Social Studies/Business: Scarcity/Resource Distribution Game:
A great, engaging, and hands-on group activity which simulates the problems associated with scarcity of resources and unequal distribution. Groups of students compete to produce the most valuable products using the resources provided. Due to a shortage of key resources, especially capital resources, groups will need to trade among themselves for access to vital resources. Demonstrates the reality that some nations lack vital natural or capital resources, a consequence of global inequality and imperialist history, and the problem inherent in focusing on luxury items (such as cash crops) in production.
Social Studies/Canadian History: Canadian Confederation Negotiation Game:
This exercise is “hands on,” and a departure from more abstract means of exploring the drafting of the 1867 Canadian Constitution. Each group takes on the role of negotiators for one of the stakeholders in 1867, and must work to advance their interests while reaching compromise. This exercise enables students to experience the realities of having to compromise with parties with very different and often conflicting objectives, which builds a greater appreciation for the process that resulted in Confederation and the nature of Canada’s original constitution. The constitution itself and the process that created it becomes less abstract for the students.
Social Studies/Canadian History: Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
A group-discussion lesson plan for analyzing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Includes independent analysis questions and a group presentation on an individual section of the Charter. As the constitution is a dry legal document, this hands-on collaborative activity helps students dig deeper into the importance of the charter itself.
Science: Micro-Evolution Demonstration (with playing cards!):
Two common misconceptions of evolution are actually the mirror opposites of each other. One is that evolution is akin to a quick, cartoonish, directed process of change. In reality, evolution is the result of randomized mutations over successive generations, and so is often very difficult to “observe.”
However, it is also a misconception that evolution is always a long, unobservable process. In fact, evolution can occur very quickly, depending on the changes involved and the organisms in question. Organisms with short lifespans and quick rates of producing offspring can provide examples of evolutionary change in a time-frame that humans can observe. This can be shown using a simple deck of cards.
Geography/Social Studies: If the world were 100 people:
Sometime, I’m sure we have all seen info-graphics or statistics that present the global population in terms of percent (or, 100 people). It can be a very useful way to conceptualize the distribution of people across continents, and to easily think about global inquiries. This assignment asks students to make predictions on what they think the world looks like. If the world was distilled down into 100 people, how many would be European? Asian? Christian? Hindu? How many would have computers? How many would be educated? After predicting, students can then use the suggested resources to see what the real statistics are. I trialed this with a class of pre-serivce teachers – all were shocked by how inaccurate their estimations are, and caused us all to pause and think about how perceptions of the world. A great way to introduce concepts like bias, or inequities, or to teaching students about the world more generally.