Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Defining Our Community

Christy Carpenter
Bay District Schools


Students begin the process of developing a service-learning project by defining their own community and the problems within it.


The student understands the importance of participation in community service, civic improvement, and political activities (for example, becoming informed about qualifications of candidates).


-Markers (6-8 different colors for each group, approx. 5-6 groups)
-Chart paper or newsprint (one per group, plus one for the class to list issues)
-Chalkboard or overhead
-Video: [The Future is Ours, So Now What?] available for free from (See Weblinks)
-TV with VCR
-Worksheets: The Future is Ours...So Now What? and Issues in My Community (See Associated File)


1. Prior to beginning this lesson, order the free video [The Future is Ours, So Now What?] from Or, contact the author of this lesson to borrow it.
2. Become familiar with issues of community concern, such as littering, homelessness, graffiti, etc.
3. Make enough copies of each worksheet in the associated file for each student.
4. Determine heterogeneous groups of 5-6 students prior to Part II of the lesson.
5. Arrange seating so that students can be grouped for the COMMUNITY activity in Part II.


1. Begin the lecture by asking students what is expected of them at home, at school, and out in the community. (You are looking for answers such as behaving in a mature manner, picking up their rooms and other household chores, doing their homework, respecting others. Most of their answers will be very self-centered, as this is the mindset of this age child. This lesson will help them to expand their ability to see beyond themselves.) Let students write their answers on the chalkboard, or write them yourself to save time. Tell students that as they get older, more is expected from them. As they enter high school, their grades become more important because they are required to earn high school credits to graduate. Their parents also expect more from them around the house, such as when they are able to drive, they may have to chauffer younger siblings around, or be required to gas up and wash the car after they use it. Society also expects more from them. They are expected to become contributing citizens in their community. Ask students what this means (voting, helping others, volunteering).

2. Show the video [The Future is Ours, So Now What?] This video showcases several teens who are involved in community service or service-learning projects, such as tutoring and environmental issues.

3. When the movie is over, have students complete The Future is Ours...So Now What? worksheet. (See Associated File) Take up the worksheets and read/comment on their answers. Also, take note of their answers to question #4. You will want to be aware of their concerns for the discussion tomorrow.

1. Assign heterogeneous student groups for today's lesson. The ideal group is 5-6 students. Have a sheet of chart paper and several markers at each group's table.

2. Write the word COMMUNITY on the board. Ask students to define COMMUNITY. After a few have tried to define it (and they will all think of it differently), have a student read the definitions of community from the dictionary. Note that even the dictionary has several definitions for community. Write on the board the question, What makes up your community? Students will share answers such as school, WalMart, neighbors, church, parks, and other notable institutions from your area. Write these on the board.

3. Tell students that they are now going to draw their community. Try not to over-instruct, because you want to see what the students think of as their community. Tell them that there are no restrictions on how they can draw their own community, or how they divide the work among group members. Let them know that they need to elect a spokesperson to share their drawing with the class when they are through. Allow students about 15-20 minutes to draw their community on the chart paper using markers. (While students are drawing their community, pass back The Future is Ours...So Now What? worksheets from yesterday.)

4. When they finish, allow each group about 2 minutes to share their drawings with the rest of the class. Let students add to their own drawings as they get ideas from other groups.

5. Now tell students to look at their drawing and define at least three issues within their community that causes them to be concerned. Remind them to refer to their worksheet from yesterday for ideas.

6. When everyone finishes, have each group share their issues of concern and list them together on a sheet of chart paper (so that it can be saved for future lessons).

7. Tell students to complete the Issues in My Community worksheet. (See Associated File) Assess their understanding of the importance of their contribution to solve the problem that they have identified.


Assess the student's understanding of the importance of his contribution to the community by checking his answer to question #4 on the Issues in My Community worksheet. You are looking for an answer that shows that the student understands the importance of his own role in helping solve an issue in his community, and the understanding that if no one helped solve this problem, it would only get worse.


1. ESE Modifications: When grouping students, pair students of higher ability with students of lower ability.
2. Extend the lesson by having students take note of buildings, institutions, other areas of concern, or other things that they want to add to their drawing the next day. Discuss how we pass by things everyday that we don't notice.

Web Links

National Service Learning a database of service-learning programs and organizations with a search engine, contact information, newsletter and technical assistance. Constitutional Rights a Los Angeles-based program that helps schools implement service learning. Materials are available to order. Video Placement a variety of videos offered for free to teachers, including the video needed for this lesson, The Future is Ours, So Now What?

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