Creating Sustainable Communities

Creating Sustainable Communities

Creating Sustainable Communities

Mr. Berthiaume “Mr. B”


Overview: Creating Sustainable Communities (CSC) addresses the basic responsibilities of the individual in his/her community. This class focuses on citizenship and responsibility toward those resources we have in common, including our environment, economy, and human rights. Students will explore their relationships and connections to the natural world, local and global economies, and social justice.

Sustainable communities meet the needs of the present while ensuring that future generations will be able to meet their needs.



Creating Sustainable Communities will teach you how to take civic action in a democratic society in order to create more sustainable communities. The concept of sustainability lends us the opportunity to question the realities of this world so that we can find entry points for participation in democratic processes.

In addition, students will participate in some Service-Learning experiences. Service-Learning gives students an opportunity to learn from their community and apply their knowledge and skills within the community and to address an authentic problem or issue. Service-Learning allows students to see the relevance in their education.

This course will offer students many exciting challenges. It is to be noted that the course does not follow a textbook; instead there is an emphasis on readings, projects, research, presentations, group work and problem solving. The course directly relates to our schools mission statement:

Harwood Union High/Middle School will provide an educational and creative environment in which every person is valued as an individual, challenged as a learner, and inspired to contribute to a democratic society.

Honors: Any student may wish to apply him/herself to achieve honors level work. The honors distinction is not merely a student who takes a different section of a course. Often times this works out to be a meritocracy. Being an honors student is when a person engages in the unselfish act of learning and applies what he or she is learning to better the lives of themselves as well as others around them.

Grading: Course assessment will be based on completion of class/homework assignments, efficient and effective use of class time, research projects, quizzes and other culminating assessments. Homework is to be completed before the beginning of class on the day it is due. Student may be asked to stay after school the same day to complete the work that is not finished. The only exception to this rule is in the case of an excused absence; in which case work may be handed in two days late. It is the student’s responsibility to follow up on all work missed. No extra credit will be offered.

Classwork/Homework accounts for 20% of your overall grade

Projects 40%

Quizzes 25%

Participation 15%

Extra Help: Students are encouraged to seek extra help, if needed, before school, during periods A, B & D and after school. It is best to plan ahead and make an appointment. I will be happy to meet you without an appointment unless I have a prearranged prior commitment.

Things students will need:

2 inch Three-Ring Binder

Binder Dividers and Writing Utensils

Notebook Section- which can be a section of composition paper in your 3 ring binder or a

separate single subject notebook. *Due: Tuesday, September 2nd

Parent/ Guardian Partners:

It is important for your parent/guardian to understand what is expected of you in this class.

Please share this overview with your parent/guardian and encourage them to write, email, or phone me if they have any questions or concerns.


Phone: School: 244-5186 ext. 155 or voice mail etc. 285

Home: 862-5048 (between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.)

Student Signature and Date: ______

Parent/Guardian Signature and Date: ______

Please have your daughter or son keep this sheet in the front of her/his 3 Ring Binder.


"Scholarship means a commitment to learning. A student is willing to spend hours in reading and study, knowing the lasting benefits of a cultivated mind. We should continue to learn even when formal education has ended, for education ends only with life. Knowledge is one great element in life, which leads to the highest success, and it can be acquired in only one way--through diligence and effort. Learning furnishes the lamp by which we read the past, and the light, which illuminates the future. Candidates have the charge to continually expand their world through the opportunities inherent in scholarship." (National Honor Society Handbook)

Any student may wish to obtain honors level distinction on his/her transcript. Creating Sustainable Communities is a civics course that seeks to enable students to understand the everyday functions of society and community. CSC explores how communities face challenges and make decisions. It teaches students how to consider the opinions and well being of all within a given community. As a civics course it is only appropriate that we not segregate our students, but unite them as a representation or reflection of our community. An honor student will have to meet the expectations of scholarship that has been established by the National Honor Society.

Students interested in applying themselves at the honors level will be required to demonstrate knowledge obtained through additional readings and research, show that they can apply their knowledge within in the community in some meaningful way, and reflect on their personal growth and development as a citizen and their sense of civic responsibility.

Honors students will be required to maintain a well-organized 3 ring binder that will showcase:

  • Knowledge obtained through additional readings, (Readings, research and personal reflections)
  • Application of knowledge within the community,
  • Personal growth and development of their citizenship or sense of their civic responsibility.

