Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feeding a Hungry World

Joining the 7th grade team this year, meant working with new units. As we started to plan Feeding a Hungry World, we all felt constricted by the 6 Themes of Geography approach and decided to adjust and develop the unit to incorporate a lot more …

All four classes would combine for the final negotiations so we needed to assign countries and roles across the grade. The goal was to have all students prepared for a diplomatic simulation/negotiation. The areas of focus were to involve food security issues and a focus on land use and it’s potential to make a difference, as well as potential resource reallocation.

All students were assigned their countries in Asia and then they needed to source information on demographics. The CIA and WFP sites were user friendly and for most countries provided the basic information.

Each country had clearly defined roles: diplomat, government official, environmental scientist, farmer, citizen. There was a graphic organiser for each role and then each student was expected to contribute to a full group discussion in order to inform the diplomat so she/he could take a position in the simulation. At this time a google doc was set up for each group so they could continue on the research from home to fill in any gaps of information and make their positions stronger.

Students were then spread throughout the classroom and given a packet containing their food (rice grains) land (coloured paper) and money (in line with the GDP) The goal was for each group to negotiate enough food to feed their population by 2050.

This is one of the few times that students have not only not wanted to go out break, but stayed after class to negotiate, challenge and change their countries position. They were well prepared due to the sites selected as a base, their improving research skills on line, their ability to collaborate beyond classroom doors. I had wondered if the content was beyond the majority but it was evident from the on line products and discussions that the majority did grasp the major concepts.

As it turned out actual keeping the unit flowing, as a class, was our biggest problem as we had the H1N1 virus affecting classes and more than half each of my classes was out for over a week, with the number affected for a three week period. Because we were able to use blogs and google docs, classwork was able to proceed for the rest of the groups present.