6th Grade Maasai Culture Project: The Beginning

For my CoETaIL final project, rather than creating a new unit, my team wanted to incorporate technology to enhance an existing unit and accomplish established learning outcomes.  It is our goal to improve the learning process for our students.  The revised unit will include student choice, collaboration within a team, creativity, and problem solving.  My team and I are redesigning the unit together and we will be launching the project next week.  It focuses on world cultures, in particular, the Maasai of Africa, through the lens of the following six elements:

  1. Communication
  2. Geography
  3. Beliefs and Values
  4. Institutions
  5. Technology
  6. Important People

The essential questions for this unit are:

How do elements of culture influence the way people live? 

How can I step out of my own shoes and see the world from someone else’s point of view?

The project requires students to select an element, based on their interest, and research that area,  as it relates to the Maasai.  Following the research, students will collaborate within a small group to create a media presentation, primarily using, but not limited to, Keynote and GarageBand,which highlights their cultural element within the framework of the Maasai community.  The purpose of the group presentations are to share new understandings about culture and teach the information to their classmates.

Further, students will also be sharing their final projects online with a sixth grade class in Jakarta.  Students from JIS will engage with ASIJ students by providing feedback on the projects and by sharing connections they have made associated with their own lives and the specific culture that they are studying in Indonesia.

We chose to focus on Keynote and GarageBand because our school division switched from PC to Mac just this year, and we want to help our students build their Mac digital toolbox.  While many of them are familiar with PowerPoint, Keynote is considerably different.  We will be learning together the bells and whistles of these resources as they complete their group presentations.

Supporting us with the implementation of the unit is our MS facilitator of technology.  He has created an outstanding resource for students called Laptop Central.  This is a resource offered through Edublogs that students can easily access.  It contains tutorials, like the following, that highlight different features and applications of their MacBooks and web-based resources.

Creative Commons
2.0 Generic
Flickr by ianguest

My students and I have contacted a representative of the Maasai in Africa and we are hoping to hear from him soon.  We have asked that he review some of our presentations and offer feedback.

We’ve tried to revamp the unit to make it more of a projects-based endeavor.  We are hopeful that, referring to the SAMR model, the renovated unit exhibits elements of redefinition.


About Jamie

I am currently a middle school Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at The American School in Japan.
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6 Responses to 6th Grade Maasai Culture Project: The Beginning

  1. Sean says:


    It sounds like you are keeping pretty busy. You have hit on many hot button items in this post. Changing from one platform to another. Integrating the use of technology across the curriculum. Flipping the classroom with resources sourced from the Internet. Implementing the SAMR model. Flattening the classroom. You have truly become a COETAIL examplar.

    Too bad we were unable to collaborate this time out but glad to see how incredibly deftly you have “landed on your feet!”

    I shall look froward to your presented results with pleasure. Keep up the fantastic work!


    • Jamie says:

      Thanks Sean,

      I look forward to hearing about your project as well. Will you be able to join us in December or will you be presenting via video?

      Thanks again for checking out our project,

  2. Jacob Mameo Paulo Moreto says:

    Jamie thank you for share with me about the information of your students about Masai Culture. I saw the slide show and heard a discussion, but not see the reaction of your students in researching Masai culture. I will be happy to help and give some input about this as I am a Masai in tribe.
    Thank you again. Jacob Mameo

  3. Jamie says:

    Dear Jacob,

    We are so happy that you will be able to view some of our final projects. My students are currently in the research phase now. We will begin work on the actual presentations in the coming week. You’re willingness to be an audience for our class has generated a lot of excitement and has greatly motivated the students. I cannot thank you enough for your time and look forward to contacting you soon via email.

    With our sincere thanks and best regards,
    Jamie and Class

  4. Awesome! I love how much collaboration you’re bringing into this project – connecting with JIS and with a Masai representative! I’m wondering if there is a way to make the presentation portion of the project more open-ended for students. Instead of expecting everyone to use Keynote, could there be some options so that students can select the best tool for the job?

  5. Hi! I just want to give you a huge thumbs up for your excellent info you’ve got right here on this post. I’ll be coming back to your web site
    for more soon.

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