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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Design A Community Program
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 Brandy Cake by Beena Kamlani in Gillan, Maria Mazziotti, and Gillan, Jennifer, GROWING UP ETHNIC IN AMERICA, Penguin Books USA, Inc. 1999.
  • As many index cards as you have students. Each index card should have the letter A, B, C or D written on it.

    Bookmarked sites:

    • Do Something
      This Web site is full of ideas of things to do based on different causes. It also offers $500 grants for community projects.

    • REBEL
      This is the Web site of REBEL, a New Jersey group that campaigns against tobacco.

    • Project Yes
      This Web site helps promote understanding of gay and bisexual teens.

    • Teen Relationships Web Site
      This Web site is for teens who are in abusive relationships. There is a hotline, chat rooms and things to do on and offline.

      This Web site combats hatred and intolerance. It has specific activities and articles for teens.
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    Introductory Activity:
    (one 50-minute class period)

  • Ask students to think for a minute about some problems they see in their communities. Ask each student to write down the top three problems that they think their communities have.

  • Tell the students that you are going to read the beginning of a short story to them. Ask them to raise their hands when they think they’ve identified the problem in this story.

  • Start reading Brandy Cake aloud to your students. The hands will probably be up pretty quickly. Ask the students what the problem in the story is. Does it match up with one of the top three problems they listed?

  • Hang a paper chart in the classroom. Make a list of the top three problems from the lists that the students made on their own. Include teen pregnancy (from the story) if nobody has.

  • Organize students into cooperative groups of three to four students. They will stay with these groups for the duration of the unit. Have students rank the problems that the class has identified on the chart from most serious (1) to least serious. Then, have the students work with their cooperative groups to agree on the ranking. Tell the groups that all members of a group must agree on the ranking.

    Homework: Find out when A BROOKLYN FAMILY TALE is playing and have students watch it for homework. Ask students to watch for what Luis Castro does as his volunteer work. Have them describe his volunteer job in their journals. They should first identify the job, describe it, and then write about what they think of it. Is this job something that they could do? If not, what would they prefer to do?

    Learning Activities:

    Activity One:
    (two to three 50-minute class periods)

  • Students read the short story Brandy Cake. As they read, ask them to write down more problems to add to the list of problems that you’ve started as a class.

  • Ask the students what other problems they identified in the story. Add any new problems to the chart you started in the introductory activity.

  • Have students fill in the Character Reactions organizer. They will need to look back at the story to fill in this organizer. Then, as a class, discuss the reactions of the different characters in the story. How do people react? What kinds of solutions do the characters come up with? How does Mira react to the problem? How does Chuck react? The mother? The father? How do their solutions help or harm? Who in your view has the best way of dealing with the problem? Who in your view has the worst way of dealing with the problem? How would you deal with this problem? Which character is most like you?

  • You have a list of problems in the community, informed by the class experience and by the story Brandy Cake. You have also talked about solutions people have. Reassess the list that was made as a class. Ask students if they see the ranking of problems differently now. Does one problem create another? Students may need some help making connections. You may want to start with “alcohol” or “drugs” if they have been identified as problems. Do alcohol or drugs lead to other problems? Make a tree on the board as students discuss this, showing their ideas about how one problem generates another.

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

  • Give each member of each cooperative group an index card with A, B, C or D written on it. Have students look at the sites that you have bookmarked. Write the following assignments on the board: Have students answer the questions about the Web site they’ve been assigned on the graphic organizer Action in the Community.

  • Have students go back to their cooperative groups and help each other fill in the rest of the Action in the Community graphic organizer. Each student will have a different piece of information to contribute, because each student in the cooperative group has looked at a different Web site.

  • Discuss the information the class has collected in the organizers to close the activity.

    Activity Three:
    (one 50-minute class period)

  • Have students get into their cooperative groups. Tell them that they are going to create their own community program in their small groups. Ask them if any of the programs that they researched online were interesting. Ask them if there any community programs around the school or their homes that they know about. Ask students what they think would be an interesting community program to run.

  • Have the cooperative groups brainstorm a list of programs, including the kinds of things they’ve seen online. Ask one student in each group to act as a secretary and take notes. Before they begin, let students know that the program can be anything that they would be interested in doing. Tell students that the program could be, for example, one hour on a Saturday or every Wednesday afternoon. Anything will work, as long as they are interested in it and believe in the cause.

  • After each group has a list, have the groups pick one project that they are interested in. They may want to do this by eliminating options that are not doable or too complex. Encourage them to pick something that is not too complicated. All members of the group must agree on the chosen option because they will all be working on the proposal together.

  • Ask students to share their project ideas with the class. Encourage discussion with the following questions: What do you need to know about this program? How long will it be (a weekend, a week in the summer, every Wednesday afternoon, once a month)? What will happen at the program and what do you want to achieve? What are some possible problems that could arise? What resources do you need? What is attractive about your program?

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

  • Hand out the Proposal Outline. This graphic organizer will help students organize their ideas before doing the proposal writing. Have the students fill these in with their cooperative groups. All students should have the same information filled in. You may choose to have students sign the bottom of these, to make sure that everyone agrees on what is included.

  • Tell the students they are going to write a proposal for their community programs. Each student will compose a proposal based on the questions that they answered in the Proposal Outline. Before they write, model the beginning of the proposal for them, to show them how to use the information they’ve outlined on the organizer. The first question on the organizer is: what is your name and where do you go to school? Elicit from the class how they would turn this into an introduction sentence. For example, “I’d like to start by introducing myself. My name is Chris Ortieg, and I’m a junior at JFK high school in Franklin, New York.” Write a few sentences you’ve elicited on the board to get the students started. Then, ask them what they would write about next. Have them look at the organizer. The second question asks: how did you get interested in this program? Ask students what they would write here. Continue the modeling until you feel that the students understand how they will proceed with the proposal writing. Students may also want to add information that is not included in the organizer. Encourage them to do this.

  • Students write the proposals, following your model.

  • Review each student’s proposal as a piece of writing and suggest edits.

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

  • In cooperative groups, students use the computer and the phone book to find out where and to whom they can send their proposals. Each group may find a different person or place to mail their proposal to.

  • Students rewrite their proposals as a letter addressed to proper person, incorporating edits.

  • The class mails out the proposals. Because the members of cooperative groups will have similar proposals, include all the proposals from one group in the same envelope.


    In creating their projects, students should be encouraged to think about how they can apply what they’re good at to the community program. For example, if one group is good at math, they can propose a tutoring program for younger kids. Or, if another is interested in art, they might propose a Saturday morning community workshop to create snow globes with younger kids in the neighborhood. Note: but if the groups are randomly created, the likelihood of this option is reduced.

    Community Connections:

    • If students don’t hear a response to their proposals, discuss follow-up, such as calling or emailing the person.
    • Students go in to talk to the person about their proposal. Is it doable? Do some of the students themselves want to participate in any part of it?
    • Students choose to help organize, oversee or volunteer in a program, perhaps of their own design.
    • Students apply for a $500 grant for a community project through


    • When students in a cooperative group work on a group project, have them sign a contract affirming that all have contributed to the project.
    • During the unit, have students visit for inspiration and ideas.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students