5th Grade New York


This inquiry prompts students to investigate the social, economic, and environmental issues surrounding the global banana industry. In investigating the compelling question regarding real cost of bananas, students explore the pros and cons of the banana industry, including the practices of multinational corporations (MNCs) and smaller fair-trade cooperatives and organizations. Students grapple with several layers of connected concerns relative to the banana industry and argue for or against increased governmental support for the fair-trade banana market. In doing so, students develop an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of private citizens and corporations. They also begin to build a foundational understanding of the complicated relationship between government and business in the local, national, and global economy, as well as their own roles as consumers and citizens in shaping these issues.


Compelling Question:

What Is the Real Cost of Bananas?

Staging the Question:

Brainstorm a list of food and other products found in students’ homes that are typically imported from other countries.

Supporting Question Where do bananas come from?

Formative Task Complete a map identifying the countries in Latin America from which the United States imports bananas.

Sources Source A: “The World Banana Economy”
Source B: Outline map of Central and South America


Supporting Question What do corporations in the banana industry contribute to society?

Formative Task Make of list of things corporations in the banana industry contribute to society.

Sources Source A: Information about the Chiquita Corporation
Source B: Table: Three largest banana-producing corporations


Supporting Question What are fair-trade bananas?

Formative Task Create a chart detailing the benefits of fair-trade bananas.

Sources Source A: “Bananas”
Source B: “El Guabo”


Supporting Question What are the working conditions like for children in the banana industry?

Formative Task Discuss the issue of child labor in the banana industry using evidence from sources to support ideas.

Sources Source A: Source bank: Child labor and the banana industry
Source B: “Widespread Labor Abuse on Banana Plantations”

Summative Performance Task

Argument: What is the real cost of bananas? Construct an argument (e.g., a detailed outline, poster, or essay) that discusses the real cost of bananas using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Survey the availability of fair-trade products in the local area, and how businesses and individuals feel about them.
Assess: Compile the results of the survey to determine the perspectives of people in the area.
Act: Make a presentation of the findings to the local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or other service organization.