Overview: Give students a method and a reason to process new and different things that they see, hear and experience so they slow down and reflect before judging or stereotyping others that demonstrate diverse behaviors, attitudes or perspectives.

To access the video recording of the webinar detailing this lesson, please click here.

Materials Needed: 

  • A handout/image of the DIVE process to help guide students (Sample provide below) 
  • Culturally rich images (Samples provided below) 
  • Mechanism for collaboration/discussion such as Google Slides, Google docs, Padlet, Flipgrid, class blog, etc… (if delivering this less during eLearning/remote instruction) 

Learning Outcomes:

Students will practice and reflect on the importance of observation. Students will discuss how the D.I.V.E. Method relates to the concept of cultural relativism. 

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the activity, students will be able to… 

  • Demonstrate critical thinking and analysis skills through describing, interpreting, verifying, and evaluating. 
  • Analyze images depicting cultural practices and norms 


  1. Share with students about the importance of observation when interacting with different cultures and people/situations that are new to them.
  2. Give the task: Look at the image and tell me – What do you observe about the image?
  3. Show the DIVE image and have students write down their responses.
  4. Ask students to review their responses and ask themselves: Is this a Description or Interpretation?
  • Descriptions are concrete, objective, observable facts.
  • Interpretations are your subjective thoughts about what think you are observing.

5. Write a “D” next to each Description and an “I” next to each Interpretation. If students are having issues with categorizing Descriptions or Interpretations, please share the below example to help with comprehension. The person has their eyes closed. = DESCRIPTION (Having one’s eyes closed is an observable human behavior.) VS. The person is asleep. = INTERPRETATION (Some cultures associate closed eyes with being asleep. However, closed eyes could also indicate daydreaming, thinking deeply, meditating, having a headache, praying, being afraid etc.)

6. Show the image of DIVE Model.

7. Explain the meaning of DIVE. 

The D.I.V.E. Method is an effective strategy to help understand and process both familiar and unfamiliar experiences and observations. 

  • As humans, we tend to process information and categorize things based on OUR cultural norms, values, behaviors and beliefs.
  • Most people learn to observe something briefly, then quickly make assumptions and judgments about it.
  • By using the D.I.V.E. Method, you can slow down the critical thinking process to better understand other cultures/people and avoid rushing to judgement.
  • DIVE stands for: 

Describe: What do I observe with my senses (I.e. sight, sound, touch, taste, smell)? These are neutral, objective, verifiable facts. 

Interpret: What do I think about what I am observing (i.e. who, what, when, where, why, how)? These are your subjective, personal thoughts and opinions what you are observing. Be like a detective – use the descriptions to try to hypothesize your own interpretation of what’s going on. 

Verify: Talk with a cultural informant (someone who is from that culture or someone who might understand the situation better). Be sure to ask multiple cultural informants because they might be able to provide multiple views, trustworthy information and/or more context as to what you are observing. 

Evaluate: How do the people (in the image) feel about what is going on? Are they having positive or negative emotional reactions? Do they approve or disapprove of what is happening? Now, self-reflect and ask yourself “Why did/do you have that emotion, reaction or opinion about the image (i.e. the cultural practice in question)? How does this behavior compare with your own cultural norms and values? Where do your opinions/bias come from? 

  1. Act as the ‘Cultural Informant’ and explain the cultural practice shown in the photo: El Salto del Colacho (“El Colacho”) aka “Baby Jumping” 
  • Traditional Spanish holiday dating back to 1620 
  • Part of a week-long festival in Burgos, Spain 
  • Celebrates the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi 
  • Men dress as the Devil (El Colacho) in red and yellow jumpsuits. 
  • Men jump over babies [less than a year old] that are laid on mattresses in the town streets.
  • Men hold whips and oversized castanets as they run and jump over the babies. 
  • The tradition is said to cleanse the babies of original sin, ensure them safe passage through life and guard against illness and evil spirits.  Have students repeat the D.I.V.E. process on their own or in small groups. They can con- tribute their descriptions and interpretations in a Google Slides, Padlet or other mechanism. 

2. Go through the discussion questions and debrief. 

Follow-up Discussion for Students:

  1. How do the people in the image feel about what is going on?
  2. Are they having positive or negative emotional reactions? 
  3. Do they approve or disapprove of what is happening? 
  4. What makes you think they feel that way? 
  5. What was your first impression of the image? 
  6. Do you have a positive or negative evaluation of the cultural practice shown in the image, now that you have all the cultural information?

Ex: Positive = It’s good because it celebrates the town’s historical traditions, and every- one in the community gets involved. 

Ex: Negative = It’s bad because it’s dangerous – the men could accidentally step on the babies and hurt them! 

7. Why did/do you have that emotion, reaction or opinion about the image (i.e. the cultural practice in question)? 

8. How does this behavior compare with your own cultural norms, values, attitudes and behaviors? 

9. What is “cultural relativism”? Cultural relativism is the idea that a person’s beliefs, values, and practices should be understood based on that person’s own culture, rather than be judged against the criteria of another.

10. When thinking about other cultures and cultural practices that are unfamiliar to us, why is it important to remember the concept of “cultural relativism”? When looking at other cultures and cultural practices that are different from your own, it’s important to not judge based on what you think is “normal” or “acceptable” (as your opinion about it isn’t really important or relevant). What is more important is how the people within that culture feel about a certain behavior or practice as it relates to them in their own culture. While a cultural practice might not appeal to you, it might really appeal to them. So, different beliefs and values are not “right” or “wrong”, they are just different.

