Who Do You Trust?

3, 4, 5
Keywords & Concepts: 

Students will describe the concept of "community capital."

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five to Sixty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define "community capital."
  • cite an example of "community capital."
  • illustrate "community capital" in the classroom.
  • Photographs
  • Student copies of Who Do You Trust? (Spanish version included)
  • Writing and drawing materials
  • Ruled index cards


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students to pair off and define the word "trust." (to place confidence in) Have teams report their definitions.

    Teacher's Note: Gather several (8-10) photographs and/or magazine pictures showing various groups of individuals. It is a good idea to have half of the pictures that are actual photographs of groups of people known to the students, such as a picture of the teaching staff, a class picture, perhaps the high school football team, parents, etc. The other half need to be photos of unfamiliar groups, which might include a group of seniors in a nursing/retirement facility, a group of handicapped people, people from various ethnic/racial/religious groups, class pictures of students from other countries. Post pictures in random order on a bulletin board. Label the pictures A, B, C, etc. It is best to put the pictures up (without comment) a day or so in advance of the lesson.


  2. Day One:

    Ask students to name each group (they can create their own names for the unfamiliar pictures) and then ask them to respond to the questions on Who Do You Trust? (see handout). Allow ten minutes for naming the groups. It is a good idea to allow the students to move freely about while completing this assignment. Impromptu conversations will naturally occur that will facilitate later development of the lesson.

  3. After the worksheets are completed, arrange the students in groups of four to six to discuss the worksheet. Each student should be given an opportunity to share his/her responses in this small, cooperative group. Again, it is a good idea to time this activity. Allow about two minutes for each student in the group. The total time should be no more than ten to twelve minutes.

  4. Bring the entire class together as a group for a teacher-directed discussion. Be sure to lead the class in the direction of the following conclusion: People tend to trust others who they know or who appear to be like themselves. Examples of discussion questions might be:

    • How do we decide who to trust?
    • Why do we tend to distrust certain people?
    • Under what conditions could someone learn to trust another person who is different from them?
  5. Closure - Each student will refer to their worksheet, finding the group that was rated the least likely to be trusted. Using index cards, students will be asked to write two or three sentences, or a brief paragraph, in which they create a fictitious scenario that will allow them to become familiar with a person or persons in the photo they selected. These will be collected by the teacher.

  6. Day Two:

    Select three to five examples from the index cards completed on day one. These are to be read aloud to the class. In selecting the cards to read, the teacher should consider those examples that would be most likely to occur in the lives of the students. Solicit student comments about the suggestions. Encourage students to respond by relating similar situations they have actually encountered, read about, or seen on television, in films, etc.

  7. Post a sign with the words "community capital" written on it and give the class the following definition: banked good will between groups of people that help solve problems. (It is a good idea to point out that this is the opposite of "factions.") Ask students if there is such a thing as community capital. Is it in the school? Solicit examples from students. If there is such a thing as community capital between groups, how does it work to solve problems?


Ask students to draw and color a picture showing an example of community capital in their classroom. If students are not physically capable or prefer not to draw, they may find a photograph in a book or periodical. Students may then write one or two sentences telling why their picture is an example of community capital. Display these drawings. (If preferred, students could do this orally, instead of in writing.)

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.13 Offer examples of community/social capital in school.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.8 Recognize the concept of community/social capital in the classroom.