Grade: Elementary

#4060. Promoting Our Town

Social Studies, level: Elementary
Posted Wed Dec 5 02:02:10 PST 2007 by Tracy Miller (
travel info on any town - yahoo
Troy University, Dothan AL USA
Materials Required: Gather research about your town, websites, local papers, parks & rec info, maps.
Activity Time: 5 days - ! hour /day
Concepts Taught: Social studies is real and all around us.

Our Town - 3rd graders seeing social studies all around them.
Developed by: Tracy Miller
EDG 6668 - Integrating Thinking Skills -Dr. Morin

This is a weeklong unit using the guidelines of Triarchic instruction focusing on practical thinking. The purpose of this unit is to provide 3rd grade students with an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and practical thinking strategies. These students will research, identify and promote the history, industry, environment, agriculture, schools, infrastructure, community resources, points of interest, parks and recreation or other features of the town in which they live. The students will participate in a Socratic discussion focused on what this community should be most proud of and complete a product of choice promoting one aspect of our town. Gifted students should be exposed to actual historical artifacts and be expected to handle subject matter in context and as it is inter-related in the real world around them. Gifted students require challenge and should be allowed to explore topics of interest beyond the textbook. Gifted students should be exposed to high expectations and required to create authentic products, which can be viewed by adult professional audiences. This project will require the students to exercise practical thinking skills to produce work of this caliber.

Who: This unit is designed for students in 3rd grade who have demonstrated mastery and are ready for extension activities related to the Alabama Standard Course of Study objectives listed below.
SS-3rd-#16- Describe natural features. (Physical characteristics, natural resources)
SS-3rd-#17-Evaluate how land use affects the land and its inhabitants. (agriculture, industry, transportation)
SS-3rd-#18-Identify examples of land rights and responsibilities of citizens. (public parks, buildings, homes)
SS-3rd-#19-Develop an understanding of the reasons for the location of human-made places.
This unit is an extension of the objectives listed above and use of the following:
SS-3rd-#2- Know how to interpret and display information and data using various graphic organizers.
SS-3rd-#3-Use references for independent investigations of selected topics.

Overall Goal: The students will engage in a research project, which will require them to exercise strategies to avoid the stumbling blocks to practical thinking.

TSW make notes of research as they read and review materials related to our town.
TSW reflect in writing preparation for and personal assessment of the Socratic circle discussion.
TSW fill out a form evaluating the group work sessions.
TSW prepare a product of choice promoting our town.

Learning activities:
1- Explanation teacher directed exposure, modeling and demonstration.
2- Individual research and discovery.
3- Cooperative learning with assigned roles for products.
4- Socratic questioning dialogue about "What is important to this community" & "What should our town be most proud of/ best known for, why?".
5- Reflective journal writing.

Three different instructional strategies (Including Socratic questioning):
1- Research: Use the individual skill of representing and organizing information when researching and reporting to group.
2- Cooperative: In small groups consolidate and evaluate research - allocate resources - formulate a strategy - pick a product and refine needs to accomplish that goal - assign tasks and work to accomplish group goals.
3- Socratic questioning on the topic: "What should our town be most proud of/ best known for, why?"

1- Journal responses to prompts related to community services, newspaper articles and needs.
2- Formulate questions after each required reading make predictions. List those questions & guesses.
3- Prepare in writing for Socratic discussion. Assessment rubric for Socratic circle.
4- Note sheets from research and share sessions.
5- Small group project "promoting our town." [video, brochure, powerpoint, commercial, website or... featuring tourism, relocation, recreation, environmental awareness, educational leadership, activism, service to the larger region or...]

1- Teacher-Student Dialogue through journals - participation formative, informal assessment.
2- Group evaluation of partners. Teacher feedback on group work.
3- Socratic circles Rubric evaluating preparation and participation.
4- Rubric for projects. Group grade.

Practical elements:
By requiring research with note taking, students are learning to use the right tools.
By providing evaluation handouts for group sessions students are learning to initiate, concentrate and exercise impulse control to avoid chatting and getting off task.
By providing a clear rubric in advance and having the projects end with a real audience, the students are learning the elements of product orientation.

Possible extensions:
Webmaster lessons and mentor lessons with a web designer.
Visit local, regional or state tourism board.
Real Estate agent guest speaker or mentor connection.
Local news or travel magazine contributor or editor.
Visitor's bureau or Chamber of Commerce visit or guest speaker.
Government or city services officials as guest speakers or professional mentors.
Interview stakeholders in previous local debates at board meetings.
Advertising mentors and guest speakers.
Students could host a " best thing about our town" art and essay contest.

Primary Resource for planning:
Sternberg, R.L. & Grigorenko, E.L. (2000) Teaching for successful intelligence: To increase student learning and achievement. Skylight Professional Development. Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Sample Writing prompts... Students write in journal each day.
Based on the (speaker, article, discussion...) today, what is a community? (bulleted list)
Based on the research, what is the best feature(s) of our town?
Based on the research and discussions, suggest improvements to our town?
What is your favorite place within one hour of school? why? Describe the place and how you feel when you are there.
Pick three of these interested parties and briefly pitch or "sell" our town to that specific group.
(retired people, factory owners, parents with children, real estate developers, teachers, artists, fitness enthusiasts, outdoorsy people, farmers, hunters, gardeners, tourists, doctors, small business owners, restaurant owners, pick your own stakeholder)

Resources: (Find sites about your town - local news station - local paper - schools - parks and recreation...)

Lesson 1: Find Out All About Our Town.
- Guided Independent Research: Day 1 - 60 minute class.
The teacher will prepare web links, local papers, parks and recreation brochures, real estate information, flyers, tourism information, school information and more to facilitate the students understanding of what makes a community and what are the best things about our town. Students will take notes and gather research to begin preparing for group projects and later Socratic circles.

Lesson 2: Find Group Members and Begin.
- Group work begins: Day 2 - 60 minute class.
The students will join in groups of 2 or 3 who wish to "sell" or promote the town from the same point of view, to the same types of interested parties. (Families, business people, environmentalists, farmers....) These students will formulate a plan to complete the project as a group by Friday. Groups must assemble a needed materials list, task list, delegation of duties and a clear plan.
Lesson 3: Discuss Our Town.
- Socratic Circle: Day 3 - 60 minute class.
The students will read a selection, which will stimulate discussion among the class. The students will then engage in a Socratic discussion circle about our town. This will stimulate the students to focus on convincing, evidence-based promotion of our town for their project.
What makes a community? Is our community strong? Cohesive? Is this a great town to live in? why? why not? What is the best thing about our town? What can be improved? If you had a budget and the power to make changes, what would you change or contribute to our town? why?

Lesson 2 Continued: Group Town Promotion Project.
-Group work: Day 4 - 60 minute class.
Group work continues as students are exercising the practical skills required to produce a project under these controlled circumstances. Students are flowing in and out of group time like a jigsaw lesson, gathering research, materials and information as needed to accomplish the goals of the group and complete the products in a timely manner. Students will evaluate each other on effective group work habits and teacher will evaluate as well.

Lesson 4: Promotion Projects.
- Prepare * Present * Perfect: Day 5 - 60-90 minute class.
Groups will present their project of choice (video, powerpoint, brochure, ad campaign, website, speech, skit....) to the class. The small group will be promoting our town from a specific perspective for a specific audience.