Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs by Susan Hughes

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Summary

When was the last time you paid attention to the activities in your town? What did you notice? What did you appreciate? Jane Jacobs, an author and an activist, was fascinated by the intricacies of city life. As a child, she wondered how cities sustained daily activity. She had questions about man holes, sewer systems and street design. Jacobs loved her neighborhood, and when city planners threatened to tear down her community to build a highway, she protested. She wrote letters and involved neighbors to challenge the plan. She made a difference. The highway was never built.

Jane Jacob’s story will compel readers to take a new interest in their neighborhoods. What do they appreciate about their town? How can they stay informed about proposals? Prepare learners to get involved by trying the lesson below.

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Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Share II.C.1 Learners exhibit empathy with and tolerance for diverse ideas by engaging in informed conversation and active debate.

  • Introduce the story by asking learners what it takes to make a difference. Write responses on chart paper.
  • Explain that you are going to read a story about a woman who made a difference in her community. Their job is to notice what she did. Compare her actions with the traits listed on the chart paper.
  • Ask learners what they love about their community. Read a local news article or minutes from the latest town meeting to spark debate. Ask learners what they think about the proposed changes. Do they like the idea? Why or why not? What questions do they have about the proposal?
  • Gather questions for further research and consider inviting guest speakers to answer questions.
  • Prepare learners for a debate by giving them time to research and discuss the topic. Learners will state their position and support their ideas with detailed points. They will ask questions and respond to ideas they hear during the discussion.
  • End the lesson by asking learners if their position changed after the discussion. Reflect on the importance of sharing ideas and being open to hearing opposing points of view.

 

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