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Unit: Learning Matters — Making a Difference

Introduction

This unit draws from THE NEW HEROES video episode called "The Power of Knowledge." The three videos focus on the positive impact that education has on social problems such as poverty, disease, and child prostitution. The videos focus on children and their struggle to have healthy childhoods and lives.

In this unit, students experience the power of learning. They visit three different countries through video and learn about the connections between government, childhood, education and the development of a country. Students create a personal plan to make a difference such as mentoring a younger child or designing a class project to send money to support a program overseas. The activities focus on service learning; the content is social studies. Activities help students engage with the content and extend their understanding of these issues.

Time Needed and Unit Structure

This unit includes five activities which take up to seven class periods. Three of the activities are supported by a 20-minute video segment from The New Heroes. Completing the full unit could take up to a week and a half (one 50-minute period daily). Activities can also be done as independent, stand-alone lessons. Suggestions for extensions included.

Key Concepts:

  • Emigration
  • Poverty
  • Taboos
  • Childhood
  • Class
  • Disenfranchised groups (girls, the poor, people with special needs, the sick)

Unit Overview

Activities:

  • Activity 1: Why Learning Matters (video segment - Train Platform Schools featuring Inderjit Khurana in India)
  • Activity 2: Who Owns The Children? (video segment - Daughter Schools featuring Sompop Chantraka in Thailand)
  • Activity 3: Standing up for Children
  • Activity 4: Fostering Change (video segment - Baby Academy featuring Dina Abdel Wahab in Egypt)
  • Activity 5: Learning In Deed (Culminating Activity following a week or two of implementing their mentoring projects.)

Extension Projects:

Students may decide to publish a newspaper of the stories in order to raise awareness. Students may plan video screenings to increase awareness or support for the causes. Students could choose to raise money and send it to one of the programs shown in the videos (adopt a train school for example). Students may initiate an ongoing school-wide program that trains and helps place mentors in the school for the youngest or neediest children.

Grade Level:

8-12 (note: this unit deals with childhood prostitution, drug use, and parents who sell their children into sexual slavery. Though the material is handled sensitively, this is not a unit for younger students. Teachers should be prepared to address key concepts raised in the videos.)

Subjects:

Social Studies, Service Learning, Language Arts

Outcomes and Key Concepts:

Students will gain an understanding of how one person's perseverance can have a positive impact for change. They will gain a deeper understanding of social and economic issues facing people in developing countries and how education makes all the difference. Additionally, they will engage in a service learning or mentoring activity to help in their community.

The unit raises the following key questions: What is childhood and what do children deserve? What rights do children have worldwide? What is childhood? How and why do rights differ from country to country? What role do governments play in the problems and the solutions?

National Standards:

  • National Council for the Social Studies

    www.socialstudies.org/standards/strands/
    The study of culture prepares students to ask and answer questions such as: What are the common characteristics of different cultures? How do belief systems, such as religion or political ideals of the culture, influence the other parts of the culture?
  • Life Skills:

    Standard 4. Displays effective interpersonal communication skills

    Standard 5. Demonstrates leadership skills

  • Service Learning:

    www.service-learningpartnership.org/teaching/Standards.cfm

    Service-learning, as defined by the National and Community Service Trust Act (1993) is "an innovative instructional strategy that actively involves youth in the curriculum through service to their community." Service learning differs from traditional community service activities in that it intentionally integrates the experience with the curriculum.

    Service-learning requires student participation in organized service that is coordinated with an elementary, middle, or high school and the community. In addition to fostering civic responsibility and individual development, service-learning allows the student to derive meaning from the curriculum by participating in, designing, and implementing a service learning project and by taking time to reflect on the experience.

    The following five standards provide what students should know and be able to do as a result of their participation in a service-learning activity or project.

    "Students will understand and reflect upon the significance of their service learning experience, and how applying these skills and knowledge affects them as individuals, their own learning, and the community."

Materials:

Activity 1: Why Learning Matters

Time:

One 50-minute period

Materials:

Learning Goals:

  • Students will understand the impact that one person can have on the world around them.
  • Students will compare the world of the "train schools" to their own learning experiences in school.

