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Great Spaces

Public Spaces
1, 2
Essential questions
Who owns a public space?
What is a privately owned place?
What are my rights in and responsibilities for a public space?
How can I care for public spaces?
What are some qualities of a great public space?
How can I help make a not-so-great public space better?
What is the difference between graffiti and public art?
Why should we show respect for public spaces?

This module includes the following lessons:

Lesson 1: Eco-101: I Own It! (Estimated time needed: 45 minutes)
In this lesson, students explore the difference between physical spaces that have private owners versus those that are open to the public. With the Who Owns It? Game, they identify who owns a space, who uses it, who is affected if something goes wrong, and who is responsible for its care. Along the way, students learn that they are fortunate to be able to enjoy many different types of public spaces, but they also have a responsibility—along with all of us—to help nurture and care for those spaces.

Lesson 2: Eco-Activity: Public Space Detectives (Estimated time needed: Two 40-minute sessions plus time on their own with an adult to review a public space)
In this lesson, students review the qualities that make a public space great and learn how to recognize whether a place is a great or a not-so-great public space. On their own time and with a guardian, students play the role of a public space detective by visiting a public space in their neighborhood and looking for clues of damage, carelessness, dirtiness, value, etc. They take photos of the clues they find and evaluate the public space with a checklist that shows the characteristics of great public spaces. Then they compare their findings with those of their classmates by creating a poster that includes their photos or sketches and then participating in a gallery walk. The lesson ends with students considering how valuable public spaces are to the community and how important it is for everyone to take responsibility for the care of the public spaces.

Lesson 3: Eco-Action: Communicating in Public Spaces (Estimated time needed: Two 50-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students explore the damaging effects that graffiti has on public spaces and the value sanctioned public art can bring to a community space. They view a presentation in which they see several powerful pictures of both graffiti and sanctioned art and assess how they feel in response to each. Then they share photos of their favorite public spaces and see how they feel about those spaces after classmates cover the photos with graffiti. In the second session, students learn that the difference between sanctioned public art and graffiti is respect for the space. They explore the concept of respect and then work together to create for the school a mural that encourages the school community to respect its public spaces.

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