If my narrative represents an organizational framework containing every content consideration that I found relevant for gaining a deeper understanding of my unit topic, this next section represents some suggestions for distilling these topics to engage high school-level students. While these examples represent my strategies for implementing this unit within my school context, you may find more utility from this section after modifying it to reflect your unique teaching situation. For instance, these sample lessons have been planned in the context of my school’s 90-minute class periods, so it may be necessary to break up some activities across multiple days in classrooms that meet for shorter sessions. Similarly, these lessons should not be mistaken as a completed unit calendar for implementing this unit; rather, teachers should view the following section as a reflection of my teacher’s perspective—matching the types of activities I found to best guide students towards addressing the compelling questions laid out at the start of this project. Other educators should, thus, be encouraged to selectively pull from or even build upon the framework presented throughout the rest of this unit before implementing these lessons themselves.
While I strive to engage students with a diverse set of learning activities, consistent classroom routines play a major role in the structuring of my lesson plans. The sample lessons provided below, thus, reflect these personal routines, and should be noted before any teacher seeks to adopt this unit within their own course curriculum. First, each of my lessons begins with a “Do Now” question projected onto the board that students must answer as soon as they arrive in class; this question always seeks to “meet students where they are at” by asking them about a topic both relevant in their own lives and the content of the upcoming lesson. After having students share out their answers to this question, I present a daily agenda on the board that lists the different topics and activities planned for the day’s class—having student volunteers read this schedule out loud; for reference, I have included images of what these slides will look like for each sample lesson throughout this section. Finally, the activities that make up the large remainder of the lesson always follow a “gradual release” model—beginning with direct teacher instruction before later transitioning to independent/small-group activities. By keeping this overarching lesson framework in mind, along with my use of a projector for sharing key information and directions, one can envision how each sample lesson described below would look being implemented in the classroom.
One more school-specific consideration for this unit will be the unique course context for which it was designed. Since New Haven’s required Civics curriculum has only been designed to be implemented across the first half of the school year, my school created “International Issues” as a complementary course to conclude 10th graders’ social studies schedule. In order to make the most out of this scheduling gap, the teachers who developed this course adopted four units from The Choices Program—created by Brown University to engage students with contemporary and historical issues overlooked in traditional curricula.44 This provided me with the ideal situation for working this original unit into my classes for this upcoming school year; while I am provided with a structure of units related to international issues, I am simultaneously free to substitute the specific skills and content covered in this “supplemental” course with what I have developed in this original unit. I recognize that most teachers will be confined to stricter unit schedules and standards that will make it much more difficult to implement a unit explicitly designed to stray outside the focus of traditional high school social studies courses. This disclaimer just provides one final reason why other educators should be encouraged to pull specific teaching philosophies, strategies, and lessons from this project, rather than following it as a holistic guide.
Sample Lesson 1: Understanding America’s Gender Pay Gap in a Globalized Context
- Do Now Question (10 mins): “What types of American jobs are predominantly worked by women? What jobs are predominantly men? Are there any jobs that you cannot envision working because of your gender identity?” Students take five minutes to answer these questions projected on the board in their own words as they enter the classroom. Teacher then has students share their responses with partners or out loud for another five minutes to begin introducing topics of the lesson.
- Daily Agenda (5 minutes): Sample Lesson 1
- Video Analysis: Gender Wage Gap (15 mins): Students are prompted to draw a simple “T-Chart” in their notes—titling the left column as “Video 1” and the right as “Video 2.” Teacher returns to the topic of gender wage disparities and contextualizes it as a politically contentious debate in the modern world. Teacher, then, briefly reviews the elements of developing argumentative writing discussed earlier in the school year and asks students to identify the claim/thesis, supporting evidence, and potential biases present in both videos. After playing five-minute clips from each video, one arguing against the need to address gender wage disparities and the other highlighting the societal detriments of this issue, students will share-out the information they gathered in their notes.
- Making Sense of Wage Narratives (10 mins): Teacher returns to both video clips from the previous activity as examples of the wide-variety of narratives available on the internet to confirm any preexisting opinion on a topic. Students take notes defining the term “confirmation bias” along with strategies for cross-referencing the competing narratives they will encounter online with well-researched conclusions. Teacher concludes by highlighting the common components of sound academic research, distributing an example that will be used for the next class activity.
- Close Reading of Academic Text (25 mins): Students will be broken up into small groups of two to three and assigned a different section of an academic study on the persistence of a gender wage gap in America. For their assigned section, students will be tasked with summarizing the conclusions made by the researchers, finding what evidence they used to support their claims, and explaining in their own words how their section helps support a broader argument that a gender wage gap undermines the American economy. One student from each group will be assigned as “scribe” to record these answers on a guided worksheet while other students will be designated “readers” or “annotators.” Teacher circulates around the classroom throughout this activity to support struggling students and formatively assess each group’s progress.
