The Numbers: Young People on the Myths and Realities of Gentrification

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Standards for this Guide

Read The Numbers in the Magazine


Most adolescent students are living in the midst of community change, whether in the form of urban gentrification or rural development, and they sense how these changes are tied to race, place, power, and belonging. 

Yet they don’t always know how or where to talk about what they, their families, and their communities are experiencing. As one high school student puts it: “We see [urban change and gentrification] happening right here. Nobody’s doing anything about it. We’re not talking about gentrification in school, as if it doesn’t affect us. As if we can ignore it ’til school’s out.” ( Kinloch, Valerie. “Literacy, Community, and Youth Acts of Place-Making.” English Education, vol. 41, no. 4, July 2009, pp. 316-336.) Students need a space in which to explore the complex intersection of race, place, power, and belonging that touches each of their lives in different ways.

In these lessons, students will view and study the film “The Numbers” and use it as an entry point for social critique and the exploration of past and present realities of civic life, gentrification, displacement, land, and place.


Standards met through this curriculum

Learning Outcomes/Essential Questions

Students will:

  1. Use reading strategies to enhance comprehension of multimedia texts and engage critical thinking.
  2. Analyze informational multimedia text content and structure using evidence.
  3. Explore issues of belonging, gentrification, displacement, power, race, land, and place while demonstrating their ELA and history/social studies skills through viewer response and creative multimedia response.

Essential Questions:

  1. What contributes to our sense of belonging to a place or community? What detracts from it?
  2. What are some of the consequences of urban growth and rural development, and who is responsible for these consequences?
  3. Who benefits and who suffers when places change and grow, and why?
  4. Why is it important to know the history of where we live, and how does this history shape the ways we live in the present?
  5. What obstacles and opportunities do people experience based on where they live, and how can we best address these obstacles to create more equal opportunities for all?

Depth of Knowledge (DOK)

Levels 1, 2, 3, 4

For more information on DOK, see DOK Slide Wheel


Classroom computer and projector to screen short film “The Numbers”

Smartphones or video devices/computers on which students can create and publish creative responses (optional)


Download All Files for this Guide (zip file)


  1. Review all resources and decide which components you will include and how many lessons to allot for this curriculum. (Note: Almost every component can be used as a stand-alone piece or combined with other components.)
  2. Preview and take notes on the “The Numbers” film and transcript.
  3. Preview and prepare warm-up handout and W. Kamau Bell gentrification introduction video.
  4. Review and prepare viewer response handout.
  5. Preview and prepare the optional creative response project. Decide the project timeline, length, and formatting requirements you will assign to students. You might consider asking students to work in partners or small groups in order to facilitate film production.

Reading Strategies

  1. Provide students with a copy of the film transcript to aid in comprehension. You may choose to have them view the film at least once on their own before they view it again and follow along with the transcript.
  2. Students will use the scaffolded viewer response graphic organizer to track main ideas and supporting details of the film.
  3. TAG Option: You may choose to give advanced readers the SOAPS Text Analysis handout for tracking the filmmakers’ argument and purpose during their viewing.

Instructional Plan



Tell students that they will complete a warm-up activity to help them better understand the film they will view.

Present Part I of the warm-up, and ask students to complete a quick write on the questions. Give them time to think about and record their responses, then conduct a think-pair-share to review responses as a class before moving on.

Introduce the Part II background concepts notes chart, then screen W. Kamau Bell’s CNN Gentrification Video (1:30).

Give them time to fill in the notes chart, then conduct a think-pair-share to review responses and informally assess students’ understanding of gentrification.



Viewer response:

Before screening the film “The Numbers,” introduce the viewer response graphic organizer and tell students they will use it to track and record the film’s main ideas and supporting details. Use the scaffolded version or give students some examples to demonstrate your expectations.

Screen the film at least twice, asking students to view it first without taking notes so they can focus on the overall structure and visuals. On subsequent viewings, ask students to listen for comments made by the film’s subjects and think about which main idea the comment support. Give students time to record details for each main idea, then ask them to come up with the “Big Takeaway” after considering the information they have seen and heard. Explain that the “Big Takeaway” is a key understanding or lesson the filmmakers want their viewers to walk away thinking about.



Creative response:

Introduce the creative response handout and share your project timeline, length, and formatting requirements. Guide students through the project planning steps, structuring times for them to brainstorm, share ideas, collaborate, and receive feedback and further instruction as needed. Provide necessary instruction in technology options and explain how and when students will share their final products. Consider asking students to share digital final products on online platforms, and/or host a “premiere” during which students screen and celebrate their projects.


ELL and SPED Supports: Scaffolded assignment options

TAG Extensions: SOAPS Text Analysis handout to use during and after viewing, creative response assignment options, optional extensions

Assessment/Student Performance Tasks

  1. Warm-up/gentrification intro (Formative)
  2. Viewer response and discussion (Formative)
  3. Creative response (Summative)

Additional Resources/Related Reading

W. Kamau Bell’s CNN Gentrification Video (1:30)

Interactive Portland gentrification map (Oregon Live)

POV’s Flag Wars: What is gentrification?

Optional Extensions

The Air I Breathe Curriculum Guide

What It Means to Say Portland

Future: Portland and Future: Portland 2 (short films)