I’ve posted extensively about one of my favorite lessons of each year where students compare their neighborhood with the richest one in our city and then write a persuasive essay about why their neighborhood is better (see A Lesson Highlighting Community Assets — Not Deficits). I’ve also written about it in my book on English Language Learners, and will include even more details in my upcoming third book.

I’m thinking of adding a couple of additional components to the lesson:

* The Gallup Poll recently did a project called Soul of the Community. It worked in twenty-six communities in different parts of the United States to identify what residents felt most positive about in their neighborhoods. I’m thinking that it might be interesting for students to compare what that poll identified as important with what the student concluded, and then discuss any differences.

* Along those same lines, I’m thinking of having students review what urban planners typically consider as qualities of a “good” neighborhood, and have them compare again. Two sources for this information are an article titled My Former Life As An Urban Planner and a book titled Good Neighborhoods: A Study of In-Town and Suburban Residential Environments. I’ve ordered a copy of the book, and plan to develop a simple read aloud from it. You can also read parts of it here.

I think adding something like this will provide even more opportunities for higher-order thinking in the lessons.