Begin class by reviewing the homework from the previous lesson. If you had studentsinterview members of the school community, students can share their interview data.Then the class can create an identity chart for the school. Not only does this activity helpstudents become familiar with a school that is probably new to many of them but it alsoreinforces the distinction between a group and a community. Because groups of peoplecome together in a school for a specific purpose—to learn—this gives them a sense of community. You could also begin class by having students share their responses to the following jour-nal prompts: Do you think this class is a group? Why or why not? Do you think this classis a community? Why or why not? What is the difference between a group and a commu-nity? If students answered these questions for homework, they could meet with a partneror small group to discuss their answers. If they have not yet responded to these questions,you could have them do so now. They can return to their answers at the end of class afterthey have thought more deeply about the question, “What makes a group a community?”
In her memoir,
A City Year
, Suzanne Goldsmith offers her own definition of the word
Communities are not built of friends, or of groups with similar styles and tastes, oreven of people who like and understand each other. They are built of people who feelthey are part of something that is bigger than themselves: a shared goal or enterprise,like righting a wrong, or building a road, or raising children, or living honorably, or worshipping a god. To build community requires only the ability to see value in oth-ers, to look at them and see a potential partner in one’s enterprise.
Goldsmith’s definition raises many interesting questions that can help students refinetheir understanding of the word
. To be a community, must members like eachother? Do communities always serve a purpose? Are those who do not contribute to thispurpose still considered members of the community? Goldsmith’s words introduce theidea that being a member of a community comes with responsibilities—members are“partners” in a common “enterprise.”
Curriculum connection: Students can apply this definition of community to cultures they encounter throughout world history. Ask students to identify the shared qualities that give the peoples living along the Euphrates River a sense of community.
Because this quotation contains language and ideas that may challenge students, you may want to use a chunking strategy to help them decode the text.
is a literacy strat-egy in which students break complicated text into smaller, more manageable sections. After reading the quotation one time through, anticipate the lack of confidence some stu-dents may feel that they could ever understand such complex, “grown-up”–sounding text.Reassure students that once they break the quotation down into smaller sections, they canmaster the language. If this is the first time students have used this strategy, we suggestdoing the worksheet together as a class so you can guide students through paraphrasingkey ideas.