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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Investigating Poverty

Teaching Suggestions

Africa, Asia, Central America and Mexico, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, Pacific Islands, South America, The Caribbean, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Lesotho, Paraguay, Solomon Islands
Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Foreign Language, Language Arts & Literature, Mathematics, Science, Service Learning, Social Studies & Geography

These teaching suggestions are a component of Coverdell World Wise Schools’ Global Issues module and designed to support interdisciplinary exploration of the issue of poverty.

For an introduction to the issue, related Coverdell World Wise Schools resources, and an interactive WebQuest, visit the Global Issues: Poverty page. Extend students' learning across the curriculum using the adaptable teaching suggestions listed below.

More about how Peace Corps Volunteers address global issues:

More about poverty in the world:

More about poverty in the U.S.:


Social Studies: Research microfinance and microenterprise as approaches to alleviating poverty. Find examples of successful initiatives, such as the work of Peace Corps Volunteers involved in business development. Then take the role of a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Peace Corps Challenge online game and work with members of a virtual village to select a new microenterprise for the community to pursue.

Economics: Explore the relationship between agriculture and poverty rates in five countries using the Council for Economic Education's lesson plan on economic sectors and international development. Identify the patterns that exist between resource allocation and poverty rate, and consider the possible reasons for these patterns.

Science: Conduct further investigation of the statistical relationships between low incomes and health. Begin by analyzing global data comparing average per person income with a health indicator such as infant mortality, measles deaths, new cases of tuberculosis, or another health factor of your choice. Research what is needed to prevent the health problem you chose, and hypothesize how living on a low income might affect a person's ability to access these types of preventative care.

Geography: View the World Bank's interactive eAtlas of the Millennium Development Goals. Under the indicators for Goal 1 (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), examine global trends in the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 per day. Identify the countries and regions of the world with the highest rates of extreme economic poverty. To what do you attribute the trends you noticed?

Language Arts: Read the story A Single Lucid Moment by Peace Corps Volunteer Robert Soderstrom. Compare and contrast the cultural views of poverty and homelessness in the author's hometown and in his community in Papua New Guinea. Write a personal reflection about an experience that shaped your own understanding of poverty.

Foreign Language: View the Peace Corps map to find out which countries where your target language is spoken are Peace Corps countries. Invite a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in one of these countries to visit your classroom through the Speakers Match program. Collect information about poverty issues in the country prior to the speaker's visit. Develop questions to ask about the speaker's experiences encountering and addressing these issues.

Service Learning: Research poverty issues in your community, then visit an organization in your area that provides services for people living in poverty. Interview a staff person to better understand the unique issues facing people struggling with poverty. Find out how issues like these are being successfully addressed in other parts of the U.S. and the world. Use these examples to design and implement a service activity to help address a need related to poverty locally or globally. 

Frameworks & Standards

Enduring Understandings

  • Poverty is a critical global issue requiring global collaboration to address.
  • Living in poverty affects many facets of a person's well-being.
  • Poverty is not a permanent condition; individuals and communities can rise out of poverty.
  • Improving access to economic opportunities has the potential to help alleviate poverty.
Essential Questions
  • What is poverty?
  • How does poverty impact individuals, families, and communities?
  • How can economic opportunities close to home help alleviate poverty in communities?


Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

Reading: Informational Text

  • Key Ideas and Details: Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events


  • Text Types and Purposes: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

  • Analyze patterns and relationships.

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

Thematic Strand VII: Production, Distribution, and Consumption

  • Gather and analyze data on economic issues.

Thematic Strand IX: Global Connections

  • Use maps, charts, and databases to explore patterns and predict trends.
  • Explore the causes, consequences and possible solutions related to global issues.

U.S. National Geography Standards

Essential Element VI: The Uses of Geography

  • Apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

  • Personal and community health

National Standards for Foreign Language Learning


  • Standard 4.2:  Demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own. 
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