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Extension Activity - Reading on Democracy

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Lesson Plan: Overview Lesson Plan Readings

Making the Connection between Community Needs and Action

Grade Level:
7-12

Subjects:
Civics, government, suitable also for classes such peer helping or those that have a community service component

Estimated time of completion:
Four to five blocks (90 minutes each) plus considerable time working outside the classroom. A shorter one-block (90 minutes) lesson is also possible by having students only design, but not conduct the needs assessment.

Overview:
In this lesson students will learn one of the ways that citizens who are involved in a community may determine its needs. The students may further learn of the important connection in American political culture between voluntary associations and the health of democracy,

Lesson Objectives:
Students will:
  • Reflect on the meaning of community.
  • Examine one of the ways a community's needs may be determined.
  • Evaluate the connection between the democratic health of a community and voluntary association.
Materials:
  • PowerPoint presentation.
  • Instructions for conducting a community needs assessment.
  • Extract from De Toqueville's Democracy in America.
  • Extract from Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone.
Procedures:
  1. Present PowerPoint lecture on community and community needs assessment. (Some discussion prompt questions are listed in notes section of PowerPoint slides.)

  2. Lead discussion on meaning of community and have the students identify the communities to which they belong. For example, their neighborhood, their peer group, their athletic grouping, cultural, ethnic, etc.

  3. Explain that as a group, they are now going to conduct a community needs assessment to determine how the larger, geographic and political community in which they live (neighborhood, ward, or town) meets the needs of their community of adolescents.

  4. Distribute instructions on conducting a community needs assessment.

  5. Students complete first activity.
2nd class
    1. Students assemble final questions for survey and assign work among themselves.
    2. Students conduct survey as homework.
3rd class
    3. Students assemble first results.
    4. Students begin processing first data.
    5. Students conduct survey as homework.
4th class
    6. Students assemble all the data.
    7. Student write up results.
5th class
    8. Students determine how to whom will they release the results.
Extension Activities:
This lesson may be extended by having the students read an excerpt from De Tocqueville's Democracy in America and Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone, a provocative book that suggests the decline in voluntary associations in the United States may have dire consequences. The provocative readings may serve as the basis for a discussion or writing exercise.



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