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Focus question 1: Why do community groups exist?

Teaching and learning activities

Activity 1: Introduction (30 min) ESL Activity 1
Activity 2: Other groups in the community (60 min) ESL Activity 2
Activity 3: Community groups (30 min) ESL Activity 3
Activity 4: Community poster (45 min) ESL Activity 4
Assessment ESL Assessment
Activity 5: Forming the student group (30 min) ESL Activity 5
Activity 6: Seeking approvals (30 min) ESL Activity 6

The Stories of Democracy CD ROM provides additional information on community groups.

Activity 1: Introduction (30 min)

1a Introduce the concept of groups of people living, working and playing together, for example, families, class groups and, in an area, community groups. Students identify the groups they belong to and list them on the board. Put an asterisk next to the community groups. Explain that the focus of this topic is on the community groups and the idea of people in the community 'joining in'.

Stories of Democracy 1b Introduce the idea of the class organising a community group, and ask them what they think the group could do. Explain that in order to have a wide range of choices, they are going to investigate a range of community groups and their purposes.

Activity 2: Other groups in the community (60 min)

Poster Handouts 1-8

2a Using the Joining In poster students identify and add to the list the kinds of community groups represented on the poster. Discuss the purposes of the groups represented and the people who might participate in each of the groups. Ask students to identify other community groups they know that are similar to the ones on the poster and add them to the list.

The purposes of groups in the community are usually based around:

Brochures and other information gathered before the start of the unit will be useful here.

  • Health, welfare and community services: eg Meals on Wheels, Red Cross Australia (Handout 1), RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
  • Emergency and safety services: eg State Emergency Services (Handout 2), St John Ambulance
  • Service clubs: eg Apex (Handout 3), Lions, Rotary, Soroptimist, Penguins
  • Environment and conservation: eg Landcare (Handout 4), 'Friends of ', Keep Australia Beautiful groups
  • Heritage: eg local history groups (Handout 5), local museum groups
  • Sport and recreation: eg tennis clubs (Handout 6), walking groups
  • The Arts: eg craft, art, drama (Handout 7) and cinema groups
  • Culture: eg Aboriginal Reconciliation groups (Handout 8), Vietnamese Community groups, Greek Women's Action Group.

Local community groups are usually happy to help with information through eg brochures, speakers.

2b In order to find out more about the purposes of the groups on the list, students choose some community groups to research. Students can investigate a particular community group and write up different aspects of that group because community groups often have a range of ways that they achieve their purposes.

2c Negotiate the research questions with students, such as:

  • What is the purpose of the group?
  • Who can be a member of the group?
  • How does the group work?
  • How do they achieve their purpose?

Handout 1-8

2d Provide each group with information on the community group they have chosen. Alternatively, students could use the groups on Handouts 1-8.

2e Each student group should complete the following to summarise their findings on poster paper for display:

The aim of ________ (the community group) is to________ (purpose) by ______ for ______. For example: 'The aim of Red Cross Australia is to help people by such things as fund-raising for research into diseases.'

Students may wish to illustrate their posters to further demonstrate the community group's activities.

Activity 3: Community groups (30 min)

3a Identify that some of the community groups researched exist to achieve benefits, not only for themselves, but for other members of the community. Circle the groups that help other members of the community. Discuss the people who may be members of all the community groups, considering factors such as age, time available and interests.

3b Ask students why they think people join these groups. If students need some extra prompts, the commonly listed reasons that people identify for joining in are:

  • to make friends
  • to share an interest
  • to learn something new
  • to help someone or something
  • to feel good about themselves
  • to have fun.

Care must be taken to avoid reinforcing stereotypes.

3c Ask students to write in large lettering on circles of cardboard a reason why people join each group. Label the identified group with that reason on the display board. There will be multiple reasons for most groups.

Activity 4: Community poster (45 min)

4a Students start a journal to record their learning. They summarise what they have learned so far and use the journal to draft a poster of the community group they researched.

The unit poster provides a useful model.

4b Remind students that a poster is bright and eye-catching, has large lettering which can be seen from a distance, has attractive pictures and other illustrations such as logos and photos, explains information in both a few key words and the illustrations. If posters are designed and developed by groups of students, the teacher may wish to discuss the criteria with each student as they work to determine and record their level of understanding.

4c Each student should then make and display a poster of the community group they researched.


Assess the students' posters using the following criteria. The student can demonstrate:

  • the purpose of the community group
  • the benefit of the group to the community
  • who is likely to be a member of this community group
  • reasons to join the group
  • information that is appropriate and correct
  • information that is clearly and logically presented.

Activity 5: Forming the student group (30 min)

5a Using the information gathered, discuss the possibility of a class group being formed to undertake a community or school-based project. Divide the class into small groups to discuss possible projects. Provide discussion starters about, for example, how much time is available for the activity, how everyone will be involved (they will have choices about their level of participation). Ideas proposed will need to be realistic and teachers will need to develop clear parameters for the students.

A clean up may not suit your group. Select an activity that is appropriate for your class's available time and skill level, and the school setting and community.

5b The student groups decide what they believe is possible for them to undertake in a class setting, within a nominated time frame. Each group presents their argument as to what they would like to undertake and why. The class votes to achieve a result.

5c Select a name for the class group; the purpose of the group will help to determine its name. For this unit of work, an environmental clean-up activity in the school and/or community has been used as a model.

5d The purpose of the class group is to be agreed, then written and displayed. For example: 'The aim of (the Environmental Clean Up) is to (beautify the worst area of the school) by (planning and undertaking a rubbish clean up) for (the school community).'

Activity 6: Seeking approvals (30 min)

6a Explain that proposals from community groups need to be approved, usually by local government who work within decision-making structures called by-laws and regulations. In the school there are several levels of decision-making, for example the student council, the parent council and the principal. For this activity the principal (and school council?) will be asked for approval to hold the proposed class activity.

6b As a class, draft a letter seeking permission from the principal for the Environmental Clean Up.

The letter will need to outline:

  • who is asking for approval to undertake the Environmental Clean Up
  • the proposed aims of the clean up
  • where and when it will happen
  • who will be organising it
  • what kind of project the clean up will undertake
  • the kind of support being asked of the principal, eg newsletter space for promotion.

ESL activities

Back to 'Joining In - At a glance'

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