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Country Comparisons in Current Events Class


  • Civics
  • Current Events
  • Economics
  • Geography


  • 6-8
  • 9-12
  • Advanced

Brief Description

Students collect political, socioeconomic, geographical, and other data about 10 countries and record their data in a spreadsheet. The information is used to fuel current events discussions.


Students will

  • collect data and display it on a spreadsheet
  • compare data
  • make inferences based on data collection and analysis
  • share results of their analysis through group discussion and/or writing.


current events, international affairs, spreadsheet

Materials Needed

  • computer access
  • Internet access
  • Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet program
  • The Country Comparison Template (provided) or have students create their own.

Lesson Plan

This activity can be completed by students working on individual computers (in a lab or one-to-one setting) or by small groups of students. Before beginning, save the The Country Comparison Template on each student computer, or send it to them through e-mail, school server, or another electronic method.

Introduce the lesson by explaining to students that they will collect information on literacy rates, infant mortality, and life expectancy for 10 countries, and then use the information in a later classroom discussion.

Walk students through the steps providing the following directions:

  • Open the Country Comparison Template file on your computer.
  • Save the spreadsheet file as "YourNameCountryComp" (or your group's name).
  • Minimize the spreadsheet.
  • Open the Internet (using Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, Safari, and so on.) and go to CountryReports.
  • On Country Reports' home page, click "Afghanistan" in the pull-down menu and click GO.
  • Click Country Profile, then scroll down to Infant Mortality Rate (under the People header).
  • The Infant Mortality Rate in Afghanistan is 142.48 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. Maximize the spreadsheet and type 142.48 in cell B2.
  • Repeat your steps to find and record the Life Expectancy and Literacy Rate for Afghanistan.
  • Repeat the above steps to locate and record the same Infant Mortality Rate, Life Expectancy, and Literacy Rate for the nine additional countries in the spreadsheet.
    (Note: The CIA World Factbook is another excellent resource for the required information. You might want to preview both resources to determine which is better for your needs.)
  • Type your name or group name in Cell A12.
  • Save your work.
  • Follow the directions below to print graphs for each type of data collected:
    • Highlight cells A1 to B10 (That will include all 10 country names as well as data for infant mortality for all nine countries.)
    • Click Insert > Graph.
    • Select any Column style and click Next.
    • Do nothing in Step two. Click Next
    • For Chart title, type "StudentName Infant Mortality Graph" (or group name)
    • For x axis, type Countries
    • For y axis, type Infant Mortality.
    • Click Next
    • In Step 4, click the button for "As New Sheet" and then click Finish.
    • Repeat the above steps to graph additional data, if desired; hold the CTRL button (or Command button on Mac) to select appropriate cells.
  • Print both the spreadsheets and the graphs.

Invite students to discuss in groups or with the entire class any questions they have or interesting results, including:

  • Why is the United States' infant mortality rate higher than Canada's, France's, or the United Kingdom's?
  • To what do you attribute the low life expectancy rate in Afghanistan?
  • How might the literacy rate affect a country's infant mortality rate (prenatal and well-child education, for example.
  • Collect student papers.


Students will be evaluated on the

  • Printed spreadsheet from data collection.
  • Evidence of data analysis based upon student discussions after this activity.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards


NSS-G.K-12.2 Places and Regions
NSS-G.K-12.4 Human Systems
NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society

NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts