Looking at Our Community (11th Grade)

9, 10, 11, 12

The students will analyze their community through their own eyes and the “eyes” of the media noting how taking care of the Earth is demonstrating Environmental Stewardship. They will describe their community using the five themes of geography. They will note the environment of their community, listing those things that are good and those conditions in need of improvement. They will develop a personal plan to address an environmental issue.


PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • describe the community using location, place, human-environment interactions, movement and region.
  • analyze how the community is viewed in the media.
  • identify good and bad environmental issues in his/her community.
  • develop and implement a personal plan to address an environmental issue in his/her community.
  • Projected and student copies of Handout One: Looking at Our Community
  • Projected and student copies of Handout Two: Looking at Our Community’s Environment through the Eyes of the Media
  • Access to local newspapers (online or several issues of print copies)
  • Student copies of Handout Three: An Action Plan
  • (Extension) Handout Four: Looking at Our Community’s Environment: Community Survey

Draw an outline of a person. By the head, write or draw what you think of your environmental action. By the heart, draw how you feel. By the hands, write what you did. By the feet, write your next steps.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the question, “If someone asked you to describe your community without talking about what it physically 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 they might begin to think in terms of the “human” characteristics of their community.

  2. Explain that this lesson will be about looking at their community, understanding where it is, the people in it, and how it functions as a unique space. The descriptions learners gave in the Anticipatory Set begin to enable them to see the community as more than buildings and roads. Distribute learner copies of Handout One: Looking at Our Community through the Five Themes of Geography and display a group copy. 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 or 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 the community (thriving economy, sleepy town, factory town, beautiful recreational area, etc.). How do the learners 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.)

  4. Arrange the class into teams of three. Distribute Handout Two: Looking at Our Community through the Eyes of the Media. Give each team multiple copies of local or regional newspapers with varied publication dates. (Newspapers can also be accessed on the Internet.)

  5. Using the conclusions drawn from filling out each of the attachments, place on the display board a T-Chart and fill in the requested information as a whole group comparing and contrasting the environmental concerns.

  6. Still in their groups, tell the learners that they are now going to look more in depth at the Human/ Environment Interactions-How Humans Interact withTheir Environment theme that they identified (Ways We Use it/Abuse It/Improve It) and tell them to scan the newspapers in their possession for articles that deal with environmental aspects of their community. Ask each team to identify and fill in the media review form as it pertains to issues expressed by the class to that of the media. Draw conclusions.

  7. Sample: Our Environmental Concerns Media’s Environmental Concerns

    Dead fish along the shoreline Ozone layer appears to impact local air supply

  8. Then follow up with a brief discussion as to why the learners think the concerns they identified differed or were the same as those the media identified. Challenge the learners to share ways that the government sector, business/private sector, non-profit sector, and/or household sector might address these environmental issues.

  9. Have each individual learner identify a problem that pertains to an environmental issue in their community (one that they identified and/or one that the media identified) and develop a personal “plan of action” (Handout Three) for how they propose to use Earth Day as a time to address that problem for the common good. If time permits, have the learners share their action plans with the whole class.


Involvement in class discussion

Involvement in group work

Depth and relevance of the “action plan.”

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify an example of failure in each sector, and how the other sectors modified their roles in response.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.9 Analyze a major social issue as a "commons problem" and suggest ways the civil society sector could help to resolve it.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Describe how the common good was served in an historical event as a result of action by a civil society sector organization.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.