Cultural Protocols in Everyday Life

Classroom Activities


  1. After introducing the two examples of protocols on the previous page with students, ask them to come up with a definition of the word "protocol." Ask for examples of protocols in their lives. Prompt them if necessary.
  2. Have students interview each other in small groups so they can generate a list of protocols represented by your class.  Encourage students to include both common protocols that everyone shares and culture- or age-specific protocols. Challenge them to tell you about one protocol that they regularly use that you as an adult might not be aware of.
  3. If necessary, provide prompts for student interviews. For instance, they might inquire about other languages spoken at home, special holidays celebrated, special clothes that are worn or foods eaten. 
  4. After students have generated a list, have them continue to work in their groups to break the list into two columns: universal and sub-cultural. Explain to them that even the universal protocols are culture-based. They are evidence of a general American culture that all students share. Note that these same items would not necessarily appear on a list generated by French students in Paris, for instance.
  5. Gather the students together and share lists. Discuss items that generate disagreement or diverse opinions.
  6. Have students sign up to with a username and a password. They will receive notification of their acceptance to the web site on the email address they indicate that day. The next day in class, have students browse through the Resources tab of this web site to identify other protocols. Each student can gather his or her own list of images by clicking on the word "Save" beneath the chosen resource. This resource will then be deposited on their own My Profile page, which they can access from a tab at the top right hand corner of the page. There is no limit to the number of resources a student can place in his or her profile page.
  7. Students could look on-line for ceremonies and celebrations in different cultures and add their findings to their lists.
  8. Students can interview their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and ask them about specific ways they had to behave when they were children, especially around holidays and life-cycle events (weddings, funerals, etc.).  What was allowed and encouraged, and what was not acceptable?
  9. After researching cultural protocols, ask the class to create a new protocol surrounding an everyday practice (e.g., the protocol related to needing a bathroom break) or a special event such as a holiday that your class will follow.
  10. As a summative assessment activity, have students write about a protocol that they regularly follow. The writing prompt might be, "Whenever I do [fill in with the protocol description], I feel [their own words]." Have students use best writing practices (complete sentences, well crafted paragraphs, descriptive language, complete essay structure).