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TeachNet 2008 Grant Winner       << Back to all Grant Winners
Fun with Fair Trade

Subject:Economics and ESL

Grade Level: 12

Materials: Computers with Internet access, TV with DVD player, Coffee Chain Game (can be ordered from www.oxfam.org/uk), Pages (Mac program for newspapers - optional), Comic Live (Mac program for comics - optional), video camera and iMovie (optional), Microsoft Word or Publisher (for Brochure Template)

About: Students spend about one week investigating fair trade through research, role playing, video, webquest, and a guest speaker. Then, in groups, they choose a medium through which to display an exhibit for the "Fair Trade Fair." Theey submit a proposal to the teacher with their exhibit design. After the teacher approves the display, they spend about two weeks preparing for the exhibit. This is independent class work where the teacher actively gives feedback. Students invite community members to the fair where they exhibit their work with the goal of creating awareness about fair trade products. Lastly, students reflect on the exhibition and the effectiveness of their work.

The culminating project is the "Fair Trade Fair" to which parents, community members, business owners, and local politicians are invited. At this fair, students exhibit multi-media projects about fair trade and its benefits, including what we can do to promote it. As a result of the fair, we hope that business owners will consider stocking more fair trade products. Perhaps parents and community members will be inspired to purchase more fair trade goods or demand that stores carry them. Displays might include but are not limited to the production of a video (edited with iMovie), PowerPoint presentation, comic (made on Comic Live), brochure, newspaper (made in Pages), book (created on www.blurb.com), artwork, knowledge-based game/webquest, sale of fair trade products with information about it, or a podcast. This fair can be held either in school or in conjunction with a community-based organization. For example, in 2008, through the Peace Corps Fellows Office at Teachers College, students exhibited service-learning projects and I hope to continue this partnership.

The project allows students some freedom of choice so they can take ownership of the exhibit they produce. Each lesson uses various mediums to teach about fair trade through an inquiry-based approach. Students investigate through film, games, or reading interviews and the information is clarified and reinforced through research. Then students apply their knowledge by choosing a format that most fits their skills and interests. Furthermore, this service-learning project is meaningful because there is a purpose--an end goal of educating community members at the exhibition. Students have a "real" audience, meaning they exhibit work to people who have chosen to come and see them, rather than to other students who are "forced" to listen.

While this unit focuses on fair trade as an economic concept, teachers can change the focus to teach about other parts of the world. It also focuses on giving students a voice and making them feel like they can make a difference in the world by sharing their knowledge. So any Humanities or Social Studies teacher can easily adapt it. Furthermore, if you have technology difficulties at your school, most of the activities can be done in groups, requiring fewer computers, or you can print out most of the resources. Lastly, if the end project is too much, you can have students create display boards using their research and present to each other. Another end product is for students to write persuasive letters to law makers or businesses. Students can also raise awareness through posters in school. There are many ways to adapt this unit to make it shorter or more manageable.

Students will be able to explain what fair trade means through inquiry activities.
Students will be able to explain why fair trade certification is important by reading firsthand accounts of people who benefit from it.
Students will be able to explain how producers get fair trade certification by researching the process.
Students will be able to explain the role of the entrepreneur in purchasing fair trade certified products by hearing from a guest speaker.
Students will understand that they can make a difference through their power as consumers, by demanding fair trade products from stores and manufacturers.
Students will understand that their voice can bring change in the world, by creating awareness about fair trade.

This website has an animation called "Frank Does Fair Trade" that explains fair trade through an interaction between two boys. It uses simple language so it is great for all grades.
This site has interviews students can read, from coffee growers in Uganda about their experiences with fair trade. It also has a quiz about fair trade coffee and resources you can order like the Fair Trade Coffee Game, a role-playing game.
This website has a wealth of information about what fair trade is and how fair trade certification works, and a map of countries that produce fair trade products.
This site allows people to create books easily. It takes you through the steps and then you can purchase your book inexpensively.

Develop a multi-media presentation.
High School
Applied Learning Standards: Communication Tools and Techniques
Gather information to assist in completing project work.
High School
Applied Learning Standards: Information Tools and Techniques
Students listen, speak, read, and write in English for information and understanding.
High School
Students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments; the governmental system of the United States and other nations; the United States Constitution; the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy; and the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.
High School
Social Studies Standard 5: Civics, Citizenship, and Government
Students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decision-making units function in the United States and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and non-market mechanisms.
High School
Social Studies Standard 4: Economics

