Overview and Rationale

 

            “How can we value everyone in our community?” is a unit based on the social justice issue of inequality that lies in our communities.  By community, I mostly refer to the local community in which we live and are part of; however, for students at the 2nd grade level the classroom community is also discussed.  So how do we value everyone in our community? The students’ minds will be expanded through thought-provoking lessons that include engaging activities to find that we are all different, but all important. This unit explores the diversity of individual, family, cultures, changes over time in a community, and what being a good citizen involves.  I feel that as students learn to recognize and truly value all those members of a community they will in turn become not only more effective citizens, but gain a greater understanding of why the differences among us are needed.  I believe that students, at a young age, must be aware of the inequality issues and diversity in society and learn how to make their community a better environment for all. 

            Why did I choose this theme for a unit?  I thought of what I would want students to take away with them from my 2nd grade class and what would help them to be better people, more effective citizens.  Social studies education dwells in everything we do and everywhere we go.  I feel that teaching students how to look outside themselves, respect others, and discover how to work together will greatly benefit their lives.  It will greatly benefit them not only in their surrounding community, but in their classroom, peer community as well.  According to the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies this unit, with the integrated activities, touches on at least one to three standards in each strand given.  This tells me that at the level of second grade, community equality and diversity are a major focus.  I have chosen a select few to expand and build upon with the aid of the Utah State Core Standards.

            The activities I have chosen will be meaningful for the children because they will be able to connect their personal lives and actions with their very own local community.  The activities will cause them to better develop a higher order of thinking and think critically.  As the students interact with community leaders, locations, various community members of an older generation, and explore their own family diversity they will greatly fulfill and build on the Utah State Core Curriculum Standards.  Those standards chosen focus on the development of relationships with family and community, characteristics of change, aspects of the community and culture that strengthen those relationships, and expression of our community relationships involving cultural differences.  These areas will help the students to identify how valuing everyone in their community will promote for a “public or common good”.  I believe that I must aid students in understanding how a community works and how we can always make improvements as we look at the evolution of our own local community.  Therefore, I feel that the first step in this direction to bettering our community and becoming good, active citizens is to teach about valuing those involved. 

The state core standards will then in turn enforce the National Standards for Social Studies.  Those I chose to primarily focus the social studies aspects on in this unit relate to culture, individual development & identity, power, authority, & governance, and civic ideals & practices.  They build upon one another and create an excellent foundation for students to enhance from grade to grade.  I feel that the strands are well developed for the early grades and provide appropriate concepts to teach.  As students participate in the learning activities they will begin to visualize the concept of unity that can exist among them.  The makeup of the community influences the life and choices of an individual.  The National Standards wish for students to see the influences that are placed upon them in today’s world.  I wish for this as well.  I believe that as students become knowledgeable about the influences around them they will be better equipped to make intelligent decisions and see the need for their service in their community.    

 I desire that the students be aware of what their community is all about and who is in it at this young age because the spark for an effective community member or citizen begins now.  By “now”, I mean when the individual learns or is made aware of this information.  If I can instill in my students the value of others, the need for everyone in our community, and the amazing benefit of our cultural differences then I will be happy.  I want my students to remember what they learn and practice it not only in my class, but everyday of their lives as these important concepts are constantly surrounding us.  What great teachers these young people will be to those around them as they value one another in the classroom, in their family, and anyone with whom they come in contact.

The lives of the children in my class are all very different and they each have countless things to add to our community of learning.  This unit will cause our classroom community to come alive, come together, and be strengthened.  It is a meaningful, engaging unit for students to also show their unique individual and family qualities and find similarities among one another.  I also feel that this unit will increase their excitement and sense of place in their local community.  As they go about their daily lives they will recognize those around them and appreciate the “diversity, but unity” or the “diversity, but equality” that exists.  They will be able to heighten this unity and equality as it is an unceasing task.