Lesson Plan Week 1

Student Voices Activist Institute
Week 1: Community
Essential Questions:
What is community?
What do we want our Activist Institute learning community to look like?
Which conditions, choices, and actions impact our communities?
How can we positively and negatively impact our communities?
What does it mean to be an activist?
The learner(s) will be able to:
Define community and activism.
Recognize examples of how individual actions impact the community, for
good or bad.
Agree upon rules and procedures for our Activist Institute community.
A marker board
Chart paper
Activist Institute workbooks (Week 1)
Instructional Procedure(s):
Anticipatory Set-Individual (5 minutes):
Direct students to the first page of their workbooks and ask them to write
what they think community means. Think-Pair-Share and write responses
on the board or chart paper. Together, come up with a definition. One
possibility might be:
Community: A group of people living in the same area and under the same
government; a class or group having common interests and likes
Have students write the agreed-upon definition in their workbooks
Large Group (10 minutes):
Ask students to name the community in which they live. Ask them to name
other communities in which they are involved, i.e. the school community, a
faith-based community, an athletic team, a club, an organization, etc. Write
the name of these communities on the board as they are being offered,
having reached consensus as a class, based on the definition of community,
that they are, in fact, communities.
Instruct the students to consider how communities develop and continue to
function. Make it more specific by asking them to think about one of the
communities they identified/are involved in and ask “what conditions,
choices, or actions have an impact on that community?”
Small Group (15 minutes):
Put students in pairs or small groups of 3-4 and have them work together to
complete the Community Ideals graphic organizer in their workbooks. This
organizer asks students to identify what is good about their community and
what they would change. It also allows them to consider what actions or
choices have contributed to these positive and negative aspects of their
community. Allow ten minutes for students to work in their groups.
Spend about 5 minutes allowing each group to share what they came up
Large Group (15 minutes):
Tell students that they will be referring back to their graphic organizers
shortly, but right now is time to think about what they want the Activist
Institute learning community to look like and to set up some ground rules
and procedures that will help everyone have a positive experience in this
Tape chart paper on the wall. You’ll be referring to these classroom ground
rules later, so it’s important to record them on paper.
Ask people: What kind of environment do you need so you can learn well?
Or: What does our classroom need to be like, so you can learn? Or: How
would you like us to be, and treat each other, so you can learn? Phrase the
question in a way that is comfortable to you.
This is a brainstorm. Take people’s suggestions and write them verbatim on
the chart.
If, after some time, there are some people you have not heard from, ask
them if they have anything to add, but make it clear that it is OK to “pass”.
If there are considerations that are important to you as the teacher,
remember: you are also part of this learning community, so also add your
items. Usually, it is better if the teacher does not add their pieces until the
class is done contributing. That way, the students are the first owners of the
rules. An exception might be with a very silent group, where a teacher might
write one or two ideas on the chart just to get the ball rolling.
Rewrite the chart so that any negative suggestions (i.e. no talking when
someone else is talking) are re-framed as positive suggestions (i.e. listen
when others are talking). Try to have the students develop the re-phrasing,
rather than the teacher.
Ask whether there are any ground-rules on the brainstorm that people want
to delete – that they really don’t agree with or can’t live with. Have some
discussion before deleting.
When the chart is finished, ask people if it does indeed describe an
environment in which they think they can learn. Modify if necessary. If they
agree, you are done.
Keep the chart posted in the classroom at all times. Tell students that this is
a living document, and if they think of something they want to add later, it
can be added.
Thank them for participating in designing their Activist Institute community!
Later, if a student (or teacher) disrupts the learning environment, the ground-rules
can be used as a touchstone for discussion about why the particular behavior is not
helping everyone learn, and what can be done to return to the agreements.
Short break~ If doing two 45 minute sessions this is where the first
session would end. Be sure to review the ground rules next meeting. If
you will be continuing, offer students a five-minute break.
Anticipatory Set-Individual (5 minutes):
Ask the students to return to their workbooks and spend a few minutes
writing about what they know about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the work
that he did. (gave speeches, led marches, advocated for civil rights). ThinkPair-Share
Tell students that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an activist. Based on what
they know about Dr. King, ask students what they think activism means.
Together, come up with a definition. One possibility might be:
Activism: an intentional act to bring about social, political, environmental or
economic change.
Have students write the agreed-upon definition in their workbooks
Small-Group Activity (15 minutes):
Have students discuss the following (10 minutes):
What do you think this quote by King means?: "Everyone can be great
because everyone can serve."
How can we spread his message of service and activism and continue
the work he has done?
What are some ways you could "be great" through service or social
Each group shares with the whole class (5 minutes).
Large-group Activity (15 minutes):
Tell students that When you drop a rock in a pool of water, small waves
ripple out from where the rock hit the water. In a similar way, when you
make a personal choice, the affect or consequences of that choice can ripple
out to many other people. On a large sheet of paper or on the board, draw
three concentric circles to mirror the Ripple Effect activity in the students’
workbooks. Ask students to name one action or choice that Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. made that has a lasting impact. Write that choice or action in the
center circle.
Next, ask students to turn to their partner and brainstorm some possible
impacts that action had on other people, communities, or the nation/world in
general. Share ideas and choose one to write in the second circle.
As a group, consider how the impact they identified might “ripple” out to
have another effect. Remind students that impact can be both negative and
positive. If they haven’t already identified an example, ask students what a
possible negative effect of the choice might be.
Ask students whether they believe the choice had an overall positive or
negative impact and why?
An example of the activity might look something like this:
Dr. King gave his "I Have a Dream"
Dr. King became a leading voice in the
civil rights movement, inspiring others
to get involved.
Those who were against civil rights saw
King as the leader of the movement
and wanted to do him harm.
Overall, King’s speech was a
positive event because, though
there were people against him
who eventually assassinated
him because of his beliefs, he
has inspired generations of
leaders and citizens to
continue the fight for equal
rights for all.
Check-in-Ripple Effect (10 minutes):
Ask students to turn to the Ripple Effect activity in their workbooks and
complete it on their own. They should think of an action or choice they made
and the impact (or potential impact) it had.
Encourage students to pick significant decisions they made if they can think
of them, but even small decisions like “I did my homework” will work for
them to consider how their actions might have an impact on others and their
If time, and if students would like, allow students to share their personal
ripple effects.