Overview: What makes a community? Is it the people, the landmarks, the events or something else? This activity is a great lead-in for most content areas and provokes a great discussion about culture and geography are interrelated.

To access the video recording of the webinar detailing this lesson, please click here.

Materials Needed:

  • Students will need a device with internet (a phone will work) and a means of speaking to someone in the local community. 
  • Teacher will need the preparation and discussion questions and the student directions. 
  • Ideally, if there’s time, the teacher can create a sample for students. 

Learning Outcomes: Students will demonstrate improved self-awareness through an increased understanding of other community members’ perspectives. 

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the activity, students will be able to… 

  • To interview and report on gathered information 
  • To research about the specific elements, strengths and challenges of a community 


  1. Have students draw/create/screenshot a map of their community.
  2. Have students interview a local resident in-person (i.e. immediate family member) or virtually (i.e. relative, neighbor, local community leader…etc.) about their community and ask the following questions: 
  • How long have you been a member of the community? 
  • How do you feel about your community? 
  • How would you describe your community? 
  • What can you tell me about the history of your community? 
  • What do you think lies in the future for this community? 
  • What changes have you seen in your community? 
  • What changes would you like to see in your community? 
  • What do you think is your community‘s greatest strength? 
  • What do you think is your community’s greatest challenge? 
  • What makes you proud of your community?

3. Have students research and select images of their local community and the places they feel are important to highlight to visitors.

4. Have students create a presentation of their research. 


  1. Pose the following scenario to the group: 
  • Next year, an international exchange student is coming to your community. 
  • The international exchange student knows absolutely nothing about your community. 
  • If you were to take the international exchange student on a tour of your community, where would you take them? 
  • What people, places and/or objects are symbols of the community you are in? (ex: Paul Revere – Boston, MA; Times Square – New York City; the Bronze Fonz – Milwaukee, WI) 
  • What places, people and/or objects are important to the community you are in? (Ex: local celebrations/parades, educational institutions, public transportation hubs, local government offices, public parks, sports facilities, community centers, farmers markets, historic districts, health centers/services, social groups/clubs, religious institutions, cul- tural institutions etc.) 


  1. Students should create a Community Map (i.e. a detailed drawing of their community). 
    1. The Community Map should help the visitor to better understand their new community.
    2.  Students should pay attention to identifying community strengths and opportunities for improvement.
  2. Some ideas of what to include in the Community Map include: 
  • What are the most important elements in your community? 
  • What is the first thing someone should see/do? 
  • What is one thing a visitor should not miss and why? 
  • What are specific things throughout your community that help to define it? 
  • What local people, celebrities or friends should to whom you should introduce your visitor?
  • What elements make your community unique? 
  • What is the history of the community? 
  • What are your favorite places to go in your neighborhood? 
  • What businesses are in this community? 
  • What organizations are in this community? (ex: schools, citizen sectors organizations, and libraries)
  • How do people get around in this community? 
  • Where do children play in this community? 
  • Do you see any visible art in this community? 
  • Where do people gather? 
  • What is the best/coolest thing about this community? 
  • What are some of the things that could be improved?  

3. After completing the task, have students present their Community Map to the whole group. (Consider using Flipgrid, Zoom, Google Slides, etc…) 


Note: Educators should guide discussion away from competitions over whose community is “better” or “worse.” 

  1. Before this activity, have you ever looked at your community with this level of critical observation? Why or why not?
  2. After listening to everyone present, what did you learn about communities? 
  3. Describe how people in your community feel connected to one another? 
  4. What contributes to the variances in the strengths and challenges among each of the communities? *Keep in mind that students may define “community” differently for the purpose of this assignment.

Extension in other Content Areas 

Art: Provide students with a painting from an era/artist that they have studied and have them walk through the DIVE process to help them determine the artist/era. 

Business: Provide students with an image of a professional setting in another country. Have them walk through the DIVE process and then ask them to investigate cultural norms that could impact how they greet, dine with or do business with individuals from that country/culture. 

English Language Arts: Use a photo or image that relates to a reading selection to re-frame how students typically think about what they might read. Engage the cultural side of the reading through this process using an image. 

Science: Using a photo of a geological phenomenon, a chemistry experiment gone wrong, or new species of animal, ask students to walk through the DIVE process to ensure that they are not assuming any information about the image that they viewed. 

Social Studies: Once students have progressed through the DIVE process, have them consider images in the news now and how they might be misjudged or viewed by individuals in the future. 

World Languages: Have students use the target language to describe and interpret an image in the target culture and proceed through the DIVE process. Because of the simple structures, this can be done by novice speakers depending on the specific image chosen for discussion. 

For more lesson plan ideas, please visit the AFS-USA Teacher’s Toolbox.

For questions, comments or suggestions, please email us at [email protected]

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