Lesson 1: It's About Us

ELL Grades 7-8

words to   know

Strand: About the Census

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Comprehend the meaning of household and census
  • bullet Recognize a census form and understand how fields in the form are to be completed

Materials: Census Form Preview Student Worksheet 1a, The Census Helps Student Worksheet 1b, drawing supplies, writing/drawing journal

Time Required: Two 40-minute class periods

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

    Building Background

  1. Display the Picture Card for hospital. Explain: This is a hospital. We need a hospital. We need a hospital because _________________. Repeat with the Picture Cards for fire station, police station, and school.

  2. Ask: People need hospitals. People need fire stations. People need many things. But how do towns and cities know exactly what they need?

  3. Explain that every 10 years, the U.S. government counts the number of people who live in this country. This count is called a census. When the government and local businesses know how many people live in a particular town or city, it is easier to figure out what each town or city needs.

  4. Demonstrate this concept. Ask: How many people wear glasses in this classroom? Count chorally. How many people do not wear glasses in this classroom? Count chorally. Do you think that this classroom needs a place for people to clean their eyeglasses? Why or why not? Discuss how answers to questions can help people make decisions. Explain again that the census helps towns decide things such as how many fire stations, hospitals, and schools to build.

  5. Ask: What would happen if people did not answer census questions? (We would not have accurate information to make decisions.)

  6. Ask: Why do some people not answer these questions? Discuss and define privacy and confidential.

  7. Explain: Some information is private. I will show you what I mean. What food do you like? Have one or more students answer the question privately, by either whispering in your ear or writing on a piece of paper and folding it before handing it to you. Continue: This answer is private. I know the answer. I will not tell the answer to anyone. The answers to the census are private, just like this. Census workers count people and use the data so towns can decide what they need. But the answers are private.

  8. Using the Student Worksheets

  9. Explain: Now we will learn more about census questions. Distribute Census Form Preview Student Worksheet 1a. Review the questions as a class.

  10. Discuss what the answers to each question might tell someone about what a town needs. Explain: The census counts people. The census also asks questions about age, gender, and race that help towns discover new things.

  11. Ask: What would a town build if the census told them that they had more teenagers than babies? (Youth centers, a sports complex, etc.) What might a town build if it had more senior citizens than teenagers? (Hospitals, senior centers, etc.)

  12. Separate students into groups of four. Ask each group to discuss what they feel your town needs.

  13. Ask students to draw a picture of two things that they think your town needs.

  14. Invite each group to present their drawings and describe why they feel the town needs these items.

  15. Distribute The Census Helps Student Worksheet 1b and read the instructions together. Provide class time for students to complete the worksheet.

  16. Review the worksheet answers and drawings as a class.

  17. Wrap-up Activity

  18. Conduct a mock census. Separate students into groups of four. Ask each group to discuss and decide on one “yes” or “no” question they would like to ask the rest of the class. Invite each group to write or draw their question on the board.

  19. Ask the class to respond to each question. Instruct them to write their answers on a piece of paper using words or pictures. Ask them to keep their answers a secret. Their answers are private. Collect the answers. 

  20. Write how many people answered each question “yes” and “no” after each question, using tally marks. Explain tally marks, if necessary.

  21. Ask: Do any of these answers surprise you? Generate a classroom discussion about what students have learned about their classmates based on these questions.

  22. Ask: Is it good that your answers are private? Generate a discussion about students’ personal feelings about privacy and the census.

  23. Student Assessment

  24. Review the concept of why people are counted during a census. As a group, complete the following tasks:

    • Count aloud the students in your class chorally.

    • Ask: How many people are in our class? How many people are in our school? As a class, discuss how you cannot know how many people there are unless you count them, one by one.

    • Ask: Why would you want to know how many people are in our school? (Buying books, chairs, desks, etc.) Ask students to draw one answer to this question.

    • Ask: Why would you want to know how many people live in our town? (To know how many schools, hospitals, and police stations we need.) Ask students to draw one answer to this question.

  25. Review the concept of census. Separate students into pairs to complete the following task:

    • Explain: A census is a count of everyone living in this country. Draw a picture that shows why a census is important. Write a sentence about your drawing.

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