Investigating Religious and Cultural Spending Trends

Author: Catherine Michini

School/Organization:

The Philadelphia High School for Girls

Year: 2017

Seminar: A Survey of Contemplative Practices Across the World's Religions

Grade Level: 9-12

Keywords: World religions, social studies, Social and cross-cultural skills, cross, Culture

School Subject(s): Social Studies, History

A familiar phrase, “Put your money where your mouth is” is thought to have originated around 1930 or thereabouts. Introduced even earlier than this phrase are the phrases “put their money where their faith is” (in Methodist Episcopal Church Year Book, 1881), and “put his money where his heart is” (in The Harvester World, 1919). The association between money and religion is not a new idea. Yet, how many teenagers have considered these links?

In this curriculum unit, students will research the spending patterns of the religion with which they identify and how that could influence local businesses. In homogeneous teams, students will choose different aspects of spending for holidays, rituals, customs or practices. They will interview clergy, business owners or family to see the effects of spending trends and present these findings to the class. Each presentation must include a chart and/or graph constructed from data the team has collected, and an analysis of how the spending trend affects the local economy and how these businesses have adapted or adjusted. Those students who do not identify with any religious group will investigate religious demographic data for the Philadelphia area including how that configuration affects the specific neighborhood’s businesses, or survey the student body to see what religious affiliations exist. Throughout the unit, there will be team and class discussions to progress student understanding and processing. The students will also be asked to complete a final self-reflection to make connections between their personal spending and beliefs.

Three full class periods will be required to introduce the project and then full or partial class period check-ins twice weekly for the duration of the assignment. Team presentations, class synthesis and individual self-reflections will end the unit after approximately one month. My hope is for the unit to be student driven. Once the teacher explains the

 

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Full Unit Text
Overview

A familiar phrase, “Put your money where your mouth is” is thought to have originated around 1930 or thereabouts. Introduced even earlier than this phrase are the phrases “put their money where their faith is” (in Methodist Episcopal Church Year Book, 1881), and “put his money where his heart is” (in The Harvester World, 1919). The association between money and religion is not a new idea. Yet, how many teenagers have considered these links?

In this curriculum unit, students will research the spending patterns of the religion with which they identify and how that could influence local businesses. In homogeneous teams, students will choose different aspects of spending for holidays, rituals, customs or practices. They will interview clergy, business owners or family to see the effects of spending trends and present these findings to the class. Each presentation must include a chart and/or graph constructed from data the team has collected, and an analysis of how the spending trend affects the local economy and how these businesses have adapted or adjusted. Those students who do not identify with any religious group will investigate religious demographic data for the Philadelphia area including how that configuration affects the specific neighborhood’s businesses, or survey the student body to see what religious affiliations exist. Throughout the unit, there will be team and class discussions to progress student understanding and processing. The students will also be asked to complete a final self-reflection to make connections between their personal spending and beliefs.

Three full class periods will be required to introduce the project and then full or partial class period check-ins twice weekly for the duration of the assignment. Team presentations, class synthesis and individual self-reflections will end the unit after approximately one month. My hope is for the unit to be student driven. Once the teacher explains the framework and expectations, he/she will become a facilitator rather than an instructional leader.

 

Rationale

Philadelphia is known as the original melting pot. The city, which was the largest in North America until early in the nineteenth century, was the birthplace of freedom of religion and religious practices! In this political environment of intolerance, I believe it is important to educate students on different religions and their practices to build understanding and acceptance. The Philadelphia High School for Girls was established in 1848, before the country turned 100 years old. At Girls High, which

continues to draw students from across the city of Philadelphia, thirty-five different languages are spoken at home and 23 different cultures are represented!

In the seminar, “A Survey of Contemplative Practices”, we studied a variety of the world’s religions and discussed their similarities and differences. Although the general ideas of religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Science and “New” Religions vary greatly, they all incorporate meditation practices that followers have been observing for thousands of years. The ability for humans to block out the distractions of the world and focus on the union with their supreme being(s) is a goal for most of the religions we studied. Guest speakers and a trip to a Shambhala Center, as well as weekly breathing exercises, invited us into the realm of mindfulness and helped us to experience first-hand the sensory and spirituality that many religious adherents seek.

The material aspects of the world’s religious cultures are, in sometime subtle ways, deeply tied to contemplative aspects of these religions from the point of view of goals and practices. Even though on the surface, ritual acts, offerings, dietary practices, and gift-giving, markers of the material/corporeal life of religion, seem to be at odds with more “internal” aspects of religious life, they have significant intersections.

