The Democracy Project

for Parents & Teachers

Resources and information about "The Democracy Project"...

City, County, Community

Subjects: Language Arts/Social Studies

Estimated Time of Completion: four to five fifty minute class periods

  1. I. Summary
  2. II. Objectives
  3. III. Materials Needed
  4. IV. Procedure
  5. V. Classroom Assessment
  6. VI. Extensions and Adaptations
  7. VII. Relevant Standards

I. Summary

Eventually students will be faced with many choices, including which career to pursue, where to live and what schools their children should attend. The geography of a city, its government and the available services may not seem important now, but these will be very important issues as adults. This lesson places students in the future and allows them to choose where to live by examining the city's government, services and location.

II. Objectives

  • Students will use technology skills to create a brochure, read maps and do research using various sources.
  • Students will improve math skills by estimating, measuring, mapping, etc.
  • Students practice creative writing.
  • Students will improve their understanding of city government, services and size and location.

III. Materials Needed

  • Computers with Internet access
  • A map of the U.S. showing major cities
  • Thumbtacks and a blindfold
  • Resources for researching cities (this could include almanacs, newspapers, magazines, travel brochures, Web sites, etc.)
  • Optional: a software program for creating brochures or markers and construction paper for creating brochures without software.

IV. Procedure

  1. Divide the students into groups of three to four. Ask each group to establish a list of their criteria for a desirable city in which to live. The lists should have at least five characteristics.
  2. As a homework assignment, students should ask their parents about their criteria for a desirable community. Students will then compare their criteria to that of their parents.
  3. Introduce this unit by playing a version of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey." It will be "Pin the Ribbon on a City." Students (one from each group) will be called up front and blindfolded. They will put a pin in a map of the United States. Ask students about that town or area of the country. Do you know anything about it? Would you like to live there? Although families do not usually make this choice as randomly as students just did, ask them to imagine they've just selected a place to live. Students will discuss the kinds of things that are usually considered: available services like educational choices, size of city, availability of work, available real estate, etc.
  4. Share one of the following situations with students:

    Situation 1:

    Students will compare the random city that was chosen to their own city. They will make recommendations about which would be a better move for someone. Students will consider the viewpoints of both adults and children. Students will be preparing two brochures: one about the randomly chosen city, and one to advertise their own city. Both brochures will be focused on providing information to adults and students.

    Situation 2:

    (for younger students; does not involve the random city described above) Students will prepare two brochures about the local community for local businesses and realtors to use to advertise the city. The first brochure should attract adults to the city and reflect the city criteria decided upon by the group. A special brochure will be created for kids moving into the area. What sites or services would interest new kids?

  5. Look at the basic information about the town(s). Have students create a chart and list several city characteristics so that information can be compared easily. Students can gather information on physical features of the town(s), employment opportunities, available and affordable real estate, climate, economic information, population and size. Students may find other variables that they would like to compare. Allow students to research using Internet links, newspapers, television, travel agencies, the Chamber of Commerce and other brochures. Internet search engines will also provide good links to city government Web sites, online realty showcases, weather data and more.
  6. Students should try the online game "How Does Government Affect Me?" to learn more about local, state and federal government involvement in local communities.
  7. Ask students to present their opinions about the best places to live in writing or in class discussion. A local tourism agency, local realtors or the local Chamber of Commerce might be glad to display the students' brochures.

IV. Classroom Assessment:

  • Excellent: All parts of the project were completed on time and were above average in design. Students found and used appropriate Web sites and information from other media. Information in student brochures, comparison charts and written final analysis was organized clearly and persuasively.
  • Good:: All parts of the project were completed on time and were above average in design. Students used only the Web sites suggested by the teacher. The brochure and written analysis presented clear opinions, but without much supporting detail.
  • Average: All parts of the project were completed on time and were average in design. Students did not use all information available.
  • Below Average: Student group did not complete all parts of the project.

V. Extensions and Adaptations

  • If time is available, students could actually plan their move to their chosen city. They could use math skills as they rented the moving van, counted the mileage and bought food and gas along the way. Students could calculate the price of getting electricity, phone and Internet service.
  • Students could write letters to travel agencies or to a Chamber of Commerce for information on the town being researched.
  • The local travel agency may have someone that can talk with the students about moving to other areas of the United States.

VII. Relevant National Standards

These are established by McREL:

Language Arts

  • Gathers and uses information for research purposes
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts
  • Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning

Technology

  • Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs including the Internet

Social Studies

  • Understands ideas about civic life, politics and government
  • Knows the major things government do in one's school, community, stat and nation (e.g., make, carry out, and enforce laws; manage conflicts; provide national security)
  • Knows major services provided by national, state and local governments (e.g., state services such as education and health services and local services such as transportation, education, recreation, public safety, public utilities), and knows how these services are paid for (e.g., taxes, fees, licenses)