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TeachNet 2008 Grant Winner       << Back to all Grant Winners
Community Issues and Local Government

Subject:Participation in Government, United States History and Government

Grade Level: 11th, 12th

Materials: School laptop cart, wireless Internet connection, printer, school library

About: Students learn some of the basic responsibilities of the different levels of government and their civic responsibilities. They begin the unit with some basic ideas of problems in their neighborhoods and research how they can personally take action and become informed citizens. They also learn how to participate in their government(s) and organizations in order to enact change in their communities. The students learn how local, city, state, and national governments are responsible for various aspects of the everyday lives of its citizens.

As a culminating activity, the students complete community service projects based on their chosen topic. This unit brings the students from little or no understanding of how to help their community to a basic understanding of how citizens can change the community around them.

This unit gives the students a deeper understanding of how they can help change their community. It teaches them the role of local government through various topics that affect their different neighborhoods. Students are being taught to become active, informed citizens as well as young community leaders. They will be active participants in their own education, and their outside lives will be directly connected to lessons learned in the classroom. The students use the Internet to research current events in their communities and in the city as a whole. They use the Gotham Gazette website in order to accumulate resources and lead them to community organizations that can facilitate their work inside and outside the classroom.

Feel free to use, adapt, or revamp these lessons. As educators, we should know our strengths and weaknesses inside the classroom as well as learn how to constantly change with the times. I would use these lessons for my P.I.G. (Participation In Government) classes because the Gotham Gazette website fits in so well with the course curriculum. That is not to say that teachers could not use these lessons with other classes, but I find that this curriculum works best with P.I.G. or United States History and Government. Since the students need to complete community service projects for P.I.G., this unit will help them choose one that truly makes a difference in issues they care about in their communities.

http://gothamgazette.com/

 Objectives
Students will use Gotham Gazette website to research topics they are interested in.
Students will understand how communities are influenced by the events that take place within them.
Students will understand how citizens and orgranizations can influence the local, state, national, and world communities around them.
Students will complete 25 hours of community service.
Students will complete culminating community service project.

Websites
Gotham Gazette is a great website for information about New York City and the social, political, and economic events that help shape it.
http://gothamgazette.com/

Standards
Students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments; the governmental system of the United States and other nations; the United States Constitution; the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy; and the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.
High School
Social Studies
Students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.
High School
Social Studies
Students listen, speak, read, and write for social interaction, and use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language for effective social communication with a wide variety of people. As readers and listeners, they use the social communications of others to enrich their understanding of people and their views.
High School
English Language Arts
Students listen, speak, read, and write for critical analysis and evaluation. As listeners and readers, they analyze experiences, ideas, information, and issues presented by others using a variety of established criteria. As speakers and writers, they use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language to present, from a variety of perspectives, their opinions and judgments on experiences, ideas, information, and issues.
High School
English Language Arts
Students read and listen to oral, written, and electronically produced texts and performances from American and world literature; relate texts and performances to their own lives; and develop an understanding of the diverse social, historical, and cultural dimensions the texts and performances represent. As speakers and writers, they use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language for self-expression and artistic creation.
High School
English Language Arts

Day 1: Where we live
Objectives
Students will write about problems they see on a daily basis in the communities around them.
Students will learn from one another about various problems that exist in lour local, city, state, and national communities.
Students will actively discuss how these problems affect the communities they live and go to school in.
Materials
Community Issues chart
Procedures
Teacher writes the Aim and Do Now on the board. Aim: How do problems in a community affect its citizens? Do Now: Write about three problems you see in your local, city, state, or national community. What is the problem? How does this problem affect the community around it?
Students complete the Do Now.
Teacher facilitates a Think/Pair/Share. Students share their answers to the Do Now with the student sitting next to them.
Teacher hands out “Community Issues Chart” to students during their pair-up.
Students are informed by the teacher that the pairs should determine the two most important community issues and the students should place them on the “Community Issues Chart.”
After about ten minutes of discussion between the students, the teacher should have an overhead of the “Community Issues Chart” on the black or white board.
Pairs share out with the class their two important community issues and the teacher gives a marker/piece of chalk to each pair after they share out. The students come up to the board and choose one important issue to put on the board.
As each group presents their issues, the class discusses how these problems affect the citizens within the communities.
Teacher discusses the meaning of “federalism” with the students and how the different levels of government are responsible for different issues or share responsibility.
Homework
Creating a federalism chart: Students create a chart which will organize the major community problems by the idea of federalism. They must find out how the issues written down in class relate to local/city, state and national government. Students differentiate between local/city, state and national government responsibilities for each issue on their “Community Issues Chart.”
Assessment
Class discussion and federalism chart homework

