Lesson 3: Making Plans

Grades 5–8

Words To Know

Strand: Community Participation

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Use real-life problem-solving skills and
       census data to choose a site for a
       new school

Materials: Making Plans Student Worksheets 3a and 3b, pen

Time Required: 40 minutes

    Getting Started

  1. Ask: How do you think census information is used? Explain that the federal government, the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and businesses use census information to ensure services meet a subdistrict’s needs. Information about age, gender, language preferences, and housing plays a big part in the U.S. Virgin Islands’ planning decisions.

    Tell students that they will use census-style data and other factors to pick a hypothetical new school site. Before beginning the exercise, challenge them to consider the factors that would go into such a decision.
  2. Start this exercise with a warm-up activity:

    • Write down the following categories on the board:
      1. Children ages 6–12
      2. Adults ages 65 and over
      3. Households without cars

    • In a large-group discussion, ask students to choose which category or categories would most affect plans for the following:
      1. A new bus route (1, 2, 3)
      2. A new middle school (1)
      3. A new community center (1, 2, 3)

    • Now have them consider the categories that are not obviously tied to each plan. For instance, how might adults 65 and over feel about a new middle school in their neighborhood?
  3. Discuss how information about characteristics other than age—such as employment status—can help local governments serve citizens. For instance, a subdistrict’s leaders might use census information on employment to design a job training program. Have students develop their own examples.
  4. Using the Student Worksheets

  5. Distribute the Making Plans Student Worksheets 3a and 3b, and introduce the lesson. Divide the class into small groups.
  6. Wrap-up

  7. Have each group present the site they chose for a new school, and then lead a discussion that compares the sites. Most groups probably chose Site B based on what is nearby (convenient transportation, residential housing, a large school-age population) and what is not nearby (industrial areas, a major road, other schools).
  8. Plan a mock town meeting at which the sites will be discussed and compared. At this meeting, add a cost consideration to the selection process. For instance, propose to students that it might cost twice as much to build a school on Site B as it will to build on Site A or C. Building a school on Site B would mean raising taxes. Ask students to reconsider their site selections with this cost consideration in mind. Ask: Would your decisions remain the same? Why or why not?

Extension Activity

Have groups brainstorm other planning decisions that could come from the data in this lesson. For example, they might consider adding a new playground, hospital, or library.

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