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What is a Community?

Social Studies Unit Plan Grade: 2

Background Information
Grade Level: 2nd
Number of Students: 24
Time Allotted: 3 weeks with 5, 25-minute lessons each week

Curriculum Overview
Umbrella/Compelling Question: What is a community?
Initial Hook: On the first day of this unit, an inquiry-based lesson is implemented. This lesson
asks students to brainstorm what they believe a community is. The initial day of this unit also
includes an activity where the teacher reads “This Is the Way We Go to School,” by Edith Baer.
This text is effective as a means of introducing community because it discusses how children all
over the world get to school. Since this is something that all students are familiar with, it is
engaging for students to think and wonder about certain means of transportation to school that
are very different from the ways they get to school. Additionally, asking students to discover
what things are part of a community by looking at pictures is engaging because they have the
opportunity to analyze the pictures of the book and supply answers.
On-Going Project: Throughout the unit, students will create a “My Community Book.” This
book holds their notes, worksheets, illustrations, graphic organizers, maps, etc.
**If I was creating this unit to teach in my own classroom, I would engage students in a year-
long Social Studies project of building a map of our community on a bulletin board. The second
grade curriculum focuses on community for the entire year, so this project would be relevant for
the entire year. At the end of every week, symbols, buildings, and information learned about
during the week will be added to the map. By the end of the year, a complete map of the
community will be built with accompanying labels and information, and map key. Additionally,
adding to the map at the end of the week serves as a weekly review and helps create a concrete
model of the concepts learned during the week.
End of the Year Culminating Social Studies Activity: At the end of the year, host an “All
About Our Community” day. Assign each student a topic. Topics will stem from the unit. Topics
may include things such as physical characteristics of our community, our community’s city
council, types of business in our community, or the foundation/beginnings of our community.
Each student will research their topic and be prepared to present the information they were
assigned. Invite families to attend the presentation. Students’ presentations will cover content
and topics spanning across the entire year. This serves as a review of the entire year of social
Student Learning Goals/Objectives:
 I can tell about a community.
 I can give examples of human and natural characteristics in communities.
 I can tell why families live in communities.
 I can tell how communities are alike and different.
 I can describe my local community.
Rationale: Understanding the concept of community is important because this contributes to
students’ development of becoming a productive member of society. To be a productive and
contributing member of society, it is essential that students, first, build a working understanding
of what a community is, what characteristics communities have, and how communities can be
different. This foundational knowledge is essential in helping students become citizens who can
contribute productively to the community and society they live in.

Social Studies Facts, Concepts, Generalizations, and Skills to be Learned

Facts and Generalizations:
 A community is a place where people live, work, and play.
 The five characteristics of a community include natural resources, businesses, places to
have fun, transportation, and buildings.
 Communities have human and natural characteristics.
 Alma is an example of a small town in Michigan.
 Detroit is an example of a city in Michigan.
 Birmingham is an example of a suburban community in Michigan.
 People are an important part of communities.
 People live in communities because communities help meet our basic needs and help
keep us safe.
 Not all communities are the same. Different communities have similarities and
 Transportation is the way people move from one place to another.
 Human characteristics of place  Rural
 Natural characteristics of place  Local community
 Transportation  Government
 Small town  Basic needs
 City  Businesses
 Suburban community
 Urban
 Categorizing
 Comparing and contrasting
 Interpreting graphs and charts
 Recognizing and understanding connections relationships
 Analyzing photos
 Drawing conclusions from multiple data sources
 Distinguishing between physical and human characteristics
 Communicating personal and peers’ favorite places within their local community

G2 Places and Regions: Understand how regions are created from common physical and human
2 – G2.0.1 Compare the physical and human characteristics of the local community with those of
another community.
G4 Human Systems: Understand how human activities help shape the Earth’s surface.
2 – G4.0.2 Describe the means people create for moving people, goods, and ideas within the
local community.
C1 Purposes of Government: Explain why people create governments.
2 – C1.0.1 Explain why people form governments.
E1 Market Economy: Use fundamental principles and concepts of economics to understand
economic activity in a market economy decision.
2 – E1.0.2 Describe how businesses in the local community meet economic wants of consumers.
Unit Resources
Instructional Resources:
 MAISA SS Curriculum/Student Packet (pages in My Community Book are based off of
this curriculum)
o Each student will get a book to work in
 “This Is the Way We Go to School,” by Edith Baer
 Chart paper and markers
 Audio files for city and country noises
o Link to “Traffic Jam Sound Effects:”
o Link to “Country Field Sound Effect:”
 “Sun Song,” by Jean Marzollo
 “Subway Sparrow,” by Leyla Torres
 “Everyone Has a Job to Do,” by Bill Hohman
 Newspaper template
 “Town Mouse Country Mouse,” by Jan Brett
 Map of Michigan to identify location of communities used as examples
 Pictures of small town, suburban, and city communities

