Drawing From the Well

Chapter Two Lowering the Bucket
Lesson 2 - Community Research

Setting the Stage:

To conduct research in your communities is an act of re-searching your local settings in order to locate individuals, organizations, and agencies that are rich in information about your chosen inquiry - a process referred to as community mapping. This process of learning in place connects the work of schools with the work of the community by tapping local knowledge as part of curricular activity. The community, in essence, becomes the curriculum. Thus community resource mapping is an antidote to the problem of the familiar - our local setting -- becoming so normalized that we fail to recognize the funds of knowledge that exist there.

Goals: Acquiring new research skills is the focus of this lesson. Students will develop the tools to map the assets and resources available to them in the community. They will be able to document and analyze the community organizations and individuals that can shed light on their inquiry.

Objectives:

  • Students will survey community resources in a variety of ways.
  • Students will synthesize and evaluate the many individual and organizational resources as to which ones will provide the most pertinent information.
  • Students will present the results of their community resource mapping project in a variety of formats.

Materials and Resources Needed:
Various examples of maps (historical, homemade and/or commercial)
Examples of community resource mapping (Appendix/Samples and Activities)
Flip chart and markers

NM State Standards: Language Arts I-B (7-1, 2, 3, 4) (8-1, 2) and I-C (8-1)

Activity:
Explain to the students the importance of documenting the resources in their community that can provide knowledge about the essential question that guides their work. Conduct a webbing exercise with the essential question, such as "How does water impact our community" in the center of the page. This brainstorming session will focus on recording the local agencies, business people, and other individuals who are potential interviewees. You may choose to do one webbing exercise of individuals and another of local organizations and agencies.

Each student could be assigned the task of doing a personal mapping exercise of the individuals and/or community resources important in their lives. Students could then choose and report on one organization or individual.

Example: When water was central to the students' inquiry, they recognized the US Forest Service as an essential community repository of valuable information. One group got data on how the agency manages the local forest and watershed. The same group chose to interview the director of the local Forest Service office to obtain more in-depth information.

Student and Teacher Assessment:
Participation in the community resource mapping exercise can be evaluated through teacher observation. The student assignment to map the individual and organizational resources important in their own lives can be assessed for thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and the ability to synthesize information.