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Unit: The Business of Doing Good

Introduction

This unit uses the "Power of Enterprise" episode of THE NEW HEROES series to engage students in learning about global economics and society.

Time Needed and Unit Structure:

This unit includes six activities. Three of the activities are supported by a 20-minite video segment from THE NEW HEROES. Completing the full unit may take from six to nine 50-minute class periods. Activities can also be done as independent, stand-alone lessons. Suggestions for extensions included. Overarching goals for the unit are provided as well as specific learning objectives for each of the activities.

Unit Overview

Activities:

  • Activity 1: The Cost of Doing Nothing (featured video segment: Albina Ruiz, Peru)
  • Activity 2: Knowing What to Do
  • Activity 3: Benefits of Action (featured video segment: Grameen Bank, Bangladesh)
  • Activity 4: Power of Starting Small
  • Activity 5: Multiplying the Benefits (featured video segment: Maria Teresa Leal, Peru)
  • Activity 6: Wrap Up and Simulation

Grade Level:

6-12

Subjects:

Social Studies, Math

Outcomes and Key Concepts:

Students will gain an understanding of global economics and the potential of micro-businesses to create powerful opportunities for community development. Students will understand how statistics help us understand global issues, such as disparities between people of different classes, cultures, and genders. Students will consider key concepts such as: What are the implications of poverty? How does a country's economy affect the welfare of its people? What does it take to start a business? How do local enterprises support and sustain communities-in developing countries and in my own neighborhood? What does it mean for a business to "do good?"

National Standards:

  • Social Studies: Global Studies
  • Math: (NCTM) Problem Solving
  • Life Skills (MCREL) Benchmark 3: Managing Money
  • Life Skills Benchmark 4: Studies or pursues specific job interests

Materials:

  • "Power of Enterprise" episode from THE NEW HEROES PBS series.

Print:

How to Change the World by David Bornstein (Oxford University Press, 2004).

The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank by David Bornstein (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996).

Web:

Ashoka, a nonprofit organization investing in social entrepreneurship around the world: www.ashoka.org

Grameen Bank. Read the discussion, "What is micro-credit?" to gain a better understanding of this concept: www.grameen-info.org/bank/WhatisMicrocredit.html

The Skoll Foundation, a nonprofit organization working to advance systemic change to benefit communities around the world by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs: www.skollfoundation.org

Activity 1: The Cost of Doing Nothing

Time:

One 50-minute period

Materials:

  • Video clip about Albina Ruiz from "Power of Enterprise" episode. [20 minutes, segment begins at 2:30]
  • Computers with Internet connection
  • Video Handout: Albina Ruiz
  • Optional: spreadsheet software

Learning Goals:

  • Social Studies: Understanding poverty as a global economic issue
  • Math: Seeing how statistics help us understand big issues

Standards:

  • Social studies: People, Places, and Environment (strand III, National Council for the Social Studies)
  • Math: Data Analysis and Probability (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)

Activities:

Watch 20-minute video; brainstorm as a group; complete video handout; students write a response to a key question.

Procedures:

  1. Before showing the video segment about Albina Ruiz, ask students to describe what they imagine when they hear the word "poverty." Where do they think the world's poorest people live? What is their life like? Then show the video segment about Albina Ruiz. Ask students to imagine growing up in a garbage dump. What brought people here to live? What did they hope to find by coming to the city? What was the reality?
  2. Watch video and pass out video handout. Brainstorm as a class the following questions: If nothing happens to expand opportunities for people living under such conditions, what will be the result for those people as well as for those who live around them? What about entire countries? Can high number of poor impact the entire country? Suggest ideas such as: lost opportunities, quality of life, health issues, and economic growth. What is most compelling about Albina Ruiz's story? How does she articulate the need for change?
  3. Have students answer the question by writing a response to: What are the costs of doing nothing? What if Albina Ruiz had not become involved?
  4. Math extension (time needed: one additional class period): Have students use online resources to do data mining and create a statistical snapshot of the three countries they will be learning about in this unit: Peru, Bangladesh, and Brazil. What is the per capita income in each country? Life expectancy? Education level? How does this compare to U.S. data? To help students visualize what the statistics mean, have them use spreadsheet software to generate graphs that represent these data. Option: Have students do this activity in teams (one per country), then report their findings to the whole class.

Key Concepts and Vocabulary:

Class and income; economic disparities; opportunities.

Assessment Suggestion:

Peer review of the written response.

Resources:

Extensions:

  • Connect to other content about migration. When else have people uprooted in search of opportunities? Do the students have their own family stories of immigration?
  • Connect to local context: What do statistics tell you about the economics of your state, compared to other states? Your community? What percentage of students are growing up in poverty in your school? In your state? In the U.S.?

