Community Is… Community Isn’t | Facing History & Ourselves
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Community Is… Community Isn’t

Students explore the factors that make up a community.


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At a Glance

activity copy


English — US


  • Advisory
  • Civics & Citizenship
  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies


  • Culture & Identity
  • Equity & Inclusion


About This Activity

Students consider the factors that make something a “community” and then analyze a definition of community that raises interesting questions for discussion about the concept: To be a community, must members like each other? Do communities always serve a purpose? Are those who do not contribute to this purpose still considered members of the community?

Preparing to Teach

A Note to Teachers

Before teaching this activity, please review the following information to help guide your preparation process.

This activity uses the Four Corners strategy. Before class, label the four corners of the room with signs reading “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree,” and “strongly disagree.”

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Steps for Implementation

  • Distribute the What Is Community? Anticipation Guide and ask students to respond to each statement.
  • Then explain the Four Corners strategy and choose a few of the prompts from the anticipation guide to discuss. You might begin by asking students which prompts they feel passionately about discussing together.
  • Explain to students that they will be analyzing a definition of “community” in small groups and capturing their ideas on a shared handout. Each group should assign a facilitator who leads the discussion and watches the time, a note-taker who makes notes on the handout, and a summarizer who presents to the class during the debrief. Share the handout Exploring Community in Three Ways. Read Goldsmith’s definition at the top of the handout out loud. Then break students into groups to complete the graphic organizer together. 
  • Debrief as a class by having the summarizer from each group share their key ideas. Depending on your class size, you might have two groups present for each row of the handout. 
  • Then discuss the questions they wrote on the graphic organizer.

Extension Activities

Working alone or in pairs, students use the Alphabet Brainstorm teaching strategy to generate words that begin with each letter of the alphabet and reflect an aspect of “community.” They can submit their work on the The ABCs of Community handout or use the handout to brainstorm ideas and then present their work in a creative format of their choice (e.g., spoken-word abecedarian poem, Flipgrid video, collage or poster).

Materials and Downloads

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