11. Where do your opinions/biases come from? 


  • It is normal to jump to conclusions and make assumptions. 
  • It’s important to wait before making evaluations and/or reacting. 
  • These are essential skills to have/use in life to prevent judging others or new situations. 
  • The D.I.V.E. method that we just practiced provides us with a useful framework with which we can analyze intercultural experiences. 

Extension into Other Content Areas 

Art: Re-frame the activity and have students map out the “art” that exists in the local community. Their interviews can focus on the same thing. This should help open their eyes to how individuals view art and what they consider art.

Business: Ask students to re-frame the questions for the interview of the community member into questions for a job interview and practice a mock interview.

English Language Arts: Have students simulate an interview with a character from a novel knowing what the setting was in the book OR have students create a persuasive public service announcement/speech about improving something they discovered about their community.

Math: Have students capture images of various places within their community and have them resize everything for a Barbie or Troll so they can consider scale and ratios.

Physical Education/Wellness: Have students consider where in the community they could go to do things that will keep them healthy. They should consider places where they can get exercise, eat healthy foods, get treatment for mental and physical health and so much more. It’s all based on the lens in which they frame their interview and how they view “health”!

World Languages: Simply do the project (minus the interview) in the target language. This is appropriate for novice learners. 

For more lesson plan ideas, please visit the AFS-USA Teacher’s Toolbox.

For questions, comments or suggestions, please email us at [email protected]

Download Lesson Plan

DIVE model 

DIVE image sample 

Additional D.I.V.E Images for students to use in small groups to practice this process. 

NOTE: Each photo has the relevant cultural information above it. 

DIVE Images (from NY Times column “What is going in in this picture?”) 

Black Friday Sales: Brian Garcia, 17, tried to nap on Friday at a Wal-Mart in Sugar Land, Tex., where he was the first in line for a greatly discounted plasma TV. (2018) 

Supporting Education: Before the start of another Afghan school year, about 200 tribal elders in the southeastern district of Laja Mangal gathered in a schoolyard for an important declaration: Any fam- ily that did not send its children to school would be fined $70, about half a civil servant’s monthly sal- ary. The district of about 50,000 people had built seven schools over the past 15 years, yet it had struggled to attract students from the mountainous area where the Taliban also have influence. The elders, feeling old tribal customs were holding back their children, thought the drastic measure was necessary. “They see those people who go to school and become important people in the govern- ment and international organizations, so they have tasted the value of education,” said Khayesta Khan Ahadi, who was the headmaster of the first school built in the dis- trict. Mr. Ahadi said local Taliban, after outreach by the tribal elders, announced their support for the decision from the loudspeakers of local mosques. (2018) 


Water Sellers: Men transport jerry cans filled with water from the shores of Lake Kivu to sell at water stores in Goma. Many people live without running water in Congo-Kinshasa. Though Lake Kivu is a freshwater lake, the water is not considered safe to drink without a dose of chlorine. (Goma, Congo- Kinshasa) 

Voodoo Mammas: A group of old voodoo ladies waits for the king of the village to attend a cere- mony. They are wearing their traditional religious makeup and outfits. The white paint on their arms and legs are a typical voodoo ornament, as are the beads that adorn their wrists and knees. Attached to their arms are pipes that the women use to smoke tobacco during prayers to the fetishes. (Agbodrafo, Togo, February 2010)

Desert Taxi: A woman takes a taxi in the middle of the desert in the Horn of Africa. The car is old and battered, and its license plate is painted by hand. Throughout the years, the constant influx of Soma- lis across the border with Kenya has developed a small economy in the Hagadera Refugee Camp, in Dadaab. Now the area looks like a small village, with a few markets, schools, soccer fields, and this desert taxi service, which transports people between the different refugee camps. (Dadaab, Kenya) 

Political Rally: In Burundi, traditional dancers jump and smile after their performance during a politi- cal rally for opposition presidential candidate Agathon Rwasa. Opposition candidates ended up drop- ping out of the 2010 elections, citing pre-election violence and allegations of fraud. That left Nkurun- ziza as the only candidate, so he secured the presidency for another term. (Nyanza-Lac, Burundi, May 2010) 

Traditional Herbal Medicine: A traditional healer uses his hand to stir dried herbal medicines that are believed to treat impotence, epilepsy, stomach disorders, malaria, and AIDS-related symptoms. 

The majority of Ugandans use traditionally prepared herbal remedies rather than more expensive conventional medicines. (Buyunya, Uganda)

Latin/South/Central America 

Kindergarten Celebration: At this kindergarten graduation party, these soon-to-be first graders dance to the delight of their parents. Dancing is a very important part of El Salvadoran culture. (El Portillo, El Salvador) 

Showing Gratitude: Faithful Catholics throw money from the tower of the church of Guarambaré in gratitude for favors received from the Virgin Mary. This act is part of a traditional ceremony held here annually. (Guarambaré, Paraguay) 

Snake Dance: During the Javanese Jaran Kepang dance, the performers—who are in trance—start moving like snakes and eat eggs. They then mimic dogs, tigers, and monkeys, which peel coconuts with their bare teeth. (Paramaribo, Suriname)