Where Does My Stuff Come From? Part 4: U.S. Trade Data

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SWBAT make strategic use of an online tool to collect U.S. trade data in a two-way frequency table.

Big Idea

Big numbers open students up to the bigness of the world.

Opener: Percentage Practice #2

10 minutes

We're back in the computer lab today, and class begins just like it did a week ago, with ten minutes of percentage exercises on thatquiz.org.  Please see the opener of last week's lesson for an overview of what kids are doing here.

I hope to see that all students are improving on these problems.  I'll use a screenshot of the data in today's debrief, and my hope is that this is where the growth mindset will lock in for many students.

Intro to Part 4 and Making Guesses

5 minutes

After collecting and organizing data on a very local level in the first three parts of the "Where Does My Stuff Come From?" project, students will look at annual world trade data in Parts 4 and 5.  Today, we'll work on Part 4.  I give an overview of this part of the project in this narrative video.

I love a lot of things about teaching this part of the project.  Among them are hearing what my students guess about how much money the United States spends each year importing products from other countries.  There are all sorts of implications, mathematical and otherwise, to having a roomful of students who are all off by two, three, four, or more orders of magnitude.  I'll stick to the mathematical part here: it's a useful exercise in number sense to imagine numbers that are unimaginably high.  So when I have a class whose largest estimate of U.S. imports is $10 billion dollars, I get to ask the class, "Where is the highest number in this list?"  We find it, I point to it, and then I say, "just take this big number here, multiply it by, oh, a little more than 200, and then you'll almost have the real answer."  Minds blown.  Yes, it's a big world out there, kid.

Research on TradeMap.org

25 minutes

In order to answer the questions on the front of Part 4 and to fill out the chart on the back, we use the free version of the web site www.trademap.org.  The site is a complicated tool, and learning to use it strategically is an important goal on Parts 4 and 5 of this project.

My narrative video is on the longer side, but it will take you through the use of this site.  Note that when I share this with students, it happens in steps, even though in the video I cover all of it in order.

Debrief: Look at this Improvement!

3 minutes

As students record the data from trademap.org, I take an anonymous screenshot from my thatquiz.org dashboard, so students can see the change in results from Percentage Practice #1 to Percentage Practice #2.  I've shared the most exceptional result here, but in all classes the improvement is dramatic.  

With a few minutes left in class, I call everyone to attention, tell them it's ok if they're not quite done filling in their charts because there will be a little bit of time for that tomorrow, and I post their Percentage Practice results on the screen.  I ask everyone to recall how they felt a week ago after Percentage Practice #1.  Then I ask if they felt different today.  Everyone agrees that they feel more confident about percentage problems than they felt a week ago.

I allow myself to get fired up here, pointing to each line of the chart as I shout the results: "Last week someone got four correct answers in 10 minutes - today they got 43!  That's amazing!  The data proves it!  You guys are really making progress here!"  Kids can't help but feel the excitement.  Part of developing a growth mindset is to give explicit examples of how it feels to know something after not knowing it, and that's what I'm trying to do here.  With this straightforward example as a foundation, we can continue to cultivate that mindset with successively greater challenges.  Once students know what it feels like, and that that feeling will happen in this class, they are more willing to dive in and make the effort necessary to continue learning.