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The Coffee Chain Game

Secondary, Middle

Description

This activity illustrates the many steps in the coffee chain and the unequal distribution of profits that has resulted in coffee farmers being treated so unfairly. Using a game format students are assigned to teams. Each team takes on the role of one the groups involved in bringing a jar of instant coffee from the bush to the breakfast table. Role cards provide players with a description of the work done by the group that his/her team is representing. Groups include coffee farmers, exporters, shipping companies, roasters and retailers . Using this information each team must determine what their fair share of the price of the instant coffee jar should be. As all of the groups attempt to reach consensus on a fair division of proceeds from the sale of the coffee, students are able to explore a current and complex global issue from many different viewpoints.

In addition to the game cards, the resource also includes a coffee quiz, coffee chain puzzle and two case studies to provide further background and to help promote discussion of the economic, social and ethical dimensions surrounding this issue. Some suggestions on ways that students can take action to promote fair trade practices are provided.

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

No direct teaching of skills takes place in this resource.

Strengths

  • deals with an important issue (fair trade) using a relevant topic (coffee)
  • deals with the issue in an interesting and relevent format. (role play)
  • encourages empathy for people from developing nations
  • activity allows students to draw their own conclusions
  • engages students in meaningful discussion and consensus building
  • provides students with a range of different learning activities

Weaknesses

  • there is no attention paid to the environmental dimension of this issue
  • student materials do not provide enough background information to illustrate the complexity of the issue or the individual points of view
  • the resource does not provide any assessment tools, guidelines or suggestions
  • little attention is given to specific tasks and goals of group activities
  • the resource does not teach skills
  • there is no direction provided to ensure closure to the role play activity

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Economics (3)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Globalization
    • Trade
  • Human Rights (1)

    • Social Justice

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

Balance and impartiality are characteristic of the student activities and the support materials contained within the resource. Several points of view are provided for students to consider. However an obvious anti globalization, anti transnational corporation stance is taken in background information for teachers. US withdrawal from the International Coffee Agreement in 1989 is singled out as a major cause in collapse of coffee prices but no mention is made of Canada's withdrawal two years earlier or other contributing factors.

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 Satisfactory

The economic and social dimensions of global trade are central themes in this activity. Moral and ethical factors can be easily incorporated into the student discussions with some prompting by the teacher and use of the background material contained within the resource.

Unfortunately no attention has been paid to the environmental concerns surrounding this issue.  See the assessment page for suggestions.

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 Satisfactory

The resource does a good job in helping students become aware of the nature and complexity of the problem through dialogue and debate. The resources does not attempt to have students solve the problem but does direct them to possible actions they can take.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Some ideas for student/school action are provided but with limited direction and support.

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 Good
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

The activity will generate empathy on the part of the students for the plight of the coffee farmers. This activity does not deal with issues of gender equity or ethnicity.

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

Poor

This activity does a good job in encouraging an emotional connection on the part of the students to the plight of the coffee farmers in the developing world. It makes no attempt to deepen connections with the planet or other species

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 Good

The role play design, the materials provided and the use of familiar symbols (a jar of coffee) do a good job in making the learning concrete and relevant to the lives of the students.

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 student activity itself deals only in the present. The resource provides teachers and students with additional information to incorporate a meaningful connection to the past and provides some optimism for the future with possible solutions and ideas for action.

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 Good

Complex answers are possible but may require more information than students will receive in the activities. The teacher will be required to introduce additional information for students to consider and take an active role in encouraging further discussion.

There is no attempt in the activity design to steer students in a particular direction.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

It will be incumbent upon the teacher to encourage a systems approach as there is little specific direction for the students in the materials they receive.

The teacher will also have to add information to the student discussions to bring out the complexity of this issue as the role cards provide very simple descriptions.

The time frame allocated will make it difficult for students to carry out a systems approach and to appreciate fully the complexity of the issue that is presented.

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 Poor/Not considered

Poor

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

The resource offers a range of activities that engage the learner in a variety of ways (role play, discussion, paper and pencil activities, concrete manipulatives)

It allows students both concrete and abstract opportunities to explore factual information, attitudes and values surrounding the issues of fair trade, social justice and economics.

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 Satisfactory
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 Satisfactory

While students are directed to work in groups, there is no effort paid to teaching the elements of cooperative learning. This will require the attention/intervention of the teacher.

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

Poor

No attention is paid to assessment in this activity.

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 Poor/Not considered

Poor

Students engage in discussion but there is no attention paid to presentation methods or peer teaching.

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 Satisfactory

Relevant case studies are offered as follow-up activities but are not incorporated directly into the lesson.

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 Poor/Not considered

Poor

The central activity employs a game format which requires specific roles and tasks on the part of the students.

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.