Standards:

  • Social Studies Standard: High School

    IX. Global Connections. Meeting performance expectation d:

    d. Analyze the causes, consequences and possible solutions to persistent, contemporary, and emerging global issues, such as health, security, resource allocation, economic development, or environmental quality.

Key Concepts and Vocabulary:

    Emigration, slum, taboo, "netherworld", vice, tragedy, vocational, leprosy: Hansen's disease (www.who.int/lep/), tuberculosis, India: Its location

    Activities:

    Discussion, watch 20-minute video; complete handout; answer and discuss in small groups and report out to class.

    Procedures:

    1. Ask students to brainstorm a typical day in their lives. Ask students to list the sorts of things that occupy the time of an average 11-12-year-old in their community.
    2. Answer these questions in a class discussion: What role does school play? What do students expect out of school? Why do schools matter? What is different about the schools here and on the train platforms? How do the goals of the train platform schools in India differ from the goals of the schools in the U.S.?
    3. Introduce the key concepts. Be sure students understand what the terms means. Elaborate if necessary for student understanding.
    4. Give the students the video handout. Review the questions on it, and introduce them to what they are about to see.
    5. Watch the video about Inderjit Khurana, the woman in India who started schools near train platforms to mediate the effects of poverty, drugs, and peer pressure.
    6. After viewing, ask the class how the video made them feel. Answer any open questions or issues students might have. Provide research time if needed. Have students read the Meet the New Heroes biography of Inderjjit Khurana and watch the slideshow about her. Focus the discussion on what childhood means, and how schools play a role in growing up.
    7. In small groups, have students discuss and answer the key questions on the handout.

    Assessment Suggestions:

    Turn in handout. Check for depth of answer and completeness.

    Additional Resources/Examples:

    • Leprosy - Hansen's Disease

      www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/hansens_t.htm

      www.who.int/lep/

      Definition and worldwide statistics

    • Tuberculosis Resources:

      Tuberculosis kills nearly 500,000 people in India each year. Until recently, less than half of patients with tuberculosis received an accurate diagnosis, and less than half of those received effective treatment. (From Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi.)

      Tuberculosis is the second most common cause of death from infectious disease at the global level, being second only to HIV/AIDS. Most deaths occur in developing countries, and affect the young in productive years of their life. Effective combination chemotherapy for tuberculosis has been available for almost half a century, but it has done little to reduce the disease burden in low-income countries including India. The prevalence, incidence and annual risk of infection continue to be the same as they were at the time of the baseline National Survey fifty years ago. The number of patients with active disease has continued to increase in proportion to the growth of the population in India. (From the Indian Journal of Medical Research — icmr.nic.in/ijmr/ijmr.htm)

    Suggested Extensions:

    • Research poverty and class in India (The Indian Caste System. There are five different levels of the system: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, and Harijans. Within each of these categories are the actual "castes" or jatis within which people are born, marry, and die. They all have their own place among each other and accept that it is the way to keep society from disintegrating to chaos. This system has worked well for Indian people and still has a major role in modern India. (for more, see www.indianchild.com/caste_system_india.htm)
    • Students may be motivated to design educational messages that will focus school wide and public attention on important health issues. They may create an entertaining three to five minute public service announcement that will promote and improve the lifestyles and health conditions of all school-age students and potentially reach into the community to raise awareness. See PBS resource: www.pbs.org/opb/childrenshospital/classroom/index.html
    • Study leprosy and tuberculosis - understand their causes and impacts worldwide.
    • Learn more about Bhurbaneswar, India.
    • Examine a map of India's train system and imagine which cities the poor come from.
    • Discuss childhood suicide - ask students to imagine what a girl of ten must be going through to commit suicide.

    Activity 2: Who Owns the Children?

    Time:

    One 50-minute period

    Materials:

    Learning Goals:

    • Students will understand the meaning and power of cultural taboos
    • Students will understand gender issues in different countries
    • Students will learn the relationship between a country's national economy and the selling of local commodities (young girls).

    Standards:

    • National Council on the Social Studies Theme 9: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of global connections and interdependence.

    Key Concepts and Vocabulary:

    ethics, morals, squatters, emigration, dignity, corruption, taboo, Thailand: its location

    Activities:

    Introduction to video handout; discussion; watch video; complete handout; discussion.