- Presenting Our Findings (15 mins): Each student group will take turns sharing each of the answers they developed from the questions posed during the previous activity. Teacher constructively adds any missing information from student responses to help a general class-wide understanding of the existence of the gender wage gap and the significance of this information coming from an academically vetted source. Teacher collects worksheets from each group at the conclusion of these presentations to grade as a participation/classwork grade.
- Homework: Examples of Gendered Employment from Our Own Lives: Students will be tasked with collecting “data” from their own lives regarding the gender composition of their desired career field. Students must corroborate their findings with at least three academic sources corroborating their statistics. Based on this data, students then evaluate if this career has been gendered in American society or not and how this will affect their own journey to eventually participating in this field.
Sample Lesson 2: Evaluating the Policy Outcomes Global Trade Organizations
- Do Now Question (10 mins): “What types of international program(s) would you propose to combat gender wage inequality in the U.S. and around the world? What would be the major economic, political, and social obstacles that would prevent your organization from achieving this goal?” Students take five minutes to answer these questions projected on the board in their own words as they enter the classroom. Teacher then has students share their responses with partners or out loud for another five minutes to begin introducing topics of the lesson.
- Daily Agenda (5 minutes): Sample Lesson 2
- Brief History of the IMF and the WTO (15 mins): Teacher distributes guided notetaking sheet(s) for students to record key vocabulary terms being introduced as the origins of these organizations are laid out on the board. The most important of these terms will be “neoliberalism,” as an anticipated misconception for students will be confusing “liberalism” (free-market economics) with “Liberalism” (progressive political ideals) in the context of American society; by defining and exploring how “neoliberalism” became the economic consensus driving globalism in the 21st century, students will have a clearer understanding of what is being evaluated when we scrutinize the policy outcomes of these international organizations.
- Video Clip: “Life and Debt” (20 mins): Teacher cues up a ten minute clip from the documentary “Life and Debt,” a movie highlighting how the Jamaican economy had no bargaining power to compete against technologically “developed” countries like the U.S. and U.K. in a “neoliberal” globalized system. Students will be tasked with evaluating how this theoretical system of international free trade exists in practice—developing a critique to the stated goals and outcomes of the IMF and WTO. Teacher asks for volunteers at the conclusion of this video clip to share their counterclaims to the mission statements of these organizations, taking the role of smaller, less-wealthy countries such as Jamaica.
- Evaluating IMF Voting Power (10 mins): Teacher guides students log onto the official website for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and follow the link to the webpage where they break down the correlation between a country’s voting power and national wealth in this organization. Alternatively, a teacher can print copies of this page for students if computer access is lacking. Students will, then, break into small groups to compare how much voting power the United States and United Kingdom have compared to Jamaica—evaluating if this data corroborate the evidence/outcomes from the video clips shown in the previous activity. Teacher has students share out their conclusions and divides the class into these percentages to visually demonstrate the overwhelming voting power these countries possess to set the agenda of these organizations in their favor.
- Charting International Gender Issues: Paid Parental Leave (20 mins): Students will return to their small groups tasked with applying the international economic influence that the United States possesses towards improving the economic outcomes of women. Teacher introduces the fact that the United States remains the only “developed” country in the world that does not guarantee paid parental leave to its female employees to take time off after giving birth; by framing this as another unfair economic advantage that pressures international companies competing with the U.S. to not hire female workers, students will be pushed to understand how the limits to gender equity perpetuated by the U.S. can have detrimental ripple effects around the world. Students will be given video resources and text excerpts related to this subject for their groups to develop a proposal for the IMF to compel its member countries to adopt guaranteed paid parental leave. This argument will require specific citations from the resources provided and a list of supporting evidence written out on poster paper (provided for each group). Students will be encouraged to assign roles so that they can simultaneously develop their proposals onto paper while gathering additional supporting evidence from the provided documents. Teacher circulates around the classroom throughout this activity to support struggling students and formatively assess each group’s progress.
- Silent Gallery Walk Presentations (10 mins): Teacher distributes sticky notes to each group and explains that they are to walk around to each poster constructively commenting on each in complete silence by writing notes. Students will be asked to especially look out for arguments or evidence that differs from their own poster—writing about how these points further their own thinking on the subject. Student groups conclude this activity and the lesson by returning to their posters and reading through the comments left by their classmates. Teacher collects these posters for a participation/classwork grade and can hang them around the classroom if desired.
- Homework: “Planet Money” Podcast Analysis Questions: Students listen to the entirety of the “NPR Planet Money” podcast “Episode 842: Showdown at the WTO.” After listening, students answer the following questions in complete sentences using evidence from the podcast and from class: “How can WTO along with the IMF push negative progress, override positive social decision making by developed countries? What are the implications here for combating gender wage inequality?”
Sample Lesson 3: The Gendered Labor Chain of Downward Harmonization
- Do Now Question (10 mins): “Why do billionaires like Kylie Jenner choose to produce her branded clothing in Bangladesh rather than the United States? Why do these Bangladeshi factories predominantly employ women workers?” Students take five minutes to answer these questions projected on the board in their own words as they enter the classroom. Teacher then has students share their responses with partners or out loud for another five minutes to begin introducing topics of the lesson. Note, this activity may be best accompanied with relevant news article found in the “Student Reading List” section of this unit and extended by several minutes if students have no prior knowledge of this trending online topic.
