Peace, Conflict, Migration (3-day lesson)

We touch very briefly on Peace, Conflict, and Migration this week while at the same time introducing the difference between history and oral history in preparation for the following week where students will work with Voice of Witness (VoW) on their own oral history projects.

The Hunger Games is a particularly salient film to introduce both these topics as the majority of students will be familiar with it and it helps students consider the ways in which collective history about war and revolution is represented and utilized to suppress as well as incite conflict.

After the broad introduction to conflict and history/oral history via Hunger Games during the block period on Day 1, students will spend the next two days reading oral history narratives about resettled refugees who reside in the same community in which they live and practice story boarding and constructing narratives from photographs and other fragmentary sources.

Peace, Conflict, Migration Lesson Plan

Day 2 Story Boards

Day 2 Oral History Activity Guide Cont’ VoW

Day 2 Oral History Activity Guide VoW

The Story of Stuff, Part 2 (Friday, October 25, 2013)

Yesterday, we discussed the first two steps of the materials economy : extraction and production.  In today’s lesson, we are going to discuss the last three steps: distribution, consumption, and disposal.  As we will see, these three steps have an impact on the three spheres of sustainability (social, economic, and environmental,) as well.  They also prove to be more complex than the initial 5stepsdiagram we created with our foldables, so we can update our illustrations as we see fit (just like they do in the documentary!)

We’ll begin by watching the fourth and fifth segments of The Story of Stuffdistribution and consumption (8:10-16:44.) 

After watching these two segments, we’ll have a brief discussion in groups of the process of consumption and its link to consumerism.  To facilitate this discussion, we’ll work in groups to identify and analyze a popular advertisement using the “Analyzing an Ad” lesson in the Buy, Use, Toss Unit (pp. 65-66).

We’ll then watch the sixth and seventh segment of The Story of Stuff as a class: Disposal and Another Way (16:44-20:40.)

After watching these two segments, we’ll discuss the video in groups using the following questions as a starting point:

  • Overall, what was the message of The Story of Stuff?
  • What are the strengths of Annie’s argument? What are the weaknesses?
  • Why and how is it helpful to understand the parts of the materials economy system and how they interact?
  • Which impacts do you think will be the easiest to solve with available technology and solutions? Which do you think will be the most difficult to solve, and why?
  • How do “reduce, reuse, recycle” initiatives respond to the materials economy?
  • Which possible solution do you think would be the most impactful? Which would be the easiest to implement?
  • What role could consumers have in transforming the materials economy?
  • If you were to develop a social action project in response to The Story of Stuff, what type of action would you plan?

After discussing these questions in group and as a class, we’ll close by responding to one of the two blog posts on Sustainability (this one or yesterday’s post.)  In our responses, we can post personal reflections on the topics, related articles or videos, examples of advertisements that encourage consumption, or even our own videos.

The Story of Stuff, Part 1 (Thursday, October 24, 2013)

Oimagesn Monday, we learned about the three spheres of sustainability:  Environmental, Social, and Economic sustainability.  In today’s lesson, the first in a two-day mini-unit on Sustainability and Development, we will see how all three spheres of sustainability relate to life today.

We will anchor our discussion around Annie Leonard’s short documentary, The Story of Stuff:   This documentary is useful in its presentation of the five steps of the materials economy: Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption, and Disposal.  5stepsbeforeTo help us understand these five steps,   we’ll create a five-tab foldable, illustrating the tab on the front, defining it on the other side of the tab, and then noting related ideas and examples from the video.  You may also chose to modify your original illustrations as you watch the video.

After creating the foldable, we’ll look at the first step in the materials economy: extraction.  After watching a brief segment of the film on extraction, we’ll work in groups to evaluate how an assigned resource is extracted and whether this process is socially or environmentally sustainable.  This activity will include role cards and an “Is it Sustainable?” worksheet from the fantastic Buy, Use, Toss unit (pp. 36-41).

