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human progress lesson

Your Life in Numbers: Student Work Document

Interpret interactive, data‐​driven tools, and compare and contrast international results to make inferences and draw conclusions about changes and improvements over time in the quality of life: locally, regionally, and globally, and more.

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Centers of Progress

14-part unit
  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 1: Jericho

    Why did our ancestors turn their backs on a nomadic way of life that was thousands of years old? Why did people begin to live in farming communities about 10,000 years ago? This article answers those questions by discussing the history of Jericho—the world’s oldest city and possibly the birthplace of agriculture.

  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 6: Chichen Itza

    In this lesson, you will learn about Chichen Itza—a sprawling ruined city in the Yucatán Peninsula in modern Mexico—and the oldest continuously played ball sport in the world variously called Pok‐​A‐​Tok, Ulama, or simply, the Ball Game.

  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 10: Chang’an

    In this lesson, you’ll learn how the Silk Road greatly expanded the international flow of goods and ideas and how Chang’an both benefited from and contributed to that exchange.

  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 15: Mainz

    In this lesson, students will learn about the city of Mainz, Germany and the man responsible for Europe’s rapid adoption of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg.

  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 16: Amsterdam

    In this lesson, you’ll learn about how a unique set of cultural values that emphasized openness and tolerance helped lead Amsterdam to the pinnacle of European commercial success during the Dutch Golden Age

  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 18: Edinburgh

    In this article, Chelsea Follett describes why the small university city of Edinburgh, Scotland, was such an important intellectual center in the Enlightenment.

  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 22: Manchester

    In this lesson, you’ll learn about the city of Manchester, England, the first center of textile production in Great Britain as well as how industrialization there helped spark a revolution in living standards over the past 200 years.

  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 35: Agra

    In this lesson, students will learn about the Mughal Empire and its rulers by exploring the theme of monumental architecture. They will also have the opportunity to research other “new wonders of the world” and examine their own beliefs about memorials in contemporary society.

  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 36: Seville

    Today we know Seville as the sunny capital of the region of Andalusia, but during the century following the Iberian conquest of America, Seville was one of the most important cities in Europe.

  • Centers of Progress, Pt. 37: Dubrovnik

    Dubrovnik is a beautiful walled city on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, once home to one of the freest and most cosmopolitan societies in Europe and one of the first societies to implement comprehensive public health measures to contain disease.

  • Your Life in Numbers

    In this lesson, you’ll learn how these measures have changed during your lifetime and compare your results with people in other countries.

  • Your Life in Numbers: Student Work Document

    Interpret interactive, data‐​driven tools, and compare and contrast international results to make inferences and draw conclusions about changes and improvements over time in the quality of life: locally, regionally, and globally, and more.


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Learning Objectives

  • Interpret interactive, data‐​driven tools to measure human progress change since 1950 in the USA and abroad.
  • Compare and contrast international results to make inferences and draw conclusions about changes and improvements over time in the quality of life: locally, regionally, and globally.
  • Analyze evidence to support or refute common misconceptions about the evolving state of humanity.
  • Evaluate results and form conclusions to engage in intelligent discourse and debate about the factors that determine quality of life and the relationship between the individual and society.

Part 1: Bellringer: Essential Questions

Directions: Respond to the Essential Questions below (or on a teacher provided survey link) with careful thought and explanation.

  • Create a google or Microsoft survey form
  • Written response and oral sharing of answers
Is life getting better or worse?
Reply on a scale of 1–5:
1 = Strongly disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Neutral
4 = Agree
5 = Strongly agree

Explain your choice and provide
an example as evidence.

What is your perspective based on?
Family, friends, teachers, media? Explain.

Part 2: Make a Prediction

Directions: Choose your own country of origin or perhaps a country of your ancestry, write it in the blank, then circle either increased or decreased based on you what you believe top be true.

Complete this sentence: “The average income of a person in _________________________ increased/​decreased in the last 15 years.”

Part 3: Analyze, compare, contrast, and interpret online sources to draw conclusions

Directions: Below are two established online interactive sites designed to help us understand the state of humanity and our progress as a species on Earth. Complete the Cornell‐​style table below to provide insight into each’s purpose, the data they provide and their credibility. (Be sure to align your responses and prompts upon completion).

