What makes a good community?
Exploring the idea of 'community'
The GA urges that most meaningful citizenship education is specifically located and supports expression of a sense of place. Furthermore, it recognises students' previous experiences in these settings.
Activity One: Change places if...
- Mental and physical warm up
- Introduce the idea of community
- Develop young people's ideas of community, community services and their place and role in shaping communities
Students sit in a circle and you stand in the centre. Explain the rules of the game: you will read a statement and anyone who agrees with this statement must change places with someone else in the circle that also agrees (they can't just swap places with the person sat next to them).
After the students have changed places, read the facts about the statement. Then discuss as a group why individuals agreed with the statement and their thoughts about the facts.
If you feel the activity needs to be made livelier you can make the activity competitive by removing a chair from the circle each time a statement is read out.
Download: 'Change places if...' Statements (PDF, 6k)
Activity Two: The Sustainable Communities Wheel
- Introduce and explore the eight key components of a sustainable community
Introduce the eight components of a sustainable community using the Sustainable Communities Wheel, a simplified version of the Egan Wheel.
Download: Sustainable Communities Wheel (PDF, 212k)
Ask students if the wheel makes sense and if they think anything is missing.
Explain to the group that many of the activities in this Toolkit are based on the Sustainable Communities Wheel and it's important to bear in mind the eight components of a sustainable community.
Allow the students to familiarise themselves with the sections and the symbols.
Activity Three: Audit your community
This activity could be strengthened for geographical learning by employing evidence from a wide range of map and photographic resources.
- Encourage students to assess and evaluate their own community
- Stimulate discussion and debate about the places in which people live
- Encourage students to think about how they could change their community
The 'In My Community' form allows students to look at their community and decide whether it demonstrates the key components of a sustainable community.
Download: 'In My Community' Form (PDF, 274k)
The form can be completed in the classroom but would be better if students complete it out and about in their local community. You could go for a walk in the local area or ask students to complete the form as homework.
Discuss what you mean by community and jointly agree where/what your local communities are. This could be the school, town or a wider community. Explain that there are no wrong answers and that the word community is a contested concept with different meanings.
Students can work individually or in small groups. Encourage them to think of ideas of how to improve the community for all members (not just themselves).
Discuss the completed forms as a class. What are the best things about their community? What are the worst? Who has the best ideas to make their community better? What kind of people need to be involved to help improve communities?
Activity Four: Picture sort
- Develop visual images of communities
- Encourage young people to consider other peoples' experiences
- Encourage young people to contribute to group discussions
Which area? (5 mins)
First, download the set of 24 photo cards, three for each section of the Sustainable Communities Wheel:
Download: Photo Cards and Answer Sheet (PDF, 8.1M)
Arrange students into groups of four or five.
Distribute a number of cards to each group and ask them to decide which section of the Sustainable Communities Wheel they think the pictures relate to - for example services, transport, equality.
After about five minutes ask the students to look at the answer sheet to see if they got it right.
What kind of place is this? (25 mins)
Working with the same set of cards, students now assess each of the cards individually.
Ask them to discuss:
- What kind of place is this?
- What kind of people might go there?
- What are the good things about this place?
- What are the negative things about this place?
- How could this place be improved?
Some of the pictures contain images of people. Encourage the students to imagine they are these people and to think how these people might feel about the place.
Feedback (10 mins)
Students present their ideas to the group.
Students choose one picture and make up a story about a community from what they see.
Activity Five: What's in the news?
- Encourage students to find out what is happening in their local and national communities
- Enable students to consider how communities are represented in the media
Prepare a selection of local and national newspapers and some large sheets of blank paper.
Students should work in groups of approximately five.
Distribute a number of pages from various local and national newspapers. Ask the groups to write down the issues and concerns facing communities locally, nationally and globally.
Then ask students the following questions based on what they have discovered in the newspaper:
- Are there stories about all the sections of the Sustainable Communities Wheel, or are there more stories about some sections than others?
- Do they think that newspapers give a fair representation of the communities they know?
- What would they feel if there are always negative stories about their community in the newspaper?
Ask students to create positive news stories about their community. These stories could be compiled to create a local newspaper. The newspaper could have eight sections, one for each area of the Sustainable Communities Wheel.
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