- Daily Agenda (5 minutes): Sample Lesson 3
- Vocabulary Introduction “Downward Harmonization” (10 mins): Teacher distributes guided notetaking sheet(s) for students to record key vocabulary terms being introduced as the origins of this term are laid out on the board. Students will be introduced to the theoretical economic explanation of this principle—how industrialized areas will seek to export manufacturing labor to “less developed” economies due to the rising wages that accompany this development. Students will, then, be asked to infer how women will be impacted by this economic chain when their labor has been generally been valued less around the world. Teacher guides this discussion to the conclusion that women will be specifically targeted by this phenomenon due to the economic demand for the cheapest possible labor with low skill requirements to fill these manufacturing jobs.
- Researching Part of the Timeline (20 mins): Teacher prepares for this activity by sectioning off “Chapter 6: The Long Race to the Bottom” from Pietra Rivoli’s book The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy into the different geographical locations it explores. After copying and printing out several copies of these sections, students divide themselves into whatever number of groups matches the amount of sections prepared by the teacher (up to 6). Teacher then assigns each group a specific geographic and temporal location covered by their section to annotate and summarize for its key information. Students will receive a guided notetaking sheet to help them identify what qualifies as key information to be applied in the following activity.
- Constructing a Class Timeline (20 mins): Teacher will gather students in the center of the classroom where a map spanning across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has been prepared on a large piece of poster paper. Using this map, students from each group will locate the country discussed in their assigned excerpt, cut out the boxes of key information created during the previous activity, and tape/glue these boxes in the appropriate location. After each group has successfully added their information, students’ final task will be to reference all of the dates included on each country to chronologically connect them using a long piece of yarn—highlighting the path of downwards harmonization that textile industry took from Great Britain to modern-day Bangladesh. Teacher closely monitors each step of this process, correcting any misconceptions and regulating the pace in which groups contribute to the class map if necessary.
- Narrating the Class Timeline (25 mins): Student groups will stand near their country on the map constructed in the center of the classroom and provided a detailed explanation of their assigned passage. After each summary, each student group will conclude their brief presentation by elaborating on how their location’s industrialization perpetuated (or began) an economic chain of “downward harmonization” as introduced at the beginning of the lesson. Each group will take their turn until the entire map has been explained in the context of the lesson. Teacher reviews each section of this class poster and presentations for a participation/classwork grade; this poster can also be displayed in the classroom following this activity if desired.
- Homework: Weighing the Pros and Cons of “Downward Harmonization” for Women: Students will be assigned to read “Chapter 12: The good news about Asian sweatshops” for Charles Wheelan’s book Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. Based on this chapter, students will be assigned to develop a claim arguing why downward harmonization could also be beneficial for women in developing countries—using three pieces of evidence from this text to support their argument.
Summative Unit Assessment: Debating the Gains/Setbacks for Women within Globalization
While assessing students on an original unit can be difficult to quantify in a traditional test, having students conduct independent research connected to the case studies explored in class provides a meaningful measure of what students gained from these lessons. Since much of this unit relied on presenting country-specific case studies for students to understand patterns of globalization and female-empowerment, they have already had the product of my own research modelled throughout the course of this unit. By being explicit about how the content of each lesson was accumulated through this seminar process, students will have been purposefully introduced to these independent research skills in preparation for demonstrating their own understanding from this unit. For this reason, students will be assigned to choose either a “developed” or “developing” country that was not discussed throughout the unit for which they will produce a personal (or small group) case study. Students will spend the second to last class session of this unit selecting a country within these guidelines, workshopping their initial thoughts with a whole-class seminar on structuring independent research topics. During this class session, students will receive guided notetaking sheets to hold students accountable for producing a consistent quality of research on women’s positionality in their selected country.
By completing this research, students will be preparing themselves for the second part of this assessment—a class debate evaluating the effects of globalization on women’s lives. My decision to pair this type of assessment with student’s independent research relates back to the few structural constrains of the “International Issues” course. While a course created by compiling units from the Choices Program offers me the flexibility to fully implement this project, one structural consistency from previous years has been to assess student understanding by debating conflicting perspectives. These debates not only provide students with consistent expectations for how they will be assessed throughout this course, but also allow students to develop different skills than they gained from their more standardized Civics course in which they began the school year. For these reasons, I am compelled to conclude my unit with this same activity, having students represent female perspectives from both the “developed” and “developing” countries they chose for their independent research. By dividing the class in half between these two categories while assigning this project, this will allow students to be paired or grouped with peers who have studied a contrasting perspective. Similarly, each student will be tasked with assessing the pros and cons of globalization for women in their selected country—injecting another layer of nuance into this discussion. I plan on circulating around the classroom recording observations from these debates along with collecting a written note sheet from each student to grade this half of the assessment along with their independent research.