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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Create A 3-D Community Model
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into five sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extensions -- Additional activities
Community Connections -- Real world actions for students after completion of the lesson
Tips -- Managing resources and student activities


Media Components

Computer Resources:
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above. Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
  • Software: Any presentation software such as Power Point or Hyperstudio (optional)

  • One copy (per student) of ‘Mericans by Sandra Cisneros in Gillan, Maria Mazziotti, and Gillan, Jennifer, GROWING UP ETHNIC IN AMERICA, Penguin Books USA, Inc. 1999
  • Large pieces of paper to hang in the classroom and tape to hang the paper up
  • Index cards (at least one per student)
  • String, glue, tape, wire, hole puncher, scissors, colored pencils

Bookmarked sites:

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Introductory Activity:
(one to two 50-minute class periods)

  • Write the word “community” on the board. Ask students for words that come to their minds. Write their ideas on the board as a class brainstorm. Once the ideas are up, have students get into cooperative groups that they will stay in for the duration of this unit. The first activity as a cooperative group is to use the ideas the class has generated to write a definition of “community.” When they are finished, have each cooperative group send a student to write the group’s definition on a paper chart you’ve taped up in the classroom. The chart will stay up for the duration of the lesson.

  • Lead the class in a discussion of what community is. What community or communities do you belong to? How do you know you’re in a community? Is this classroom a community? What is your community here, at home, your family’s community? What are the things I’ll see in your community? How do you recognize (if you do) that someone belongs to your community? Appearance? Speech? Dress? Music? Public figures? Food and drink? Walk? Special jewelry? What things that you wear, eat, listen to, or buy signal that you are part of your community?

  • Give each cooperative group a piece of paper and give each student in each group a different colored pencil so that no two students in any cooperative group have pencils of the same color. Tell students they will pass around the paper very quickly and make a list. They will list ideas, ideals, people, sounds, smells, sights, etc. that illustrate their communities. The first student in a group starts, says what he or she is writing down (for example, “pork sausage”), writes it down, then passes the paper to the right. The next student does the same. The students in the cooperative groups continue to pass the paper around for about 5 minutes or until they run out of ideas.

  • Tell students they will be making sculptures made up of different objects they collect. Each object will be related to their community in some way and the objects, taken together, should give a viewer an idea about their communities. Ask students to write down one object they think could be a part of their sculptures. Maybe the object is from the list they made with their cooperative groups (for example, it could be a can label, magazine, bottle caps, piece of clothing, photograph, flyer, photocopy of a CD cover, coin, anything). Ask them to share with the class what they’ve written down. Start a paper chart for the whole class, listing things that students might use. This will be a collective chart -- students will list objects they plan to bring in or have brought in. The idea of the chart is to give students ideas for what they might collect. For homework, have students start to collect objects. As students bring things in, have them record what they’ve brought on the chart.

    Ongoing homework for the duration of the lesson:

    After you’ve told students about the art projects they’ll be working on, ask the students to start bringing in objects, things that tell about their community. Throughout the unit, point out things that they might add to their collection. Ask each student to bring in a box to store his or her objects.

    Check your local PBS station for a broadcast of “A Brooklyn Family Tale.” Have students watch it at home. Have them write in a journal about what community Luis Castro belongs to. What are their judgments, ideas? How close is this community to theirs? Do they relate? Did the show give them any ideas about what they might include in their art projects?

    Learning Activities:

    Activity One:
    (two 50-minute class periods)

  • Give the students some time to share what they’ve found in their cooperative groups and write up what they’ve found on the paper idea chart.

  • Hand out the partially filled-in Community Organizer. Ask students to look at the graphic organizer and say what “Community” is made up of. In their same cooperative groups, have students fill in the two blank branches with two more things that community is made of. Tell them not to write anything in the boxes yet. Elicit the groups’ ideas and decide as a class what to put into those two blanks. Ask students to look at the music branch. What are some details they can provide here about their communities? What about the food branch? Tell students they will fill these in with details about their own communities. They may add as many branches as they wish.