Assessment Plans
Prior Knowledge: Students will probably have some prior knowledge about how people in a
common space or group work together to achieve a goal. This concept was taught in first grade
through the exploration of a family unit. From first grade, students should understand that people
have different roles within a family. These concepts are linked to and expanded upon as students
take what they know about a family system and apply similar concepts to a broader group—a
Formative/Summative Assessments: A variety of formative assessments are used regularly
throughout teaching this unit. Two examples of formative assessments that I use frequently
include thumbs up/thumbs down and exit tickets. I also used the pages that students completed
within their My Community Book as assessment of their understanding about specific topics. At
least one journal page was completed for each lesson/topic.
**If I was creating this unit to teach in my own classroom, I would use the end of the year,
culminating map of our community project as the review and summative assessment of this unit.
Instructional Sequence of Lessons
Lesson 1 (Day 1): What is a Community?
 Introduce the topic of ‘Community’
 Write the word ‘Community’ on the board, ask students what they think they know about
a community
 Direct teaching of vocabulary word—community
 Introduce learning targets for unit and lesson
 Introduce the on-going My Community Book activity
 Link to the concept of a community to the concept of family learned about in first grade
 Read “This Is the Way We Go to School,” by Edith Baer—emphasize looking at the
pictures to discover what types of things/characteristics make up a community
 As a whole class, make a chart—Learning About Communities from Pictures
 Assessment—think-pair-share something from the book that they learned was part of a
 Preview into tomorrow—characteristics of community
Lesson 2 (Day2-3): Characteristics of a Community
 Review previous lesson: community vocabulary word, Learning About Communities
from Pictures chart
 Direct teaching of the 5 characteristics of a community
o Use the graphic organizer (pg. 6 in My Community Book); place sticky notes on
each characteristic and ‘reveal’ as each characteristic is taught
 As a whole class make 5-column chart and brainstorm examples for each characteristic of
a community
o Natural characteristics: river, trees, grass, fields, lakes, etc.
o Businesses: restaurants, stores, etc.
o Places to Have Fun: movie theater, parks, rail trail, skateboard park, etc.
o Transportation: cars, busses, trains, airplanes, roads, bridges, etc.
o Buildings: schools, hospitals, courthouses, etc.
 Students complete characteristics of a community graphic organizer (pg. 10 in My
Community Book)—draw an example of each characteristic
 Conclude by revisiting 5-column chart—scaffold students’ thinking towards
understanding that people are part of community
Lesson 3 (Day 4-5): Human and Natural Characteristics
 Review characteristics of a community chart from previous day
 Direct teaching of vocabulary—human characteristics, natural characteristics
 Review brainstormed characteristics of community chart and decide which items on the
list are human or natural characteristics
o Highlight human characteristics in yellow and natural in pink
 Complete the human and natural characteristics picture sort (pg. 7 My Community Book)
o Provide students with small images to be cut out and glued into the appropriate
Lesson 4 (Day 6): Why do people live in communities?
 Show students the graphic organizer (pg. 11 in My Community Book)
o Tell students there are 2 reasons people live in communities (to help meet our
basic needs and to help keep us safe), but do not tell students the two reasons yet
 Set up a question to be explored: Why do people live in communities?
 Guide students towards discovering the 2 reasons people live in communities
o Reason 1 (To help meet our basic needs)
 To answer this question, let’s think about families
 Direct teaching of vocabulary—basic needs
 Does your family grow their own food? Does your family make their own
clothing? Probably not!
 Read “We All Have a Job to Do,” by Bill Hohman—emphasize that the
people who live in this community have their basic needs met by the
businesses and people who work in the community
 People live in communities to help meet their basic needs—a community
has things to help them get food, clothing, etc.
 The businesses in communities meet the wants and needs of the people in
that community
o Reason 2 (To keep us safe)
 To figure out the second reason, let’s think about the rules in our
 Why do we have rules? (To keep us safe.)
 Read “A Walk in Michelle’s Community” (pg. 13 in My Community
 Discuss the ways that Michelle’s community helps keep her safe
 Discuss that communities help keep people safe
 Fill out graphic organizer with the 2 reasons that people live in communities (pg. 11 in
My Community Book)
Lesson 5 (Day 7-9): Comparing Different Communities
 Direct teaching of vocabulary—city, small town, suburban, rural, urban
 Show pictures of different types of communities
 As a whole group, sort the pictures into city, small town, or suburban
 Direct teaching of vocabulary—city, small town, suburban
o Add to glossary
 For further comparison of urban and rural communities listen to the audio files (listed
below) and read the books (listed below)
o Audio files:
 Country Field Sound Effects:
 Traffic Jam Sound Effects:
o Books: “Sun Song,” by Jean Marzollo, and “Subway Sparrow,” by Leyla Torres
 Population bar graph—engage students in reading and obtaining information from a bar
graph which shows the population of Detroit, Birmingham, and Alma
 Introduce examples of Michigan locations: city—Detroit, small town—Alma,
 Label the graphic organizer (pg. 14 in My Community Book) with the locations
o For example, the city box will be labeled ‘Detroit’
Lesson 6 (10-11): My Local Community
 Review the characteristics of a community
 Brainstorm a list specific to Alma
 Show students where Alma is located on a map
 Use Google Maps to explore the community of Alma—some students may think Alma is
a City; clear up misconceptions by showing students what Alma is surrounded by
(farmland) on Google Maps
 Introduce and explain Favorite Places activity
o In the My Community Book, students have a two-column newspaper template
page; one column will be for students to report and draw a picture of their favorite
place in our community and the other column will be a place for students to report
their partner’s favorite place in the community
o After the activity is completed, have students share with the class their favorite
place in the community
Concluding Lesson (Day 12): “Town Mouse Country Mouse,” By Jan Brett
 Bring closure to this unit by reviewing what was learned
 End the unit by reading “Town Mouse Country Mouse,” by Jan Brett
o While reading emphasize this story is about mice who live in the country and
mice who live in the country; stop and make comparisons about the lifestyle in
different communities throughout reading

