Subject Areas: secondary current events,
social studies, political science, communication arts, and math classes
Time: Two to three 45-minute class periods
Grade Level: 9-12
(lesson can be modified for lower grades)
1. participate in an informal classroom survey and discussion
of class survey results.
2. make comparisons between classroom survey results
and current population trends.
3. participate in class discussion activities
related to community growth and national population trends.
in small group brainstorming activities.
5. analyze community growth statistics
and maps and make inferences about regional population growth.
group research about the pros and cons of rapid community growth.
group research findings and conclusions through the presentation of a creative
Correlation to National Standards
- U.S. Map (printer-friendly PDF)
Census Bureau Fact Sheet on Population (printer-friendly PDF)
States Map (printer-friendly PDF)
pieces of chart paper and markers
- Internet access and access to library
- Community Growth assignment (printer-friendly PDF)
Over the past five years, many areas in the Sunbelt of the United States have
experienced tremendous population growth. While some cities such as Las Vegas
launched media campaigns to entice families to relocate, other cities have experienced
population booms because of the lifestyle and employment opportunities they have
to offer. Rapid growth or status as a "boom town" can make a move to
these areas very lucrative and beneficial for some families. On the other hand,
there are also drawbacks associated with rapid population increases within communities.
This lesson focuses on the pros and cons of rapid growth and how the changes in
these communities have affected the residents of these growing areas.
1. Before students arrive, create brainstorming stations around
the classroom by placing large pieces of chart paper and markers at each station.
Make a separate station for each labeled chart paper. Labels should include:
- Why People Relocate to this Area
- Economic Effect of Population Growth
of Population Growth on Community Resources
- Impact of Population Growth
on Social Services
- Effect of Population Growth on Quality of Life/Lifestyle
Begin class by taking a survey. Ask students to record the answer to each question
Place a copy of the U.S. Map on the board/overhead for students to
refer to as they think about their answers. Encourage students to list a specific
city or state when they answer each question.
- If you could live anywhere
in the U.S., where would you choose to relocate? Why?
- What area of the
country do you think has experienced the greatest population growth over the past
five years? Why?
3. Using the U.S. Map from Step 2 above, ask
each student in the classroom to indicate where he or she would relocate if the
opportunity presented itself and to provide a one-sentence reason as to why he
or she would relocate to the selected city/state. Put tally marks in each state
to indicate "votes" for that state or cities within it.
Tally student responses to question 1 and post them on the board/overhead
so that you indicate the top 5-10 locations that would be most popular with students
if they could relocate.
5. Based on the survey results, facilitate
a group discussion about where students believe the greatest population growth
has occurred in our country over the past five years. Encourage students to talk
about why they think specific areas or cities have attracted new residents.
Using the data below from the U.S. Census Bureau Fact Sheet on Population,
discuss which cities have experienced the most growth. Facilitate the discussion
by asking questions such as:
- Why do you think these cities have experienced
- What do all of these cities have in common in terms
- Of the cities showing population declines, what geographic
commonalties do they share?
- What area of the country are people referring
to when they talk about the "sunbelt" states?
students the Sunbelt States Map and note that this region of the country has
experienced the greatest growth over the past five years. Discuss this growth
- How do current population trends relate
to our informal class survey about where we would choose to relocate if the opportunity
- Does our class follow the trend toward a move to the sunbelt?
do you think our class survey results we similar/different than what is actually
happening with the U.S. population
8. Place students into 5
small groups. Direct each group to go to a brainstorming station. Provide each
group with 2 minutes to brainstorm both positive and negative ideas related to
the community growth topic at each station. Encourage groups to record as many
ideas as possible. Groups should read what has been written by others before starting
additional brainstorming at each station.
9. When brainstorming
is completed, spend 15-20 minutes discussing the information at the various brainstorming
stations so that students can start to assimilate how rapid population growth
in a specific area can effect the community in both positive and negative ways.
- During discussion encourage students to elaborate on the ideas that
have been recorded by providing specific examples to illustrate the pros and cons
of rapid community growth.
- This is also a good time to discuss how some
communities actively seek new residents through advertising (i.e. Las Vegas) and
why a community might make the decision to do this.
in their small group, direct students to investigate a city/state that has experienced
significant, rapid growth in the past five years. Using Internet and library resources
along with first-hand interviews and correspondence, have students complete the
Community Growth assignment and present their findings to classmates. Provide
at least 2 class period for students to work in groups to complete this project.
11. Once projects have been completed, allow each group to present
their work to classmates.
Compendium of K-12 Standards Addressed:
12: Understands the patterns of human settlement and their causes
14: Understands how human actions modify the physical environment
18: Understands global development and environmental issues
Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of statistics and data analysis
Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of
the writing process
Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research
Standard 5: Uses the general skills and strategies
of the reading process
Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand
and interpret a variety of informational texts
Listening and Speaking
Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
Standard 1: Contributes to the overall effort of a group
Standard 4: Displays effective interpersonal communication skills
1. Invite a local city planning official into the classroom
to discuss the positive and negative effects of rapid growth using your city/town
as a model. Have the official talk about how population increases effect the economy,
natural resources, social services and the quality of life/lifestyle in your area.
Encourage students to have specific questions prepared in advance so they can
learn about their city's plans for population growth.
2. Encourage students
to look at how shifts in U.S. population affects politics. Examine issues such
- the effects of population increase/decrease on state representation
- the effects of population increase/decrease on the presidential
campaign and election process, particularly in the way a candidate formulates
his/her platform and whether or not issues faced by fast-growing, heavily populated
areas get more attention than those faced by areas losing residents
Connect with students in a school located in an area that has experienced
rapid population growth in the past five years. Create surveys related to population
growth and work with the partner school to administer and tabulate the survey
results. Use questions from the Community Growth assignment as a basis for creating
surveys. Encourage students from both classes to interact electronically to share
survey results and draw conclusions about the effect of the rapid population growth
on their city.
NOTE TO TEACHERS: If you select this option, try
to make connections to classrooms in a fast growing area through networking with
colleagues and acquaintances who may know teachers in the Sunbelt Region. If these
connections are not available, do a search for "fastest growing U.S. school
districts". Using contact information from the fast growing district's Web
site, inquire with the district about schools or individual classrooms that might
be interested in collaborating with your students to complete the project. Send
a copy of the lesson plan along with your request.
About the Author:
Lisa Prososki is an independent educational consultant and instructional design
specialist who taught middle school and high school social studies, English, reading,
and technology courses for twelve years. Prososki has worked with PBS TeacherSource
and has authored and edited many lesson plans and materials for various PBS programs
over the past ten years. In addition to conducting workshops for teachers at various
state and national meetings, Prososki works as an editor, creates a wide range
of educational and training materials for corporate clients, and has authored
To find out more about opportunities to contribute to this
site, contact Leah Clapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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