Section 1: The Classroom Community
As children grow, the school community is a vital arena for them to develop a sense of identity and a sense of how they fit in the world around them. Aside from their home and their families, school is the first community they belong to as individuals. As learners, children have more success when they feel a part of the classroom community. At the beginning of the year instead of students arriving to a bright and shiny classroom I purposely leave unpacked boxes and bare walls. I do this with the intention of having my new students help me set up the classroom and to help share in the decision making of where things should be set up and placed. This is our first step in creating our classroom community in our room. In order for students to truly feel valued and willing to take risks in a new environment amid many new faces and changes, they must have a sense of ownership. The sense of ownership will make students feel valued in their individual roles as they contribute to the whole group as a community of learners.
Oftentimes when young children are asked to explain what a community means to them, they will respond by naming a locality such as a firehouse or the library. For the first section of this unit the objective is for students to grasp the concept of community as a group of individuals who come together by means of a common interest, cause, belief, etc. In order to establish this concept discussions need to begin with questions such as, "What is a community?" and "How does it feel to be a part of a community?" Students should come to an understanding of the role and or roles they play as a part of a community within the classroom not only as learners but as a friend as well. Through discussions, surveys, and projects students will learn that not everyone is alike, however, there are times that we create community based on our interests, beliefs, culture, etc. which can bring us together with people from different backgrounds and experiences. This section of my unit uses two picture books, The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Chester's Way by Jim Henkes read as a shared reading experience. The goal is to use the two books in order to identify and analyze evidence of community and how it brings the characters together.