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Curriculum Level: 6-8

By Alissa McElreath from Dillard Drive Magnet Middle School

OVERVIEW OF LESSON: Throughout this unit, students will investigate what external factors impact a child’s access to education. Students will gain an overview of all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and work closely with SDG 1: No Poverty and SDG 2: Zero Hunger. They will investigate how poverty and hunger impact children’s daily lives in four countries: Ethiopia, Peru, Vietnam, and India, analyzing how poverty and hunger affect their access to education. Students will compare their own lives and the lives of the children profiled in the slides and stories. They practice speaking and listening standards by using the interview portion of this lesson to engage in active listening and critical questioning strategies.


SUBJECT: English Language Arts (ELA)


NC English Language Arts Standards

SL.8.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one on one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  1. Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
  2. Follow rules for collegial discussions and decision-making, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
  3. Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.
  4. Acknowledge new information expressed by others, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views considering the evidence presented.

SL.8.2: Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats and evaluate the motives behind its presentation.

SL.8.4: Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks

RI.8.3: Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events.


  • What is the relationship between poverty, hunger, and education? 

LESSON OBJECTIVES: This lesson is designed around three activities that will introduce students to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by giving a “face” to the goals and helping students understand how these goals are interconnected. Students will be able to draw connections and comparisons across the stories they read and ask critical questions about the external factors that present challenges to a child’s access to education. They will be able to participate in meaningful discussions with their peers and investigate four global communities.


For the Young Lives Real Stories, print only the biographical story itself, and leave the country fact sheets or additional information for differentiation (see below):


Engagement Activity (10 minutes):

Show a copy of the world map. Ask learners if they can locate Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam on the world map.

Next, hand out copies of the Young Lives Project note-catcher handout.

Instruct students to write down 1-2 pieces of information from the slides as they read and think about each child. Let them know in advance that they should be thinking about the following questions:

  • What are two things you notice about each child?
  • Do you notice any similarities and differences between the lives of the boys and the girls on these slides? In what ways might gender complicate their lives/their futures? Show students the profile slides from the Young Lives Project Profiles slide deck. Stop and read through each profile. When completed, have students Think, Pair, and Share about their questions and their responses.

Activity 1 (15 min)

Distribute copies of the “Real Stories” to each table group. Make sure that pairs at each table group have a different story. Differentiation: For more advanced students, you may print out the country fact sheets located at the end of each of the children’s longer stories ( and have them read and think about the data for each country as they examine the stories.

Students will read the stories together as pairs, and “talk to the text” as they read. Instruct them to write down as many questions as they think of as they read.

Activity 2 (20 min)

  • At their table groups, tell students that they are going to form student expert groups and learn about each SDG together. They will spend 15 minutes together exploring this site: to learn about the goals.
  • Circulate around the room and monitor that students are on task, and exploring the website together. They don’t need to take a lot of notes at this point. Instead, they should enjoy the process of discovery as they click and follow links to learn more about the SDGs.

Activity 3 (20 min)

  • Still in their student expert groups, have one student, the designated researcher, open up Young Lives Stories and SDGs slidedeck. 
  • Using the SDG website and the slides, students should select any SDG that they think intersects with the child’s story and right click over the icon of the SDG to copy the image. Paste the SDG icon image onto the slide next to the image (see example below).
  • Students will then complete a Welcome to My Life exit ticket activity. Each student in the group should pick one child and explain how two of the chosen SDGs intersect with that child’s life.

ASSESSMENT: Young Lives Project note-catcher handout and Welcome to My Life exit ticket activity. 

LEARNING EXTENSION: Spend time on other SDG resource sites to research and develop knowledge about poverty and education in other parts of the world. For example, the Dollar Street resource on Gapminder:



Geoscience News and Information. (2023).

Inspiring Inquiry. Sustainable Development Goals. (2020).

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. (2020, January 26). North Carolina Standard Course of Study.

University of Oxford. (2022). Real Stories. Young Lives Project. University of Oxford. (2022). Young Lives Project.