Middle School Level (6-8)

Curricular Materials for Middle School Educators

The Center for Global Studies is pleased to offer this page of resources for practicing K-12 teachers. The page is an extension of our workshops and outreach events. We invite you to review the pages and to use and adapt any parts for your use in the classroom.

Middle School Level [6-8] Curricular Materials Developed for the CGS

Cultural Ceramic Game Boards

In this unit, students research and reflect upon where their ancestors descended from and the culture of their country. Students create a ceramic game board that reflects a specific aspect of their culture.


  1. Students will be able to sculpt a ceramic game board that reflects their ancestors’ heritage/country’s culture
  2. Students will be able to apply the following ceramic techniques to create the game board: wedging, slab building, coil building, additive process, subtractive process and surface texture

World On Trial [Developed for Social Studies in Grades 7-12]

Developed by Dustin Yenser, Middle Social Studies, Young Scholars of Central PA Charter School

This lesson plan is intended for use in conjunction with the World on Trial: Headscarf Law Episode. In 2004, the French government banned the conspicuous display of religious symbols in public schools. This most notably affected the right of young Muslim women to wear traditional headscarves or other forms of cover. Students will research the practice of covering and the motivation for the ban. They will then view a trial-format debate between experts in the World on Trial episode. Finally, they will analyze the arguments presented by both sides and register their own opinion in the ongoing debate. More info can also be found at World on Trial website.

Cultural Exploration of Japan and Bookmaking using PLN Literacy [Developed for Grade 7]

Developed by Rebecca Smith, Williamsburg High School

Impact Award Submission from Teaching World Culture Through the Visual Arts workshop

This unit explores the art and culture of Japan. The original focus of this unit was to incorporate reading strategies into the unit to increase studentsʼ reading and writing aptitude. The culmination of this unit is a handmade book, which is a succinct and apt symbol for the tenets of this project.

(Re)Present and (Dis)Placed: Visually Documenting the Experience of Movement and Internment Due to War [Developed for Grades 6-8]

Developed by Susan Uhlig, Doctoral Student in Art Education, Penn State

Impact Award Submission from The Teaching Japan Workshop


Students will come to understand the struggle of displaced individuals due to war through the visual analysis of art and illustrations that document the experiences of these displaced individuals. Students will also create works that document their own experiences in movement and (dis)placement.

Gaining Cultural Familiarity: Understanding Differences and Similarities [Developed for Lanuage Arts/Social Studies in Grades 3-6]

Developed by David Fuentes, Penn State Graduate Student, College of Education

Based on a presentation by Turan Balik, Young Scholars at Central Pennsylvania at the Teaching the Globe workshop


Students will be able to recognize differences and similarities between their own lives and the lives of other children living in a different country.  Students will also be able to value the differences that may seem strange to them by allowing themselves to walk in the shoes of other children, and to think about similarities as well as differences.

Defining Culture: Moving Beyond Foods, Clothes, and Art [Developed for Social Studies in Grades 6-8]

Developed by David Fuentes, Penn State Graduate Student, College of Education

Based on a presentation by Corey Whitesell, Global Connections at the Teaching the Globe workshop


Students will be able to recognize cultural attributes beyond typical definitions including how people dress, what they eat, and the holidays they celebrate.  Students will understand culture as something that is complex, non-static, and evolving.  Students will encounter a definition of culture closer to the way the term is used by anthropologists to represent the totality of learned human behavior.  Students will also be able to define how subcultures emerge within cultural groups. 

How is Drinking Water Different in Other Areas of the World? [Developed for General Science in Grades 7]

Developed by Abby Dreibelis, Middle School Teacher, State College Area School District


At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Appreciate water shortages in other regions of the world
  • List solutions or consequences of water shortages
  • Name countries and regions that have water shortages
  • Identify why different regions have water shortages
  • Identify problems of sharing water sources
  • List solutions to water shortages
  • Identify ways politics affects water resources
  • Lesson Plan and Question Sheets

How Does Peer-Reviewed Scientific Literature Affect Policy Decisions? [Developed for Science in Grades 7-12]

Developed by Knut Christianson, Penn State Graduate Student, Department of Geosciences


At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify popular vs. peer-reviewed literature
  • List steps in the peer-review process
  • Describe what type of source is used to construct reports used by governments to create policy
  • Discuss difficulties in monitoring glacier health.
  • Identify the largest source of uncertainty in future glacier health and what steps are being taken to remedy this uncertainty
  • Describe why climate change is a political contentious issue
  • Describe the ramifications of statting unverified opions as scientific facts
  • Discuss the utility of assessment reports such as the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report
  • Lesson Plan and Question Sheets

Japan: Sustainability and Home Lifestyle

Developed by Beth Buglio, High School Teacher, Downington Area School District

This unit connects everyday customs of Japanese life with steps toward sustainability. In an island country with urban population density seventeen times greater than American cities, efforts to live sustainably are a necessity. Japanese face challenges similar to ours as an urbanized, consumer culture, but the need to change lifestyle is more acutely felt.  The Japanese people bring to bear a highly cooperative sense of community, traditional values that deplore wastefulness, and new technological innovation. By studying how Japan faces the challenge of conserving water, energy, and material resources – including how to dispose of its waste – we may build concepts that will be useful in discussing our own issues of consumption and environmental impact. Interested teachers are encouraged to pick and choose among the activities in this unit, as there are resources that could be used to achieve learning outcomes at various levels.