By Mark Heintz
Oct 26, 2021

I am writing these more procedural lesson plans because I have two new teachers teaching the same course as me who just started this week. They are taking over for someone who is moving into a new role. I wanted them to have a greater understanding of what I do on a daily basis. Also, this process helps me reflect on what we did in class. For everyone else wanting more information about the course, here is some greater context that provides an overview of the class. And here is what the students have been doing in the first part of the year.


To start this lesson, students downloaded this following PDF on their iPads and opened it into Notability. I had a student AirPlay and record all of the information. All of the images are students work. On the first slide, we had a five-minute class discussion recalling all of the topics that we covered so far this year. Essentially, we framed today’s activities into our essential question: What do I want my world to be? First quarter, the students came up with a working understanding of the world they live in from their individual point of view. In the second quarter, the students are to re-imagine the world to one they want it to be. Below is an image of the topics that were discussed.

After the whole class discussion, the students opened up the GAPMINDER link and took the quiz that is on GAPMINDER’s homepage.  As they took the quiz, they recorded anything they noticed or wondered from the quiz. Following their time with the quiz, the students talked to their table partners about what they recorded. Following their table talk, they shared as a class. The students noticed that the world isn’t as horrible as they thought; that, at least there is some hope. Here is what they came up with as a class.

After the quiz, the students moved to the next link in GAPMINDER. This portion of the lesson confused the students at first. I guided the students through one of the charts as a whole-class activity. For that whole-class instruction, we kept the default settings on the chart: income and life expectancy. We filled out a brace map to break down the whole chart into smaller components. 

From there, the students customized the chart on GAPMINDER in order to apply it to their inquiry topics.

I walked around and checked in with each student.  Towards the end of the period we sourced GAPMINDER:  stated who the authors were, their point of view, and the context surrounding the creation of the website.

Student Voice

The students highlighted GAPMINDER did confuse them. They stated that the site has too much information at first. This is a website we will use multiple times throughout the year. In the first use, it’s best to give them time to explore. A student in my class, Ysela, stated,

“I think after explaining why we were doing this and purpose of putting it into the museum is beneficial.”


Generally, the students struggled with understanding how to navigate the charts on GAPMINDER. Some took off and were able to move through it.  I’m glad I went through a class led example. I am not sure I would do it another way. However,  some studnets just copied the exact same ideas as the ones we went through as a class when they explored their own topic. I normally don’t share that many class examples. I want them to be the ones who explore.

On page 77 in a Hundred Languages of Children

“Creativity seems to find its power when adults are less tied to prescriptive teaching methods, but instead become observers and interpreters of problematic situations.”

This class works best when they interpret the world for themselves. It’s not perfect and sometimes that means some students wrestle with their own thoughts for quite a long time. There sometimes can be a lot of chaos as students are in different places. I am okay with it and embrace it. I know for others, it will take some time to get used to.

If I were to do this lesson again, I would have the students go to the GAPMINDER charts and just record what they notice and wonder for five to ten minutes. They would have figured out most of it. They would have been able to write down their questions instead of me guiding them through it.

For others, the site doesn’t have exactly a match for their topic. This left some wondering what they should do and feeling that they should change topics because one site didn’t have enough information. I’m reminded time and time again of how much power I have in the information and resources I give to students. I need to be careful in my presentation of these tools that they are not universally good. They are one resources. While they may apply to many people, they do not help everyone.

%d bloggers like this: