Lesson 1: It's About Us

GRADES 3–4

words to know

Strand: About the Census

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Build confidence and reading fluency
  • bullet Increase vocabulary using textual clues
  • bullet Understand ideas about civic life and government

Before class, print and copy the student worksheets and hang the wall map. Then download the It’s About Us Census Fact Sheet to aid classroom discussion.

Materials: First We Count—A Reader's Theater Script Student Worksheet 1a, First We Count Reading Questions Student Worksheet 1b

Time Required: 40 minutes, plus performance time

    Getting Started

  1. Ask: What does the word government mean to you? (Answers may include both positive and negative responses.) What about the word responsibility?
  2. Review the responsibilities of students (homework, listening, etc.). Then engage students in a discussion about government and responsibility. Discuss people's responsibility to participate in government (voting, being well-informed) and the government's responsibility to make decisions that benefit everyone.
  3. Work with students to generate two lists on the board—one of the government's responsibilities and another of the responsibilities of individuals, including students. Place a star next to student responsibilities.
  4. Ask: An important civic event is happening in 2010. Do you know what it is? Explain that a census is being taken in April. A census finds out how many people live in the United States by counting each man, woman, and child using a short set of questions. It is a law that the government must count the number of people living in this country every 10 years, and it is our responsibility to make sure that we are counted.
  5. Using the Student Worksheets

  6. Tell students that they will find out more about how the census is taken with a fun Reader's Theater activity.
  7. Distribute First We Count—A Reader's Theater Script Student Worksheet 1a to each student. Assign roles to each of your students. No costumes or sets are needed; A Reader's Theater is meant to be simple and build reading fluency and self-confidence.
  8. Perform the script. Ask the student actors to remain seated in their chairs and read as dramatically as possible.
  9. Distribute First We Count Reading Questions Student Worksheet 1b to each student. Provide class time for students to answer the questions and complete the writing assignment.
  10. Wrap-Up

  11. Explain: The census counts the men, women, and children who live in each state and in Washington, DC. Lawmakers use census information when they decide which communities will receive new services like schools, playgrounds, roads, and police stations.
  12. Ask students to take what they have learned about the census and write an article for their school or local newspaper. They can write about the importance of the census and encourage everyone to fill out the form. Include a photograph of the Reader's Theater cast. If you have video equipment available, consider having students write and produce a video editorial that can be submitted to a community Web site, blog, or public access television station.

Answers

Student Worksheet 1b: 1) A census worker; 2) Every man, woman, and child living in a household; 3) To help the government decide who will receive new services, like schools, playgrounds, and roads; 4) They were not sure if Grandpa Perez should be counted since he was not an American citizen; 5) No

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