American Life vs. Haitian Life

American Life vs. Haitian Life edit

Grade Level: High School
Subject: Sociology Course
Sub-Subject: Comparing and Contrasting American Life vs. Haitian Life
Length/Duration: 1 week
Technologies Used: WordPress

Workshop Overview edit

  • California State Standard Addressed:

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills

The intellectual skills noted below are to be learned through, and applied to, the content standards for grades nine through twelve. They are to be assessed only in conjunction with the content standards in grades nine through twelve.
In addition to the standards for grades nine through twelve, students demonstrate the following intellectual, reasoning, reflection, and research skills.

Chronological and Spatial Thinking

Students relate current events to the physical and human characteristics of places and regions.

Students will carry out this task by comparing and contrasting American life vs. Haitian life. This will include relating current events such as the earthquake in Haiti and the struggling economy in the America. These types of current events effect how Americans and Haitians live their lives.

For this lesson, students will complete the following tasks:

  1. Students will accept a WordPress invite from their teacher.
  2. Students will address the first question posted on the blog: "In which ways does your American life differ from Haitian life?"
  3. Student will share their findings with their classmates.
  4. Third, students will address the second question posted on the blog: "In what ways is your American life similar to Haitian Life?"
  5. Next, students will compare and contrast their findings in a roundtable discussion.
  6. Students will create a class blog and correspond with a Haitian partner school.
  7. Students will reflect on the similarities and differences of their lives in their own country and Haiti.

Before You Get Started edit

WordPress has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day. WordPress is an open source project, which means there are hundreds of people all over the world working on it. It also means you are free to use it without paying anyone a license fee and a number of other important freedoms. It started as just a blogging system, but has evolved to be used as a full content management system and so much more through the thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes.

For an in-depth tutorial on Wordpress visit this YouTube video:

Wordpress Tutorial

To visit the WordPress website click on the link below:

Visit Wordpress

For an example of a WordPress blog visit the link below:

Example Blog

For information on how to embed a video into Wordpress, follow the link below:


For further information on WordPress, visit the following website:

Further Information

For this assignment, it would be advisable to let the students have access to your admin account, that way only your class can make alterations to the class blog. Those who are not able to log into the admin account can only leave comments. They will not be able to alter any of the content that you post on there as a class.

Workshop Plan/Teacher Suggestions edit

  • It is important to scaffold some lessons on American life and Haitian life in order for students to have some prior knowledge to complete the tasks below. Although they will conduct some research on their own, it is important to provide them with some background information before expecting them to complete all of these tasks.

  1. Students will accept a Wordpress invite via email from their teacher. Be sure to let students have access to the admin login and password so that the students can add blogs to the post. This will ensure that only your students will be allowed to make changes to the actual blogs and not any other outside parties.
  2. Students will address the first question posted on the blog: "How does your American life differ from Haitian life?" This can be done by clicking on the comment button beneath the question. Students will be required to conduct some research. This may be an appropriate time to teach students how to conduct research so that they are finding credible sources. For assistance on how to navigate the internet to know the difference between credible and not so credible sources, click the following link: Truth Be sure to have students provide the link for their findings when they respond to the question. If students need more guidance give them suggestions for what they can talk about. This can include home life, school life, culture, religion, traditions, etc. (i.e. What dining traditions do you have? How is this the same from Haitian dining traditions? How is it different?). OR... You can have students list 10 things about their everyday lives; that way they can have an idea of where to go in terms of their research.
  3. Once the above task is complete, pick 3 or 4 student responses from the blog to share out with the class. Try to pick responses that can spur class discussion and expose students to a variety of perspectives.
  4. Next, students will address the second question posted on the blog: "How is your American life similar to Haitian Life?" This question will also require some research. Links supporting ones findings are also encouraged. Examples to provide students could be the following: How does my religion guide me through daily life? Does it affect my daily life? Do religious Haitians follow a religion that affects their daily lives? If so, how is their life similar to mine in religious terms? Students can also embed videos to support their answers as well (review the Before You Get Started section to learn how to embed videos).
  5. Next, students will compare and contrast their findings from their research in a roundtable discussion. Provide students with a list of possible questions that will be asked in order to drive the conversation. Think socratic seminar format: Socratic Seminar. Although discussion is not around a piece of literature, possible questions may include: What struck you most about your findings? Does your life differ as much from Haitian life as you expected? If so, how? If not, how? If you lived in Haiti, which part of their everyday life be most difficult for you to adapt to based on your research?
  6. As a class, students will create a class blog and correspond with another classroom of students in Haiti to compare and contrast their lives and the lives of Haitian students. The compare and contrast process is done again to see if the research you found is similar or different from what your dialogue with the school is.
  7. Reflection; have students address the following sections in a write-up: In what ways was your research on Haitian life different from your findings from your dialogue with the partner school? In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between Haitian life and American life? Before beginning this lesson, did you anticipate that your life was more different or more similar to Haitian life?

Articles that Support this Lesson/Additional Resources edit

Dewey, J. (1916). Demogracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education(pp.49-62). New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.

This article supports this lesson in a sense that it gives students to chance to grow on their own and to be reflective. This lesson also connects to this article because it promotes interdependence in a social context. For this lesson students must respond and react to one another's responses on WordPress. WordPress and being given the time to truly reflect, compare, and contrast might be new to most students and will allow them the potential for growth that is described in the article. The lesson also attempts to eliminate habituation, a common habit that occurs in education.

Stigler, J.W., & Hiebert, J. (2009). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world's teachers for improving education in the classroom (pp.25-54). New York, NY: Free Press.

This article described teaching in Germany, United States, and Japan as the following: "developing advanced procedures" "learning terms and practicing procedures" and "structured problem". This article relates to this lesson in a few ways. This particular attempts to allow students some breathing room to compare and contrast their own way, and to also block out the noise that can occur in the classroom if this assignment were to be carried out in the classroom without the use of WordPress. This article also brought up the importance of structure. Not only is structure important for students in the classroom, it is also important in an online environment.

Gentner, D., & Loewenstein, J., & Thompson, L. (2003). Learning and transfer: A general role for analogical encoding. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(2), 393-405.

The article tested three studies that claimed that analogical encoding- comparing two instances of a to-be learned principle- is a powerful ways to promote learning. This relates to this particular lesson because this lesson attempts to engage students by having them compare and contrast their own lives to that of others in a real way. By learning how to compare and contrast in this instance, it is possible that students will be able to transfer this compare-contrast schema to another situation that calls for it.

Barab, S., Scott, B., Siyahhan, S., Goldstone, R., Ingram-Goble, A., Zuiker, S., et al. (2009). Transformational play as a cirricular scaffold: Using videogames to support science education. Journal of Science and Educational Technology, 18(4) 305-320.

As educators, we want our students to be able to take the knowledge they gain in the classroom and apply it to the real world. This article mentions that the more control and structure a teacher places on a particular task, the less room there is to learn for the students. This brings up the fine line between too much breathing room and stifling a student's creativity. This lesson attempts to place students in a safe and somewhat controlled environment, but does not dictate them and leave no room for expressing their own opinions.

Gee, J. (2008). Games for learning institute. Retrieved from

This video discussed intentional problems in games that promote intrinsic learning and 21st century skills. This connects to this lesson in the way that this lesson is organized, to illicit deep conceptual understanding and critical thinking skills, which are both important 21st century skills. technology Classroom Norms: Using Wikispaces