Day 2: Our Communities and the Gotham Gazette
Objectives
Students will understand the principles of federalism.
Students will choose two different problems that they feel personally connected to and begin researching their causes and affects.
Students will learn how to use Gotham Gazette website to research their topics.
Through research, students will find several organizations who deal with their two community topics.
Materials
School laptop cart
Wireless Internet connection
Printer
Federalism Chart
Procedures
The teacher writes Aim and Do Now on the board. Aim: How does federalism separate the power of different levels of government? Do Now: 1. Take out homework; 2. Get a laptop from the cart; 3. Access http://gothamgazette.com/ and begin familiarizing yourself with the site.
Teacher checks homework while students get laptops from the cart and access the Gotham Gazette website.
Teacher quickly reviews the homework with the students by making a chart on the board and reviewing federalism and the community issues discussed in the previous class.
Teacher hands out Federalism Chart to students. Students write a definition for federalism on the headline of the chart.
Teacher uses Federalism Chart overhead on the blank white/black board and students and teacher organize community issues into the Federalism Chart.
Students (who should already know most of the aspects of federalism from last year's United States History and Government class) fill in the chart using community issues. They also fill in shared responsibilities between the three levels of government.
tudents choose two community problems that they feel personally connected to and begin researching articles from Gotham Gazette that deal with their topics.
Students find at least one article for each topic and print it out by the end of the period.
Teacher walks around the room and helps the students search through the Gotham Gazette website for articles, information, games, or links to other sites that may assist them.
Students print out one article for each topic they have chosen. If they have trouble finding one for each they must complete this task on top of their homework.
Homework
Print out one article from each of your topics (two articles altogether).
Assessment
Federalism Chart share out, using Gotham Gazette website for research.

Day 3: Gotham Gazette
Objectives
Students will learn how to use Gotham Gazette website to research their topics.
Through research, students will find several organizations who deal with their two community topics.
Students will use Gotham Gazette website to research articles about topics related to local, state, and national communities.
Materials
School laptop cart
Wireless Internet connection
Printer
Mr. Gill's Current Events Questionnaire
Procedures
Teacher writes the Aim and Do Now on the board. Aim: How can we use the Gotham Gazette to research problems in our communities? Do Now: 1. Take out articles; 2. Get a laptop from the cart; 3. Access http://gothamgazette.com/.
Teacher checks the homework from last lesson. Each student should have two articles printed out for their two important topics. Make sure that each article is relevant to student's topic.
Hand out Mr. Gill’s Current Events Questionnaire.
Students complete two copies of Mr. Gill’s Current Events Questionnaire, one for each article they printed out.
Inform students that they must go to the Gotham Gazettes Site Map link and other links to find two community organizations based on their topics.
Students complete both current events questionnaires.
By the end of the period, the students hand in their articles stapled to their current events questionnaires and have information from two community organizations that they are interested in working with.
Homework
Homework for the marking period: Contact one (or both) of your two local community organizations and arrange to complete several (at least two for this week) hours of community service (25 in total by the end of the marking period).
Assessment
Mr. Gill's Current Events Questionnaire; one-on-one discussion with students about their articles and their topics.

Day 4: Community Service
Objectives
Students will understand the various important aspects of community service.
Students will understand how their participation in their community service will benefit the communities around them.
Students will understand that the participation of the whole class has led to greater positive change in their communities.
Students will be encouraged to complete their 25 hours of community service before the end of the marking period.
Students will realize how their community service connects directly to the articles and topics they chose. Students will be encouraged to make community service a part of their lives outside of school.
Materials
Community Service Projects
Teacher-designated student groups of four
Procedures
Teacher writes Aim and Do Now on the board. Aim: How has our community service helped other people around us? Do Now: Answer the following questions. 1. What organization did you complete your two hours of community service with? 2. How did you feel about community service before you began your hours? 3. What did you do during your two hours of community service? 4. How did you feel about your community service after you finished for the day? 5. How did your community service relate to the articles you researched from Gotham Gazette? 6. How did your community service help others around you?
Students get 15 minutes to copy the questions and answer them in their notebooks.
After 15 minutes. students will pair up with the classmates they site next to and share their answers with one another.
Walk around class room and listen to students discussing answers to the Do Now. Chime in on conversations when necessary.
After 5 minutes of sharing with a partner, students are broken up into predetermined groups of four by the teacher. They share their answers to the Do Now with each other for 15 minutes.
After time is up, ask students to create a T Chart in their notebooks called BEFORE and AFTER. Discuss with the students the feelings they had or their group members had before and after their community service. Students write these feelings in charts they create in their notebooks.
Students share-out stories and answers to the Do Now that they heard from their group members to the whole class.
Call several students up one at a time, give them markers, and have them answer the aim in a full sentence on the board.
Discuss with the students the positive things they have done with two short hours of kindness.
Hand out Community Service Projects instructions.
Homework
Begin working on your community service project.
Assessment
Community Service Projects; end of marking period projects

Day 5:
Objectives
Materials
Procedures
Homework
Assessment

Christopher Gill

cgill34@yahoo.com

Newcomers H.S.
28-01 41st Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101

Christopher has been a member of the Social Studies Department at Newcomers High School for the past three school years. He has taught United States History and Government, Participation in Government, Economics and Global Studies at Newcomers High School. As a first-generation American, Christopher is familiar with the struggles of ESL and bilingual students and has had many experiences with both populations in both his professional and personal life. He strives to bring history alive to his students through various methods of assessment including role playing and acting as well as other student-centered activities.


Important documents for this lesson plan.

Community Issues Chart.doc
Federalism Chart.doc
Mr. Gill's Current Events Questionnaire.doc
Community Service Projects.doc

 

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