Overview: Do your own personal values and the values of others impact your daily actions and priorities? This activity helps your class explore the concept of values and can provoke tremendous reflection on students’ goals and priorities as you launch a new unit or semester.

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

Learning Outcomes: 

  • Students will recognize the ways in which general cultural values can be helpful in understanding behaviors and choices. 
  • Students will better understand how their values may be different from or similar to others, which can impact how they interact and communicate with others. 

Learning Objectives:

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

  • Explain the term “values” to others in terms that they understand. 
  • Identify what cultural values are most important to them and to others in their family. 
  • Identify what cultural values would be the most difficult for them to connect with in others. 


  1. The goal of the activity is for students to reflect on their own values and related behaviors/choices, as well as to interview their family members about their most important values and related behaviors/choices. 
  2. Have students discuss the prompt: What does “values” mean? (Students can submit a word/phrase using a poll you have set up with mentimeter.com or other similar program).
  3. Have students watch short video about ‘Cultural Values’. (5:21 minutes)
  4. Review the concept of “values” with students: 
  • Your VALUES are the things you believe are most important. 
  • Our VALUES (the WHYs) often impact our behaviors and choices (the WHATs) in life, and heavily influence our decision-making. 
  • VALUES are often passed down by family and the society you live in. When you think about your own values, also think about the values of the people that surround you. 

For example: My #1 Value is “school/academics”. I demonstrate this value by getting good grades, always doing my class assignments, studying hard and participating actively in my classes. My family always talked about the importance of being a good student. So, I think I learned it from them. 

5. Have students self-reflect on their top 3 values and the behaviors that demonstrate these values. Then, have students interview their family members and relatives directly or virtually. Ask the interviewee to identify what top 3 Values are most important to them and what behaviors they have or choices they make that demonstrate these values. 

          a) Consider sharing a list of common values with students. This is NOT an exhaustive list. 

6. Have students share their work on the assigned online learning platform. (Consider using Padlet to have students post their value examples from a picture of a drawing to a PowerPoint as that application can be used on a student’s phone or computer and accepts a variety of input sources.) 

7. Review the concept of VALUES with students prior to the discussion: Values (the WHYs) help us understand and explain our behaviors and choices (the WHATs). For example, a person who values “success” might choose to focus on their career, while a person who values “family” might try to spend more time at home. When a person’s behaviors/choices don’t match their values (e.g. valuing family time, but having to working a lot), they may become unhappy. 


  1. What similar values did you observe?
  2. What similar behaviors did you observe?
  3. What different values did you observe?
  4. What different behaviors did you observe?
  5. Does anyone else share the same value(s) as you? Why might that be?
  6. Where do you think your values come from? Is there a personal, family, cultural, environment, social or other reason for your values?
  7. What are some of your behaviors/choices that are linked to your values?
  8. Why do people sometimes choose or behave differently than their values? Ex: An important cultural value to you is “honesty”, so you always tell the truth. Your best friend got a new haircut and posted about it on social media. You “liked” their picture even though you think their haircut doesn’t look very good. Why?
  9. How can thinking about our own values and behaviors help us to understand other people?

Extension into Content Area:

Math – This is an applicable discussion as to the approach students take when solving problems; both story problems and computational problems. Students who were taught differently will approach computation differently…especially when they learned basic computation in another country or culture. Additionally, there is a lot of hidden bias in story problems. Consider putting a series of story problems in front of students and ask them if the problem is biased toward individuals that hold a specific set of values. 

Science – Ask students to consider the series of steps they would follow to solve a particular problem. Assign them a different set of values and ask them to use that lens to potentially create a new set of steps to solve the problem. For example, if there is a problem related to sustainability and transportation or a problem with climate change where students evaluate it through an individualistic or collectivist culture

World Language – Consider using an info-graphic for students to prompt discussion about cultural values of the target culture. Students can compare this with that of the US culture for discussion or reflection. 

Useful tools in the target language: Hispanics & Cultural Values, Definition of Values in Spanish, Values Collage in Spanish, 10 Moral Values in French, Table of Value Words in French, German Values Word Cloud, General Values & Simple Definitions in English 

English Language Arts – After students complete a short story, novel or nonfiction piece that involves people, give students a series of value words or pairs of opposing pairs and have them select which set of values the characters or people in the passage embody while defending their choices with evidence from the reading. 

Social Studies – Have students investigate different government systems or cultures based on the time period and or part of the world that you are currently studying. Encourage students to defend their choices of cultural value systems based on events that occurred during that time period in history and have them determine if the value systems have changed over time or if they remain the same. 

Business – Show students a video like these from HSBC to encourage students to think about how they prepare for a job interview with an organization or company that has global ties. Students can investigate how they determine the international relationship that a business or organization has and find resources to prepare themselves to work there. 

Art – Use a piece of art, such as Frida Kahlo’s “Diego on my Mind”, where students can see that a priority has been placed on Diego Rivera in Frida’s painting. Students can recreate a painting of this nature by prioritizing their values in the form of images and their self-portrait. This can easily be combined with a world language or English language arts class because students can write about their values and rationale of their artwork in either language. 

Art – Consider having students design a logo that demonstrates their strongest value(s). See additional instructions and examples here

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

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

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