Work in 3 ring binder must be edited and well written. Students will have to periodically present growth to their teacher. Honors students will be required to meet outside of class from time to time with their teacher.

On going Assignments

All assignments and projects have been designed so that you learn skills and gain experiences that help you to become civic-mindedstewards and democratic participants within your communities. These experiences will help you to understand and apply important lessons in your Social Studies/Civics class, entitled Creating Sustainable Communities. Throughout the year you will develop a firm foundation in community sustainability issues as they relate to you and the environment, economy, and the social justice issues within your community/world. You will learn and question human relationships with the environment, become aware of the important balance between the environment and economic vitality and finally, issues that threaten the wellness and well being of individuals within a community. Exploring our relationships to the environment, economy and civil rights will show us how we can easily exclude others. That exclusion (intentional or unintentional) results in some people’s inability to participate in a democracy.

Reflection Log Due: Bi-weekly

The reflection log is a cumulative assignment that will support your learning and understanding. Through this assignment you will strive to make meaningful and relevant connections between what we are learning about in class (in any given week or unit) and the greater community/world we live in.

This log will represent your growth as you study what it means to live in a democratic society and how we can create more sustainable communities. Furthermore, your reflection log will require you to critically think about the subject matter that you are learning about. Critical thinking involves the effective use of questions to gain depth in understanding. We take so much for granted about the world around us and create superficial understandings or “truths” about what is happening in our communities.

This bi-weekly assignment will help us illustrate the realities of the world. In your reflection log you are strongly encouraged to supplement all writing with illustration that enhances your thinking about the subject matter. It may be a political cartoon, a drawing that you created, a photograph that you have found or taken, a chart, a graph, a digital photograph, etc. This is where you will make meaningful connections with the following concepts: sustainability, issues and challenges of being sustainable, participation in democratic processes, challenges to our participation in a democracy, human relations with the natural world, sustainability as it relates to our economy, and social justice in society. How are these concepts playing out within your community?

*Sharing your experiences and observation will be a part of class participation

Assessment Rubric for Reflection Log
Meets Standard / Approaching Standard / Emerging
Points / 10-8 points / 7-6 points / 5-0 points
Understanding of
The Concept of Sustainability / Shows clear and insightful understanding of the concept of sustainability; explores the nuances of concept through thoughtful connections to readings, experiences, and discussions. / Shows understanding of the concept sustainability through connections between real world and class discussions, readings, and personal experience; may lack depth or insight. / Shows superficial understanding of the concept; sustainability may still be too abstract. Does not go beyond re-telling an event or reading, or relies solely on personal experience; does not explore the concept.
Critical Thinking & Making Connections / Shows evidence of high-level thinking by synthesizing the practical and theoretical, asks good critical questions, and evaluating personal connections. / Asks some good questions and attempts to synthesize and analyze the topic or issues with the community experience; student is clearly thinking carefully about the concept and issue/topic presented. / Shows minimal attempts to think beyond descriptive and factual levels. Little or no attempt to connect readings and discussion to experiences or happenings in local or state communities.
Quality of the Writing / Word choice and sentence structure is sophisticated and conveys clear and intentional meaning; student uses voice to enhance meaning and readability, and clearly proofreads carefully. / Writing is clear, but may lack concision, sophistication or voice; a few GUM errors, but they don’t interfere with understanding. / GUM errors interfere with understanding and fluency; little evidence of careful proofreading.
Percentage ___/30=______

A Green Audit

This assignment will allow you to investigate and discover how green your school or greater community is or isn’t and how we might be able to take some sort of action to address problems that you have discovered.

Working cooperatively within a group or class you will complete the following steps:

  1. Establish a plan to discover needs/problems in the selected area of interest. (Water usage, Energy, Air Quality, Solid Waste Management, Food, Printing and Paper Services, Purchasing, Transportation and Parking)

Consider who can best help you to investigate or and understand the area of interest.

  1. Investigate the problem(s) that you discovered. Use specific experts or individuals within the community that might help you better understand the nature of the problem, etc.
  2. Research the Solutions This might involve some research online, contacting other schools, or soliciting the advice of a community expert.
  3. Decide on a project Evaluate a solution and select your project. Assess whether of not it is doable.
  4. Plan the project Create an action plan for the project.
  5. Implement the Plan Put the plan into action and complete the project by specified due date.
  6. Write a press release Let the community know about what you are doing. Consider other ways of making sure the public knows about the project.
  7. Evaluate the impact of your plan What difference did it make?
  8. Plan a celebration!