Who Is a Part of My Community?
To help students see the web of communities to which they and their classmates belong and what it means to be a member of a community.
Author: Urban EdVenture Faculty at Westminster
- Understand that they are members of many different communities.
- Realize that their communities impact them and they also impact their communities.
- Realize that they are in some of the same communities as their classmates.
Paper and markers OR hand-held chalkboards and chalk (one per student).
Polyspots* or students’ shoes (one less spot or pair of shoes than the number of students participating).
* Polyspots are colorful place markers made of soft material, available in different sizes (often round), and used in sports and experiential activities.
Determine what qualities of a community you want to emphasize with this lesson. For example, Westminster’s Urban EdVenture teachers emphasize that what you do affects the members of your community and what other members do affects you.
If you want to specify what “true” statements students will make as part of the Commonalities warm-up activity, pick a topic or prompts ahead of time.
Community, membership, team, organization, neighborhood, city
Commonalities Warm-up Activity:
Set up the circle: Make a circle formation using Polyspots or pairs of shoes to mark spaces where students will stand. Like with musical chairs, use one less spot / shoe pair in the circle than there are number of students participating.
Provide students with activity instructions: Explain that one person will stand in the center of the circle and classmates will each stand on a spot (or behind a pair of shoes) in the circle. The student in the center will say something “true” about him / herself. If you have parameters or specific topics to which you would like the statements to relate, share this now with the class. Each classmate who believes this statement is true for him / her then rushes to change places with another student for whom the statement is also true. If it is untrue for him / her, he / she stays on the current spot / shoes. The last member left outside the circle must then move to the center and share his / her own true statement.
Begin the activity and go through 5-6 statements.
Quick reflection: Ask students to name things they noticed about themselves or others through the warm-up activity.
Now, gather the shoes or Polyspots and move them out of the way.
Web of Communities Activity:
Start talking about communities and identify a few in which you are a member. Invite a few students to name a community they are a part of.
Distribute paper and markers or small chalkboards and chalk so that each student has their own. Have students brainstorm all the communities of which they are a part by finishing the following statement: “I am a member of…” Ask them to write a bulleted list of these communities on their paper or chalkboard.
Call out a number (like “one” or “three”). Ask students to mill around the room to find people with whom they have common communities, looking for those with whom they share the number you called out (e.g. if you called three, they would seek a peer who lists three similar community names (for example, 5th grade, basketball team, and musicians). Before moving onto the next round, ask a few students to name a person they have a community in common with.
Go through several rounds, calling out a different number each time. Every time they group up with someone, they should share their entire list of communities with the person. They will hear roles from one another that they didn’t think of. Ask students to add new communities to their list in each round, if they hear or think of ones not on their original list.
Come together, ask students questions and promote discussion. Questions could include:
- What communities are you all part of – what is your “universal community” list (communities you all share)? (Come up with five or six, for instance, grade, school and city.)
- What does it mean to be a member of a community? Provide prompts that give students insight into the question, such as: What’s your responsibility for others? What happens if you don’t _________?
Your Definition of Community:
Create a definition of community based on this list of characteristics (e.g., choices you make in your community). Adopt this as your class’ definition of community and use it in lessons that follow.