We’re in the middle of one of my favorite units — where we focus on our neighborhood’s assets instead of its deficits.

I explain it more in detail at A Lesson Highlighting Community Assets — Not Deficits, and have a complete lesson plan, including hand-outs, in my book on Helping Students Motivate Themselves. In short, students compare our lower-income school neighborhood with the Fabulous Forties, commonly considered the most wealthy area of Sacramento, and they decide which neighborhood is the better one. Typically, about 95% of my students choose our neighborhood (though this year the percentage was a little lower — about 80$ choose the school neighborhood.

Today, students completed a response to the question “Which neighborhood was better?” using the “ABC” format — Answer the question; Back it up with evidence; and then make a Comment and/or a Connection. Here is the hand-out I used.

Students typed their paragraphs in our class blog, and you can see them all there. Here are a couple of examples (95823 is our neighborhood and 95819 is the Fabulous Forties):

I think the 95823 better than the 95819 neighborhood. Because it has enough conditions that we need most around the neighborhood. It has food stores, ethnic food stores, clothes stores, bus stops, school and light rail. When we were at the shopping area, I could see a lot of people from different ethnic groups went to shopping or buy food together. I really like it. It makes me remember to my home town where I grew up. It really easy for you to get to everything that you needed.

I like the 95823 neighborhood more than the 95819. The 95823 neighborhood has churches near by also stores and schools. There were many different type of houses and it has and ethnic restaurant. I like the park near by because I like to play soccer with friends. Sometimes I go grocery shopping in food max for my family. It was nice to see two different neighborhoods but my favorite was 95823.

I liked the 95823 neighborhood better than 95819 neighborhood.95823 neighborhood has school, it has ethnic restaurant nearby it has food store nearby; it has a lot bus stop, effort able housing, and light rail. When we gone walking around the area. I really liked it. I also see ethnic group of people. It also reminded me my country where I born and in this neighborhood we can get anything whatever we want.

Students are now designing their own ideal neighborhoods, and will be videotaping their creations and their descriptions of them.

If you’re interested in how I use the idea of assets in teaching reading, you might want to check out my article in this month’s issue of ASCD Educational Leadership, Get Organized Around Assets.