The following is an audio transcript of the video lesson plan Demographically Divided World.

Hello, I’m Carol, and I’m going to share with you the lesson Demographically Divided World. This lesson focuses on fertility and mortality around the world, two keys to whether our population will increase or decrease, and the factors that influence those trends.

This lesson is really for high school social studies classes, fitting in especially well with geography or AP Human Geography, and other than access to the Internet, all the materials you need for the lesson are included in the lesson plan itself.

Now, in terms of objectives, by the end of this lesson your students will be able to analyze historic life expectancy and fertility trends, compare regions of the world according to several factors that influence fertility and mortality, identify the stages and describe the structure of the demographic transition model, and finally, conduct research to identify and explain a real-world country’s stage within that model.

This four-part lesson employs a wide array of teaching methods. In one part, students are on individual computers exploring an interactive website, in another they’re standing and moving around the room, and then they’re also doing independent research and writing.

Part One
In part one, students work in small groups to look at changes within the fertility rate and life expectancy from 1950 to the present and projected changes in the future. Students use the interactive map at for their exploration.

First, students look at the fertility overlay on the map to observe how fertility rates at the country level have changed over time. Then they’ll look at the life expectancy overlay and see how life expectancy too has changed over time. Students are in small groups that focus on these statistics within one world region and use an accompanying Student Worksheet to guide their exploration.

Part Two
In part two, students are considering different factors that contribute to the number of children a woman will have in her lifetime. Before class, print out the six Region Cards included in the lesson and choose a student from each region group to be the region’s representative. The region representatives will line up at the front of the class in order from lowest fertility rate to highest fertility rate – a statistic provided on their Region Card.

Each region card also includes four factors that impact fertility rates: percentage of girls aged 10-15 in school, infant mortality rate, adolescent birth rate, and percentage of female contraceptive use.

For each factor, students will consider and discuss how it influences fertility rates. And then the region reps will reorder themselves from lowest to highest based on each statistic. Students in the audience should write down the order of regions for each factor.

For example, the first factor shows the percentage of girls aged 10-15 who are in school. Students might comment that girls’ education relates to fertility because girls who spend longer in school tend to marry later and then have fewer children. Educated girls also have more opportunities outside of the home. When region representatives line up in order from lowest percentage of girls in school to highest percentage of girls in school, students can see how similar or dissimilar the ranking of this factor is to fertility.

After going through the four factors, the region reps return to the original order based on fertility rates. We project the fertility rate overlay from and work through some discussion questions analyzing patterns they saw in the rankings, describing other factors that may influence fertility rates, and interrogating the limitation of using averages to represent broad areas with many disparate populations.

After the group discussion on fertility, region reps will reorder themselves in order of life expectancy rates and you should project the life expectancy overlay on In their groups, students discuss factors that affect life expectancy, such as improved sanitation or infant mortality rates.

Part Three
In part three, students review the demographic transition model using an interactive website Gapminder – an awesome free website that creates dynamic, interactive visuals for different data sets. We have students explore the visuals to prepare for going more in depth on the DTM in part four. If your students are already knowledgeable about the DTM, you may choose to skip part 3.

Part Four
In part four, students examine the limits of the demographic transition model using a specific country as a case study. Because the DTM divides all of the countries in the world into only five groups, there will inherently be a lot of variance within each of those groups. Two countries with very different benefits and challenges will exist within the same stage of the model.

To look at these differences, students are assigned one country from a list representing a range of DTM stages. Students then conduct research on their country with the ultimate goal of determining which stage of the DTM best describes their country. The Assignment Sheet included in the lesson plan provides some structure to help students collect the information they need.

Once DTM stages have been determined, you’ll have four pieces of flip chart paper around the room that are marked with DTM stages 2 through 5. Students should stand in front of the DTM stage that best represents their country.

In these DTM groups, students discuss the trends they notice in all of their countries. Are there similar quality of life indicators? Do they share a geographic location? What about factors that don’t follow a trend across countries? Why might that be the case?

Students should record their ideas on the flip chart paper. Then, provide each student with some sticky notes and conduct a gallery walk where students move around the room and read each group’s thoughts, using the sticky notes to add questions or observations of their own.

Finally, we review each group’s observations as a whole class and ask students if, on the whole, they think the DTM is a useful model for understanding the world’s population.

And that’s it! This lesson has a lot of parts, but keep in mind, any of these parts could also be used on their own depending on your needs. I hope you found this video helpful, and remember, there are more great lessons at Thanks for watching.