Collaborative Culture Blog

Grade 6 Language Arts/Social Studies Unit

J. Richard      The American School in Japan

Standards Met:

ASIJ 6th Grade Social Studies:  Students will develop an awareness and understanding of their host culture and other cultures

ASIJ 6th Grade Social Studies:  Students will develop an understanding of the six cultural elements and how each one can affect a way of life

ISTE NETS*S Standard 1:  Creativity and Innovation:  Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.

ISTE NETS*S Standard 2:  Communication and Collaboration:  Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

ISTE NETS*S Standard 5:  Digital Citizenship:  Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

Enduring Understandings:

Essential Questions:

1.  Students will understand that every culture is made up of several common elements

2.  Students will understand the importance and potential of collaboration

3.  Students will develop an awareness of safe and ethical digital behavior

1.  How do the six elements of culture influence the way people live?

2.  How can technology help me in gathering and reporting information in interesting ways?

3.  What is digital citizenship?


Six Facets of Understanding

Goal:  Students will work within their class and the world outside of their school to publish a collaborative blog that highlights the culture of Japan and other countries.

Role: Students become researchers, authors, narrators, filmmakers, etc. in determining how best to present researched information about the culture of Japan.  Students will also be peer reviewers of their classmates posts.

Audience: The students’ audience will be their own classmates, 6th graders in other countries, and ultimately, the world.

Situation:  Students will work in collaborative groups of four to research information about a cultural feature of Japan, i.e. Bunraku.  These guiding research questions must be answered:

1.  What is the cultural feature?  

2.  What is the history of this feature?

3.  Where does the cultural feature fit into the “Six Elements of Culture” and why?

4.  What impact does this cultural feature have today?

Following the research, students will be introduced to Edublog and will be instructed in how to post a basic blog.  It will then be up to the students to create a way to share the information they researched in the form of a blog post.  This could be a video clip, a PowerPoint Presentation, a written narrative with embedded images, etc.  

Throughout the process, “mini-lessons” on digital citizenship will be taught focusing on topics such as:

How do I give credit for an image, video, or music?

Is this an appropriate post?

Would I want my grandmother to see this?

Have I posted information that should be private?

After the blog posts have been completed, students will then become reviewers of the classmates’ content.  They will make comments on each other’s posts, regarding what is good and what can be improved, based on a blog rubric which will have digital citizenship embedded.


The final stage of the project involves contacting students from other international schools around the world to be contributors to the blog, inviting them to post a feature of their country and asking them to classify that feature using the “Six Elements of Culture.”

Product:  The product will be a collaborative blog that highlights and classifies the cultural features of Japan and other countries throughout the world.

Explain: Students will explain their assigned cultural feature based on the guiding research questions

Interpret:  Students will categorize their assigned cultural feature into one or more of the “Six Elements of Culture” and be able to justify why

Apply: The students will create a collaborative blog that demonstrates sound digital citizenship

Have perspective: Students will have an idea about which media is best to present their information and which will most effectively engage their audience and convey the information

Empathize:  Students will work collaboratively with others respecting individual ideas and contributions

Have self-knowledge: Students will periodically reflect on the processes by completing entrance and exit “cards” using Today’sMeet

Notes:  This unit will begin following a unit entitled “An Introduction to Culture” in which students learn how the elements of communication, geography, technology, beliefs and values, institutions, and famous people and places affect culture, thus the reference to “The Six Elements of Culture”. This is a common thread in each of our social studies units.  It is also important to note that all sixth graders will be required to create their own personal bogs, using Edublog, to showcase their work for the year in digital format.  This will serve as their “electronic portfolio” as they move through each grade of middle school.  There will be many benefits reaped by allowing students to work on a collaborative blog before they embark on creating one of their own.  Digital citizenship is a curricular thread throughout each of our units school-wide.  While this unit is focused on social studies outcomes, depending upon the media that the students choose for their blog post, there will be other language arts outcomes covered in this unit as well.  Please see the rubric following the UBD unit planner.  This is just a draft of the rubric and will no doubt be modified once we begin the actual project.


Kids Web Japan

Activity Village

Yahoo Kids


Japanese Culture

Collaborative Culture Blog Post Rubric






   Blog Post




*research is limited, inaccurate, and not cited

*media chosen fails to convey information or cannot be understood

*blog post does not demonstrate an ability to use blog features

*blog post contains inappropriate and unsafe elements

*research might not be completely accurate and may not be cited

*media chosen conveys some information but might not be appealing to the audience

*blog post demonstrates a limited ability to use blog features

*blog post may contain inappropriate elements

*research is mostly accurate and sources are cited

*media chosen is effective and conveys the information in a way that engages the audience

*blog post demonstrates an ability to use several different blog features

*blog post is appropriate and models digital citizenship

*research is completely accurate and sources are cited in proper format

*media chosen innovative and creatively conveys the information in a way that captivates the audience


*blog post demonstrates a strong ability to use many different blog features

*blog post is appropriate and models outstanding digital citizenship


*collaboration is absent; there is no teamwork

*collaboration is weak; ideas and contributions of individuals may not be valued

*collaboration is solid; ideas and contributions of individuals are valued

*collaboration is strong; ideas and contributions of individuals are greatly valued