Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

What Is a Community? What Makes Our Community Unique?
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students will develop a collaborative definition of "community" and realize the unique attributes of our community.


Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods


The learner will:

  • define "community."
  • interview two community members and submit a written record.
  • list the community's unique characteristics.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

To first introduce students to the acts of interviewing, listening, and recording, students are asked during this first lesson to gather responses from two community members to the question, "What makes our community unique?" Throughout this unit, students will move beyond the school walls in order to interview and gather information about our community and its citizens.


  • Blackboard or overhead projector
  • Chart paper and marker
  • Notebooks and pencils

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Write the word "community" in the middle of the chalkboard or overhead screen. Ask students, "What does this word mean to you?"

  • Begin a concept map as students supply their definitions of "community." Encourage students to develop a broad definition while asking:
    • Who does a community include?
    • What purposes does a community serve?
    • What services does a community provide its members?
    • What services can a member provide for the community?

  • Write the name of the community on the board. Ask students, "Does our community fit the definition we have just developed?"

  • Ask students, "What do you think makes our community unique? What makes this community different from other communities in the United States and around the world?" Encourage class discussion. Students should identify characteristics of their community. An example using Onekama would include:
    • It is a very small town (population 480) located in northern Michigan.
    • It is surrounded by water - Portage Lake and Lake Michigan.
    • It is a resort town with a relatively large summer population. (Our population triples during the summer months.)
    • We have cold winters with much snow and mild winters.
    • Farming, family businesses, and service occupations are the majority of our work opportunities.
    • The name of our town has Native American origins.
    • We have a large number of natural springs in the area.

  • Explain to students that their assignment is to interview two community members. Ask them, "What makes our community unique?" At least one of these people should be a non-family member, and it may help to interview people who have lived in the community a long time. Students should write their responses in paragraph form, either verbatim or in their own words, and submit it in class tomorrow.

  • During the following class period, ask for volunteers to share their interviews. On chart paper, begin to record phrases and unique attributes of the community as students share. Ask students to add to the list. Post the list in the classroom for reference during the unit.


Scoring Rubric for Assignment

Student completed two interviews on appropriate topic and turned in a careful and complete written document of the interview.
Student completed two interviews; however, written document is incomplete or hastily completed or appropriate topic was not addressed.
Student completed one interview on appropriate topic and turned in a careful and complete written document of the interview.
Student completed one interview; however, written document is incomplete or hastily completed or appropriate topic was not addressed.
Assignment was not attempted.

Lesson Developed By:

Megan McCarthy
Onekama Consolidated Schools
Onekama Middle School
Onekama, MI 49675


Philanthropy Framework:


Lara, Teacher – Grand Rapids, MI11/2/2007 2:13:58 PM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) defining community. I gained an understanding of student knowledge regarding community.

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