United We Stand
In a world of us vs. them, how can our children develop a sense of community? In this lesson, our children will gain an understanding of community as people who work, learn, play and live together. Through the activities in this lesson, children internalize the value of being a responsible community member.
The learner will:
- cooperate with others to build trust and work for the common good.
- define a community through a vocabulary-building, concept-mapping exercise.
- evaluate writing for conventions, style and content.
- Chart paper and marker
- Student copies of Making Words Activity (Handout One or Two)
- Scissors, one per child
- Drawing paper and writing paper
- Read aloud copy of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch (See Bibliographical References)
- Student copies of Four Square Unity in the Community Paragraph (Handout Three)
- Cooper, Melrose. I Got Community. Henry Holt & Company, 1995. AISN: 0805031790
- Don’t Laugh At Me Curriculum. Free at http://www.dontlaugh.org [no longer available]
- Gibbs, Jeanne. Tribes – A New Way of Learning and Being Together. Centersource Systems, 2001. ISBN: 0932762409
- Gould, Judith and Evan. Four Square Writing Method. Teaching & Learning Company, 1999. ISBN: 1573101885
- Kalman, Bobbie. What is a Community from A-Z. Crabtree Publishing Company, 2002. ISBN: 0865053847
- Spinelli, Eileen. Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. Aladdin Paperbacks, 1996. ISBN: 0689718721
- Rubric Templates http://edweb.sdsu.edu/triton/july/rubrics/Rubric_Template.html [no longer available]
Meet in a large space such as a gymnasium or playground area. Divide the children into groups of two or three. Each pair or triad of children is to sit back to back on the floor and link arms with the person(s) behind them. Their task is to stand in unity without unlinking their arms or touching the ground with their hands. Once each group has had the opportunity to try and stand, ask groups that were successful what strategies they used (cooperation, discussion, put ups, compliments, effort, perseverance, etc.). Reflect on these strategies and encourage the pairs and triads to use the strategies to attempt the challenge again. Once everyone has had the opportunity to link arms and stand united, reflect on their experience using the following questions: Was any group successful with the effort of just one person? What did your groups have to do to be successful? Record their responses on chart paper.
While students are seated at their desks, pass out one set of letters and scissors to each child (see Handouts One or Two). Tell the students to cut out the letters on the lines.
- Teacher Note: I play a phonics game called "Detective" to direct how they cut the letters out. For example, I may say "cut out the letter that is at the beginning of mouse and man."
- Once they have their letters cut, begin the following script to direct the children to form words with the letters on their desk tops. As they form the words, add the words to the chart paper started in the Anticipatory Set.
"Use two letters to make the word in."
"Change one letter and make the French word un. Un means one in French."
"Add one letter to make the Spanish word uno. Uno means one in Spanish. Uno is also the name of a card game."
"Using two letters from uno and a new vowel, make the word one in English."
"Yesterday you talked about unity. How do the words un, uno and one relate to unity?
(Unity means come together as one.)
"Use four letters to make the word unit. Unit means one in math."
"Can you add one letter to the word unit to make the word unite?"
"What does unite mean?" (Come together as one)
"Change one letter and make the new word unity. Unity means coming together for a purpose."
"Use four different letters to make the word come. When we come together we unite."
"Put the word come and the word unity together to make a nine letter word. You will change one letter." (Students may need help forming this word—community.)
"What is a community?" (Community is a group of people who come together as one; people who work and learn together.)
Teacher Notes: You could teach a lesson in plurals: by changing y to ies, you make the bigger word communities. Brainstorm communities to which the students belong. Extend the lesson to include core words and word families. Have students write the word community on a piece of drawing paper and illustrate the concept.
Review the words on the chart paper. Tell the students that you are going to read a story about a man who finds unity in a community. Ask them to think (as you read) about how the words and ideas from the chart relate to the story. Read aloud Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, stopping as needed to clarify, discuss, predict, infer and review.
When you have finished reading aloud, ask the children how Mr. Hatch moved from being one person alone to a member of a community. What did he do and how did the community respond? What value did the community add to his life?
Use the four-square method to define community. Give each student a copy of Handout.
Four Square Unity in the Community Paragraph. Tell the students to write the big idea, community, in the center of the four squares. Read through the chart of brainstormed words together. Ask the students to pick the four best words from the list that capture the big idea. Discuss, vote and come to consensus on the four best words. Guide students to write (and illustrate) those words in the four squares.
Help students edit their definitions and rewrite them neatly with an illustration.
Definitions can be expanded into paragraphs with a topic sentence, four sentences using the four words, and a closing sentence that expresses feelings or an opinion about the concept of community.
Student definition should include four key words and reflect an understanding of the meaning of community.
Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
Benchmark E.3 Identify ways that trust is important in all communities.
Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
Benchmark E.5 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibility.
Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.