Lesson 2: About the Census

Grades 5–6

words to know

Strand: About the Census

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Use reading skills and strategies to
       understand and interpret a variety of
       informational texts

  • bullet Understand basic concepts about how census
       data are used

  • bullet Know criteria necessary for analyzing and
       evaluating conflicts over privacy

Before starting, print and copy the student worksheets and hang the wall map.

Materials: Who Can Be Counted? Student Worksheet 2a, Understanding Data Student Worksheet 2b, Protecting Your Privacy Student Worksheet 2c, United States Demographics wall map, drawing supplies, large sheets of kraft paper (optional)

Time Required: Two 40-minute class periods

    Getting Started

  1. Engage students in a brainstorming activity to help them generate hypotheses about the census. Write the following on the board:
    • The census counts people in households. Who do you think should be included in each household?
    • In what ways might census information help businesses and the government make decisions?
    • How can personal privacy be protected during a census?
  2. Divide the class into three groups and assign one of the questions to each group. Students will not know the correct answers, but ask them to hypothesize about possible answers.
  3. Using the Student Worksheets

  4. Explain: The census sends questionnaires by mail. However, sometimes people don't respond, so census workers will try to ask the questions in person. The 2010 Census forms should be returned on April 1, 2010.
  5. Ask the group of students who discussed “Who do you think should be counted in each household?” to share their ideas. Explain that the people counted in the census are ones who live in the household most or all of the time.
  6. Distribute Who Can Be Counted? Student Worksheet 2a and form groups of seven to complete the activity.
  7. Using the Wall Map

  8. Point to the United States Demographics wall map. Briefly discuss the data on the map. Explain that this data was collected during Census 2000.
  9. Ask the group of students who discussed "In what ways might census information help businesses and the government make decisions?" to share their ideas. Explain that the U.S. Census Bureau collects data that help local government and businesses plan services, such as schools, hospitals, police and fire departments, senior facilities, and community centers.
  10. Distribute Understanding Data Student Worksheet 2b. Ask students to use the classroom wall map to complete the worksheet. Then review the answers together.
  11. Wrap-up

  12. Ask the group of students who discussed, "How can personal privacy be protected during a census?" to share their ideas.
  13. Divide students into small groups of 3–4 and distribute Protecting Your Privacy Student Worksheet 2c to each group. Read it together and answer the questions.

Extension Activity

People worry about their privacy when asked to complete census forms. Create posters that show your community how personal information is kept confidential to protect privacy. Hang the posters in a visible community location like a supermarket, town hall, or school front office.

Answers

Student Worksheet 2b: 1) ME: 37.2–38.9; 2) TX: 30.0–34.0; 3) Senior centers, health clinics, etc.; 4) Child-care facilities, schools, etc.; 5) $21,000–$44,999; 6) 3.15–3.29 people; 7) Child care, schools, playgrounds, etc.; 8) 27.1–29.9; 9) They have large families, they have average family income, and they have three congressional representatives; 10–12) Answers will vary. Student Worksheet 2c:
1)
False; 2) True; 3) False; 4) True; 5) True

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