  • Ask students to open their notebooks and write “Community” in the middle of a blank page. Tell them you are going to read them a story and that they will be taking notes while you read. They will make a fresh graphic organizer that looks like the handout they’ve just done, but with different information. They will be writing in details about the community they hear about in the short story ‘Mericans’ by Sandra Cisneros.

  • After you’ve read ‘Mericans’, have students get into their cooperative groups and share their notes. They may help each other fill in any details they missed.

  • Hand the short story out to the students. Have them read it to themselves so they can look for more details. In the discussion of the reading, focus the students on details that speak of the community. Ask them to look for some foods (brain and goat tacos, fried cookies). Ask them to look for actions (going to church, knitting, dancing). Ask them to look for clothes (black shawls) and other sights (banners, people walking to church on their knees). What do these things tell you about the community the kids are visiting? Are the kids comfortable here? How do you know? Find a line that tells you they don’t feel comfortable. Is this their community? What telling details did you find about this community? Is anything about this community familiar to you? What does it have in common with your community? Where are your grandparents from? Have you ever been there? What are some telling details you remember about your grandparents’ community?

    Homework: Students continue to bring in objects that they will use in a sculpture that says something about their community.

    Activity Two:
    (1 50-minute class periods)

  • Remind students of the Community Organizer they’ve filled in. Have students look at the websites you’ve bookmarked. Tell them to make a list of three details they notice about each community (Irish, Hmong, Hasidic). The details could be music, food, religion, clothes, hair, etc.

  • Ask students to do a search to find something about their own communities. Tell them to think for a minute about their community. Then have them write down three words that describe their communities. Have them go to and type the three words they’ve thought of into the search engine. Give them a few minutes to browse some of the sites that come up. Then, have them write in their journals about what they found. Did they find something interesting? Was it accurate?

    Activity Three:
    (three to four 50-minute class periods)

  • Ask students to sketch the idea they have for their sculptures. Is there anything they found online or at any other time that they are missing? They should sketch that in too. The sketch is a plan for the 3-D piece they will create. In their cooperative groups, have students show each other their sketches and explain what they are going to do. Show them the materials they will have to work with so that they can explain to their cooperative groups how they plan to construct the piece. Are there any problems they foresee? Is something heavy, slippery or awkward? If so, how do they plan to deal with it?

  • Students work to construct their sculptures, using the materials they’ve collected and string, glue, tape, wire, scissors and a hole puncher. The cooperative groups should be encouraged to solve structural problems together. Tell the students they will have two to three days to complete their sculptures.

    Activity Four:
    (one to two 50-minute class periods)

  • When the students have completed their sculptures, hand out index cards. Write on the board: ARTIST’S NAME, DIMENSIONS, MATERIALS, YEAR OF COMPLETION. Ask students to write all this information about their pieces on the index cards.

  • Randomly assign partners. Distribute the Art Inquiry Organizer. Students will fill these in completely about their partner’s sculpture.

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:
    (one to two 50-minute class periods)

  • As a class, plan a time to invite other classes, parents, teachers and community members to the opening of the art show. Students then compose and send out e-mail invitations.

  • Remind students that they’ve been talking about their work with each other. Tell them that they will probably be asked questions about their pieces at the opening. Hold a “practice opening” where students walk around and role play asking each other questions about process, intention, materials etc. Use the index cards the students filled in earlier to identify the artwork for visitors. Remind students of the questions on the Art Inquiry Organizer.

  • Hold an art opening with your class for members of the community you’ve invited. Encourage inquiry and discussion by initiating conversations about the pieces yourself.


    Cross-Curricular Extension:

    • Students may want to explore some aspects of physics or chemistry to solve problems in their process. For example, why won’t the glue work to put metal on metal? Why does they whole thing keep tipping over?
    • How does the history of a community inform what it looks like today? Students may want to research a community’s history to better understand where the community stands today.
    Community Connections: (Optional. Include real-world actions students can take to follow through on lesson concepts. These include activities such as interviews, community-based art projects, performances, portfolios and letter- or email- writing to relevant government, academic or business personnel.)

    • Some students, or the class as a whole, may want to find another space to exhibit their sculptures: a library, a community center, a gallery, a restaurant or coffee shop, or an online gallery


    • To create cooperative groups, use playing cards. Students that draw the same number will be in the same group.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students