I Am A Millennium Child? 7th graders Use Math to Investigate Millennium Goals

If you read my post about Christmas in NH, you likely are already aware that the 7th graders were up to something in the garage.  For 2 years I have been trying to think of a good global project for my 7th graders and this was just the class to try it with.  

The day I said, "this is working" was on Monday, January 6th.  Having just had 2 weeks off, playing all over California and the world, the boys came straight into class asking, "Should we just get started on our project?".  I am not sure if I was shocked or not.  Having run out of time to finish our education/action component, I had purposefully planned two lessons for that day.  I didn't know if they would be over it and hoping to let it go, or ready to roll.  Sure I would have been disappointed if we had let it go, and or I would have found a way in the days to come to offer it a little CPR, but their energy was all telling, "LETS GET AFTER IT!"

And so we did.... But let's reflect on how the process went from the beginning.  

Mathematical Concepts

  • Histograms
  • Stem and Leaf Plots
  • Line/Bar/Circle Graphs
  • Box and Whisker Plots

To get warmed up on using these statistical plots and graphs I went to something the boys LOVE and have been asking about doing a project on... Football.  Long gone are the days where I will focus an entire week or two on the NFL but hey, getting them interested with this to start never hurts.  The boys each found statistics (one specific) that they were then asked to put into each of the representations above (they could choose one out Line/Bar and Circle Graphs but Histograms, Stem and Leaf and Box and Whisker all needed to be taught and practiced).  Receiving yards, points scored, points against, jersey numbers... you name it.  The boys quickly discovered, by trial and error, that some of these stats couldn't really be put into some of these graphs.  Do NFL specific player receiving yards really fit into a stem and leaf plot when the data is:  101, 18, 210 etc... We quickly learned that while you "can" it doesn't mean you "should".  Great life lesson too!  

After we were bored (yeah right) with football statistics I presented the boys the Millennium Goals.  The 7th graders are a great audience for this as they are born right around the year 2000.  We started with a quick video before investigating the 8 goals.  The boys had an opportunity in small groups to think about what goals were most important to them and the goals that they would eventually be able to dive deeper into.  Thoughtful questions led to need to knows and inquiry. This was a great PBL launch.  

The driving question:  As responsible global citizens, how can we use statistics and graphs to raise awareness about our millennium goals?  

The boys decided on 4 goals to focus on and created charts to be displayed in the classroom. It was amazing how much these charts/posters made my 5th and 6th graders think. What do you mean women don't have equal rights?  People really make only $1 a day?  Only 5% of HIV cases are in the developing world?  What does developing world really mean?  When the walls can talk and educate, it appears people listen and or at least wonder...  as a revision, next year I would like to make a solid rubric for the chart/poster ahead of time and create an "I Wonder Wall" for others in the community to contribute to. 

Check out the gallery of charts here: 


Timing was perfect to dive deeper into global. The boys were busy studying for finals and while new material was something they didn't want, developing empathy was moving at championship pace.  So in terms of choice and voice I let the boys create an educational component to their project.  While the boys needed to include statistics in their project, If they didn't want to include their charts/graphs because they didn't fit into the concept, I was cool with that too.  Sometimes it's not the math that is most important:)  

I gave them a few days to polish these up after break and present to their classmates.  The conversation was amazing and something that I can't possibly rehash here on the blog but, WOW.  They are wondering what we can do to "act" so watch out! Walkathons? Bake Sales? Women Shelters? Corresponding with Schools in Africa? Doctors without Borders?  Our Today's Meet was a great way to brainstorm with everyone's voice... these boys are up to good things, great things.   

HIV-Aids - Informative presentation




"Can you believe that when you google Madagascar the first thing that comes up is the movie? Isn't it sad that it's not the country.  The country that needs our help to get out of poverty?" -Jake