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The Forgotten Americans


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Unit 3: Your Town

Although the world has made great strides to eliminate poverty 1.5 billion people still lack access to safe water, and 125 million children around the world do not attend primary school. Also millions, especially children, go to bed hungry every night, according to the World Bank (http://www.worldbank.org/ourdream/).

Begin this unit by brainstorming with students about poverty. Ask your students to define poverty and to research poverty rates in the United States versus other countries. You may also want to introduce the question of equity. Ask your students if they have noticed differences in the community they live in as compared to other neighborhoods in your city or state.

This unit is designed to facilitate a discussion about life in less fortunate communities, but be careful not to alienate students in the class. Its aim is to encourage students to examine what assets and liabilities are relevant to communities and what it takes to make a change in a neighborhood.

Once you have introduced the concept of poverty, show the video especially the segment from (23:12 to 28:09) about Blanca Rojas’ concerns about inviting her college friends to see her community. Ask your students to point out the differences in Blanca’s life as compared to her college classmates.

Use the glossary of terms to begin a discussion about social, economic, and political change. The discussion questions will help you frame the issues as they relate to colonias and other poor communities, but encourage your students to discuss problems that may exist in affluent communities as well.

The project at the end of this lesson is designed to encourage students to compare communities, to discover inequities that may exist, and to formulate a strategy for overcoming some of those inequities.

We encourage you to share your experiences for this discussion, project, and essays. We also encourage you to give us feedback on what impact this unit had on your classroom and the experience of your students. Please send us your feedback on how you used this unit and what results you found.

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