Looking at Our Community

9, 10, 11, 12

Now that the learners have looked at problems and solutions in other parts of the world in Lesson One: Global Issues, students will see their community from their own eyes, the “eyes” of the media and those of the community. They will analyze their own community thoroughly using the five themes of geography as their base for study. They will note the good that is occurring in the community and determine who is providing the “good” that does exist.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo to Three-Fifty Minute Class Periods

The learners will:

  • describe the community using location, place, human-environment interactions, movement and region.
  • analyze how the community is viewed in the media.
  • survey attitudes about what is good and bad in the community.
  • Shared and student copies of Looking at Our Community through the Five Themes of Geography (Handout One)
  • Looking at Our Community through the Eyes of the Media (Handout Two) Spanish version (Handout Five)
  • Access to the local newspaper (online or several weeks of print copies)
  • Student copies of Community Survey (Handout Three) spanish version (Handout Six)
  • Rubric for “Looking at Our Community” Essay (Handout Four) Spanish version (Handout Seven)
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students will survey the community regarding its attitudes about life in the area. Family members or other adults may be asked to complete the two questions in the survey.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask the question, “If someone asked you to describe your community without talking about what it looks like and where it is located, what would you say about it?” Encourage the learners to attempt to answer the question. If there is a hesitation about starting, explain that students may think about the “human” characteristics of the community.

  2. Explain that this lesson will be about looking at our community, understanding where it is, the people in it, and how it functions as a unique space. The descriptions students gave in the anticipatory set begin to enable them to see the community as more than buildings and roads. But they have only just begun to see the community in its various components. Distribute student copies of Looking at Our Community through the Five Themes of Geography (Attachment One) and a shared copy on the board. Working as a whole group, begin to use the five themes of geography (location, place, human-environment interaction, movement and region) as a way to accumulate information about the community. When the chart is completed, ask the learners if the chart gives a detailed look at their community. If they feel it needs additional characteristics listed, add them at the end of the chart.

  3. Ask the learners to describe how they believe others see our community (thriving economy, sleepy town, factory town, beautiful recreational area, etc.). How do the students know that this is the perception of their community? How is their community represented in the media? Whether the community has its own newspaper or is included in a regional paper, there is a “paper trail” they can follow to detect how the media views their community. This can also be done by examining the stories about the community that are aired on television and radio. Divide the class into teams of three. Distribute Looking at Our Community through the Eyes of the Media (Attachment Two). Give each team a copy of the local or regional newspaper. Ask each team to review the copy of the paper it has and fill in the media review form.

  4. Discuss the findings when teams have completed their review by putting the following T-chart on the board and filling it in based on the story review. A sample is provided.

    Identified Problems

    Actions for the Common Good

    Nothing for teens to do after school

    Senior citizen lunch deliveries







    From the information provided on the chart, what are the major problems facing the community, as seen from the eyes of the media? Do the good things that are happening outweigh the bad? Who does the “good” that is occurring in the community (government, business, family, philanthropy)? How important is the media in shaping people’s feelings about the things that occur in the community? Have students give an example.

  5. Distribute copies of Community Survey (Attachment Three). Explain that the class will conduct a survey of the community to see what they would identify as good and bad things about the community. It is not possible to ask everyone in the community to answer the questions. Instead a small number of diverse persons will be chosen to give their opinion and their answers will be used as a “sample” of what the community thinks. This is a type of “straw” poll. It is not as accurate as a “random” sampling of the community where participants are picked at random according to a formula. Go over the directions for the community survey with the class. Explain the importance of asking a variety of community members and of different ages. The survey should be completed for homework.

  6. Tabulate the results of the completed surveys and identify the top three to five problems identified by the community sample. When the sample identified good features of the community, was there a variety of items or did the same things show up as answers for most of the participants? How did the view expressed by the students about their community, the view expressed by the media through their news stories and the view expressed in the community survey compare? Why?

  7. Ask students to complete an essay called “Looking at Our Community.” It should include the following information:

    • How was the community perceived by the students in the class?
    • What were the good and bad things perceived about the community by the media?
    • What were the good and bad things perceived about the community by the community sample?
    • Were the perceptions the same or did something else account for the different perceptions?
  8. Use Rubric for “Looking at Our Community” Essay (Attachment Four) for scoring.

  9. Discuss how the problems and good things going on in the community compare to the global communities looked at in the first lesson. Are the root problems and solutions similar or different? Why or why not?


The “Looking at Our Community” essay may be used as an assessment.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Explain why needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society and family.