    Procedures:

    1. Introduce the next video by asking two questions: Who owns children? When do children have the right to decide for themselves? Student answers will be diverse - the goal is to get them to think about what childhood means, and who helps make it healthy.
    2. Introduce key concepts and vocabulary, and ensure students are familiar with them.
    3. Share the video handout. Introduce students to the questions and ideas. Ask students to take notes and watch for information as well as pay attention to how they are feeling.
    4. Watch the video.
    5. Discuss the following questions: Who are the "bad guys" in this story? What should be done to stop them?
    6. Introduce the idea of helping young children through "learning." What does it mean to be an adult or young adult and try to help someone younger? How would you help these kids if you could make a difference? How should others help young children make important choices? Have students read the biography of Sompop Jantraka and discuss how he is making a difference for children.
    7. Students make a plan for mentoring or helping young children after discussion of the best way to approach young kids. Students could be organized into groups to plan a program to help local children, or the class may choose to initiate a campaign to support one of the programs overseas.

    Assessment Suggestions:

    Depending on the plan students design and implement, the National Service Learning Clearinghouse (http://www.servicelearning.org/index.php) has many resources for defining and assessing projects of this sort, in addition to many resources.

    Suggested Extensions:

    See Activity One Extensions.

    Activity 3: Standing up for Children

    Time:

    One 50-minute period

    Materials:

    None needed.

    Resources/Examples:

    For stories to share with students

    Learning Goals:

    • Students will learn about programs that help children worldwide.
    • Students will learn about opportunities to make a difference.
    • Students will examine issues related to the power of the individual (see also Social Studies Standard VI, a.).
    • Standards:

    • National Council on the Social Studies Standard 10: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.

    From the Standard: Learners confront such questions as: What is civic participation and how can I be involved? How has the meaning of citizenship evolved? What is the balance between rights and responsibilities? What is the role of the citizen in the community and the nation, and as a member of the world community? How can I make a positive difference?

    Activities:

    Students conduct research online or read an article provided by the teacher which describes the kinds of programs (and kids) that help people worldwide. Students plan a program for helping — a service to children. (See resources above for sample stories and projects.)

    Procedures:

    1. Discuss the video stories the students have seen so far. Ask how they are feeling about it now. Have they shared these stories with anyone else? Do any students have ideas about what they would like to do to help? Just "touch base" with the students and their thoughts on these stories.
    2. Brainstorm a list of possibilities in the local or global community. Define what the class wants to do — what kind of project would make them feel they were making a difference?
    3. Decide and agree on a project.
    4. Create the set of tasks. Group students and distribute tasks. Allow them to begin to plan parts of the project (researching, scheduling, marketing/publicity, permissions, and developing an implementation plan).
    5. Homework could be given that prepares students for the next video. Suggestions include reading about Egypt and its culture, language, and location. Compare statistics on poverty and literacy rates of Thailand, Egypt, and India. Students could read about Down's syndrome and students with special needs.

    Key Concepts and Vocabulary:

    Altruism, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship

    Assessment Suggestions:

    A real project plan includes specific critical pieces. Students may be assessed on their ability to plan, carry out the plan, communicate, and work with others.

    Suggested Extensions:

    Teachers might choose to e-mail other students from published Web sites to ask them (interview) about their service learning projects. Share these with the students.

    Activity 4: Fostering Change

    Time:

    One 50-minute period

    Materials:

    Learning Goals:

    • Students will learn about Down's syndrome and compare the way two countries support these people.
    • Students will gain an understanding of Egyptian culture
    • Students will learn about schools in other countries
    • Students will understand the potential of local individuals (entrepreneurs) and their activities and how they can impact government policies.
    • National Council on the Social Studies Standard 11. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.

    Activities:

    Discussion; introduction to video handout; discussion; watch video; complete handout; discussion.