Differentiation Plans:
Plans for differentiation were built in throughout this unit. I tried to limit the amount of
independent reading and writing this unit required because these activities would be too
challenging for struggling readers/writers. For example, I did several read alouds and held
discussions about the books allowing all students to have access to the material. When writing
activities were planned, struggling readers/writers received support. For example, in the My
Favorite Places activity, struggling readers/writers received newspaper templates that had part of
their response already written with blanks for them to fill in with their own ideas. Additionally, I
engaged students in picture sorts or drawing pictures instead of writing. I believe that these
differentiation plans allow all students to have access to the content being taught without the
burden of reading and writing.
Reflection on Teaching the Unit Plan
Now that I have implemented my plans, I have reflected and will revise my plans in the future. I
am currently planning another Social Studies unit plan and I am using what I have learned to
strengthen my social studies teaching.
As I was planning this unit, I intended for the My Community Book to serve as a type of social
studies journal which would house all of their notes and observations from the unit. However,
what I learned was that the task of completing pages in the My Community Book turned into a
tedious task for the students who were struggling readers and writers. For the struggling students,
it took a long time to do things such as add labels to graphic organizers or write definitions for
vocabulary words in the glossary. While I did provide support and differentiation for some
students, I still felt I the activities involving writing detracted from social studies learning
because students had to dedicate so much focus to the writing piece of the activity. Additionally,
waiting for the slower writers to have their pages completed also took away from my social
studies teaching time, which was already limited because of the demands for other curricular
The purpose of the glossary was to help reinforce the vocabulary, but I think this turned into
more of a writing activity than an activity to reinforce social studies learning. I could have done
different vocabulary activities that would have been more engaging and beneficial. For example,
in science I have reviewed vocabulary with a game where students sit in a circle, I draw their
name sticks, the person whose name is drawn gets rolled the ball, and then it is there turn to
supply the definition, vocabulary word, or example based off of my prompt. When I did this
activity previously, I found the students were very engaged and it served as a way to review all
the vocabulary learned. An activity of this nature, could be more effective in reinforcing
vocabulary than writing definitions in a glossary was.
I feel my most successful and engaging activities throughout this lesson were those that included
picture sorts, activities where students worked with partners and had discussion, making charts
and brainstorming as a whole group, or teaching and having discussion with read aloud books. In
my next social studies unit, I am planning more whole group activities, more lessons where
visuals are used to explore and discover, and more project-based lessons. It is my hope that these
activities will be more engaging to students and more accessible to all students allowing each
student to be focused on social studies skills and learning, instead of focusing on writing.