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Bridges that Unite

An Exploration of International Development

Elementary, Middle


This resource encourages students to deepen their understanding of global poverty—to see our connections to the rest of the world, to explore the roots of inequities and to understand the importance of assistance that preserves human dignity, values diversity and unleashes the inherent power of community.

Bridges that Connect

  • Activity 1 - helps students build bridges between life in Canada and life in the developing world.  They begin by identifying as many connections as they can to countries outside of Canada.  Students then locate the countries on a world map and categorize the various connections by type (trade, culture, travel, etc).  Finally the students collect media stories that further demonstrate Canada's relationship with the rest of the world.                                                            
  • Activity 2 - The students read a story about a young girl, Halima, who lives in the Kwale District of Kenya.  Based on their answers to questions provided, they create a Venn diagram comparing their own lives to Halima's.  Students then form a large circle and discuss the quality of life issues emerging from the story.

Bridges of Understanding

  • Activity 1 - Based on their own lives, students categorize cards with different quality of life items on them as essential, important, or of low priority.   Afterwards the students discuss how Halima might have categorized each item.                        
  • Activity 2 - Students come up with a definition of poverty and use the Human Development Index to evaluate the quality of their definition. Students then compare the HDI,s of Canada and Kenya with the help of a "Developing World" map included with the resource.                                                   
  • Activity 3 - In this activity the students learn about the Millennium Development Goals through discussion and simulation.  They then collect news stories on a range of poverty issues.

Bridges of Action

  • Activity 1 - The students read and reflect upon two stories that explore the meaning of capacity building.                        
  • Activity 2 - The students are given two more stories to read and discuss.  They create a plus/minus chart to analyze the relief approaches taken by development organizations in each case.  Afterwards they locate India and Tajikistan on the "A Developing World" map and discuss a number of questions that explore the benefits of different approaches to development.

Bridges of People

  • Activity 1 - In this activity the students read a blog entry from a young journalist.  They create a continuum that rank orders a number of quality of life items from being essential to low priority. They then produce a chart that compares the living conditions described in the blog before and after relief efforts were completed.                                                                  
  • Activity 2 - The students compile a list of the organizations that helped to bring about the changes described in the blog post.  Then the students take the role of a reporter and conduct an email interview with a Canadian "Agent of Change" involved in development work in Africa and Asia.  Using the information gathered in the interview, each student composes a newspaper article and all of the articles are collected to create a class newspaper.                                      
  • Activity 3 - The students undertake a culminating hands-on action project of their choice.  A number of general suggestions are included for their consideration.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

This resource explicitly teaches the student:

  • how to communicate with letter writing and newspaper article writing
  • mapping skills
  • how to make comparisons using charts and diagrams


  • Overall this resource is very interesting with activities the students will find engaging. 
  • The quality and quantity of the resources provided within the document provide an excellent background for the teacher. 
  • The links to additional resources and extension activities are a bonus. 


The lack of assessment tools creates a weakness within this resource.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 6
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      • Social Studies
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        • Global Issues and Governance: Complex global problems require international cooperation to make difficult choices for the future.
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    • Grade 7
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      • Social Studies
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        • People & Places in the World: Global Quality of Life
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    • Grade 6
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        • Cultures
        • Empowerment: Economics
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        • World Issues
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        • Global Issues and Governance: Complex global problems require international cooperation to make difficult choices for the future.
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        • Social Studies 6: World Issues
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        • People and Environments: Canada's Interactions With The Global Communty
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        • World Issues
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        • Canadian Identity: Citizenship
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        • Canada: Interaction and Interdependence of Nations
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        • Social Studies 6: Canada & Our Atlantic Neighbours -Resources and Wealth
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    • Grade 6
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      • Social Studies
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        • Global Issues and Governance: Complex global problems require international cooperation to make difficult choices for the future.

Themes Addressed

Citizenship (1)

  • Community-Building and Participation

Economics (1)

  • Poverty Reduction

Human Health & Environment (1)

  • Quality of Life

Human Rights (1)

  • Poverty

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

This resource addresses the social aspects of the problem of poverty by challenging the students attitudes and beliefs.  In addition it also addresses the economic issues associated with poverty by teaching the students about capacity building versus giving handouts.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Very Good

There is a culminating hands-on project for the students to complete with suggestions of resources to support the project.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered

This resource does not have this focus.  It lends itself towards creating a link between the students and people from underdeveloped countries.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

The students have the opportunity to interview a Canadian Agent of Change to intitiate a connection to their country.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The students are given a positive sense of both the present and the future by demonstrating that they can make a difference but the past is not is it explored.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good

This resource teaches to the cognitive domain by helping the students to evaluate and analyze the information presented on poverty.  The affective domain is also addressed by challenging the students' attitudes and stereotypes of poverty.  Unfortunately there are no accommodations suggested for those students who have learning difficulties.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

Although there are no tools to assess provided within the resource, there are some suggestions made within the introduction on how to assess the students' progress.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

In the final activity of the resource the students are given the choice of how they wish to proceed with their action project as agents of change.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.