We’ll then move on to the second step of the materials economy: production.  To guide our discussion of the social and environmental – or “true” – costs of production, we’ll read the article “Working for a Living?” (Buy, Use, Toss unit, pp. 48-49).  We will then end class with a group activity, “You’re the Boss” (Buy, Use, Toss unit, p. 45,) in which we will get the opportunity to develop policies for a factory like the one described in “Working for a Living?”

With such big concepts to review on Thursday, we probably won’t have time for an in-depth discussion.  So, please use the space below to offer your own perspectives on The Story of Stuff, evaluate the impact of the materials economy on your own life, ask questions about Extraction and Production, and make connections to other ideas we’ve discussed so far in class.

Social Safety Nets: Wednesday, October 23rd

The Social Safety Nets Lesson was developed with the idea of students beginning to think about structural mechanisms that bring equity to society. I wanted to develop the concept of social responsibility and help students think about the impacts of inequality in society. They will start off the long class by presenting their first quarter review projects, which will hopefully be course content in future years. Then they will open with a clip about stratification.

The video should raise a few questions, and instructors should facilitate answering questions like:

  • Does it matter that there is inequality?
  • How does inequality impact the poor? The rich?
  • What are ways that governments can prevent stratification?
  • What is social responsibility?

Students will start learning about social safety nets and the different methods that are implemented in their construction. Students will study the most common methods in small groups (one method per group), and then will be jigsawed into new groups with one person from each of the original groups. Students will share their expertise or the different methods to fill out the Social Safety Nets worksheet.

Students will then watch a video about safety nets in Brazil and Ethiopia.

Students should be able to identify which types of safety nets were in the video.  Groups will then be given a country to research and fill out the country safety net worksheet.  Students should share their findings in the whole group and think about what countries seem to be doing a good job of protecting its citizens.

Finally, students will watch a video to complete the lesson to make them consider the impacts of inequality on the wealthy.

Lesson for Friday, October 18th: Income Disparity and Inequality

In class, students will explore income disparity/ wealth inequality and how it affects their livelihood as a nation, and more personally, how it affects them as residents of Charlottesville, Virginia.


Students will start the class watching the Wealth Inequality in America video, which explores the way wealth is distributed in an easy-to-understand manner. After, students will briefly discuss what they’ve seen in the video, leading into touching on AccessUVA and how its related to inequality and wealth distribution. This leads into the interactive activity, where the students will be divided into 3 groups. Each group will be assigned a different area of Charlottesville (Charlottesville City near UVA, Darden Towe Park area and Bellair/ Liberty Hills) and a correlating median income. Each group will be given the same budgeting scenario, and each group’s outcome of the scenario will be based on their income

Overall, students should begin to see the wide gap in income not only in the country as a whole, but also right here in Charlottesville. Students will be able to feel hands-on the affect of the disparity through the activity and begin seeing the bigger picture on a smaller scale. Additionally, they should begin thinking of solutions or approaches to income disparity.

A great resource, which is also the homework assignment for this class is Inequality is Real, an interactive website where students can delve deeper into the concept of income and the way its distributed. They can even see their projected income, given their own demographics.

You can find the lesson plan for this class here.

Monday, October 21st: Equity and Sustainability

The idea behind this lesson is for the students to draw a connection between equity and sustainability. During the course of today’s class the students will have a diagram that is centered on three aspects of poverty: family/community, education, and health/healthcare.

The students will watch a short video illustrating the life of a 12-year old boy living in poverty: Marcell’s Story. As they watch the video, the students will use the diagram and write down concerns expressed by Marcell regarding his family and community, his education, and his health.

After watching the video, students will break into groups and share their findings. Each group will share with the class their discoveries and their reflections, explicitly focusing on the categories of the worksheet (family/community, health/healthcare, and education). At this point the students will be given a broad overview of the “Three Spheres of Sustainability” which targets SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL, AND ECONOMIC factors that make up a sustainable society when in balance. Even though today’s lesson is focused on the SOCIAL factors, students should be familiar with the other two parts and keep in mind how they are all connected.