Day 1: Introducing Fair Trade
By the end of this lesson, students should understand how fair trade affects the lives of laborers.
By the end of this lesson, students should question who is responsible for poor working conditions.
TV with video or pictures of unfair working conditions (Video: Bangladesh: An Appeal for Solidarity)
Pictures and/or quotes from fair trade workers (http://grist.org/news/maindish/2006/01/05/luttinger-dicum/#)
KWL Chart (http://content.scholastic.com/content/images/articles/l/lessonplans_graphicorg_images_kwl.jpg)
Ask students to agree/disagree with the statement: I should be able to buy a shirt at the lowest price possible. If students seem confused, ask them how it affects others to sell a shirt at a low price. Discuss briefly and lead the discussion to how much workers get paid to produce the shirt. Are you willing to pay more to help these workers?
Show the video "Bangladesh: An Appeal for Solidarity". Have students answer questions about the video to make sure they understand the content. Example: What would happen if we shut down these sweatshops? How does the consumer contribute to the problem? Who is responsible for the working conditions of these laborers?
Show the pictures from the fair trade tea plantations (http://grist.org/news/maindish/2006/01/05/luttinger-dicum/#). Ask students if the working conditions look the same. Why might they be different?
Introduce the concept of fair trade. It is an agreement that a manufacturer is willing to pay workers more money and give them better working conditions.
Use a K-W-L chart to see what students know from the lesson. What are their questions? Come back to the L at the end of the unit to assess what students have learned.
Research fair trade and explain what it is in one paragraph. Students can use the Internet for research or the teacher can provide the following article (http://nytimes.com/2007/10/02/business/worldbusiness/02trade.html).
Knowledge can be assessed through the homework.

Day 2: Who does Fair Trade Benefit?
By the end of this lesson, students will understand why consumers should purchase fair trade products.
Computers with Internet access
Discussion questions for "Frank Does Fair Trade"
T-Chart for web interviews
Discuss homework to see if students understand the basic concept of fair trade.
Further review fair trade by having students look at the web animation "Frank Does Fair Trade" (http://bbc.co.uk/schools/citizenx/internat/global/animation.shtml) and discuss questions in groups. Share answers with the whole class to assess understanding.
Have students compare the lives of two coffee farmers, one a fair trade farmer, the other not (http://oxfam.org.uk/education/resources/coffee_chain_game/files/interviews_farmers.pdf.) Ask students to read the interviews and fill in the T-Chart. Share as a class to make sure everyone got the details.
If there is time, ask students to look online at their favorite stores. Do they sell fair trade products? If not, would they consider shopping elsewhere? Can they find fair trade products elsewhere?
Go to a local supermarket and see how many items you can find that have the fair trade certification. Make a list. Ask an employee or manager if they carry fair trade products. Write down their answer. What does this information tell you?
The teacher can assess understanding from the T-Chart and Discussion Questions. Also, the last question of the homework should have connections to the knowledge about fair trade that the student has gained.

Day 3: Fair Trade Certification
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to explain how a company can take part in fair trade.
By the end of this lesson, students will know what Transfair is.
By the end of this lesson, students will know what products are fair trade and where they are produced.
Computers with Internet access
Web Quest questions
Coffee Chain Game
Individually, students should use the Transfair website to answer the questions on the web quest (www.transfairusa.org). Students can share out or the teacher can collect the work, check it, and share out the next day.
Play the Coffee Chain Game. Time varies so it can be finished the following day if necessary.
If you could interview an entrepreneur about the challenges and benefits of fair trade, what questions would you ask? List at least 5.
The teacher can assess understanding through the web quest answers as well as the quality of the questions the student puts forth in the homework.

Day 4: Bringing It All Together
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to discuss fair trade through a multi-media presentation.
Guest Speaker Bio
Final Project Explanation, Proposal Form and Rubric
Finish the Coffee Chain Game if there was not time the day before.
Review homework questions and discuss the guest speaker. Give a brief bio and have groups select at least two questions from their table to ask the speaker.
Ask students to read the final project handout and rubric. This can be done individually, in small groups, or a whole class. Give groups time to discuss ideas and come up with a proposal. They must submit the proposal to the teacher by the end of class.
Work on project: gathering materials, information, etc.
The final project will be assessed using the rubric.

Day 5: Guest Speaker
By the end of this lesson, students will understand the challenges and benefits of a business carrying fair trade products.
Guest speaker
Welcome the guest speaker who should plan on talking for about 30-45 minutes and then take questions.
Write a short letter to local businesses explaining fair trade certification, its importance, and inviting them to the "Fair Trade Fair."
The teacher can assess student understanding through the homework. Don't forget to go back to the L of the K-W-L chart. This can be done in class or as homework.


Laura Berson


Brooklyn International High School
49 Flatbush Avenue, Extension
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Laura Berson grew up in northern New Jersey where her travels to Europe during her high school years sparked her interest in global issues and cross-cultural experiences. She earned her B.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University in D.C. Thereafter, she joined the Peace Corps where she spent three years in Namibia both as a teacher trainer and a classroom teacher. Upon returning to the United States, Laura completed her M.A. in TESOL at Teacher’s College, Columbia University and she currently teaches Participation in Government and Economics at the Brooklyn International High School.


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