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Grade 4 Regions: Sustainable Communities

Grade: 4
Subject: Social Studies

Our grade 4 Humanities students are about to start on a large inquiry project focused on the Alberta Regions component of the Social Studies Curriculum.

In previous years, the grade 4 teachers had done a project on the regions where they had students imagine they were early settlers coming to the land. The students had to pick an area in the regi
on to settle, and explain why that particular location would be livable for early settlers.

However, in planning the project this year, the grade 4 teachers wanted to extend the study of regions to include more contemporary issues, particularly around the sustainable use of resources in the province. So this is what we came up with:

(1) Students will begin by getting a basic understanding of the different geographic regions in the province. They will be put into groups, research the basics of their assigned region, and then present their findings to the rest of the class. The rest of the students will complete a retrieval chart during the presentations

(2) Students will be allowed to choose a particular region to focus on in more depth. They will then be given the following situation:

"You have been asked to design a community that is in balance with the environment of your region. Your community must be self-contained, which means it must meet all the needs and services of it's inhabitants. You community should be based on the local natural resources that are available. The community should take the local climate into consideration. You should also include alternate/renewable forms of energy. Your community should make best use of the beauty and landforms"

(3) Students will begin to research their region in more depth, and begin to design a sustainable community. They will have to justify the specific location of their community, as well as thinking through issues such as:
  • Landforms, unique characteristics of region
  • Climate
  • Resources/Industries
  • Harvesting/Processing
  • Alternative energy
  • recreation/entertainment/leisure
  • issues/challenges of the region
The students will physically draw their community overlaid upon a printed map of the specific location they have chosen. The students will have to decide how to lay out the design of their community in order to make it as sustainable as possible.

To help with this section of the project, we are hoping to contact an Environmental Designer to come and talk to the students about sustainable design.

(4) The students will choose one of buildings in the community (a school, hospital, city hall, etc) to design in depth. The design of this building should reflect the geographical and historical uniqueness of the region.

(5) Finally, after designing the community, the students will create and record an audio-guide that accompanies the map. The audio guide will provide detailed explanations of at least 6 parts of the community, and will demonstrate how the background knowledge of the region was used in its design. The students will write the different chapters of their audio guide first, and then record them using Garageband.

The students are just about to start this project - so we'll be back with update and the progress later. For now, if you have any suggestions, comments or feedback, please comment below. Thanks.


Joram10 said...

Sounds great. I did a similar unit with my Year 9 students, where they designed a local sustainable community, based on several state government intitiatives. We were able to utilise the education officer from our local water board, which is very focused on sustainable practice (water is scarce in Australia). Students also designed homes that were economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Publications here: Comparisons between sustainability requirements for various geographic locations would be an interesting extension.
All the best with the unit - kids will have a blast I'm sure.

Neil Stephenson said...


Thanks so much for your comment. We'd love to see some of the work you students created. Is it possible for you to share what was created? Also, the link you shared in your comment does not work. Could you repost another one?

Much Appreciated.

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