The teen years represent a “coming of age” within many cultures. What a better way to investigate or reflect on one’s religion or culture than to discuss, interview

 

Objectives

This unit is intended for high school students. This unit could fit anywhere in the school year. My plan is to use the unit for my Algebra 2 honors class, who I require to complete a real-world project each quarterly grading period. This should bring math analysis into their world for them to make connections to their lives and their beliefs.

The Objectives of the unit will include the following:

• Students will find a published article to read for background knowledge in association with their practice, ritual, custom, or holiday, and/or the impacted businesses.

• Students will use interview techniques to gain first-hand knowledge of the business aspects of spending for specific religious rituals and practices.

• Students will collect data on spending and adjustments made for a specific religious ritual or practice.

• Students will analyze the data they collected to find trends and make inferences based on the trends.

• Students will work cooperatively to prepare a presentation on their findings.

• Students will be introduced to an overview of some of the world’s religions and their rituals and practices. Later, the students will be exposed to the spending trends within the religions represented by students in their class. Students will have opportunities to ask questions in order to personalize their understanding.

Students will reflect on their learning at the conclusion of the unit.

Strategies

Homogeneous grouping – students will work in teams based on their religious or cultural affiliation or choice of no affilitation. Students of the same cultural or religious background will work together.

• Student-driven topics – Students will have freedom to choose the practice or ritual or custom or holiday to investigate.

• Graphic Organizer – Students will use a chart to as a planning template to organize their investigation. The column headings are task, responsible parties, target completion date, and comments and teacher signature.

• Collecting and Analyzing real data – Student teams will decide what data to collect to support their hypothesis, organize and collect it, analyze it, and decide whether it supports, contradicts or has no correlation to their hypothesis.

• Making graphs/charts from data – Student teams will make various charts and graphs with Excel or any other electronic spreadsheet program.

• Self-reflection exercise once curriculum unit is complete – Students will use self-reflection questions to examine the process their team used and to make connections between their inner-motivation for religious or cultural practices and their outward rituals.

 

Activities

Lesson 1 Project Introduction: What are religious and cultural practices and rituals, and how could spending for them influence our local businesses.

Learning Objective: At the end of this lesson, students will be able to provide examples of religious and cultural practices for which spending affects local businesses. Each student will also be able to explain the project to her family in order to discuss their religious and/or cultural affiliation or lack thereof.

Materials:

Sunday Independent article “Religious Holidays’ Effects on the Economy” by Pinky Khoabane (Link: http://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/religious-holidays-effects-on-the-economy-1801045)

• Project Details. (Appendix A)

• Project Grading Rubric. (Appendix B)

• Parent Information Letter. (Appendix C)

Procedures:

1. Assign article “Religious Holidays’ Effects on the Economy”.

2. Ask “What are religious and/or cultural practices, rituals, customs and holidays?” Have examples ready.

3. Ask “What kind of spending (or lack thereof) is associated with these practices, customs and holidays?” Have examples ready.

4. Ask “How do you think this spending could affect the local businesses?” Have examples ready.

5. Introduce project. Distribute Project Details and Rubric.

6. Assign homework: Be prepared to select a religious and/or cultural affiliation in class tomorrow, or to select no affiliation. Please discuss this with your family. Return the signature portion of the parent letter to ensure it was shared.

Lesson 2 Student Planning Teams

Learning Objective: At the end of this lesson, students will be in homogeneous teams according to their religious and/or cultural affiliation or none. The teams will know what practice, ritual, custom or holiday will be the subject of their study and have a back-up list ready.

Materials:

Student planning template (Appendix D)

• Sample student planning template (Appendix E)

Procedures:

1. Students identify their religious/cultural affiliation or un-affiliation.

2. Teacher coordinates formation of homogeneous teams. There may be a need to group individually represented religions/cultures. Those students who choose no religion or culture can be sub-divided into those who will study the geographic demographics of religious followers in Philadelphia and those who will study the religious demographics of the student body. There may be unaffiliated students who are interested and wish to join affiliated individuals or teams. If possible, the optimal number of students in a team is 3-5.

3. Teams meet to discuss their options of a practice, ritual, custom or holiday. They should choose and rank 3.

4. Teacher models a spending scenario and completes the planning template accordingly.

 

5. Students complete the planning template to assist in itemizing and organizing. The specific tasks they must address are: a. Impact Hypothesis

b. Interview

c. Data Collection

d. Chart or Graph

e. Research Article

f. Presentations

6. Assign homework: Write 5-10 interview questions for your clergy or business manager.

Lesson 3 Continued Planning and Interview Questions

Lesson Objectives: At the end of this lesson, student teams will have a completed planning template. The students will also have a list of interview questions for a clergy or business manager(s).