   Measure of America   Human Progress 
Mission, Purpose, Goals
Call to Action
Credibility
Who publishes the site?
What can you discover about
their credentials?
Are the sources and documents each
uses credible and reliable? Explain.
Describe how the sites are similar?
Describe how they are different?

Can you find and identify evidence
of a biased perspective?

What persons, organizations, public
leaders support the work?
List and describe your 2 to 3
main takeaways from each site.

Part 4: Using Human​progress​.org

Seeking evidence supported truths

Directions: Follow the steps below to complete this portion of the lesson.

  • In the chart below, respond blindly to each of the prompts by circling or highlighting the answer you believe is correct. Once complete, as a class we will compare our responses by moving into small groups and discussing why you chose your response.
Average life expectancy has… Increased Decreased
Average infant mortality has… Increased Decreased
Average income per person has… Increased Decreased
Food supply per person has… Increased Decreased
Average years of schooling has… Increased Decreased
Overall level of democracy in the world has… Increased Decreased
  • Watch the Human Progress YouTube video trailer
  • Ask students to express their takeaways
  • How do they feel about the message on progress?
  • Click on “Life in Numbers” to compare your personal responses to the actual correct answers, which are supported by data on the webpage. As you read and review, be sure to click links to learn more about each measuring tool (you may be required to construct a vocab document to support your learning and retention to apply the information later in a written or objective assessment).
  • Once you have completed Steps a through c, it is time to begin using the interactive tool on the web page. Select birth year and country, then a country to compare.
  • You are encouraged to select the birth year of a parent/​grandparent/​guardian and change countries to expand your discoveries.
  • Suggest specific times and countries based on the in eras we are/​have/​will study in this class.
  • Use the chart below to collect data. Add rows to further your collection of data.
Year
Why you chose
this specific year
Improvements in USA since chosen year. Explain how life has improved using the categories provided in the charts generated on the page: life expectancy, infant survival, income per capita, food supply, education, democracy Alternate country.
Why did you select this one?
Explain how life has improved using the categories provided in the charts generated on the page: life expectancy, infant survival, income per capita, food supply, education, democracy

Part 5: Exit Ticket and Extension Activities

  • Exit ticket: At the conclusion of this lesson, you will submit an exit ticket (teacher will determine format) to provide a thoughtful reflect on your takeaways from this experience, the value of the lesson
  • Lesson Activities and Projects (individual or small group at teacher discretion): You will be assigned or have the option to choose one or more of the three extension activities suggested in the lesson plan document. collaboration or presentation are permitted by the teacher.

  • Additional activities that can be substituted or added to one of the above options, at teacher discretion can be based on the creation cross‐​comparative study charts:
  • Demonstrating progress in a particular region of the world, using at least three separate countries from that region, as it compares to the US then and now, or over specific time increments
  • Incorporate charts and explanations that demonstrate understanding of growth and progress over various time periods or historical eras
  • Hypothesize and produce a thesis that accounts for the differences and similarities between countries and regions in terms of human progress, then write an essay using data to support your hypothesis

Potential writing or class discussion idea:

  • A Scenario for Civil Discourse: The situation: You are at a family reunion and at your table are relatives, both immediate and distant of varying ages, who are carrying on a conversation about life in the world today. The consensus you are hearing is that life was so much better in the “good ole days” and the country is falling part. They are sharing stories from their personal perspectives about how much better their parents and grandparents had it. Some are even blaming the government or politicians.

Prompt: Having just completed this lesson, explain how you would use what you have learned, including the data and the conclusions you came to, to join in the conversation, knowing you may be presenting an entirely opposite, yet informed perspective. Remember, you are not trying to win, or force others to change their views. You are simply encouraging people to consider multiple perspectives. Think about:

  • What questions might you ask to encourage them to think beyond their limited perspectives? To focus on them on one aspect of progress?
  • Explain how you would introduce data into the conversation or even convince them to look at the sources.
  • How might you help the conversation to become one that focuses on how much better off we are now, both individually, and as a country, then those who lived several decades ago? What subjects could you focus on and how would use data to support your view.