Next February, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Leading up to it, I’m re-starting a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ll be re-posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

You might also be interested in A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009.

I originally shared this series of posts in 2010.

In 2010, I posted about A Lesson Highlighting Community Assets — Not Deficits. It has continued to be one of my favorite lessons each year. English Language Learner students first identify the qualities of the kind of neighborhood where they would like to live. We then take a tour of our school’s neighborhood and Sacramento’s wealthiest area. Students next write a persuasive essay about which they think is better – ninety percent typically choose their existing one. Students then end the unit by designing their “ideal” neighborhood.

The lesson always goes well – even the year when a resident of the rich neighborhood – “The Fabulous Forties” – called the police on us when we were walking through those streets. In fact, the conversations that came out of that occurrence may have made it the best lesson ever!

In 2010 we added another follow-up activity to the regular lesson. There were big concerns in many lower-income communities about residents not completing the Census and being under-counted, which would result in fewer public services and less political representation.

So, after our usual neighborhood project, students researched those Census concerns and decided to make posters they would distribute to their family members and neighbors to encourage them to respond to Census questions.

Here are links to two posts I published about that lesson, and I’ve embedded a slideshow sharing some of the posters (we made copies and students distributed them):

Persuasive Essays, Low-Income Communities & The Census Count

More On The U.S. Census & The Classroom

We’ve done other similar community engagement projects, including students creating bilingual flyers providing accurate information during the initial SARS scare and a class one year organizing a job training fair for themselves and their families.

You might also be interested in these related “Best” lists:

The Best Posts On Looking At Our Students Through The Lens Of Assets & Not Deficits

The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

The Best Resources To Learn About The U.S. Census

The Best Tools For Analyzing Census Data