Following a pre-unit “Student Survey” (see Lesson One below)
students will be asked to design a plan for their “ideal” community, including the creation of a community map. This would be an excellent opportunity for the teacher to review map-reading skills by passing out a sample topographical map with a key, scale of miles, and symbols. The better-drawn student maps can be shown to other class members using the opaque projector or by xeroxing copies for everyone to see and discuss.
Next, they will be asked to suggest some laws or basic rules for community members to follow. Later, students will compare their ideas and work within groups to reformulate their projects into something acceptable to all within the group. This group process will help students experience some of the difficulties in making ideas practical; ideas that others agree have merit. Group members should learn some lessons in delegation of responsibility, leadership, and compromise. Discussion and listening skills, note-taking and social skills which foster cooperation and group planning are all integral parts in the understanding of what a sense of “community” is.
This unit is particularly geared toward activities that involve students in acquainting themselves with one another’s work and fostering cooperation among students. If students feel comfortable reporting on their work, or having it displayed, so much the better; students should be encouraged to support one another and learn how to offer constructive criticism.
In getting students involved with a unit such as this one, I believe that the process is as important as the end product; indeed, the process ultimately determines the end product. I plan to involve the students in the grading system by introducing a Self-Evaluation, in which each student will set individual goals for him or herself and evaluate his or her progress every few days. They will also be given opportunities to evaluate their peers in a constructive way, based on their experiences in group activities and oral presentations. My objectives here are two-fold: first, to help the students to develop the ability to evaluate their own performance in objective and subjective ways; second, to give students the opportunity to determine and reach a goal which is attainable through their own efforts and the support of others. Appropriate rewards other than grades will be given to students who complete the process successfully (free time, certificates, no homework, etc.). The rewards system will be one worked out mutually between the students and the teacher to reinforce the group process and to make the goals clear to everyone.