Cultural Shoe Box

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Cultural Artifact Project:
How to define a culture
Objective:
Students become familiar with the elements that make up a given culture.
Assignment:
The ruler of Bhutan will be arriving in the United States next week. Bhutan is a mountainous country in Asia that
has been isolated from the rest of the world for most of its history, until now. The ruler is very much interested in
outside cultures, especially that of America. You have been assigned to teach the ruler about the things that define
American culture. This is a challenging task; who indeed can summarize American culture briefly to an outsider?
Steps:
 Think about what culture you want to focus on: American culture? California culture? Marin culture? Teenage
culture? Redwood culture?
 Over the next couple of days each of you needs to collect five items that you think define (or at least
summarize) our culture. The items that you choose need to fit into a shoe box or small bag. If an item that you
select to represent a cultural element is too large, include a picture of it. For example if you think that cars are
an important cultural component in the US, you can bring in a picture of one.
 Once you have selected your five items you must explain the importance of each of the objects on a typed
sheet of paper. You are talking to the prime minister of Bhutan. You can not assume he is familiar with the
object’s importance to your culture. You must explain it.
A. Provide an explanation of why you chose this object to symbolize American culture. Again, using the
example of the automobile, in addition to talking about it as a form of transportation, you can discuss how it
is also a status symbol.
a. If an item has a particular regional importance (i.e. surfing) or is more closely identified as
belonging to a subculture (i.e. teenagers) don’t forget to mention that as well.
B. Explain how the object relates to the 7 elements of culture and the 5 themes of geography. You must
identify what elements of culture it relates to. If the item relates to a theme of geography like humanenvironment interaction, mention that too. If your object is used by other cultures, not just your own,
explain that your item has traveled through cultural diffusion.
C. From what you know about the country of Bhutan – we will be learning facts about this country in class,
how would this artifact be viewed given their geography and culture? (1 sentence per artifact on this)
You need to have 2 paragraphs for each object (see A and B)
Due: Monday 9/23: Written explanation and actual or pictured objects.
Cultural Shoe Box
Grading Rubric

Student met project requirements (five items, described the cultural significance of each). Written portion
2 paragraphs per object.

Student used the 7 elements of culture and other class concepts to discuss the items

Student made the cultural significance of each item clear in a way that would be understandable to
someone not familiar with American culture. Student mentioned how this object might be viewed in
Bhutan.

Reflects student’s best work (obvious that student took this project seriously)

Project overall reflects creativity and imagination (something about the presentation was memorable and
unique)

Student demonstrated high-quality presentation skills:
--no gum
--spoke clearly
--made eye contact with audience
--was confident
--seemed serious yet comfortable
Written Component Grade
Oral presentation:
: _____/25
____/5
You will be presenting in front of ½ the class.
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