Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Open licensed Gapminder uses statistics and visual mapping to teach students a big picture view of how and why the world has changed for the better over the past 217 years. Recently with my 9th grade class, I used Gapminder resources and directions. I distributed 16 country cards and asked students to "rank" the countries. I was deliberately vague on what criteria they should base their rankings.

Afterwards they compared their arrangement with the video and a graph of the same chart Robling features in this video. 

In this age of sturm und drang in the United States and as we see conflict around the world, we have a tendency to assume that this is a particularly bad time to be alive. Indeed, Donald Trump is president because he convinced a substantial number of Americans that we were better off and safer in the past. Gapminder uses data to show a very different picture: a world where most things have improved; a world that is not as divided as one would think.

The lesson encouraged geographic literacy as I  directed students to use Google Earth. The lesson fostered collaboration and discussion and I used the video above towards the end of class. It was an "aha" moment for sure for most of the kids. 

If you want a stand alone day or two day lesson on history, econ, statistics, health, or international relations, you should check out Gapminder and its free tools and lesson plans. 

In this video, you see some of my students ranking their country cards. (Admittedly, it is not earth-shattering video but I want you to see what it looks like.) 

Here is a link directly to a pdf of the activity and lesson plan. 

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