Materials:

Individual teams’ student planning templates.

• Interview question template. (Appendix F)

• Sample interview questions. (Appendix G)

Procedures:

1. Have students read over their planning template from Lesson 2. Edit as necessary.

2. Teacher introduces today’s assignment to compose interview questions.

3. Teacher models interview questions (related to example scenario).

4. Team members write questions and plan interviews. a. Students may wish to interview in pairs for safety and security reasons.

b. Remind students they need permission before recording an interview.

5. Teacher meets with each team and engages in a discussion of their topic and plan. The teacher may suggest some changes or enhancements (through questioning) and finally signs off on plan on the planning template. Some teams may need to work outside of class to refine their plans before the teacher accepts their template.

6. Teacher announces the date of the next class period students will work in class on the project and his/her expectations for tasks that should be completed by that time.

Lesson 4 Check-ins (Minimum 2, Maximum 5)

Lesson Objective: At the end of this lesson student teams will have reported on their progress (to each other and the teacher). Student teams will update their planning template and know their next steps towards completing the assignment.

Materials:

Individual teams’ student planning templates

Procedures:

1. The teacher can decide if for any check-in, they want to spend a whole or partial class period on the project. The teacher can give independent course work or have the project be the focus of the work that day.

2. The teams should have ample opportunity to discuss their progress (individual or team) and update their planning template accordingly.

3. It will be up to the teacher to decide if he/she wants to keep the student planning template or have the students’ keep the updated version.

4. The teacher needs to meet with each team to make sure they are progressing and to discuss needs for revision or alternate plans and to sign off on each task.

5. Teacher announces the date of the next class period students will work in class on the project and his/her expectations for tasks that should be completed by that time.

Lesson 5 Making Graphs or Charts from Data on Excel or Google Sheets

Lesson Objectives: At the end of this lesson students will be able to make a chart or graph from data.

Materials:

“Charts in Excel” (Link: http://www.excel-easy.com/data-analysis/charts.html)

• Computers (1/team or individual)

• Sample data from scenario (Appendix H)

Procedures:

1. Distribute “Charts in Excel”.

2. Teacher presents sample data and asks students to enter into excel or google sheets. a. This is researched, but completely made up data!

b. Profits from the sale of gas vary daily because gas is purchased at one price and then sold at fluctuating prices determined by competition and crude oil prices.

 

 

c. Most gas station owners make more money from their convenience store sales than the actual gasoline!

d. Gas station owners often have a lower profit on gasoline sales because of the need to pay credit card fees.

3. Teacher models making various charts with sample data and discusses the benefits of each chart and decides with class, which display would best show the trend.

4. Students enter their team’s data and creates a chart. a. Some teams may need help quantifying their spending patterns, if this has not yet been addressed.

5. If a team’s data does not support their impact hypothesis, this is still valuable information.

6. Teacher circulates and assists and approves teams’ chart selections.

7. Student teams finalize their chart and save it for use in their presentations.

Lesson 6 Presentation Preparation

Lesson Objectives: At the end of this lesson, student teams will have a Power Point, Google Slides, Prezi or other media tool prepared to present to class. The teacher will also have approved the teams’ presentation methods and ingredients and signed their planning templates.

Materials:

Computers. (1/team or individual)

• Project Details. (Appendix A)

• Project Grading Rubric. (Appendix B)

• Sample Presentation. (optional)

Procedures:

1. Teacher reminds class of the project details (expectations & requirements) and rubric.

2. Teams work on presentations. The teacher can decide how many class periods to allot for this and if presentations are to be completed in class or outside of class. Remember that 1-2 days will be required for class presentations.

3. Teacher circulates and assists and approves teams’ presentation planning.

4. Teacher announces presentation schedule.

Lesson 7 Class Presentations

Lesson Objectives: At the end of this lesson, students will have presented their project to the class. Students also have participated in active listening while other teams present their projects.

Materials:

LCD projector or equipment for display of student presentations.

• Computer for student presentations

• Rubric for teacher grading. (Appendix B)

• Student Active Listening Participation Tool. (appendix I)

• Student Self-Reflection Questionnaire. (appendix J)

Procedures:

1. Teacher reminds students of presentation order and expectations and distributes and explains the active listening participation tool.

2. Student teams present.

3. After each team presentation, class members have the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters.

4. After each team presentation, students rate the team’s description of practice, data & spending pattern theory, and presentation on a scale from 1-10. They also make positive and constructive comments.

