Lesson 1: It's About Us

ELL Grades 3-4

words to know

Strand: About the Census

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Learn how and why the decennial census
    is conducted
  • bullet Use reading, listening, and observational
    skills to learn new ideas

Before starting, copy the student worksheets, including the Picture Cards.

Materials: Picture Cards, Count! Student worksheet 1a, Talking at Home Student Worksheet 1b, drawing supplies, writing/drawing journal

Time Required: Two 40-minute class periods

    Building Background

  1. Display a game—or an image representing a game—students have played. Explain: Let’s talk about games. I like to play (name of game). There are rules for (name of game). I must follow the rules. One rule is (state one rule). Tell me another rule of the game. Use the answer frame: One rule is ________________. Generate a classroom discussion about the importance of game rules. Help students understand what would happen if there were no rules.

  2. Explain: Sports have rules, too. Write the name of several sports on the board. Instruct students to draw pictures that represent each sport. They should write the name of each sport below its picture.

  3. Separate students into groups of four. Instruct each group to select one game or sport that they all enjoy. Then have groups write and draw three rules of that game or sport. Answers should include the language frame: One rule is _________________. Ask each group to share their rules and pictures with the entire class.

  4. Guide students in discussing the importance of rules in a game. Help them understand what would happen if there were no rules.

  5. Explain: There are rules for many things. I like to ride a bike. Pantomime biking. But I must stop at red lights. It is a rule. Ask students to share other rules they know that people riding bikes must follow.

  6. Explain: There are some rules that are for everyone. These rules can help people. These rules can keep people safe. These rules are from the government. They are called laws.

  7. Separate students back into groups of four. Instruct each group to discuss laws that all people must follow (don’t steal, pay your bills, etc.). Then groups should write and draw one law from their list. Answers should include the sentence frame: All people must _________________.
    Ask each group to share their rules and pictures with the entire class.

  8. Display the Picture Card for family. Point to yourself and explain: I am an adult. I live in the United States, so I have to follow the law. It is the law that all adults in the United States must answer questions for something called a census. A census counts all the people who live in the United States. I count the people in my family for the census. I count every adult and child who lives in my home. 

  9. Tell students there is a census every 10 years. Explain that there will be a census in 2010, pointing out that it is very important for an adult in their home to fill out a census form.

  10. Using the Student Worksheets

  11. Tell students: We can learn more about the census. We can read a story!

  12. Distribute Count! Student Worksheet 1a. Check students’ understanding of speech bubbles, pointing out that the words in the speech bubbles are the words each character says. Preview the comic by taking a picture walk before reading. Point to each character. Have students mimic by pointing to the character. Use statements such as the following for each frame: I see a girl. I see a woman. The woman has a piece of paper.

  13. Read the comic aloud. Point to each character as you read the dialogue aloud. Then read the comic aloud a second time, having students follow along with their worksheets. Tell them to point to each person who is speaking. Pause after reading each sentence, and have students echo.

  14. Wrap-up

  15. Distribute a copy of Talking at Home Student Worksheet 1b to each student. Review the questions, making certain students understand them. Allow students to make notes in their home languages.

  16. Tell students to talk to adults at home to get answers to the questions. Have them ask the questions of an adult at home, record the answers, and return the worksheet at the next class period. Explain that they may write the answers in their home language and then write the answers in English.

  17. Discuss the experience the next day. On the board, create a tally chart of the Yes and No answers. Ask:
    Do the responses surprise you? Explain that answering census questions can tell us something new about the people who live in our country.

  18. Student Assessment Activity

  19. Review the comic again and assess student understanding. Ask and discuss the following questions:

    • Does she count the baby? (Yes.)
    • Does she count the mother? The mother was born in China. (Yes.)
    • How many people live in her house? (5)
  20. Review the concept of counting a household. Separate students into pairs and ask the pairs to complete the following tasks:

    • Find the Picture Card for family. Count the number of people in the family. Write the correct number on the card.
    • Ask: How many people live in your home? Ask student pairs to discuss and describe the people who live in their homes.
    • Write the following sentence on the board for students to copy and complete: I count ______________ people in my home.
    • Instruct student pairs to draw pictures of the people who live in their homes.

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