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Heifer International: Game for Change

What it is: Heifer International works with communities to end hunger, poverty, and care for the earth.  Heifer International does not give hand-outs, they offer hand ups.  Transforming lives of hunger and poverty, into sustained lives of hope.  Using gifts of livestock and training, Heifer International helps families improve nutrition and generate sustainable income.  I have written about a program that Heifer International has before, called Read to Feed.  I highly recommend that you take a look at the Read to Feed program if you haven’t seen it before.  Heifer International has partnered with BeaconFire and ForgeFX to create an interactive 3D game that teaches students about hunger and poverty in a virtual world.  Through Heifer International: Game for Change, students will learn about real world conditions of poverty and how communities can create sustainable solutions.  Through game play, students will learn about sustainable options for help.  In the game, students take on the role of a 12 year old Nepalese girl in a village that struggles with poverty and hunger.  There are four tasks/missions that students must complete in the current (beta) version of the game.  Each task offers an activity that teaches a core principle.  One example is a task where students learn about deforestation that makes it more difficult to collect firewood used to cook dinner.  The lessons in the game mirror real-life happenings in Nepal with Heifer International’s partners.  The game is currently in Beta version and the creators are asking for suggestions here.   How to integrate Heifer International: Game for Change into the classroom: Heifer International: Game for Change is an excellent way to offer your students global education, awareness, and encourage them to action.  Students will learn important lessons about issues like poverty and environmental degradation in a real, hands on, manner.  Start out with a geography lesson, encouraging students to find Nepal on a map or globe.  Use Google Earth or Scribble Maps to put a place marker on Nepal and a place marker where they live.  Talk with students about issues of poverty and hunger, exploring the Heifer International site for students where they can watch videos, do experiments, and play games.  Next, allow your students to step into the story by taking the role of a Nepalese girl living in an impoverished village.  Students should work to complete all 4 tasks in the game and keep a journal (online or off) of their thoughts as they complete the game.  Was it hard to find food, wood, water?  There are a lot of lessons packed in here, from geography and social studies, to reading and following directions and character education. As an extension activity, students could create VoiceThreads or Animoto videos about Heifer International.  Tie in the Read to Feed program so that your students can get hands on with Heifer International.  Use their completed VoiceThreads or Animoto videos as “advertisements” for the Read to Feed program. If your students are anything like mine, they will have definite opinions about the game.  Why not take advantage of that, and have them offer suggestions and praise that can be used by the creators?  Have students craft their ideas and send them here. Tips: If you haven’t signed up for the Read to Feed program, it is an outstanding program.  It includes free DVD, leaders guide, poster, storybook (Beatrice’s Goat), brochures, bookmarks, student rewards, and standard based curriculum.  Get your students excited about reading and involved in their global community, it is never too early to get your students thinking about others! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Heifer International: Game for Change in your classroom.

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The Miniature Earth Project

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Inquiry, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 24-09-2012

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What it is:  The Miniature Earth Project is a great website that poses the question: “what if the population of the Earth were reduced into a community of only 100 people?”  Based on this assumption, the site helps students understand what the breakdown of nationalities would be, religious representation, how many people would live in an urban area, how many people would have the majority of the world income, how many would live without clean world, those that live on less than $1.25/day, etc.  The purpose of the site is to break our quickly approaching 7billion people in the world down to a number (100) that we can more easily wrap our minds around.  The point of the site is to help kids (and adults) understand the real landscape of the world and cause positive action.

There is a video on the site that breaks down the infographic in a different way.  Students can submit their own videos about the Miniature Earth.

How to integrate The Miniature Earth Project into your curriculum: Right now the Jr. High at Anastasis Academy is looking at the following line of inquiry: “Understanding our rights and responsibilities as individuals and the similarities and differences of others helps contribute to the development of world citizens.”  The Miniature Earth Project is a great place to put the world’s challenges in perspective for students.  We have been having fantastic conversations about the rights that we enjoy as Americans, and the responsibilities to others around the world that come with those rights.  Students have also been exploring rights they believe all world citizens should enjoy and what responsibility they share in making those rights a reality for those who don’t currently enjoy them.  As you can imagine, the discussion has been fascinating!

A great place to start this discussion is by asking students to create their own personal code of conduct.  What standards will they hold themselves to?  At Anastasis we talk often about managing our freedom.  Freedom comes with responsibility, it isn’t a free-for all.  We also ask students to think about what their actions would look like if it were multiplied by 7 billion people.  What would the world look like?  Is it a place they would want to live?  The Miniature Earth Project is a great place for next steps. Looking at who makes up their world, what kind of challenges are faced.  We ask our students to think about solutions to those challenges.  They are NOT too young to come up with solutions!

Since the 100 person Earth is such a manageable number, ask students to create graphical representations of each figure presented in the Miniature Earth Project.  What questions do they have based on the data?  What challenges do they see?  What common ground do we have?  What are our responsibilities?  What rights should we claim for all humans?  What are ways that we can make the world a better place for all?  What impact can a small change make on such a large population (does it change when you think about it on a smaller scale)?

Want to show students how their actions can change the world?  Share the story of the 13 year old who has the world planting a million trees!  The story of Felix Finkbeiner is an awesome one!  Equally cool for our students: we have a Mr. Finkbeiner who teaches at Anastasis.

Tips: There are great links to more information about our population approaching 7 billion.  Be sure to have your students dig into those resources to learn more!

***Want to do your part as a CHANGE MAKER in education?  Check out, support and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Miniature Earth Project in your classroom!

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