Lesson 2: About the Census

Grades 7–8

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 Know criteria necessary for analyzing and
       evaluating conflicts over privacy

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

Materials: The U.S. Census—Snapshot of a Nation Student Worksheet 2a, Census Form Preview Student Worksheet 2b, Privacy and the Census Student Worksheet 2c, index cards or slips of paper

Time Required: Two 40-minute class periods

    Getting Started

  1. Distribute copies of The U.S. Census—Snapshot of a Nation Student Worksheet 2a to each student. Read it aloud as a class, taking time to discuss student knowledge about each time period.
  2. Discuss how the census questions from 1790 and 1890 reflected the information that businesses and the government needed during those periods in history.
  3. Using the Student Worksheets

  4. Explain to students that they are going to get a preview of what the actual 2010 Census form looks like.
  5. Separate students into pairs. Write the following descriptions on the board, or read aloud:
    • Military officer: Stationed at a base in the same state as his/her parents. He or she grew up in this house.
    • Grandfather: Spends every weekend at this house. It’s his son’s home.
    • Middle-school student: He or she lives here with his/her parent(s).
    • Family friend: Not a relative. He or she lives at this house full-time.
    • College student: Lives in a dormitory. His or her parent lives in this house.
  6. Explain: Each pair of students represents a different household. Choose one member of your group to be the head of your household.
  7. Have each person (including the head of the household) in each group create a character based on the descriptions on the board. Then ask each of them to write a brief description of his or her character (race, age, name, and where he or she lives) on an index card or slip of paper.
  8. Distribute copies of Census Form Preview Student Worksheet 2b to all students. Explain: Each pair now has to decide whether they have a one- or two-person household, according to the census rules.
  9. Instruct each pair to ask questions of each other to find out more information about the characters they described on the index cards. Each pair must decide who should be counted and complete the worksheet.
  10. Wrap-up

  11. Ask: The information the census collects is very personal. Does that concern any of you? Explain that concerns about the census often are a result of confusion about privacy, confidentiality, or residency issues.
  12. Distribute Privacy and the Census Student Worksheet 2c to each group. As a group, read about the different ways the Census Bureau protects people’s right to privacy.
  13. Ask students to take the worksheet home, share the information with members of their household, and conduct a short interview.
  14. After they complete the interview, have students share their findings. Create a chart that allows students to compare family experiences and concerns about the census.

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