5. After all of the presentations, the teacher leads a discussion on the practices that were presented. The purpose is to prime the students to reflect individually on the process and make connections between the physical practice and their beliefs.

6. Teacher assigns the individual self-reflection. It is up to the teacher and his/her time constraints as to whether this is an in class or take home assignment.

 

Endnotes

I built the curriculum unit to be implemented independently alongside and in between ongoing mathematics topics over a month. It is quite possible, and perhaps even a better scenario to actual teach the unit on consecutive days.

• As noted in the rationale, I have the privilege to work in a very diverse school. If you are implementing this curriculum unit in a school with less diversity, I would recommend you do some background on various religions. Perhaps the unit could be done cross-curricularly with a Social Studies class.

Feel free to share your ideas and observations with me ! Thank you!

Bibliography

Hansen, Liane. “Philadelphia, The Original American Melting Pot.” NPR. NPR, 06 July 2008. Web. 04 July 2017.

“The Philadelphia High School for Girls’ Brief History.” The Philadelphia High School for Girls – History. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/schools/g/girlshigh/about-us/our-history>.

“PA Core Standards Implementation.” PA Core Standards Implementation – SAS. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2017. <http://www.pdesas.org/Page/Viewer/ViewPage/14>.

Khoabane, Pinky. “Religious Holidays’ Effects on the Economy | IOL.” IOL Sunday Independent. IOL, 04 Jan. 2015. Web. 08 July 2017. <http://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/religious-holidays-effects-on-the-economy-1801045>.

“Charts in Excel.” Excel Tutorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 July 2017. <http://www.excel-easy.com/data-analysis/charts.html>.

“Origins and Meaning of “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is”.” Etymology – Origins and Meaning of “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” – English Language & Usage Stack Exchange. Stack Exchange, Inc. 110 William St, 28th Floor, NY NY 10038, n.d. Web. 07 July 2017. <https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/198654/origins-and-meaning-of-put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is>.

Annotated Bibliography for Teachers

Campante, Filipe, and David Yanagizawa-Drott. “Does Religion Affect Economic Growth and Happiness? Evidence from Ramadan *.” Does Religion Affect Economic Growth and Happiness? Evidence from Ramadan * | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic. Oxford University Press, 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Davies, Antony, and Anthony Davies. “THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN THE ECONOMY.” International Journal on World Peace, vol. 21, no. 2, 2004, pp. 37–42., www.jstor.org/stable/20753439.

“Just the Facts on the World’s Religions.” Just the Facts on Religions – ReligionFacts. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Trend-Analysis-in-Excel (not formatted for bibliography)

Maluniu. “Do Trend Analysis in Excel.” WikiHow. WikiHow, 20 Feb. 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Grimm, Brian J., and Melisa E. Grim. “The Socio – Economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 12 (2016): n. pag. Web.

Smith, Gregory A., and Alan Cooperman. “The Factors Driving the Growth of Religious ‘nones’ in the U.S.” Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, 14 Sept. 2016. Web. 05 July 2017. <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/14/the-factors-driving-the-growth-of-religious-nones-in-the-u-s/>.

“Analyzing Data.” TeacherVision. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Paslay, Charles S. Highly Effective Writing: Interdisciplinary Writing Program, Reasoning, Writing,

Standards

From PA Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening:

• 1.2.11.C Produce work in at least one literary genre that follows the conventions of the genre.

• 1.6.11.E Participate in small and large group discussions and presentations. o Conduct interviews.

o Participate in a formal interview (e.g., for a job, college).

• 1.4.8.B Write multi-paragraph informational pieces (e.g., letters, descriptions, reports, instructions, essays, articles, interviews).

From PA Common Core Standards for Mathematics

CC.2.4.HS.B.2 Summarize, represent, and interpret data on two categorical and quantitative variables.

From Standards for Mathematical Practice

• Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

 

• Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

• Model with mathematics.

• Look for and make sense of structure.

 

Appendix

Project Details – Appendix A -Lesson 1 & 6

• Project Grading Rubric – Appendix B – Lesson 1, 6 & 7

• Parent Information letter – Appendix C – Lesson 1

• Student Planning Template – Appendix D – Lessons 2 – 6

• Sample Planning Template – Appendix E – Lesson 2

• Interview Question Template – Appendix F – Lesson 3

• Sample Interview Question – Appendix G – Lesson 3

• Sample data (from scenario) – Appendix H – Lesson 5

• Active Listening Participation Tool – Appendix I – Lesson 7

• Student Self-Reflection Questionnaire – Appendix J – Lesson 7