NOW Home Page
Politics & Economy
Science & Health
Arts & Culture
Society & Community
TV Schedule
For Educators
Topic Index
For Educators:
Global Women and Poverty
More on This Lesson:
Lesson Plan

This lesson is designed for social studies, economics, sociology, citizenship, government, current events, and other related classes, grades 9-12

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will:
  1. Articulate opinions and support them with reasons, facts, and examples.
  2. Conduct research using a variety of resources and make comparisons based on this research.
  3. Create graphic organizers to present their research findings and illustrate solutions to problems.
  4. Discuss and debate issues based on what they have learned from research and watching a video.
  5. Use problem solving and group work strategies to form a strategic plan for assisting countries that face severe economic hardships.
  6. Present action plans for assisting developing countries.
  7. Draw conclusions about the interdependence of nations in a global economy.

Related National Standards

Standard 10
Understands basic concepts about international economics.

Thinking and Reasoning
Standard 1
Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument.

Standard 3
Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences.
Standard 5
Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques.
Standard 6
Applies decision making techniques.
Working With Others
Standard 1
Contributes to the overall effort of a group.

Standard 4
Displays effective interpersonal communication skills.
Language Arts: Writing
Standard 4
Gathers and uses information for research purposes.
Language Arts: Listening and Speaking
Standard 8
Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.
Language Arts: Viewing
Standard 9
Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Estimated Time to Complete Lesson

Two 90-minute or three to four 45-minute class periods will be needed to complete this activity.

Materials Needed

  • Copy of the stories on Senegal (running time: 19-minutes) and Thailand (running time: 17-minutes) from the 9/5/03 NOW with BILL MOYERS broadcast (Note: A free transcript of this program is available on the NOW Web site. Teachers may also tape the broadcast off-air and use it in the classroom for one year. Alternatively, programs are available for purchase from ShopPBS (
  • TV/VCR
  • Computers with Internet access
  • Library research/resource materials
  • Handout: Anticipation Guide (PDF file)
  • Handout: Economic Prosperity Comparison Worksheet (PDF file) (PDF File)
  • Maps of the world showing the locations of Senegal and Thailand.

Backgrounder for Teachers

According to the World Bank, 110 million primary-school-age children in developing countries are not in school. Of these, 60 percent (66 million) are girls. More than a billion people in the world continue to live on less than $1 a day. (See related NOW graphic.) Poor economic conditions in developing countries often lead to the inability of governments to provide clean water, health care, public education, and other services. In addition, some countries sacrifice the rights of its laborers in its efforts to attract foreign investors and companies who can offer jobs. Such conditions, in turn, limit opportunities for the poor and make it even more challenging to meet their basic needs.

In its 9/5/03 broadcast, NOW with BILL MOYERS profiles women in two such countries: Senegal and Thailand. These stories share the perspectives of the poor, who struggle daily to earn a living. Both profiles are concise illustrations for your students of how we are all connected in a global economy. Be sure to see the Related Resources section of this lesson plan for links to the Web sites of global organizations with more information on developing countries and research on the world economy.

Assumed Student Prior Knowledge

This lesson would be an excellent tie to subjects such as the world economy, economic development in developing countries, the role of government and corporations in these countries, the study of labor laws and working conditions, and women's studies courses. Before beginning the lesson, teachers will want to be sure students understand the following terms and ideas: World Bank, IMF (International Monetary Fund), UN (United Nations), globalization, and capitalism.

Teaching Strategy

1. Stimulate student interest by having them complete the provided Anticipation Guide handout. Remind students that they are to work individually on this activity, using their own ideas and opinions for each statement. Give students 3-5 minutes to complete the Anticipation Guide.

2. Facilitate a short (10-minute) class discussion by reviewing each of the statements on the Anticipation Guide and having students share their related opinions and reasons. Advanced-level students could complete this activity in small groups of 4-6 to allow for more individual sharing and discussion/debate.

3. Introduce the NOW with BILL MOYERS program by explaining to students that they will see and hear first hand how women in Senegal and Thailand are affected by the hardships of living in poverty. Take a moment to show students where Senegal and Thailand are located on a map. Then, ask students to keep the ideas from the Anticipation Guide in mind as they watch the video, and also to take notes on the following topics for use in discussion and follow-up activities:

  • What are the economic hardships faced by the women/citizens of Senegal and Thailand?
  • What are the specific causes of these hardships?
4. After watching the Senegal and Thailand segments, ask students to respond in class discussion (7-10 minutes) to questions such as a the following:
  • Does what you just saw in the program change your opinion about how you responded to any of the Anticipation Guide questions? If so, explain what views have changed and why you now feel differently.
  • Many of you may have heard the statement, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer". How is this illustrated in the piece, and what, if any, action should be taken to correct this situation? Explain.
  • The piece refers to "Savage Capitalism." What do you think this term means? Why do you think the people of Senegal and Thailand, particularly the women, have this view? Explain.
  • As consumers, do we contribute to the problems the women in the video live with every day? Give specific examples.
  • Who should be responsible for helping poor people and countries in the world? Why?
5. Explain to students that they will be following the steps on an Economic Prosperity Comparison Worksheet to examine what causes some countries to suffer from poverty (such as Senegal and Thailand) while other countries (such as the U.S. and many western European countries) prosper and possess great wealth. Students may complete the worksheet individually, in pairs, or in small groups, whichever the teacher prefers. Before students begin, take a few minutes to review graphic organizers such as Venn Diagrams, as students will be asked to create one as part of their assignment. (If needed, see Related Resources for Web sites on graphic organizers.)

6. After students have completed their research and worksheet, organize them into small groups of 4-6 students. Using what they learned to this point, have them work together to devise a specific action plan for assisting either Senegal or Thailand. The plan should:

  • describe the economic hardships the country is facing
  • list the causes of these hardships offer possible solutions to address these problems
  • discuss who, what, when, where, why and how aid will be provided to the country
  • list how providing this aid and implementing these solutions will impact the country and its people in a positive way
  • describe the positive impact other nations would experience as a result of strengthening either Senegal or Thailand's economy.
As students work together in groups, encourage them to discuss and debate issues fully and to use problem-solving and group work strategies (i.e. Decision Making Grids, Problem-Solution Charts or Outlines, brainstorming and completing Spider Webs or Mind Maps to organize ideas, etc.) to devise the best possible plan for helping either Senegal or Thailand.

7. Have each group create a large graphic organizer on a poster-sized sheet of paper showing the plan they have created. The organizer could take the form of a flow chart, a cycle, a spider map, clustering or webbing, a chain of events, etc. Students should use color and record ideas and information legibly. Students should address each of the bulleted points from Step 6 above when creating their graphic organizer. (If needed, see Related Resources for Web sites on graphic organizers.)

8. Each group should present its graphic organizer. Group members should share the responsibility of describing what country they focused on, what hardships the people are facing, the causes of these hardships, the possible solutions and specifics for implementing them, and the positive effects these solutions would have on the country, its residents, and the world.

9. Graphic organizers should then be posted for others to see and discuss.

Assessment Recommendations

  1. Completion grades could be given for the Anticipation Guide and Economic Prosperity Comparison Worksheet.
  2. Each student could earn a participation grade for their role in classroom discussions as well as the work that takes place in small groups.
  3. Graphic organizers and the presentations that accompany them could be evaluated using a peer evaluation form that students would use to provide feedback to one another. A self-evaluation form could also be created so students could evaluate their own work and the contributions of other members of their group.

Extension Ideas

1. Be sure to review NOW's Starter Activities and Take Action ideas related to this lesson's topic.

2. Have students imagine that they are one of the women profiled. How would they react to life in this situation? Would they have the courage to act as the women profiled have? What would they do differently? Have students express their ideas and views in the form of a letter, poem, short story, or speech that can be shared with the class.

Related Resources

Below are some sites that provide useful information related to this lesson's topic. Information About Countries and World Rankings
This site offers a series of lists that allow users to compare literacy rates, wealth, health, and a variety of other statistics for countries worldwide. Data is drawn from the CIA World Factbook and United Nations statistics.

NOW with BILL MOYERS: Report on the World Summit on Sustainable Development
This NOW report examines findings of the World Summit held in Johannesburg in 2002. Topics addressed include Population and Development, Poverty and Hunger, Health, Energy, Water, and Genetic Diversity.

Graphic Organizer Web Sites

Graphic Organizers Activity Bank
This activity bank from Schools of California Online Resources for Education (SCORE) provides information and examples of numerous graphic organizers.

Index of Graphic Organizers
This index advises which graphic organizer to use for specific tasks (i.e. comparing/contrasting, sequencing, etc.)

Education Place Graphic Organizers
This site from Houghton Mifflin provides a helpful and extensive listing of printable forms.

World Organizations

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)
This site explains more about the purpose and activities of the IMF, and includes country information and publications related to world economic issues.

The World Bank
This site includes reports, data, country information, and numerous other resources related to world poverty.

The United Nations
This extensive site outlines U.N. goals and activities around the world.

About the Author

Lisa Prososki is an independent education consultant who taught middle school and high school social studies, English, reading, and technology courses for twelve years. Prososki has worked with PBS TeacherSource and has authored and edited many lesson plans for various PBS programs over the past eight years. In addition to conducting workshops for teachers at various state and national meetings, Prososki works as an editor, creates a wide range of educational materials for corporate clients, and has authored one book.

Related Stories:

about feedback pledge © Public Affairs Television. All rights reserved.