Activity 2: Knowing What to Do

Time:

One 50-minute period

Materials:

Computers with Internet connection

Learning Goals:

  • Social studies: examining root causes of poverty; identifying problems; understanding connections between culture, class, and tradition
  • Math: applying problem-solving strategies

Standards:

  • Social Studies: Culture (strand I, National Council for the Social Studies)
  • Math: Problem Solving (NCTM)

Activities:

Class discussion about problem solving; student investigation into community-based solutions; reports back to class.

Procedures:

  1. Prompt students to begin thinking about what leads to effective solutions. How can they define a problem in a way that helps them identify possible solutions (instead of feeling hopeless or overwhelmed)? Refer back to the video of Albina Ruiz: What did she do to lead people toward workable solutions? How did she convince them to change how they live?
  2. Encourage students to look beyond the obvious. What was the real problem the villagers needed to address in Peru? How did garbage become a key part of the solution — an asset instead of a liability?
  3. What have others done to introduce workable solutions in their communities? Have students read about examples of the youth projects featured on Youth Venture (www.youthventure.org). What issues do these projects attempt to solve? What problem-solving strategies are being used? How can you measure results?

Key Concepts:

Community-based solutions; measurable results.

Assessment Suggestion:

Ask follow-up questions to assess students' understanding of problem-solving strategies during their reports.

Additional Resources:

  • Youth Venture

    www.youthventure.org/index.php?tg=articles&idx=More&topics=6&article=224

    This nonprofit organization, started by Ashoka founder Bill Drayton, encourages young people to start small enterprises to solve problems in their own communities. QuickStart guide includes descriptions of ventures youth have started to tackle specific issues.

  • Small Business Administration

    www.sba.gov/ed/

    Online success stories feature individuals who have tapped local resources to launch a small enterprise. What helped them get their ideas off the ground? What are the benefits?

Extensions:

  • Invite in community members who have started a nonprofit organization or other program that focuses on solving local problems. Encourage students to ask them: How did they know the solution would be effective? What compelled them to act?
  • Have students visit nonprofit organizations and conduct interviews. What problem-solving strategies can they identify? How did these organizations decide on their strategy?

Activity 3: Benefits of Action

Time:

One 50-minute period

Materials:

Activities:

Watch 20-minute video; brainstorm as a class; use computer lab to practice with skill of calculating compound interest.

Procedures:

  1. Before showing the video clip, talk about how small changes can lead to big results.
  2. Ask students to think about times in their own lives when they were given a chance. Then, show the video.
  3. Complete and discuss video handout.
  4. Afterwards, brainstorm with students about the question: How can little changes add up? What compelled Muhammad Yunus to turn traditional banking "upside down"? What did he mean by that?

Learning Goals:

  • Social Studies: Understand what economic opportunity means
  • Math: Explore the idea of compounding interest. How do benefits grow and expand? How do we measure change? How does monetary growth lead to expanding social benefit?

Standards:

  • Social studies: Production, Distribution, and Consumption (strand VII, National Council for the Social Studies)
  • Math: Number and Operations (NCTM)

Key Concepts:

Microeconomics, micro banking, capital, collateral.

Assessment Suggestion:

Using a computer lab, give students time to experiment with online interest calculators. Encourage them to make predictions as they enter different interest rates and calculate growth over time. For a homework assignment, give students time to practice the skill of calculating compound interest.

Extensions:

Explore how culture and tradition have limited opportunities for classes of people at different times in history. How did life change for the women of Bangladesh when they were offered the chance to borrow money?

Activity 4: Power of Starting Small

Time:

Two to three 50-minute periods

Materials:

"Money" to represent $5 for each student

Learning Goals

  • Social Studies: Understanding the role of business in local community development
  • Math: Applying concepts of prediction, projection, modeling

Standards:

  • Social Studies: Production, Distribution, and Consumption (strand VII, National Council for the Social Studies)
  • Math: Measurement, Connections (NCTM)

Activities:

Conduct simulation; have students write about results.

Procedures:

  1. For a simulation, give each student $5 worth of collateral-free "money" and ask them to decide how they want to use it to start a business.
  2. Brainstorm (one day): Encourage students to think about what they could do with $5. Strategies: What if they pooled their assets? What if they were able to get matching dollars? What if they also used free resources? Encourage students to think about: Who would benefit from their business idea? Could they solve a problem or do good work with a small amount of capital?
  3. Act (one to two days): Give students opportunities to put their ideas into action. Can they sell a product on campus? Contribute to an existing effort in their community (a food bank, for example) or donate to an international humanitarian effort? How far would their money go? What would it buy? How can they measure the impact?