    Procedures:

    1. Introduce the key concepts and vocabulary. Explain and discuss, or provide time for students to conduct research on the topics of special needs.
    2. Group students and pose the question: Who deserves an education and why? Give students fifteen minutes to formulate answers to then share with the class.
    3. Introduce the handout with a discussion of the questions. Focus on students with special needs. Consider how US schools support people with special needs. Discuss the issues of special needs in education worldwide.
    4. Watch the video.
    5. In the same groups, ask students if they want to modify their answers about "who deserves an education and why." Respond to the questions on the handout. Extend the discussion by having students read the Meet the New Heroes biography of Dina Abdel and watch the slideshow about her.
    6. Discuss how this video influences planning for the service project the students are designing. Will they make any modifications to their plan as a result of seeing this video?
    7. Provide time for more planning.
    8. Students should turn in completed handouts.

    Key Concepts and Vocabulary:

    Educational special needs, Down's syndrome, autism, integration, curriculum, rehabilitate (versus integrate), ignorance (and to ignore).

    Assessment Suggestions:

    Clarity and depth of answers to the questions on the handout.

    Resources/Examples:

    • Additional data on education in Egypt:

      Dr. Hossam Badrawi, in charge of education for the Ruling Party in Egypt, calls himself a reformer, and is determined to seek change. He quit his successful medical practice only three years ago to try to make a difference for Egypt's children. He shared extraordinary figures to show the scope of what he is dealing with: Each year 400,000 new students enter Egypt's public schools, 50,000 new teachers are hired and 1,000 new schools are built. "Despite these pressures," he says, "I am determined to make room for children with special needs. They have the same rights as every other child."

      Ambassador Moushira Khattab, in charge of the Ministry of Childhood and Motherhood, agrees. She has taken specific steps for families in need, such as setting up a toll-free hot line, which received 160,000 calls in its first few months of operation.

    • PBS Frontline-World

      www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/educators/cross_health.html

      A resource on disease control and health around the globe.

    Suggested Extensions:

    Students could study Down's syndrome, autism, and other special needs programs in the US and other countries, such as the Special Olympics.

    After discussing the pros and cons of prenatal genetic testing, students could research a particular genetic disorder (Down's syndrome) and create pamphlets about the disorder from a genetic counselor's point of view. See PBS Teacher Resource: www.pbs.org/fredfriendly/ourgenes/lesson_pamphlets.html

    Activity 5: Learning in Deed

    Time:

    One 50-minute period (held after one to two weeks of implementing the plan for helping children through teaching and learning.)

    Materials:

    None needed

    Learning Goals:

    • Students will be able to write about and summarize their experience helping young children.
    • Students should be able to describe what they did and assess how successful their plan was.
    • Students will reflect on the experience of helping and discuss whether it impacted a career choice.

    Standards:

    Service Learning: Students will understand and reflect upon the significance of their service learning experience, and how applying these skills and knowledge affects them as individuals, their own learning, and the community.

    Activities:

    • By now students will have chosen a project of mentoring younger children or helping younger children somehow - gathering money to help a cause or actually interacting with younger children, and today they report to the class on the experience of helping make a difference. (Or write if a Language Arts unit).

    Procedures:

    1. Students should know that today is when they reflect on their experience, and either summarize their experience and what they learned, or develop new plans to continue. Begin the class by asking for volunteers who would like to share their experiences.
    2. Two key topics should be addressed by the students today - their own personal experience and how well their planning helped them succeed. As they reflect on the experience, ask students to identify how what they planned to do compared to what actually happened.
    3. There are a number of options for the culminating activity depending on the core content area. In Language Arts, students may choose to publish articles about the experience for the local or school paper, create a play, write poetry, or write a narrative describing the experience. Or in social studies, teachers may choose to have students write a report on the experience of helping in the US compared to what they have seen in other parts of the world.

    Key Concepts and Vocabulary:

    Civic participation, activism, evaluation of a plan or project, social justice, leadership.

    Assessment Suggestions:

    Assessments should reflect the goals of the subject area. Suggest writing samples or research report on the experience. A piece of self-reflective writing should be requested.

    Resources/Examples:

    See above for the Web site where there are many stories of students who have made a difference. Their writing and stories could be useful for the students when comparing their experiences.

    Suggested Extensions:

    • Students could continue to mentor or work on the project.
    • Additional projects could be generated, such as training others to participate in mentoring, or enlarging the project to include other schools.

    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.