Communities at Work
Teacher:  Rozlyn Truss, Cobb County School System

Overview: This lesson is designed to encourage students to work as a community of learners to reach a goal. The lesson is designed to generate thought about different roles in a community, what obstacles prevent people from working together as a group and ways to help any community work successfully towards completion of a goal.


  • Construction paper
  • Scissors (provide only enough for about 1/3 of the students)
  • Glue  (provide only enough for about 1/3 of the students)
  • Stapler (provide only enough for about 1/3 of the students)

Time: The activity itself can vary depending on how long it takes students to learn to work as teams. Allow approximately 45-90 minutes for this activity.

Instructional Sequence:

  1. Begin by preparing a paper chain ahead of time. Simple cut 7-12 inch strips of construction paper and staple, glue or tape them around one another similar to a chain link fence. Us e multiple colors and multiple methods of connecting the paper chains. Often following a specific color or numerical pattern is a good idea and the chain may be able to be used again with a lesson related to math. Before the lesson, post the chain somewhere visible to all students. This area can be a large table display area. Using the hooks commonly found on chalkboards is a great way to display the paper chain as well.

  2.  Divide students into large groups of 8 or more.  Groups should reflect a wide diversity of students if possible. It is ideal to include students that, perhaps, normally would not choose to work together or come into little intimate contact with one another. Place the same colored construction paper used to create the class paper chain on each group table and enough scissors, glue, tape and stapler for about 1/3 to ¼ of the students. You do not want each student to have his or her own supplies. The activity requires that there are not enough supplies for each student so that they must work together.

  3. Explain that today we will learn about communities. Tell the students that we will figure out exactly how and people function together in small communities to reach a common goal. Challenge the students to give examples of communities that they are familiar with. Encourage a brief 10-minute discussion that emphasizes the wide variety of different types of communities from national, cultural, local and school communities. Explain to students that today they will work as a community as well. Instruct each team to create a replica of the chain that they see in the classroom.  Depending on the grade level of the students, make the requirements age appropriate. Example: older students may have to repeat the exact color and numerical pattern of the original chain while simply cutting and creating a chain that stays together may challenge younger students. The only rule is that they cannot leave their “community” areas and that they may not speak at all.

  4. Allow students as much time (within reason) that they need to complete what they feel is an exact replica of the class paper chain.

  5. After the activity, ask students to orally share challenges that they faced as they worked towards their common goal. After discussion, ask each student to generate text that describes (1) difficulties that communities face even when they all want the same goals and/or objectives; (2) barriers and/or benefits that exist in communities;(3) their own personal advice and recommendations for individuals operating within a community to encourage success.  The specific requirements may be adapted to a longer one hour or even take home assignment or can be shortened to a simple reflective paragraph on the experience.

Evaluation: Students are assessed in two ways. They are assessed on the paragraph/paper that they produce and for their active and appropriate participation in the group activity to build the paper chain.

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