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Opportunity and Social Mobility #4: A Virtual Field to Dollar Street from Gapminder

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Lesson Overview:

Using the brilliant work of Anna Rosling Rönnlund at Gapminder, take your students on a virtual field trip.  Let them visit homes around the world arranged on an income scale.  From left to right, homes on Dollar Street go from poor to rich.  The students will be able to observe living conditions and thus be able to see what access to resources looks like in practical terms.  Opportunity and access to resources is made plain for the children in the real-life photos and family descriptions.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



To read for information, take notes, and use the information to draw conclusions about access to resources in two different areas of the world.  (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 investigate the lives of two families in two different parts of the world.   Families will be compared on five different scales relating to opportunity and general well-being.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the students that in the last lesson they looked at the world as if it were a village.  With 100 villagers representing everyone on planet Earth, they gathered statistics to evaluate access to sufficient food/nutrition, clean air, clean water, sanitation facilities, and energy (electricity).

Explain that in today’s lesson, the students will look at two families in different parts of the world in more detail.  Pass out the student assignment sheet (attached) and go over the instructions with the students.

Show the students how to find and use Dollar Street on the Gapminder web site, found here:  Gapminder’s Dollar Street

2. Main:

Explain to the students that they need to choose two countries from two different continents on Dollar Street.  For example, they could choose one country from Africa and one country from Asia, but not two countries from Asia.  Ask the students to look carefully at the information provided about the families.  They should read the descriptions as well as look at the pictures.

Ask the students to write key words on their assignment sheets so that they capture some of the relevant information about the families.  Give students 25 minutes to complete this task.

Once they have finished, ask them to work with a partner who chose different countries.  Talk to their partner about their own findings.  What did the families have in common?  What was different?  This is a version of the “Think, Pair, Share” thinking routine.

3. Conclusion:

Ask the students to think about their findings from last week.  Did most people in the Global Village have enough to eat?  Did most people in the Global Village have access to clean water or sanitation?  Are today’s findings consistent with the statistics studied last week?  Ask the students what they can conclude about access to resources and opportunities to live healthy, happy, and productive lives in the countries they examined today.

  1. Dollar Street segment of the Gapminder website, found here: Gapminder’s Dollar Street
  2. Copies of the Student Handout (attached)


Recommended books for this lesson:


Key Terms:

Statistics, Population, Social Sciences, Graphs, Charts

Student Assignment, Dollar Street