How do municipalities influence communities? What are some of the issues and challenges associated with balancing human needs/wants and environmental stewardship? How have people responded to the challenges and opportunities presented by the physical environment in your community? What actions would you take to improve your community?
Municipalities are responsible for meeting their communities’ needs and fulfilling duties, such as delivering local services and managing the growth and well-being of the community.
As an introduction to the topic, students will discuss what they know about their municipality and reflect on what they like about it and what makes it unique. As a class, students review the features and services of municipalities in Ontario, and investigate specific information of their own city, town, village or township. Afterwards, students will complete one activity dedicated to either assessing environmental stewardship, developing a plan of action to improve their community or evaluating developments due to the physical environment. In the Consolidation activity, students reflect on why it is important to take an active role in their community.
We are learning to:
- develop an understanding of the features and responsibilities of municipalities in Ontario and our own municipality (Citizenship Education Framework – Structures);
- engage in the inquiry process to formulate questions, and interpret and analyze issues and developments in our community (Global Competencies – Critical Thinking & Problem Solving);
- develop a plan of action and analyze ways to improve our municipality (Concepts of Thinking – Perspective);
- explain why it is important to be an active member of the community (Global Competencies – Citizenship).
- describe the features and responsibilities of municipalities in Ontario;
- explain how my municipality impacts the community;
- analyze issues or developments in my community;
- develop an action plan to improve our municipality;
- explain why it is important to be an active member of the community.
Social Studies Gr. 4 B2, B2.1, B2.5 Gr. 5 B1, B1.1, B1.2
Writing 1, 1.5
Geography Gr. 7 A1, A1.1, A1.2 Gr. 8 A1, A1.3
Writing 1, 1.5
Reading 1, 1.1
Ask students if they know the name of their city/town/village/township and invite them to share any background knowledge, as well as thoughts and opinions. Questions to prompt discussion:
- What do you love most about our community?
- What makes it unique or special?
- What makes it a good place to live?
- Why do people come to live here or visit?
2. As a class and/or in groups, review the following information using your municipality’s website and other local sources. Have students fill out Activity 5.1.
- What is our municipality type? Are we part of an upper‑tier municipality? If so, which one?
- What are the geographic borders of our municipality?
- What are some major landforms in our municipality?
- What are some attractions or landmarks in our municipality?
- What are some services and programs provided by our municipality?
- What are some recent announcements by the municipality?
Suggested Activities (by grade level)
- Review the concept of environmental stewardship. It refers to responsible use and the protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices.
- Remind students that municipalities must think about how to balance human needs and wants with the environmental stewardship of the community.
- Individually or in pairs, have students investigate an example in the community where human needs/wants may have presented a challenge to environmental stewardship. Have students fill out Activity 5.2 to guide their investigation and analysis.
- Give students time to share their work with their peers.
- Through a whole class discussion, pose the following questions to your students. Are you satisfied with your community? Can you identify any problems or issues? What actions would you take to make improvements?
- Using Activity 5.3, ask students to create a plan of action to address an issue in their community. Guiding questions:
- What is the issue you want to address?
- What factors are behind the issue?
- What actions would you suggest? What is your proposal?
- How could the municipality help? Could citizens play a role? If so, how?
- Which members from the community would benefit and how?
- Have students present their plan of action through any format they choose – it could be an op-ed article, poem, poster, video, diorama or slide deck.
- Review the major landforms and physical landscapes in your community.
- Ask students to select one landform or aspect of the physical environment in the municipality and analyze its impact on the community using a concept map. Guiding questions:
- How have people responded to the challenges and opportunities presented by the physical environment in our community?
- How have climate and landforms led to the development of certain industries in our community?
- Who has benefited from this development? Who has not benefited?
- Are there various perspectives about this development? What are they? How do they differ?
- Give students time to share their work with their peers.
- Review the concept of sustainability. Brainstorm a few examples as a class (e.g., energy-efficient buildings, use of renewable sources of energy, a comprehensive public transportation system, community gardens, roof gardens, green canopies, naturalized parks with native species, programs for waste and water recycling).
- In pairs or small groups, have students complete a plan of action for making the community more sustainable. This plan should include an assessment of the challenges that may develop as a result of the proposed changes and also look at who in the community would be impacted in a negative way.
- Have students present their plan of action through any format they choose – it could be a poster, diorama, map, slide deck or multi-media piece.
Field trip – Community walk
What does a community need? What does your community/ municipality have? Does your community have schools, a library, a grocery store, parks, houses, emergency services, transportation and businesses? Let’s go find out!
Take the class out for a walk to discover what you can see in your neighbourhood. Prepare for the walk by looking at the list of municipal responsibilities and have students use Activity 5.4 to write down things they see on the walk that relate to these areas.
Have a brief closing discussion about your municipality or ask students to write a reflection on one or more of the following questions based on which activities were completed.
- Why do you think it is important for governments or municipalities to consult with members of the community? Explain your thinking with specific examples from the unit.
- Why is it important for community members to take an active role in their municipality?
- What are some personal actions you can take to improve your community? What would be the impact?
TIPS FOR TEACHERS
- The unit is not necessarily meant to be covered entirely in one period. Please use the activities and combine them in a way that is appropriate for your class.
- Slide Deck: Municipalities [PPT]
- Activity 5.1: My Municipality [PDF] [Word]
- Activity 5.2: Environmental Stewardship in My Community [PDF] [Word]
- Activity 5.3: Plan of Action for my Community [PDF] [Word]
- Activity 5.4: Field Trip – Community Walk [PDF] [Word]