Okay, good, Isa?

    Isa: I used to call myself American when my cousins would ask me who I am or anybody would ask me who I am, I used to call myself American when I was younger and so now I realize that I’m not just American, I’m now a Filipino and I’m now more grateful for my culture.

    00:06:55 - Karen: That’s wonderful, that’s very interesting. Last thoughts, yes.

    Devian: I was able to make a connection between Sudan and Sri Lanka, because in Sri Lanka there has been an ethnic conflict there. So like my families they are originally from the minority group, so there has, in the civil war there has been genocide against the minority group known as the Damos (?)…so I was able to make that connection as well.

    Interview-Karen 00:07:20 – Karen Daley: I think that the connections that I've tried to establish with them, you know, those connections pay off in class when they are willing to engage. And I love seeing them go from a quiet, hesitate learner in the beginning of the year to in June, you know, having their hands up. I’d like to think that I’ve something to do with that growth.


School Details

Mayfield Woods Middle School
7950 Redbarn Way
Elkridge MD 21075
Population: 632

Data Provided By:



Karen Daley


TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement

TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement

TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Collaboration