Is Anyone Listening?

9, 10, 11, 12

Create a scenario that frames a problem and have students think about the role of the four sectors (private, public, independent, and family) to address problems.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to Two Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • describe problems facing society.
  • distinguish between the four sectors of the economy.
  • determine which sector has the responsibility and authority to address a problem.

Problems and the Four Sectors of the Economy (Handout One)

Home Connection 

Have students finish the scenario at home and explain the scenario to their parents. Have the parents respond to the scenario in writing. Have the parents sign their work and have the students return it the next day.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    • Using the overhead, give the following assignment. At Halloween, before children get candy, they yell, "Trick or treat," or "Help the poor." Think about other words for "poor" and complete the phrase "Help the ____" using that word. As examples suggest that students think about issues, situations, problems, people, nature, etc. OR Ask the students to think about what issue in the world or in your city or in your neighborhood or in your school makes them angry or breaks their heart.
  2. Set the stage by telling the students to imagine they are in the downtown of a city; the day is sunny and mild; birds are heard singing; people are going about their business. A man is seen looking out the shut window of a fifth floor apartment. He unlocks the latch, raises the window, leans out and yells: "I'm mad…and I'm not going to take it any more!" (Repeat the phrase several times, getting louder and angrier.) Do a "think-pair-share" to determine what students think the man is yelling about.

  3. As a whole class, ask the students to brainstorm their ideas and record them on the board. Have the class pick one idea as the focal point of the lesson.

  4. As a whole class, ask the students why they think the man is yelling. Record their ideas and categorize them according to the four sectors of the economy. Explain the meaning of the four sectors of the economy, defining each as needed.

  5. Distribute Problems and the Four Sectors of the Economy (Handout One) to each group of four students. Have each group speculate about what the man could have done to solve the problem. If students disagree about solutions to the problem, explain that although people may agree on democratic values, they may disagree when those values are applied to specific situations. Whenever the problem involves the United States and other countries, examine the role of the United States as a member of the international community.

  6. As a whole class, record each group's solutions using the chart. Draw inferences from student input about where people can turn for help and if certain sectors seem to address certain problems.

  7. Closure - Have the students do a journal entry responding to the following prompt: The man thinks that the government should have done more to help him. Put yourself in the role of the man. Adopt his point of view and his anger. Explain why he thinks the way he does.


The assessment is primarily teacher observation and is intended to identify prior knowledge and misunderstandings. Journal entry; Group work

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.7 Examine the role of a country as a member of various international communities.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.