Teachers can choose to use or adapt the complete high school curriculum for their own purposes. The site's built-in curriculum is designed as a two-week immersion into production, consumption, and sustainability. If that structure doesn't fit your needs, another approach is to integrate the videos and other resources into your existing social studies class, perhaps as case studies. Students can use close reading strategies to analyze the annotated scripts, research other perspectives on the issues, and develop policy statements. Fact-checking the resources helps promote critical thinking and may add balance to the discussions. Due to the controversial nature of some of the content, it's important for educators to cultivate a safe and nurturing environment that honors a variety of voices when diving into these resources.Continue reading Show less
The Story of Stuff started with one video in 2007. Since then, it's grown into a grassroots movement focused on promoting smarter consumption, sharing, and community. The website includes the original video as well as several more that explain the process of extraction, production, distribution, consumption, disposal, and more. Most videos include FAQs and annotated scripts with extensive footnotes.
In addition to the videos, the site includes lesson plans targeting teens. A 10-lesson high school curriculum called, "Buy, Use, Trash? A Closer Look at the Things We Buy" was developed in partnership with the organization Facing the Future. The lesson plans include debates, mind maps, policy, systems thinking, and prompts for reflection on personal actions and goals. There are also similar curricula available that are tailored to both Christian and Jewish teens. The site includes an informative blog and other avenues for getting involved in the movement toward a more sustainable world.
From the videos to the blog to the reference info, the Story of Stuff provides some seriously engaging resources, especially for educators and students willing to dig deeply into the footnotes and video FAQs. It's an important starting point for understanding the pressing issue of consumption. The lesson plans (especially "Buy, Use, Trash?") are thoughtfully developed, compelling, and engaging for older students. The videos provide interesting starting points for students to tackle sustainability issues. Learners can use the supporting documents, such as the sources cited in the transcripts, to dive deeper into the research processes.
The Story of Stuff is an engaging launchpad for developing the research skills that CCSS demands -- but know that teachers will have to layer on their own standards alignments and classroom connections. The content invites discussion, and the site's developers could do a better job deploying interactive tools and ideas for integrating the tools into the classroom. However, this shouldn't stop educators from initiating the conversations with their students and checking out the stellar resources scattered throughout this extensive site.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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