In the same small groups, the students will learn more about access to healthcare and higher education, and how those from low-income families have limited access to these resources. In order to go more in-depth, students will watch a short clip about why American Health Care is so expensive. While watching the video, students will think about how Marcell and his family/community are impacted by high healthcare costs and write down their thoughts on the diagram, then discuss afterward.

To learn more about the educational aspect, students will read an excerpt from an article about how access to higher education is becoming more and more unattainable for low-income students. While reading the article, students will identify problems Marcell might face if he pursued a college degree and add these concerns to the diagram. Students are encouraged to make connections to the recent changes made to AccessUVA and their own personal concerns as students when they share with their group.

Thinking about Marcell’s story, the students will collaborate in groups and construct a diagram or chart identifying all of the benefits of income equality, lower healthcare costs and accessible education on an individual level and for society as a whole. How would Marcell’s story be different? Students are encouraged to make connections between income equality and access to healthcare and education.

Reflecting on all of the benefits and taking a look at the three spheres of sustainability, students will discuss where our conversation fits in making a more sustainable society. How does income equality and better access to education and healthcare influence the sustainability and health of our world?

Reflections and mapmaking

People learn best when they can express things in lots of different ways, use their imaginations, indulge their excitement and curiosity (see here for one educator’s take on this).  So, with that in mind, we will be synthesizing our understanding of the class into an “imaginary map-making” activity.


Imaginary Cartography! (Let’s make a map…)

MAP:  a diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showing physical features as well as cities, roads, etc.  (from Webster’s dictionary).

Imaginary maps delight. They distract. They reveal truths. They whisper secrets. They unsettle. They reassure. (Padron, 2007).

We have talked a lot about the world, and we have seen many maps of the world. Maps are a human construct to help us find our way. You and your group are now a team of cartographers of the imagination. You must draw an imaginary map of something related to your understanding of this class: Global Citizenship and Human Rights. You might want to make an imaginary map of a real place or a real map of an imaginary place. A map of Charlottesville, of a utopia, of humanity, of this class, of anything your group wants. Logic is forbidden! Creativity is required! Everything on your map must be a representation of a concept that has come up for you in this class.

Your map needs to have:

  • name places for every location
  • at least two bodies of water (e.g. river, ocean, lake)
  • at least one major city
  • at least three other towns or villages
  • a compass
  • a key
  • at least three other physical features apart from water (e.g. mountains, valleys, forests, fields, etc.)

Remember: everything on your map needs to represent something in some way! Your group will be in charge of explaining to the rest of the class.

Thursday October 2nd

On Thursday we aim to get students exploring the issue of democratic learning and students’ rights to education. By watching a video from a youth activist, Malala Yousafzai, students will engage with concepts related to gaining stake in their education. We will be facilitating a discussion about the nature of education rights, and whether students have stake in deciding what they’re learning and how.

We hope that by encouraging students to articulate what it is they think is valuable to learn, and whether that is what they are actually learning in the classroom, they will grow more conscious of the limits of education in the classroom. We hope it will give our students a critical perspective on their own education so they can begin to further grapple with and challenge other issues that may arise later.

Malala Yousafzai’s biography: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai first came to public attention in 2009 when she wrote an affecting BBC diary about life under the Taliban.

But three years later, in October 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman because of her campaign for girls’ education. She was already well known in Pakistan, but that one shocking act catapulted her to international fame.

She survived the dramatic assault, in which a militant boarded her school bus in Pakistan’s north-western Swat valley and opened fire.

She has been named one of TIME magazine’s most influential people in 2013, put forward for the Nobel Peace Prize and has reportedly secured a $3m (£2m) book contract for her life story.

Background Video on Malala

Malala Yousafzai’s Speech