Key Concepts:

Leveraging, capital investment, profit and loss.

Assessment Suggestion:

Have students keep a journal during this simulation. What were their goals for the $5? How did their strategies change when they brainstormed with classmates? Why did they decide on their final plan?

Additional Resources:

Youth Venture

www.youthventure.org

Online worksheets take students through the process of generating an idea for a local venture, including planning a start-up budget.

Extension:

Do the Social Entrepreneurship lesson plan (one day)

Activity 5: Multiplying the Benefits

Time:

One 50-minute period

Materials:

Learning Goals:

  • Social Studies: Understand the idea of community assets; how do we recognize the attributes of a community? How do we see beyond poverty to recognize assets?
  • Math: Understand exponential growth, compound interest

Standards:

  • Social studies: Science, Technology, and Society (strand VIII, National Council for the Social Studies)
  • Math: Number and Operations (NCTM)

Activities:

Watch a 20-minute video; conduct a math activity; have students write about (or create a drawing to represent) tangible and intangible benefits; complete handout.

Procedures:

  1. Before showing the video clip, introduce the idea of multiplying benefits. Encourage students to think about community problem solving and community assets. Then, show the video. Afterwards, ask students to brainstorm all the benefits they can identify for the women of the favela. What assets did the women have to offer? Use chart-pack paper to capture students' ideas. Encourage them to think about tangible and intangible benefits.
  2. Math extension: Help students understand how strategic thinking helped to multiply the benefits in this example. Assume that one seamstress, working alone, could produce five garments in two weeks. Two seamstresses working together could produce 12 garments. Four working as team could produce 30. What do they gain from working as a team? Brainstorm other ways that teamwork helped them work more efficiently. What expenses did they save by working together? What are the economies of scale?

Key Concepts:

Assets, social capital, local/global; tangible and intangible, economies of scale.

Assessment Suggestion:

Give students a choice of formats (writing, drawing, collage) for representing their understanding of tangible and intangible benefits.

Additional Resources

Extensions:

Introduce the idea of community asset mapping.

Activity 6: Wrap Up and Simulation

Time:

One to two 50-minute periods

Materials:

Projector for presentations, computers with spreadsheet software for budgets, presentation software.

Activities:

Conduct simulation, including final presentations by students.

Procedures:

  1. The culminating activity is a simulation. Have the whole class imagine that they now have $1,000 to invest in new business ideas. Which of their classmates' small business ideas will they invest in? How will their money do the most good?
  2. In presentations to the class, students share the results of their plan to start a business with $5. What did they do? Did their business idea solve a problem? What were their strategies to leverage benefits? What assets did they tap? How could they leverage benefits if they had more capital? The activity requires students to practice making an oral presentation, using persuasive speaking. Creating models or other artifacts will help them convey their thinking and persuade classmates to invest in their idea.

Math Extension:

  1. Have students present proposed budgets, showing how they would use a $1,000 start-up grant.
  2. As venture capitalists, students must work together to decide which idea(s) they want to fund. Have them create a scoring guide to help them think about how they will evaluate each proposal. This will promote critical thinking as students assess the merit of each idea, determine how many people it will reach, and also weigh each idea's potential for success. Should they invest in far-fetched schemes or tried-and-true business approaches? What do they want their investment to achieve? How will they measure results? Which idea(s) has potential to work on a larger scale?

Learning Goals:

  • Social Studies: Students will gain an understanding of investing and the challenges of decision making
  • Math: Students will apply math to create budgets and evaluate business proposals

Standards:

  • Social Studies: Global Connections (strand IX, National Council for the Social Studies) Math: Problem Solving (NCTM)

Key Concepts:

Going to scale, socially responsible investing.

Assessment Suggestion:

Use a rubric to evaluate student presentations.

Additional Resources:

  • Youth Venture

    Worksheets guide students through the process of drafting a budget

    www.youthventure.org

Extensions

  • Have students reflect on their hopes for their own life's work. What personal assets will they tap? What do they hope to contribute?
  • Have student teams make a video documentary about an entrepreneur in their community. Use some of the same storytelling techniques that make The New Heroes episodes compelling. As they plan their scripts, encourage students to think about: How do you want your audience to feel? What do you want them to do?
  • Involve community experts. When students are working on their business plans, invite local experts to provide some real-world feedback. Look for people who are involved in businesses similar to those students hope to launch. Don't overlook the nonprofit sector as a source of expertise. Consider having students present their business proposals to a panel of community members.

About the Classroom Content

These teacher resources were developed by the Learning Innovation and Technology Consortium (LITC). LITC develops educational programs and materials in support of problem solving, innovation, and social entrepreneurship.