Community Through Voting

Community Through Voting

Click below to access the downloadable article that goes with the exercises on this page. The goals listed in the articles and exercises are derived from the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

Download the “Community Through Voting” Article

Section Objective: Students will better understand the types of communities they are members of and the powerful ways they can learn from and contribute to their communities.

Discussion Questions:

  • Is your school or workplace more of a location-based, identity-based, or organization-based community?
  • How have the communities that you are a part of shaped you?
  • How have you shaped the communities you are a member of?
  • What is an issue or challenge that one of your communities is currently trying to tackle?
  • Think of a time one of your communities faced a challenge. What methods were used to face that challenge? (Discussion, voting, leadership decision, etc.) Were those methods effective? Why or why not?

Citations / Further Exploration:

Explore More Communities with Arlington County Non-Profits:

Practicing Civic Religion by Eric Liu:

The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace by Scott Peck

Exercise: Shaping and Being Shaped by Community

Subject(s): English, Theatre

Goals: Students will be able to:

  • Define “community” in both a broad and personal way.
  • Appreciate the variety of communities to which they belong.
  • Clearly articulate how they contribute to their respective communities.
  • Use examples from their knowledge and experience to support the main ideas of their oral presentation.
  • Promote collaboration with others both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Apply narrative techniques, such as dialog, description, and pacing to develop experiences or characters.

Supplies:  Paper, pens or pencils

Set Up: Hand each student a pen or pencil as well as a piece of paper.


  • Invite the class to create or develop a group definition of the word “community” on a whiteboard or large piece of paper at the front of the room in view of all students.
    • One possibility might be: “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” (Google Dictionary)
  • Once the class has agreed upon a definition, ask the students to work individually, taking two minutes to list every community they are a part of. Communities could include family, workplaces, churches, teams, etc. 
  • Neighbor share: Ask students to turn to a neighbor and take 30 seconds to share the communities they listed with each other.
  • Bring the students back together. Now, invite them to take an additional two minutes to list how these communities have shaped them and how they have individually helped shape these communities.
  • Once again, request that students turn to a different student and take a quick minute to share how they have shaped and been shaped by their communities.
  • Students should now take two minutes to identify the roles they play within each of their communities. Are they leaders? Followers? Collaborators? Etc. Remind students that all contributing roles are important roles. Not being in a prominent leadership position does not mean they are unvalued member of their communities.
  • Divide the students into small groups (4-5). Each group should be clustered together.
  • Once groups are selected, invite the groups to appoint two people within their groups who will share with their group the community information they’ve created/gathered/shared so far during the activity.
  • Once people have been appointed and shared everything they have about their communities, how they’ve impacted and been impacted, it’s time to get up on our feet. Each group is to create two 30-second scenes that demonstrate how their appointed people’s roles have contributed to their community (one scene per appointed person.) Remind the students that each role in each community has worth, weight, value and importance. There are no small roles or communities. You all matter. Each scene must feature every member of the group in some capacity.
  • Every student in each group must appear in at least one of their group’s two scenes. If there are not enough characters in the situations being presented, they may be extras, or even play scenery, props or animals! Get creative!
  • Once ready, invite groups to present in a place in the classroom visible to all students.


  • What are some of the roles your classmates have taken on in their communities that were most impressive? Who are the people in your respective communities that you aim to emulate?
  • Are there particular communities that you are most proud to be a part of?
  • How can you be a proactive member of a community that institutes change?

Exercise: Community Rules

Subject(s): Theatre, English, History

Goals: Students will:

  • Collaboratively develop community rules for their classroom.
  • Exercise their agency as members of the classroom community.
  • Articulate their values for their community and make arguments in their favor.
  • Distinguish one’s own ideas from information created or discovered by others. 

Supplies: Paper and pens or pencils.

Set Up:  Divide students into groups of four. Supply each group with a piece of paper and a writing implement for each student.


  • We are all members of communities. In all of these communities, from family, sports teams, and the nation, there are set rules, laws, and typical operating procedures in place that ensure the community is upheld and does not collapse into chaos.
  • This class is a community all on its own.
  • Discuss: What are should our classroom rules be? Get specific. It may be helpful to think about the different kinds of laws, rules and rights that exist in society: Civil rights, criminal law, intellectual property law, labor law, etc. What are the different legal avenues that might be good to set in place as members of this classroom community?


  • Each student group is given enough time (seven to ten minutes) to develop a list of rules, laws, expectations, etc. for the classroom community. Make sure that the students understand that what they develop will aid you in brainstorming/shaping the classroom but that it will not be set in stone! That being said, involving the students in actively creating the classroom culture will only aid them in building stronger connections to your community.
  • Once the students have had enough time, invite the class to come back together to discuss what they developed. Listen to their suggested laws, rules and expectations, taking notes on the board. If you want to extend this activity, you may even hold a vote on select measures to officially adopt them into the classroom community.
  • The instructor should create a final master list or poster of the rules and expectations for the classroom community that is displayed for all members to see throughout the coming weeks.


  • What other communities are you a part of? Are you able to express or control the adoption of rules and regulations like we did in this exercise? Why or why not? Do you want to?
  • In what ways is this class a community? How can we each contribute to this immediate community?

Exercise: What Does Community Look Like?

Subject(s): Theatre, English

Goals: Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate nonverbal techniques including, but not limited to, eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and stance.
  • Promote collaboration with others both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Assess the impact of presentations, including the effectiveness of verbal and nonverbal techniques.

Set Up:

  • Divide students into groups of four to six students (be consistent with the numbering. It’ll be easier for you if the groups are the same size.) Student groups should be seated (or standing together.) Students in each group should number themselves off (one through four, one through six, etc.)


  • Ask the students to close their eyes. As they close their eyes, invite them to think about a community they belong to (this may take some additional prompting.) Encourage them to think about how that community handles making decisions or changes. Again, this may take some prompting (I am a member of _________ community and one time, we had to decide on _______. To do that, we _________…)
  • Choose a number between one and [the highest number you have in each group.] The student that claims that number in each group is now the sculptor for their respective group.
  • Sculptors work simultaneously with their groups. Each sculptor is given a limited amount of time (three to five minutes) to sculpt a visual representation of what their community looks like during decision-making. Maybe the visual is chaotic, maybe it is truly equal. Maybe there are several clear leaders with clear follows in the community.
  • The clay is, not surprisingly, the remaining group members in each group. There are a few ways to handle the sculpting. They can stand from afar, pantomiming the act of “sculpting” with the other members responding to the distant touch. They can demonstrate physically what they’d like each person to do. We discourage having the sculptor speak to their clay. It limits their creativity and expression and tends to lead to more art that is more academic than visceral. Sculptors could also mold clay through physical touch but that should be done carefully, with the permission of the students, and only if you feel the groups are mature enough to handle that. Every person of the group (sans sculptor) must be in the sculpture.
  • Once the allotted time has passed, invite half of the groups to unfreeze from their sculpture positions. Time for a museum walk! Give them time to explore the remaining statues, walking around them and looking at them from every angle (no touching the art!). As they explore, they should be preparing to answer the question, “What do these statues say about communities and how they handle decision making?” The observing students should take a seat once they’ve examined each statue.
  • Once the first group of observers has finished exploring, invite the statues to relax for a brief discussion on what was observed. Then, ask the exploring group to reform their statues and repeat the process.


  • Are there any consistent images you notice when looking at communities trying to make decisions and choices?
  • What are some ways that people or groups of people can make a choice? Is there a best way to make a choice? If so, what is it and why is it the best? What is the worst way to make a choice?