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Opportunity and Social Mobility #3: If the World Were a Village, by David J. Smith

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Lesson Overview:

Using David J. Smith’s acclaimed If The World Were a Village, students will extract statistics and then use them to create graphs and charts.  The graphs and charts will help the students better understand inequalities in our world in terms of access to food, clean air, clean water, sanitation facilities, and power (electricity).  Working in teams, the students will be able to describe opportunity and access to key resources based on data.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



To read for information, extract statistics, and then use them to create a graph to show data in key indicators of human well-being.  (AASL 1.1.8, “Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry.”)

Suggested Time:

45-50 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will use statistics and simple software to create a graph showing key economic indicators of well-being in access to food, clean air, clean water, sanitation facilities, and power (electricity).

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the students that they have looked at access to education (Toni Morrison’s Remember: The Journey to School Integration) and information (Ukrainian village and Internet access, Andrew Carnegie, information wants to be free).  Explain that today they will be examining how “fair” or “equal” the world is on five different scales.  Those are:

  • Access to sufficient food/nutrition
  • Clean air
  • Clean water
  • Sanitation facilities
  • Energy/Power (electricity)

Explain that in today’s lesson, students must pretend that the entire world is a village of 100 people.  Read the introduction from Smith’s text on page 7.  Make sure that the children understand that each person in the village represents 67.5 million people.

2. Main: 

Part 1:  Have the students number off from 1 to 5.  You should have four or five groups.  Five is the ideal number for a group, but in groups of four, the students can work together to complete the 5th assigned graph.

Ask each student to pick up the appropriate handouts.  The handouts should be prepared for the children according to their assigned categories.  Everyone will need the statistics page (attached).

Number 1 – Food/Nutrition: Statistics Handout plus p. 17 from text

Number 2 – Clean Air: Statistics Handout plus p. 18 from text

Number 3 – Clean Water: Statistics Handout plus p. 18 from text

Number 4 – Sanitation Facilities: Statistics Handout plus p. 18 from text

Number 5 – Energy/Power: Statistics Handout plus p. 25 from text.

Students should read to obtain the statistics in their assigned area, then talk to others in their group to fill in the remainder of the statistics.  Each student should have statistics for all five categories before moving on to making charts.

Part 2:  Creating Charts/Graphs:

With their completed student assignment sheet and gathered statistics, have each student go to the National Center for Education Statistics “Create a Graph” site, found here:  https://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/.  A picture of the first screen on the site is attached.

Once the students are on the site, demonstrate how to use the software to create a graph.  Complete the required steps on each tab.  There are five tabs to complete:   Design, Data, Labels, Preview, and Print/Save.  Keep the graphs/charts simple.  Be sure that the graph name includes the student’s name.  For example, “Clean Air in the Global Village by Saadhana.”  Also, be sure that the students list the book as their source!  All source information needs to be directly credited in the graph!

Once a chart is complete, ask the students to email it to themselves.  They should open the mail, change the subject line to include their name, and then forward it to their teacher so that the graphs can be printed and added to the portfolio as evidence of learning.  If the students know how to upload the file directly to their digital portfolio, great.  If not, have the teacher print the students’ graphs to be added either to the Maths or Unit of Inquiry notebooks as a completed work sample from this lesson.

3. Conclusion:

Encourage the students to look at more statistics from the source text and to use the graphing software for other projects that have data sets.  Thank them for their work and tell them that next week they will get to take a virtual field trip to Dollar Street to see how kids around the world live and how their family’s income and physical environment may affect their opportunities as they grow up.

  1. If the World Were a Village by David J. Smith, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong.
  2. Copies of pages from the text, which give statistics about food, air, water, sanitation and power. These should be pages 17, 18, and 25.
  3. Picture of the first screen of the “Create a Graph” tool (attached)
  4. Copies of the Student Handout (attached).
  5. Access to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) website “Create a Graph” tool, found here: https://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/

I usually keep black print, a white background, and 2D in my demonstration.  Once the kids see how easy it is to use this software, they will immediately start playing with colors, fonts, etc., but make sure that they get a couple of charts with solid data before they start to experiment.

Recommended books for this lesson: 

If the World Were a Village by David J. Smith, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong

Key Terms:

Statistics, Population, Social Sciences, Graphs, Charts

Create a Graph

Student Handout, If The World Were a Village